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Adventure, Canada, TBEX

Adventures with Explorers’ Edge – quintessentials of the Canadian wilderness

For 3 days and 2 nights I lived the dream.  I was invited with a small group of travel writers to experience the quintessential Canadian wilderness – the pristine landscapes of Canada came to life as I traveled to the region known as Explorers’ Edge, only 2 hours north of Toronto.    It was a dream come true!

The Beauty of Algonquin Park

What do you consider to be the ultimate Canadian wilderness adventure?

  • See a moose? or maybe a bear?
  • Canoe Algonquin Park?
  • Kick back in cottage country?

We did that and so much more!!   The best part – Explorers’ Edge is so accessible to anyone, I can’t believe I hadn’t done it before!

Outdoor adventures in Northern Onatrio

As a girl growing up in Ontario, I always imagined canoeing in Algonquin Park – you could say it was something that had been on my bucket list before I ever even had one written down.  I had had so many chances to go too – a high school trip, friends who were planning a week on the water or even just a weekend getaway.  It was always a case of knowing that I would do it, but never finding the time.  Life got in the way.  I travelled to Europe, moved to Australia….

Earlier this month, I travelled to TBEX (a conference for travel bloggers) and the Canadian Wilderness trip was top of my TBEX Bucket List.  I submitted my application months ago and waited with baited breath for the email that said I was selected!  It was like winning the jackpot when I got my confirmation.  I was in!

What had me so excited?  The description of the trip drew me in like a moth to the flame – I couldn’t believe I was chosen!!!

Experience Canada's Quintessential Wilderness in Algonquin Park, Muskoka and Parry Sound

Did Explorers’ Edge deliver?

Did they ever!  The experience was everything I ever imagined and then some!  My only regret – as it was a familiarization trip, we rushed through all of the experiences so fast, I longed for more time at each and every stop!  I would go back in a heartbeat with more time to really experience that which I only skimmed the surface.  There was everything – heart stopping adrenaline (ATVing with Bear Claw Tours) to peacefully paddling through Algonquin Park and on the waters of Georgian Bay.  Enjoying the tranquility and natural beauty is something we Canadians often take for granted.  It is no wonder the region is recognized internationally and on the bucket lists of people from all corners of the globe.

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So, what did we do?  It is really a question of what we didn’t do!  Our schedule was jam packed with a selection of what the area had to offer.

SUP with Muskoka Outfitters photo credit: Explorers' Edge

We started with Stand Up Paddling (aka SUP) with Muskoka Outfitters in Bracebridge.  The legs wobbled and tensed as I tried to keep my balance on the board.  I am sure I had quite the look of determination as I tried to go against the current, manoeuvring my paddle board along the Muskoka River and avoiding what was certain to be the inevitable giant splash.  It was picturesque and perfect as the five of us slowly made our way upstream.  It was early in the season and the water was still cool, so we all resolved that falling in was not an option.  Come summer, I am sure we would have all been jumping in, splashing about like school kids on summer holidays!  Who knows, now that we are all pros at SUPing, maybe next time I will try my hand at SUP yoga!  Who’s game?

SUP boarding in Muskoka

After a quick lunch it was time to take the adrenaline levels up a notch and mountain biking at the Buckwallow Cycling Centre in Gravenhurst fit the bill.  I am an avid road cyclist but have avoided mountain biking since I fell and let my fear get the best of me years ago.  I think you could say I had a death grip on my handle bars as we set out on a quick mountain biking tutorial from our patient guide.  Buckwallow was perfect for the rookies and nervous nellies (me) of the group.  They have a number of trails for all levels of skill and they are meticulously maintained.  Even better, they have the option of taking a guide with you.  The guides live and breathe mountain biking and are great at getting you around the trails and coaching you through the technical bits.  For those of you who have read my travel confessions, you know I can get lost in a grocery store, so having a guide meant that I found my way out of the forest!  It was a gratifying experience as I conquered my fears – something I would gladly tackle again now that I know it isn’t so scary!

Mountain biking success at Buckwallow Mountain Bike Centre

As if day 1 wasn’t epic enough, our second day out was all about Algonquin Park.  Moose spotting was the name of the game as we hit the highway.  We were like papparazzi stalking Brangelina – cameras at the ready at the faintest glimpse.  Of course, we also had to deal with another of Northern Ontario’s famous inhabitants…the mosquito!  Seriously, who didn’t close the van door when we all poured out to take photos!!??  The van filled with mossies and we entertained ourselves on mosquito population control for the rest of the drive.  Lessons learned – close the car door and bring bug spray – you are going to need it!

photo credit: Explorers' Edge

photo credit: Explorers’ Edge

Algonquin Park is massive – one could spend a week exploring and not even scratch the surface.  We were given an overview of the park by the people at the original Algonquin outfitters at Lake Opeongo.  Loaded up with canoes, lunch and excited bloggers, we hopped a water taxi to get further into the heart of the lake.  Was canoeing in the park everything I thought it would be?  Definitely.  It was tranquil, scenic and felt so natural.  There were loads of campsites dotted around the lake – a piece of Canadiana waiting to be experienced.  If I closed my eyes, I could see myself sitting around the campfire, cooking s’mores and laughing with friends.  A piece of summer paradise.

photo credit: Explorers' Edge

photo credit: Explorers’ Edge

Our final morning started with the roar of engines….the adrenaline pumping action of ATVs as we were unleashed on 1,000 acres of off road fun.  It was exhilarating…you could feel the power of the beast between your legs as it powered its way over rocks and fallen trees, through mud and water.  There will be more to come on this one, but like the mountain bikes where I started off nervous and with a death grip on the handlebars…I came back all smiles!  I was not ready to surrender my ATV when the tour came to an end!  I have Bear Claw Tours to thank – what a rush!

ATV experience wth Bear Claw Adventures

The final instalment of the adventure took us to Georgian Bay and the White Squall Paddling Centre.  While canoeing in Algonquin Park just felt right, I am naturally more of a kayak kind of girl.  It is so rhythmic and somehow I feel, kayaking is more balanced as you paddle using both left and right sides.  We head out onto Georgian Bay and I was surprised by the shear size of the water…I never made the connection from the size on the map to what it was in real life.  It was like an ocean without the pull of the current, islands popping up all over.  It was bliss to be on the water…it’s no wonder the people who make their lives here are so proud of the region – it was naturally stunning in such an unassuming way. No flash and glitter – just pure beauty.

kayaking on Georgian Bay

We covered so much in our 3 days – this barely skimmed the surface.  If getting out and enjoying the great outdoor is something that calls to you, you really need to come to Explorers’ Edge.  The expanse of space is something that is tough to describe – you have to feel it to believe it.  The region is so diverse, from rustic camping in the park to luxury resorts and modern cottages.  I want to extend a huge thank you to the people at Explorers’ Edge for sharing their piece of heaven with me for 3 days – I can say with all honesty, I will be back.

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About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!

Discussion

28 thoughts on “Adventures with Explorers’ Edge – quintessentials of the Canadian wilderness

  1. This sounds like a jam-packed adventure! The stand-up paddle boarding is something I’d like to try.
    I will be doing some canoe camping in Killarney soon, so looking forward to it.
    Have a great summer exploring, Anita. : )

    Posted by drawandshoot | June 14, 2013, 1:00 pm
    • I am sure you would love the Stand Up Paddling. It is a lot of fun and quite the workout as well. My first attempt was on Meech Lake at a “try SUP” evening, but getting a chance to go down the river in Muskoka was well worth the drive. Enjoy your canoe camping trip – I hope to do a little more kayak camping this summer! Time goes so quickly when having fun.

      Posted by Anita Mac | June 16, 2013, 1:09 pm
  2. Anita, you really hit a home run with the descriptions and photographs from this trip. I almost felt as if I were there. So gald you had such a grand time of it. BTW, I posted about Croatia. It was terrific. You fueled our wanderlust. Thx.

    Posted by Michael Doran | June 14, 2013, 1:54 pm
    • Glad that you liked them Michael…it was hard to limit my words and excitement. Will have to pop over and read about your time in Croatia…hope my tips were useful and so glad you enjoyed. It is an absolute gem of a place!

      Posted by Anita Mac | June 16, 2013, 1:11 pm
  3. Just wanted to say thank you to Anita for sharing her Explorers’ Edge experience with all of her readers. We hope to see you discover how naturally adventurous you can be too. Hope to see you back real soon Anita… ~ Randy
    http://www.explorersedge.ca

    Posted by Randy Mitson | June 14, 2013, 3:40 pm
  4. omg – this is truly amazing!

    Posted by ksbeth | June 14, 2013, 6:40 pm
  5. it sounds like you have had such a great 3 days, and we, western Canadians, forget that there are beautiful places in northern Ontario and Quebec that you can do these things. If asked I would have said, Alberta, BC is the place to go for outdoor adventures…..
    thanks for sharing your view and introducing everyone to Canada. There is so much country, so little time to see it all…..

    Posted by jmeyersforeman | June 14, 2013, 8:52 pm
    • You are so right! The area is so accessible, it is brilliant for us here on the East side of Canada. Having also explored in BC and Alberta, I can also say that it is quite different – but the natural beauty from coast to coast is extraordinary – we are very lucky!

      Posted by Anita Mac | June 16, 2013, 1:34 pm
  6. Wow seems like such a beautiful part of the world! Must visit there some time, I think I’d love it!

    Posted by dearj1diary | June 16, 2013, 8:55 am
  7. Congrats on being selected – it looks like a marvelous adventure!

    Posted by megtraveling | June 16, 2013, 9:28 am
  8. So.Awesome.

    What a fantastic opportunity! This Chicago girl has always wanted to visit Algonquin Park, too. But isn’t it crazy how we often overlook such gems so close to home? I’m guilty of that, too.

    Posted by Francesca Folinazzo Mazurkiewicz | June 16, 2013, 12:37 pm
  9. OMG I’ve never seen a moose before.. lol. Stand up paddling looks like a great leg workout. :)

    Posted by Kieu ~ GQ trippin | June 16, 2013, 10:21 pm
  10. I bet after all that adventuring you slept pretty well! Sounds and looks fun! A great combination of action and leisure activities!

    Posted by lola dimarco | June 16, 2013, 10:34 pm
  11. I hate that I didn’t even consider signing up for this trip. It looks like so much fun! I’ve got to get a little more Canada under my belt. Soon!

    Posted by Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) | June 17, 2013, 10:40 am
  12. Sounds fantastic and thanks for the post as it made me recall my days of canoeing through Algonquin and doing portages (carrying your canoe and gear from one lake to get to another lake where this isn’t a water path, for those that aren’t familiar). While I loved the experiences, I’m sure I took you it all for granted. I had my first ever experience on an ATV in Senegal, West Africa and loved it. Did temporarily freeze when we got to the dunes. Our guide had to climb back up to rescue me ;) Will have to try it in Ontario, dune free, LOL and take my husband out some day.

    Posted by Andrea Rees | June 17, 2013, 8:57 pm
  13. Sounds like a great time. I “know” that Canada is full of wonderful outdoors experiences, but considering the recent trip to Toronto was my first time in Canada I can only assume from what I read and hear. This looks great and considering it’s not that far from Toronto looks like it could easily be a nice Toronto/outdoors combo week.

    Posted by Trips By Lance | June 19, 2013, 12:11 pm
  14. Seems like you had a great experience! A little too adventurous for me – but must confess it looked like fun!

    Posted by Ana Silva O'Reilly (@mrsoaroundworld) | June 19, 2013, 6:26 pm
  15. What an action packed three days. Great that you saw moose and had the opportunity to SUP. Hope you get a chance to spend more time in Algonquin someday.

    Posted by Traveling Ted (@travelingted) | June 20, 2013, 11:36 pm

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