Quebec’s sophisticated cities and resort-filled eastern regions have long drawn Canadian and international tourists. Yet west Quebec, despite its spectacular landscapes and close proximity to Ontario, is often overlooked. The Gatineau- Outaouais region features pristine forests, clear blue lakes and bucolic scenery, as well as some first-rate outdoor tourist attractions that will delight even the most discerning traveller.
Here are three must-try attractions in Quebec’s Gatineau-Outaouais region.
Unwind at North America’s Largest Spa
Nordik Spa Nature is a natural haven located just a 20 minute drive from Ottawa. With seven Nordic baths, eight dry and steam saunas, a 52-foot infinity pool, warm and cold waterfalls, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas and a top-notch restaurant, this luxurious oasis provides a range of thermal experiences that will occupy visitors for an entire day.
Inspired by relaxation techniques from the Nordic countries, the spa offers unique (and sometimes offbeat) relaxation techniques. In addition to traditional massages and body treatments, the spa offers Källa treatments in the second salt-water floating pool in the world. Several times throughout the day, the spa holds popular and offbeat “Aufguss” sauna rituals, traditional vaporisation techniques that involve pouring water enriched with essential oil over hot rocks, while a trained “sauna meister” fans steam around the room. Visit Nordik on a Thursday evening if you’d like to join sexy guests sipping cocktails in their swimsuits while a DJ pipes lounge-style beats across the grounds.
Soar Through the Treetops at Arbraska Adventure Park
In the Laurentian forest outside Wakefield, Quebec, Arbraska Laflèche Park offers extensive zip lines, suspended bridges, sky- high swings and a deep cave to adventurists of all ages. Day and night, guests can fly over a 168 metre lake and reach speeds of 45km/h on aerial courses designed to challenge mind and body.
The famous Laflèche Cave, is the biggest cave open to visitors in the Canadian Shield, with the year-round temperature sitting between 4 and 7 degrees. Adults and kids don explorer helmets and move through the darkness with an expert speleologist guide.
Arbraska Laflèche Park also offers GPS rallies (large-scale treasure hunts using GPS technology) for adults and kids, as well as winter snowshoeing. All park games have been installed with the utmost respect for nature – no nails, screws, or bars are introduced directly into the trees.
Hike and Bike Around Gatineau Park
Gatineau Park features over 360 square kilometres of hills and old-growth forests, active Pre-Cambrian caves, quiet streams, well-kept beaches and a unique meromictic lake. With 165 kilometres of hiking trails, some of which form part of the Trans Canada Trail, and 32.5 kilometres of panoramic winding roads for cyclists, the park is ideal for hikers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts. Experienced mountain bikers can steer their wheels through hilly forested terrain, and get rewarded with panoramic views of the Ottawa Valley.
Wooded campgrounds, yurts, and the enchanting Wakefield Mill Inn are available inside the park for those looking to rest their head among some of Quebec’s most magnificent natural scenery.
For more information go to Tourism Outaouais website at tourismeoutaouais.com/en-ca.