Moose Safari: an Adventure by Canoe
Canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario
The only sound we could hear was our paddles carefully sliding into the water and pushing the canoe silently forward. We glided along the mirror like surface, barely making a ripple. It was quiet, nobody made a sound, we were focused on paddling and scouting the shores for meese.
Anticipation was almost tangible; each new little nook that we passed was a possible hiding place for a moose. And each half sunken tree trunk required a second glance to make sure it wasn’t a moose pretending to be a half sunken tree trunk; crafty little buggers.
One little bay after another we made our way further on the lake. Our hearts sinking a little with each empty little nook we passed. Maybe we wouldn’t see a moose at all. Maybe someone had been here to scare them all away. Or maybe it was like one of those dolphin cruises where you never see any dolphins. Or maybe they have all decided to just go somewhere else.
By all means we should’ve been tired at this point. We had already woken up at 6am without time for breakfast.
We were in the Algonquin national park in Ontario, well beyond the reach of mobiles phones and other such modern communication mediums.
The previous day we had loaded our canoes with food, tents and other necessary survival gear, like mosquito spray, trust me, it’s as important as food, if not more so. We had then canoed to the other side of the lake, carried our equipment and canoes to the next lake and repeated the process multiple times. The Algonquin park lakes aren’t always connected by rivers like you’d expect. Thankfully our tour guides were experts at carrying canoes.
Packing our canoes
Picking up a canoe, easy
Weather during the sunset felt a bit gloomy
As we had paddled further into the national park, we saw beaver dams, loonies, empty wilderness and plenty of mosquitoes. The gentle breeze was a welcome relief from them.
We had already gone on a meese safari the previous night after we had arrived at our camp site, with no success. So we had been keen on waking up early this morning. Our guides told us that the meese are most active between 5-8am and 5-8pm, so if you want to see them in the morning, you better be ready to wake up early. So that’s what we had done now. I am not a morning person, but I’m willing to make an exception for a moose safari.
Early sunrise in the Algonquin Provincial Park
Beaver dam, but didn’t look like anyone was home
You can see Loons on the lakes, and hear them in the evenings
The half sunken trees were sometimes easy to mistake for a moose
I heard our guide stop paddling and whisper something about a moose straight ahead.
We froze, keeping mindful of the paddle, making sure we didn’t splash it against the water or hit it against the canoe to scare the timid moose. I looked forward, searching the forrest in front of me, but I didn’t see anything. Another false alarm, although that was the first one from our guide.
And then I suddenly saw it. It was far away, but it was moving. It was a moose; gently walking about in the water. We stopped paddling and let our canoe slide forward.
The moose was oblivious to us and kept on munching on the water lilies which they love, and which is one of the main reasons they come to the lakes. We admired it from afar for a few minutes, until it lazily strolled back into the forest. We waited for it to return, but it didn’t. We kept going for a while, but we didn’t come upon any more meese.
It was misty and quiet on our morning moose safari
There it was, the moose!
It kept eating water lilies
Water lilies, this is the reason the moose come to the water
It was a success, we did see a moose. Usually you can see more of them and even closer by on these safaris, so I was slightly gutted that I didn’t manage to get my National Geographic shot of a moose. I mean it would’ve been the nature photo of the year, I know it. Oh well, next time.
And one moose is a lot more than no moose; and that is definitely the biggest animal I’ve ever seen in the wild. Elephants and water buffaloes might be bigger, but they are tamed, so they don’t count.
Finally we gave up and turned around back towards the camp, where we had delicious maple syrup bacon with eggs waiting for us. After breakfast we packed our things, but it wasn’t back to the civilization we were going… but that, I’ll tell you about that later.
Any food cooked on open fire always tastes better
Bacon with mapple syrup… I didn’t know you could improve bacon
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Voyageur Quest in the Algonquin National park for our moose safari, but all opinions are my own, including the insistence that meese is the single best word for multiple moose.
Canoes are the best way to get around
What’s the most impressive animal you’ve seen in the wild?