I’m in Ottawa another two days before flying to Denver, hooray. I rolled over to a friends yesterday as she was on vacation and “wanted to make the most of her day”. I like that attitude as it’s easy to let days fall into the history books without even any memories to draw on. She loves animals and suggested we go to the zoo, I laughed. Then she said it was more like a safari and the road trip in itself would be cool, somehow I agreed and off we were on a North American Safari of sorts to in Montebello, Quebec…
Montebello is roughly 80km from downtown Ottawa and the ride itself is quite nice except for Thurso… Thurso is a pulp and paper mill type town, it stinks. Apart from that though it’s typical Quebec countryside aka endless rolling hills with open fields and forests on all sides. Eventually you’ll arrive and realize that the theme of this place is more safari than zoo. Numerous times while driving I just looked around and thought to myself “this is really peaceful”.
They have it setup in sections and you drive your car the whole way through. You’ll see all sorts of deer, elk, buffalo, black bears, arctic wolves, wild bores and more…. It’s hardly the same excitement level of say a safari in Africa but it’s also 1/1000th the cost and it’s only an hour or so ride away from the city. Despite being underwhelmed with the animals, the park itself was a solid idea and I can see how people who have seen less wildlife (kids in particular) would love it. I particularly liked how they really seemed to care for the animals building elaborate homes for them, even down to the bird feeders.
Personal favorites include the arctic wolves, pigs / wild bores and the fish. The pigs reminded me of smaller and less fierce hippos. Everyone loves feeding “Baby Bambi” but pigs need love too. They have this busy lake that I guess is stocked and fishing is prohibited. As a result this lake has monster trout everywhere and they know where to show up to get a free meal. For $0.25 you can buy pellets and watch the fish go into a frenzy, literally. For $2.50 you can buy these carrots and feed the animals, they love those carrots – who knew!?
I will note that if you’re driving there from the east, consider taking the ferry in Masson Angers.It’s only $10 but will save you so much driving it would make your odometer spin, especially at rush hour. If you don’t take the ferry you have to drive right into Gatineau rush hour, take the overcrowded bridge and then jump right into Ottawa’s rush hour, it’s basically suicide.
Unless you have kids or are with someone who simply loves animals, I’d skip going to the zoo / safari as I think it’s target market are children under 5 feet tall and 7 years of age. That said, glad I went as it was a fun road trip and definitely something different. It costs $19 each adult to enter and there are also hiking trails, peaceful way to spend a nice summer day out of the city.
I will note that the minute we started speeding away from the city, started feeling alive again. Road trips are great fun and something everyone can do this summer. Just get in a car, pick a location or don’t and drive there with great haste. When you’re there, get excited about it and the moment that enthusiasm wanes, you’re gone…