If you would like a Canadian "north woods" experience, but would like it to be in a somewhat "controlled" environment, then Okwari Aventures is just the ticket! (Okwari means "bear" in the native language.) Located not far from the city, yet on the border of a magnificent forest, it is an exceptional site for observing the black bear and other wildlife. Observation of the bears takes place in its natural habitat with qualified guides. Spectators are within an area with electrified fences (to keep the bears away from the spectators), and they can stay cozy inside heated shelters with large windows that look out onto bear habitat. There is even a "portable john" adjacent to the shelter for those inconvenient times "when nature calls"! During the hours preceding the bear observation time, visitors to Okwari Aventures have a variety of options available to them, some of which are pictured in this collage. The upper left photo shows the nature trail you can take with an experienced naturalist as they point out unusual plants (lower left) and ponds created by beavers, with their signature "beaver dam" engineering (lower right photo). The red maple leaves in the middle right photo show why it is very appropriate that the Canadian flag be emblazoned with a red maple leaf. The day I was at Okwari Aventures, the forest floor was completely carpeted in the beautiful red maple leaves!
Your day at Okwari Aventures can also include a visit to a serene lake (top photo) with a Scandinavian type log cabin built on its shores (middle right photo). There you can warm up by the wood stove (as I am doing in the middle left photo) before you enjoy a feast on a meal of foods typical of the region. The lower photo shows another activity you can engage in---a Rabaska canoe ride. Different from canoes one sees on the Buffalo River in Arkansas, a Rabaska canoe is an 8 meter long boat that seats about ten people. It is the method used by yesteryear's "coureurs-des-bois", or pioneers, on Quebec's lakes and rivers.
Another extremely enjoyable and educational option at Okwari Aventures is visiting an aboriginal site. There you will meet a French Canadian "mountain man" with his native American wife (upper left photo). They will give you an in-depth explanation of not only the clothing they are wearing, but also the various tools they use to survive in the wilderness (upper right photo). The lower left photo shows their fire pit, where they prepared herbal teas for us to sample, along with various medicinal herbs they were in the habit of using. The photo on the right shows the shelter they built of available native materials that was used as their home during the long, cold winters.
Okwari Aventures is located along a river the French Canadians call "Riviere a Mars". This photo collage shows the suspension bridge we were able to cross above the river, to the observation deck on the other side. It is easy to see (and hear!) the power created by the rushing water, and it illustrates why "the power of flowing water" has a long history of being useful in Quebec. This location beside the river is another reason for the success of Okwari Aventures as a natural habit for moose, bear, beavers, and deer. It reminded me of the verse in Psalms 42:1 that says "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my heart pants for you, O God". Perhaps it is a lesson to us human beings that just as the animals need to be near a water source, so we need to stay near the source of our sustenance---a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you would like to learn more about Okwari Aventures, you may visit their website at http://www.okwariaventures.com/ Since it is in the area of Quebec known as Saguenay, you can also visit http://www.ville.seguenay.qc.ca/ to learn about other nearby attractions. I can assure you that you will experience miles of smiles on the highways and byways of Seguenay! Tricia