Traveling can be exhausting, so a successful trip relies heavily on getting a good night’s sleep wherever you make your home away from home. But at some accommodations it’s not only about sleeping well, it’s about who you are sleeping with. At Aventuraid in Québec, you can snuggle in for the night alongside three resident packs of arctic and grey wolves.
Set on just shy of 200 acres of forest land, Aventuraid is a wildlife observation center exclusively for wolves. It’s located in Girardville, a fairly unknown and remote spot in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Québec. Plan on about a four hour drive from Quebec City. That’s a good chunk of time in a rental car, but it’s not every day you get to sleep and walk with wolves.
Three packs of semi-wild wolves live in three fenced enclosures in the middle of the forest. The enclosures range from two and a half acres to five acres in size and are home to a total of 42 wolves. When you arrive, don’t waste any time; get out and walk around. Depending on where you start, you might not see much in the beginning. Wolves are naturally shy, they won’t seek out contact with people, but they are there and they are watching you. Keep your eyes peeled, once you’ve covered a little ground, it will get easier to notice the canine-like crowd following along from a safe distance. Have a camera handy, but be ready to shoot fast. Not much for attention, once the wolves see you are watching them, they disappear among the trees.
Imprinted wolves are the only exception to the scatter drill rule. When they open their eyes for the first time as newborn pups, the first thing imprinted wolves see are humans. As a result they enjoy the company of people just like most dogs. The smallest enclosure is home to seven imprinted grey wolves and when they see you headed in their general direction they get excited. Expect as much affection as they can give through a chain link fence.
Aventuraid owner Gilles Granal offers guests the opportunity to go inside the imprinted wolves enclosure. For an additional $38 US you take part in a supervised encounter. It’s open to everyone, ages 13 and up. Granal will not let guests in the enclosure if he has any reason to believe conditions are not safe, so he can’t guarantee experiences, but cancellations are rare and by spending at least one night, you’ve got two days of possible interaction time.
Where you sleep really depends on how pampered, or not, you want to be. The permanent tent and yurt are both next to a wolf enclosure, and come with an outhouse because they are a good walk from the bathroom and shower building. Two additional small cabins with no electricity or running water are alongside a second enclosure, but the walk to the bathrooms and a public kitchen is short.
If roughing it isn’t part of your vacation picture, the main guest house with all the comforts of home, has rooms for rent. However, the guest house is the farthest lodging from the wolves and when and if they howl at night, you might not hear them. Prices range from $60 to $130 US per night for double occupancy and includes a help-yourself continental breakfast in the public kitchen. Book through the website or check rates and book with Expedia or Travelocity.
Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. Her trip to Aventuraid was organized by Tourisme Saguenay-Lac-Saint-John and Tourisme Québec, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.