Guest blog by The Planet D
My husband Dave and I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel the world since 2008. Our careers as travel bloggers have taken us to the far reaches of the earth documenting our adventures through videos, photography, travel narratives and social media. It’s been a wild and wonderful ride. It has also helped us appreciate just how beautiful and exciting our own country can be.
While exploring the world, we’ve looked at ourselves as Canadian Ambassadors and have enjoyed representing Canada in other countries; however, we feel that it is now time to show the world our home and native land. What better place to start than our own backyard?
For the year of 2014, we’re exploring all the best that Ontario has to offer. We recently finished the winter leg of our Ontario travels taking on some epic adventures in the far North, to participating in activities that anyone can do. Remember, even if it’s gloomy and raining in southern, Ontario, chances are there’s still a lot of snow and sunshine just a couple hours north. So, instead of staying indoors for the winter months, get out there and embrace the snow, you may find that you’ll become a winter lover like us!
You don’t have to go to the Yukon to go dogsledding. As a matter a fact, there’s dogsledding all over the province and we had the opportunity to go to Haliburton to try it out at Winterdance Dogsled Tours. Winterdance offers two-hour, half day, and full day tours where you are the driver. Owned by dog sledding duo Hank DeBruin and Tanya McReady, Winterdance houses 150 pure Siberian Huskies. You know you are in for an authentic experience. Hank has finished two Yukon Quests and one Iditarod. These are the Mothers of dogsled racing both over 1000 miles long!
Are you afraid of heading out to the wilderness to sleep in a tent on your own? Give it a try instead with Lure of the North in Sudbury. Dave and Kielyn Marrone run winter camping tours ranging from three-day introductory courses to epic 10-day expeditions. You will trek through the snow on traditional snowshoes learning how to tell good lake ice from the unstable, all while pulling a sled and living the way the fur traders did back in the day of the Hudson Bay Trading Company. You will learn how to chop down dead cedar trees for firewood, how to create a bed of spruce boughs for sleeping, and how to chip through ice to gather lake water for drinking. By the time you are done with them, you’ll have the skills you need to survive a great Canadian Winter.
Arrowhead and Algonquin Provincial Parks
Sure, everyone heads up to Muskoka in the summer months to explore the magnificent parks and lakes it is blessed with, but it’s open for business in the winter too! Algonquin and Arrowhead in the Ontario region known as Explorers’ Edge, are both open all year long ready and waiting for people to join them for some snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Algonquin Park has snowmobile trails, ice fishing, ice skating and even dogsledding. Arrowhead has winter fun for the whole family with the ice trail and tube park. The 1.5 km ice trail takes skaters through the beautiful forest with rest stations and even some night skating on weekends. You can also live out your childhood dream of having the ultimate tobogganing hill on their groomed tube park. It’s great for the kids, but adults will love it too. If you want to truly experience everything, you can rent all the gear you need at Algonquin Outfitters. They’ll get you ready for all things winter.
It’s the ultimate Canadian winter adventure. Snowmobiling has everything you need for thrills and witnessing winter beauty. We always thought you needed to own a snowmobile to get out there and enjoy the trails but there are rentals all over the province. We popped over to Explorers’ Edge to hit the road with Backcountry Tours located in Dwight, Ontario. With an experienced guide who knows the routes, we travelled in safety and comfort as we spotted deer in the woods; a beautiful snow covered pine forest and got the chance to rip it up on the frozen Lake of Bays. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience, they’ll show you how to handle a sled and if you don’t own warm clothing, you can borrow what you need at the shop.
Resorts and Romance
Winter can be the most romantic time in the world. There is nothing better than sitting by the fire enjoying a fine Ontario wine while watching the snow fall outside. We had the opportunity to sample two heavenly resorts in Ontario. Sir Sam’s Couples Resort and Cedar Grove in Muskoka are two getaways made for winter.
Sir Sam’s Inn has a warm and inviting waterspa to soothe your chilled bones. With all-inclusive packages, you can spend your time doing as you please. There’s a ski hill and dog sledding nearby, plus there are activities on sight. The Algonquin Loop runs through Sir Sam’s and they offer snowmobiling tours and rentals. There are snowshoes at your disposal and registered massage therapists ready to work out your knots at the end of the day before enjoying a four-course meal at the Twin Fireplaces dining room. If relaxation is what you are looking for, there are quite nooks for reading and sipping hot cider and each room has their own woodburning fireplace.
Cedar Grove Lodge in Muskoka is located directly on a frozen lake with snowshoeing and a hockey rink at your disposal. The cozy cabins have heated slate floors in the bathroom with jetted tubs and wood burning fireplaces. It’s inviting atmosphere will force you to slow down and read a book or play a game at the main lodge before heading out to the surrounding parks for winter fun. With on sight dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you may find you’ll never leave!
You don’t have to escape to the Caribbean during the winter months, staying home in Ontario offers the perfect blend of luxury, comfort, adventure and fun. So the next time you are looking for a getaway, start by exploring your own backyard.
The Planet D inspires adventure in everyone. Dave & Deb are one of travel’s most passionate storytellers, exploring the world one experience at a time. Married for over 15 years, they travel the globe showcasing their real-time journey and broadcasting their stories through professional travel writing, photography, video and engaging social media. As spokespeople and international ambassadors, The Planet D have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top companies and brands – while discovering more than 80 countries on all seven continents. Dave & Deb aim to inspire people to follow their dreams and push their boundaries and have spoken around the world about pursuing passion and what it takes to make it happen.