Quebec: Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Zoo Sauvage - Sleeping with the Caribou.
Looking for a little adventure, for something out of the ordinary? Consider this. Recently I had the opportunity to try the “Sleeping with the Caribou” overnight experience at Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien. It was memorable, amazing, fun, eco-friendly and definitely REAL.The experience was full of firsts:
first time seeing caribou in person, first time being within three (completely safe) feet of a black bear, first time tracking a moose through the forest using telemetry, and my first time touching a baby caribou (they are so soft!). Bottom line: amazing.
From beginning to end the experience is wonderful – well organized, ingenious and eco-conscious. Our guide, a charming Quebecois girl named Jennifer, gamely provided us with all of the information we could ask for about the unique ecosystems of the Boréalie, lead us on our hike and subsequent moose-tracking expedition and hand-prepared all of our meals over an open fire amidst a real-life caribou herd. Overnight with caribou.
For families who are wildlife and nature enthusiasts it is simply must to take part in the 36-hour “Land of the Caribou Experience”. This singularly unique overnight experience turns families into Zoo Savage VIPs, inviting them on a guided expedition into the Boréalie. Here’s the scoop.
The expedition begins with an exploration of the backstage wildlife trails (through a cage-free wildlife park), and a vintage Quebecois lunch at the colonial-era farm deep within the park. In the afternoon, participants go on a guided nature hike through the forest of the Boréalie, followed by sunset canoeing on Lac Montagnais, and a hot meal cooked over an open fire underneath the stars. Accommodations for the night are in a heated prospector tent among a caribou herd.
In the morning after a tasty breakfast, adventurers can try their hand at telemetry as they track a moose through the forest. Even once the adventure inside the wildlife park is over, families are invited to explore the rest of Zoo Savage and use their vouchers for lunch at `La Chaudrée des bois’, the zoo’s restaurant. Need to know:
The experience is currently available in French and English. Sleeping bag, pillow, hand towels, material for activities, snacks, dinner, breakfast and voucher for lunch are all included. Author’s note:
This overnight experience is absolutely wonderful, and designed to accommodate families of all ages (although they recommend that children be six years of age or older to get the most out of the experience). All of the activities are leisurely, but exciting, offering the chance to get up-close-and-personal with the wildlife that calls the Boréalie home, from caribou and moose to black bears, musk oxen, bison, groundhogs, white tail deer and more. Our guide was charming, energetic and full of information. This is a trip I would do again in a heartbeat!
The Zoo Sauvage of St-Félicien is a fantastic place for family adventure. From the moment of arrival the wildlife park atmosphere is obvious – the animals rule the space, with spacious enclosures for humans set along winding paths that explore both the unique ecosystem and wildlife of the Boréalie. Explore the Zoo Sauvage.
The zoo is divided into six zones, designed to initiate visitors to the unique ecosystem and wildlife of the Boréalie, and then take them around the world. The six zones are: Arctic, Asia, mixed Boréalie forest, mountains, Mongolia and a Mini Farm. Many of the zones feature more species – bobcats with grizzlies. Bonus points:
The Mini Farm is full of fun kids’ activities, including a petting zoo (with a baby caribou), water games, and a tree-level labyrinth which snakes over the play area and petting zoo. Discover the Boréalie.
Regular visitors to the zoo can also explore the Zoo Nature Park on one of the zoo’s train rides. On the one-hour ride through the Zoo Nature Park, visitors are able to see North American species in their natural habitat, as well as explore the four unique ecosystems found in Canada. The animals live in virtual freedom – free from cages, and free to roam at their leisure. Bonus points: The tour also goes by several reconstructed historic sites which serve to remind people of the origins of Quebecois frontier culture and the people who called the wild Boréalie their home. Camp out.
The Zoo Sauvage offers a summer camp for kids ages 8 to 12. The camp is a week long, giving kids the chance to work alongside the zookeepers and veterinarians, while having an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Boréalie. Bonus points: Camp includes a night sleeping amongst the caribou, or with the Amur tigers. See for yourself.
The Zoo Sauvage of St-Félicien offers four live webcams via their website. One of the webcams focuses on the polar bears (including the two polar bear cubs born in 2010!), while the other three are trained on the stunning Amur tigers, the large and impressive grizzlies, and the wildly playful Japanese Macaques (monkeys). Each habitat features more than one webcam viewpoint, allowing web visitors to explore the habitats in search of the residents.Make it happen:
Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien, 2230, boulevard du Jardin, St-Félicien, Québec, G8K 2P8. (418) 679-0543 or call the Zoo toll-free at 1-800-667-5687 or www.borealie.orgAbout Zoo Sauvage.
The Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien (Wild Zoo of St-Félicien) is one of the largest zoos in the province of Quebec. Located in Saint-Félicien, in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, the Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation of the boreal climate and is managed by the Boreal Biodiversity Conservation Center (Le Centre de Conservation de la Biodiversité Boréale (CCBB) Inc., formerly known as the St-Félicien Zoological Foundation inc. (La Société zoologique de Saint-Félicien Inc.) and commonly called the Zoo Sauvage of St-Félicien, a non-profit organization founded in 1960.Planning Details and More Things to Do with Kids. Check out Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
For more information about the area read The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean tourism blog, fan them on Facebook, check out their videos on Youtube or find gorgeous photos of the region on Flickr. Tourism Centre 412, boul. Saguenay Est, bureau 100, Chicoutimi (Québec) G7H 7Y8. Toll-free 1-877-BLEUETS (253-8387) or www.saguenaylacsaintjean.ca Information, comments, and images provided by AL Nelson-Duac for FTF. Additional images courtesy of Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien. Copyright 2013.
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