The province has been social-distancing for over eleven weeks now. It has forced businesses to close their doors; restaurants have migrated to take-out and delivery. Suddenly a trip to the grocery stores is no longer a mundane weekend chore but the most exciting (and high risk) activity anyone does. No one knows exactly when things will return to normal, or what exactly the new normal will look like.
Perhaps the industry that will see the greatest shift is the tourism and travel industry. Already international flights have grinded to a halt; holiday resort bookings have plummeted. Yet, once Canada lifts the ban on movement and gatherings, I don’t think people will flock to international destinations like they used. I believe we are entering a new age of domestic travel.
And I think this will inspire a new wave of paddlers, because what better post-lockdown vacation could there be than a guided canoe trip on one of Canada’s world class rivers? Let me explain.
Avoid International Travel
If I had to guess, I believe Canada will ease back on social distancing restrictions long before its borders open up for non-essential travel. Even when Canada does open its borders, who knows when other countries will do the same.
So instead of venturing off to an international destination, I think people will opt for trips closer to home.
And that doesn’t mean trips will become less exciting - far from it!
Consider the Missinaibi River. The river’s various put-in locations are about a seven hour drive from Toronto (that’s similar travel time to Europe, but without the security lines or cramped airplane seats). It is a manageable drive to do in a single day, yet when you arrive at the river you will be in a whole other world.
The Missinaibi River offers unparalleled adventure. Exciting whitewater rapids, ranging from continuous swifts to Class III. Absolutely beautiful scenery - the lookouts around Thunderhouse Falls, the expansive sky and spiny spruce trees, campfires under the stars with even a chance to see the Northern Lights in late August. That sounds like the perfect vacation to me (in fact, the Missinaibi River is one of my favourite places in all of Canada).
Clean, Sterile, Outdoor Environment
Maybe this is just my paranoia talking, but I imagine that even after all businesses open I will be reluctant to jump at the opportunity to interact with dozens of other people in one small space such as a large hotel or restaurant to name a few. If you’re like me, a guided canoe trip will be more to your fancy. You will spend your time with the same 8-10 people 24/7 for the duration of your trip, in wide open outdoor spaces.
Tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats are thoroughly washed and sanitized between trips. On the canoe trip, you will be the only person using your gear. And all the food is cooked by your group; the dishes are washed and sanitized after each meal.
There’s this perception that the woods can be dirty and unhygienic but that’s simply not the case. Getting sick on a canoe trip is inconvenient for everyone, so guides ensure everything is sanitized, and people have easy access to handwashing and hand sanitizer.
Small Intimate Groups From Start to End
After two months inside my little GTA condo, I can’t imagine jumping into a hustle-and-bustle city right now. Even after the lockdown is lifted, I’d personally like to ease back into crowded environments.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be with just a handful of other people, chatting around a fire or bantering while your guide inspects a rapid? And how great would it be to paddle a river while sharing stories with someone you don’t live with? (I think my boyfriend is getting really tired of my repetitive anecdotes and lame jokes.)
Que the Noire River. On a seven-day paddle along the Noire River you are unlikely to see anyone outside your group (you may see a moose though). Paddling on this winding, free flowing river will give you the opportunity to spend time with a few other people, without the busyness of a crowded city.
Don’t Worry About The Logistics
Perhaps the best part about joining a guided canoe trip is how easy it is - our adventures are All Inclusive! Once your trip is booked, simply pack your bags
(by following our detailed packing list of clothing and personal items) and make your way to the meeting point (identified in your Welcome Package). Your outfitter will take care of the boats and equipment, route planning, food preparation, transportation to and from the river, and all other details.
We Haven’t Even Mentioned The Health Benefits
Perhaps we need to be focusing on our Physical and Mental Health more than ever right now. Yet another reason I believe a guided canoe trip is the perfect post-lockdown trip is because of the many health benefits. I don’t know about you, but for the last two months I have been sitting and staring at screens far more than I ought to.
I’m keen to get back in the canoe and spend my days being physically active, breathing in the clean fresh air, smelling the smells of the outdoors. I’m yearning for when I can leave the ranges of cell reception and take a pause from the ping of notifications. There is no other place to be physically active and mentally at ease around the clock for multiple days in a row.
So you think you are ready to take a guided canoe trip
If I’ve sparked your interest and you’re considering a guided canoe trip this summer, I’d welcome you to explore the scheduled departures on our website. We are also booking mostly custom trips for this season, with a group of 4 - 12 we will work with you to plan the best Family Vacation EVER! Thats a big promise, but we are pretty confident that we can deliver.
You should also know MHO Adventures is offering flexible payment methods. This lockdown has affected everyone differently and at MHO Adventures we are committed to making the canoe trip of your dreams a reality. Please contact us to discuss options.
About the author:
Mikaela is the voice behind Voyageur Tripper, a blog dedicated to outdoor adventure. She previously worked as a wilderness guide, leading trips throughout Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut. She currently lives in Toronto and gets out for a river trip every summer.