As my alarm clock jolted me awake, I quickly jumped out of bed, drew back the curtains and looked out the window, hoping for a miracle; nope, still raining. Mother Nature obviously didn’t get any of the memos I had been frantically sending her. You see, today was the day I would be spending 24 hours in the Ottawa Valley with Carly from Ontario Travel! I had meticulously planned out a trip filled to the brim with experiences that would introduce her to the best that I know this region has to offer – giving her the chance to discover her own inner wanderer! Oh well, the rain hadn’t stopped me before and I won’t let it stop me this time! I sent off a quick text saying, “I hope you packed your rain coat and sense of adventure!” hopped in the vehicle and set off East towards our meeting destination; Elements Luxury Tented Camp.
Surprisingly enough, the rain wasn’t a deterrence at all, if anything it added an exotic sense of unknown to the agenda, and a mystical beauty that, no matter how hard we try, I doubt we could ever recreate. We arrived at dusk, the adventure began immediately and didn’t end until the sun began to set on the next day. Our wandering weaved together the unique experiences and the charismatic people who make the Ottawa Valley memorable; from hiking to a waterfall in the rain to grilling steaks on an open fire, and from conquering class IV rapids to sipping seasonal craft brews, we truly experienced what makes the Ottawa Valley unique. With each experience, we sought out that moment of realization, the moment when one experience just speaks to you, the moment when a memory settles deep inside your chest and you are overcome with a faint feeling of familiarity; the discovery of your inner wanderer. Let’s see if you can guess which type of wanderer Carly is…
Is she a Serenity Seeker?
Stress is literally not an option once you enter the front gates at Elements. The Wilderness Butlers take care of your every need, the comfort and sheer elegance of your ‘tent’ is staggering and the mesmerizing beauty of the surrounding nature is breathtaking. There was a misty fog hanging in the trees that made us feel as though we were deep in the rain forest, far from our regular life. Whether you’re enjoying a glass of wine at the private beach or your morning coffee fireside, or whether you’re transitioning into downward dog in the yoga studio, hiking to the lookout or catching up on your reading in a hammock; serenity is all around you. As we slipped into our King Beds for the night, the light pitter patter of rain lulled us to sleep.
Is she a Memory Maker?
There is something so nostalgic about roasting a marshmallow to a golden crisp before sandwiching between chocolate and graham crackers. Each stage of the process is a step further into the past to your childhood, until the ultimate satisfaction of biting into the ooey gooey goodness makes you giggle like a child. Now imagine your favourite childhood movie’s soundtrack singing out of the record player along with the crackling of the fire, “I’ve had the time of my llliiiffe…”. That is a memory that will not soon be forgotten.
Is she a Freedom Finder?
From one extreme to another, we woke up rejuvenated, ate a four-course breakfast, hiked to a majestic waterfall, and then jumped into a 12-person inflatable raft at Wilderness Tours and began paddling down the mighty Ottawa River and into the second largest rapid in North America, aptly named Buseater (because well, it would eat an entire bus up in one swift wave). With the extremely high water levels, we experienced the most powerful and most exhilarating rapids! We tumbled and tipped, fumbled and flipped all the way down the river with the biggest, goofiest grins on our faces.
Is she a Creative Cruiser?
Each new experience offers the opportunity to learn, you simply have to be willing to open up and expand your horizons. Carly grilled her first ever steak to perfection, and on an open fire pit at that! She listened intently while hearing the history of the Ottawa River and Wilderness Tour’s dedicated role in the preservation of its future. As we toured Whitewater Brewing Co.’s brewing operation she was beyond intrigued, asking questions about the process, the local ingredients and the stories behind each beer’s unique names. You know what they say, you learn something new every day.
Is she a Rustic Roamer?
A day on the water, calls for refuelling. The tastes of the Ottawa Valley are varied and vast, but you’d be hard pressed to get a local restaurant recommendation that doesn’t include the Whitewater Brew Pub. Delicious hand-crafted beers, a seasonal menu that reflects the flavours of the Valley and live music is exactly what we were looking for. Despite the bustling Friday night crowd, owner Chris Thompson joined us on the patio for a pint and regaled us with stories from raft guiding, the evolution of the brewery and his love of community. At Elements, we chatted for hours around the fire under the stars with Nikki, the brains behind the most magical place I’ve ever been and we were graced with a visit from Joe Kowlaski, the man who read Lord of the Rings, was inspired to live a life of adventure and took the first guided rafting trip down the Ottawa River in 1975. Meeting the people behind the scenes and hearing their passions is always such a pleasure.
Here I thought, after experiencing each of the five wandering types, it would be difficult for Carly to choose which one she was. Turns out, she felt it right from the beginning.
“After a busy week in the city, escaping to the Ontario’s Highlands was just what was needed. As the city disappeared in my rearview mirror, I started feeling a sense of calm and relaxation – a feeling that stayed with me for the entire visit. Well, almost the entire time – aside from the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River! Glamping at Elements was an experience like none other, from the luxury of my ‘tent’, to the sounds and sights of the surrounding forest, I was in awe. I sampled delicious local craft beer and met some great people who I can now call friends. Despite enjoying each moment of the adventure, I official declare myself a Serenity Seeker!” – Carly K.
Click here to find your inner wanderer! Are you a Serenity Seeker? Enter to win a weekend stay at Elements. Maybe you’re a Freedom Finder and you’d prefer a weekend of whitewater rafting, you can win that too!
Good luck and happy wandering!