Canada’s a massive country, and that means there’s a plenty to do and see, especially in its less-visited regions. A few hours north of Québec City, you’ll find the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area. Quebecers have done a good job of keeping it a secret, but if you’re looking for some cool spots to spend the night, this Canadian territory is waiting to wow you.
Home to more than 40 arctic and grey wolves, Aventuraid is a wildlife observation center for wolves. Here, three packs of semi-wild wolves live in heavily forested enclosures. If time is tight, you can take a self-guided walk around the enclosures $9 USD ($12 CAD). Wolves are shy, so you’ll have to be on the lookout as you move. A few of the wolves, in the smallest enclosure, are the outgoing exception. Owner Gilles Granal offers personal encounters for $38 ($50 CAD) where you can hang out with the affectionate pack. Visits are not rushed and can last hours — it all depends on the animals. Safety is top priority, so encounters are not guaranteed.
Some of the best views of the three packs come when the sun sets and rises, making spending the night at Aventuraid an opportunity that’s hard to pass up. Affordable accommodations range from two small cabins, a yurt, and permanent platform-style tent. There’s no electricity or running water, but the lodgings are all alongside the enclosures, meaning you can pretty much watch the wolves from your bed. If the comforts of home are a must, the guest house is modern, but far enough away from the wolves that you might not hear their howls. Prices range from $72 ($95 CAD) to $128 ($170 CAD) for two and includes a continental-style breakfast in the community kitchen.
Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Félicien
Zoo sauvage of St-Félicien is not a typical zoo. Though some animals live in a traditional setting, the Walking Adventure in the Land of the Caribou offers visitors a chance to go on safari, Canada-style. Spend the morning in a small bus rolling through open stretches of the Nature Trail Park where bears, musk ox, and a number of other animals roam freely. Don’t be surprised if a bear wanders by the front door during the lunch break. An afternoon hike leads to your campsite where nicely equipped tents have wood-burning heaters and cozy sleeping bags laid out atop balsam fir boughs. It’s a short walk to running water and the outhouse, but you just might run into a couple of caribou and moose on the way. The seasonal package costs $238 ($315 CAD) for adults and $211 ($280 CAD) for children 6-14 years old, and includes a campfire breakfast, two lunches, and a campfire dinner.
Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux
Sleep well overlooking the Saguenay Fjord in a suspended sphere at Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux. The tiny orbs are big enough to sleep four, and along with the bunks, you’ll find plates, silverware, and a camp stove to cook in the nearby tented picnic area. Running water and a compostable toilet is less than a minute’s walk away, but don’t forget your lantern. Though you’re dangling from the treetops, you won’t feel any motion in the tightly cabled spheres. Summer rates for spheres run $177 ($235 CAD). Spring and fall are $20 CAD less. Along with the spheres, Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux offers a dome, treehouses, cabins, and tent sites.
Take the cable car — or if you’re feeling ambitious — climb the 764 steps to get an up-close view of Ouiatchouan Falls. Wander through the historic company town, built in the early 1900s to support the once thriving pulp mill at the base of the falls, then call it a night in one of the two dozen renovated guest rooms. Val-Jalbert operates seasonally, typically the end of May through the middle of October. Packages include entrance to the village, and a sit-down dinner, and breakfast in the dining room. The cost is $221 ($292.50 CAD), based on double occupancy.