Travellers seeking to scratch their unbearably itchy feet with far-flung outdoor adventures can’t do better than Canada’s central province of Manitoba – a heartland of pristine wilderness parks, serene lakes and untamed rivers.
From hiking to horseback riding, read on for five exhilarating outdoor escapades for the adventurous spirit in all of us.
1. Back country hiking
From scenic strolls to technical terrain, Manitoba’s epic wilderness playground is an intriguing blend of tall grass prairies, evergreen forests and expansive wetlands, punctuated by abundant lakes and rivers.
Hunt Lake Trail, in Whiteshell Provincial Park, is a challenging 13-kilometre hike that scales the steep rocks of the Canadian Shield as it winds around West Hawk Lake leading north to Little Indian Bay. If the lofty trek doesn’t take your breath away, you can be sure the stunning vistas will do the job.
In Riding Mountain National Park, explore the steep slopes of Gorge Creek Trail where you’ll be surrounded by aspen and hazel forests. Bear witness to the gorge cut out of bedrock that forms part of the Manitoba Escarpment – a testament to thousands of years of erosion – as you traipse beneath a canopy of green ash, white birch, Manitoba maples and American elms.
2. Gangler’s North Seal River Lodge
Manitoba’s remote, wild north is Canada’s final frontier. In the midst of roaming bears, moose, caribou and wolves, crystal-clear lakes and pristine forests, lies the exclusive Gangler’s North Seal River Lodge, on the shores of Lake Egenolf.
Learn about the diverse habitats of the area at this fly-in wilderness lodge, check out an authentic trappers’ cabin and take a tour of the glacial ‘erratics’, huge granite boulders that adorn the landscape.
Try your hand at catching your own lunch in one of the many lakes in this prime fishing region. When night falls, turn your eyes skyward for the shimmering, dancing aurora borealis, before closing your eyes in your deluxe cabin – the perfect end to an unforgettable day.
3. Paddling excursions
With more than 100,000 lakes and waterways cascading like ribbons throughout the province, you’ll want to get amongst it, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
For a leisurely paddle, glide through the man-made tunnels of Caddy Lake or book a scenic kayak tour with Prairie Sea Kayak Adventures, offering guided excursions in the heart of the Interlake at Willow Creek, near Gimli, about 90 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Did you know Manitoba boasts some of the best rapids on the planet? For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a five-night whitewater adventure with Twin River Travel following the Manigotagan River for 100 kilometres to Lake Winnipeg. You’ll feel like you’re in another world as you glide past ecologically critical boreal transition ecosystems and marshes teeming with wildlife.
For the full quintessential Manitoban ranch immersion, visit Falcon Beach Ranch in Whiteshell Provincial Park, just 75 minutes from Winnipeg. Ride through the beautiful boreal forest, alongside natural beaver ponds, up granite ridges and down natural sand slopes.
Get off the beaten track with the guided UFO Ride that takes you to the actual site of the famous Falcon Lake Encounter, one of North America’s most well-documented UFO sightings, only accessible by horseback. Dismount and explore the site on foot while your guide tells you the tale of that fateful day in May 1967. Guided rides are available for all levels of ability.
5. Northern lights
Nature’s most spectacular phenomenon, the shimmering aurora borealis, can be viewed 300 days per year in Churchill, due to its position directly under the aurora oval in far-north Manitoba. With prime viewing taking place in February and March, the aurora is often visible as early as August, when the warmer temperatures, clear skies, and early nightfall lends itself to these heart-stopping light displays.
Embark on a Nights Under Lights adventure in a boreal forest directly under the aurora oval with Nanuk Operations. Snuggle up in a luxurious dome-ceiling yurt with a hot drink, and step outside with your camera when the incredible lightshow begins. Meet your Kiwi guide, Caleb, who arrived in Churchill 14 years ago and never left.
Join a Northern Lights and Winter Nights adventure, where you can take in this night sky phenomenon from the comfort of a Tundra Buggy amid a wintry Narnia-style landscape, and visit the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, where you can learn how to build your own igloo – and sleep in it! Take advantage of the 360-degree glass aurora dome and observation deck that offer ideal vantage points to marvel at the glowing ribbons of light as they cascade across the pitch-black sky.
Note for all travellers:
Travel to Canada is going to be a little different than it was prior to the pandemic, and we encourage all travellers to be fully informed of the pre-entry and on-arrival public health and testing requirements both federally and provincially. This includes the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app. Travellers should plan for extra time in the lead up, and upon the arrival of their trip. For the latest information on travel to Canada including the updated requirements and restrictions, please visit the Government of Canada website.