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Dominica Post Hurricane Maria Update

Dominica Post Hurricane Maria Update

ROSEAU, DOMINICA (October 18, 2017) — Dominica was severely impacted by category 5 Hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017. Assessment of the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges and sites and attractions continues.  Updated information from daily press briefings are accessible at http://www.opm.gov.dm/. Following is an update on island services:

Current Status
Dominica has classified this new period post Maria as one of relief, recovery and rebuilding.  The positive news is that many areas, communities and families are now moving from the relief phase to recovery. Restoration and repair of some services has begun. The Government led rebuilding phase will focus on incorporating best practices that ensure Dominica will be better able to withstand future acts of nature.

– Main roadways have been cleared and damage is still being assessed.
– Over 275 tons of food and 45,000 gallons of water have been distributed to over 93 communities.
– All banks, some businesses and government offices are now open for business in the city.
– The Ministry of Education is working to have 23 schools reopened by October 17, 2017. Many schools will reopen in in their original buildings, while others will operate on a shift system or in an alternate location.

Travel
– Most roads are safe for driving and motorists are advised to proceed with caution in certain areas.
– LIAT Airlines and Seaborne have resumed commercial flights to Dominica and are operating at a limited capacity.
– Seaborne Airlines began commercial flights to/from Dominica on October 11, 2017. Flights depart San Juan, Puerto Rico at 12:45 pm and depart Dominica 3:00 pm daily. For additional details, visithttps://www.seaborneairlines.com/
– LIAT Airlines will operate commercial flights as follows:

  • Return flight to Antigua (LI624) will operate on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday departing Antigua  at 11:30am and  Dominica at 1:10pm;
  • Return flight to Barbados (LI601) will operate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday departing Barbados at 10am and Dominica at noon.

This schedule will run until November 7th when the airline will update its schedule.

For additional details, visit http://www.liat.com/ or call the Call Centre at 1-888-844-5428

– L’Express des Iles ferry service is operating to Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia from the Roseau Ferry Terminal.  The ferry travels the Martinique /St Lucia route on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays departing Dominica at 10:30 am and on Saturdays at 3 pm.  Service to Guadeloupe from Dominica is at 11:30 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and at 09:15 am on Saturdays.  For additional information, please visit http://www.express-des-iles.com/index.cfm?lng=en.

Accommodation
– Prior to Hurricane Maria, Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) had on record of seventy-three (73) properties / nine hundred and nine (909) guest rooms. As of October 17, 2017, sixty-four (64) of these properties have been reassessed for hurricane damage.  Assessments show that thirty-two (32) properties are moderately damaged and able to operate now or in the near future.
– Twenty seven (27) properties have been severely damaged or destroyed, with serious to total destruction of structures including roofs, electrical and plumbing. Wi-Fi  is not available in most cases.

  • The properties that suffered moderate damage account for fifty one percent (51.4%) of the total room stock or four hundred and sixty-seven (467) guestrooms.

Tourist Activity
– Most natural sites have been assessed.  Access roads to these sites have been damaged and consequently tourist sites and natural attractions are currently closed until repair work is complete.
– Overall 35% of reefs at dive sites were damaged, particularly  sponges and softer corals above 45 feet. Currently all nine dive operators are closed for business and most will not be operational before January 2018. Upon resumption the number of dives per day will be reduced to ease the strain on the fragile reefs.  Kindly check in with your dive shop for more details.

Utilities
– The Dominica Water and Sewage Company (DOWASCO) has restored drinking water supply to 55% of its network and work is ongoing to restore pipe borne water to other communities.
– The Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC) has restored electricity to parts of the capital city Roseau, Portsmouth and are continuing restoration of electricity to other communities.
– Mobile phone service providers FLOW and Digicel have restored access to their mobile networks to a number of communities.  FLOW has restored 21 of its 49 mobile sites and land line phone service has been restored to parts of Roseau, Canefield, St. Joseph, Portsmouth, Morne Daniel, Mahaut and Pond Cassee.  Digicel has restored mobile service to communities in the north, south and west as well as Roseau, Portsmouth and environs.

Relief Operations
– Relief efforts are being coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister through the Emergency Organizing Committee.

Detailed information on relief operations can be found at www.opm.gov.dm.

While some of our accommodations and sites have been damaged by hurricane Maria, our welcoming spirit has not been deterred. Many within the hospitality sector have regrouped and welcome voluntourism visitors.  If you are interested in such a visit to Dominica kindly contact our office.

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Squamish is Hardwired for Culture and Adventure this Fall

September 20, Squamish, B.C- It’s no secret, Squamish’s popularity is on the rise and there are many reasons why. Travellers have discovered this gem adventure destination and know that each season brings something new. With the arrival of fall this week, Squamish continues to impress with its wide range of active activities and cultural events. Here are the top 5 seasonal highlights to choose from.

1- Try the newest craze“Rope Running” is the newest attraction in town, Rope Runner Aerial Adventure Park. Standing 17 meters high and 20 meters in diameter the structure is built of steel, wood, ropes and wire where guides are assisting visitors to ‘run the rope’ and take part in various ‘games’. A full body harness and unique safety system keeps visitors safe, giving them the ability to move through the various level ropes course where they get to choose their unique path along the circuit, balancing over wooden beams, running like a ninja warrior, jumping off the tower at 15 meters or simply navigating through the obstacles. A selection of 50 games is offered, including logger sports (high wire log rolling), Ninja warriors (running boards, monkey bars, rings of madness and more), biking (pedaling a bike on a beam 40 feet in the air), climbing (big spider-web climbing net) and more.
For information:  www.exploresquamish.com/explore/aerial-adventure-park
2- Take a hike. Enjoy the best activity Squamish has to offer at this time of the year. Trails lead everywhere in this region, along rivers, lakes, ancient rainforests and vast mountainous terrain. There are many great trails to enjoy and here are three that can’t be missed, starting with the ‘Sea to Summit’ trail accessible from the Sea to Sky Gondola’s parking lot at the base to its peak at the Summit Lodge. The moderate 7.5 km trail with 900 meters elevation gain offers spectacular vistas of Shannon Falls, Howe Sound, Sky Pilot and the surrounding peaks. While at the Sea to Sky Gondola visitors may want to do something different and join a guided nature hike with a local indigenous cultural ambassador from the Talking Trees guided tour company. During the tour the local guide helps visitors to connect with the surrounding nature and shares cultural uses of the regional alpine forest, local plants and food that leave visitors with a deeper connection and appreciation for the local First Nations culture and nature. The Stawamus Chief trail remains a classic for its stunning views and diverse terrain made of a mix of steep stairs, ladders and mossy west coast forest. The intermediate 7.5 km trail with 550 meters elevation gain is a true pleaser.  Brohm Lake trailsin Interpretive Forest located 12 km North of Squamish is the most scenic of all in the fall. The lake trail is 3.6 km long with elevation gain between 220 and 348 meters and offers panoramic views of the Tantalus range, Paradise Valley, The Chief, Shannon Falls and Howe Sound.
3- Dig into cultural events of all kinds. The Sea to Sky Gondola’s Annual Mountain Music Series concludes September 22nd with the Sea to Sky Orchestra. The popularSquamish Artwalk is a month long celebration of local Visual Arts. During September visitors can view the creations of over 40+ artists in unique venues across town.
A unique opportunity to mingle with locals and meet local and renown artists and artisans up close. Guided Bike Art Tours take visitors to various art venues in town.Tour departs September 23 at 2:30pm from Brennan Park Rereation Centre. Reservations required. Weekly Creative Workshops are also taking place throughout the event. The last Workshop on Chinese Brush Painting takes place on September 30th.
For more information: www.squamishvisuals.com/artwalk
4- Socialize with friendly locals. The Squamish Farmer’s Market runs every Saturday in downtown Squamish, until October 25th. It’s the ideal venue to stock up on fresh produce and artisan-made goods while supporting the community. Refresh Market takes place at the West Coast Railway Park’s CN Roundhouse, November 17-18. The popular fall event is the town’s biggest shopping venue for handmade vintage and curated wares. Known for its highly edited mix of locally made clothing, jewelry, dry goods and more, Refresh features 100 vendors from Pemberton to Vancouver alongside food trucks, music and good vibes.
5- Please the kids in preparation for their favorite late fall / early winter event. From October 25-31, The Mystery of the Magic Pumpkin takes place at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. It’s a fun-filled day exploring the pumpkin patch and jumping aboard the Magic Pumpkin ride in search of a personal magic pumpkin full of surprise. November 25- December 17, The Polar Express is back to town. Kids can take a ride on their favorite Christmas train when it returns to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park and go on an hour-long train ride complete with treats and stops in the North Pole Workshop and Gingerbread Village. For more information: www.exploresquamish.com/events/magic-pumpkin-train /www.exploresquamish.com/events/polar-express
6- Observe Mother Nature at its best with the return of the salmon spawning in Squamish’s rivers, and the majestic bald eagles enjoying the feast. Industry experts predict a record year for regional pink salmon run this year. A delight for our majestic feathery friends, the Bald Eagles. Keep an eye out this eagle watching season, it may as well be a record year. The season begins at the end of November and runs until February.
There is plenty to enjoy year-round in Squamish. For more information on Squamish’s fall activities and events please visit: www.exploresquamish.com .
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Group of Seven in Stone Cellar, Perth, Ontario

Every summer we try to make a few local trips to explore our province and  one of the regions we love to visit is Lanark County, which offers perfect combination of small towns, cottages on the beach and wild life. And after spending couple days in the cottage (“The Dancing Bass” Lodge cottage) we went to Perth for some shopping and lunch.

That lunch was a very special treat for us! Based on the art of Famous Canadian Group of Seven Chef Jamie Troutman from “The Stone Cellar” created the menu that interprets various elements present in paintings in “edible art”. Hours of research made it possible to reflect the famous Canadian art in the fine Canadian cuisine. In his creations Jamie is using the true Canadian ingredients coming from local farms. Chef Troutman, as per his own words, using the “deconstruction of the elements” from art into cuisine.

Lawren Harris, Icebergs by Chef Jamie Troutman

The shot glasses made of clear ice represent the art of Lawren Stewart Harris, who was criticized as being cold, but in fact deeply spiritual and one of the skilled abstract painters.

From ice and cold we suddenly surrounded by flowers and greenery of “Tangled Garden” by J. E. H. MacDonald –  Jamie Troutman’s sunflower salad full of summer colours and fresh herbs… MacDonald’s art is distinguished by dark palette, tough, rich and at the same time elegant design. And Jamie is using the dark of the stone slab as background for the splash of colours…

Group of Seven MacDonald Tangled Garden
“Tangled Garden” in sunflower salad by Chef Jamie Troutman

From flowers and greenery of the garden we travel to Nova Scotia with help of another Jamie’s culinary creation based on “Nova Scotia Cove” again by J. E.H. MacDonald.  Scallops and wild rice combined in a beautiful setting with shells to represent seashore…

Group of Seven, edible art
Chef Jamie Troutman, Scallops  served with Wild Rice – “Nova Scotia Cove” by J. MacDonald

We keep our taste buds tuned as next we get served Canadian beef – so tender! …accompanied by some root vegetables… chef’s creation based on the painting by Arthur Lismer “Habitant Farm”…

"Habitant Farm" Lismer and Chef Troutman
“Habitant Farm” by Arthur Lismer and Chef Troutman

Lanark County is well known for Maple Syrup producers and it would be logical to find this unique Canadian product in local cuisine and famous art.

J. Troutman "Maple Glazed Pork" based on "The red Maple" by A. JacksonJ. Troutman “Maple Glazed Cheese” based on “The Red Maple” by A. Jackson.

Our experience would not be complete without the dessert!Apple dessert based on "Asters and Apples" by J. MacDonaldApple dessert based on “Asters and Apples” by J. MacDonald

If you decide to indulge in creativity and fine cuisine make sure to make a 48 hours reservation, and if so, you may need to find a fine place to stay. Luckily the area offers a good variety of hotels – one of our favourites is “Perth Manor” which offers classic architecture, cozy rooms, beautiful garden and friendly atmosphere.

The Stone Cellar Restaurant                                                                                   Address: 71 Gore St E, Perth, ON K7H 1H Menu: thestonecellar.com                                                                                       Reservations: opentable.com                                                                                 Phone: (613) 267-0200

Perth Manor Hotel                                                                                                 Address: 23 Drummond St. West, Perth, ON                                       Phone: (613) 264-0050 and if this one is not available –

Best Western Plus Perth Parkside Inn & Spa                                                   Address: 82 Peter St, Perth, ON                                                                 Phone: (613) 326-0082.

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Farmstead experience on Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County, Ontario

After the four and a half hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Blue Hen Farm.  Right at the turn we saw an old cupboard filled with jars of homemade preserves and a sign “Honk for Service”…  And we saw the farmhouse in the opening between trees.

Farmers Jeff and Leslie greeted us and as we entered the house we were amazed by the old fashioned setting of the rooms – furniture, chandelier and even the old upright piano that produced some wonderful melodies after our evening meals…

Executive Chef, Costas preparing dinner for Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

 

Leslie and Jeff used to live in Ottawa and have jobs as many of us do… The idea of farming came up after some changes in jobs and also as a result of research of the food industry, commercial farming and agriculture.

Executive Chef Costas

Later, after getting settled in our rooms we headed down for dinner made by Chef Kostas who came out to tell us about the ingredients he used in his cooking, the dinner was amazing and filling.

As farmers do every day after dinner, we went into the barnyard to help with evening chores.

 

 

We found all the work surprisingly entertaining; we unloaded some 20 stacks of straw that will be used as bedding for the animals, fed the calves and pigs, brought the sheep and goats back to the barn and herded the chickens into their coop.

Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

There was a special place where hens lay eggs, so we picked our breakfast! The eggs were dark and light brown, white and even light blue…

Once the chores were done, tired we went to our bedrooms; may be the mattresses were so comfortable or the day was long – falling asleep was no problem at all.

Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

In the morning we woke up around half past six to the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs…

Breakfast during Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

And after breakfast we went to the yard to do morning chores which repeats the evening in the back order – letting the sheep and chickens out,  showering and feeding pigs… and saying hello to all of the farm animals.

Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Evening chores during Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County
Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

 

The goats are very young and new to the farm and don’t know the barn yard, so they we carried to the pasture  like babies!

Calf is sucking a finger, Farmstead Blue Hen Farm in Lanark County

Although all of the chores seem like quite a lot to do, they were our favourite part of the day. We also found that doing chores and waking up that early in the morning was very refreshing which was useful since we had a long day ahead of us. We found all of the animals so cute… and especially the three kittens that roam around the barnyard. There are also two dogs that help farmers by guarding  the barn yard from foxes and other invaders.

Leslie and Jeff ask that visitors do not  bring or wear any fragrances on the farm including mosquito spray, however they do supply their own free of charge so that you do not get bitten by pesky flies.  Leslie makes her own natural soap – I found it very smooth and took a little piece home as a souvenir. Around the house we also found natural fragrances, bug spray and soap – all handmade from natural ingredients that smell like summer fields…

Their mission statement is free range thinking, meaning all of the animals are free to roam the field and raised with no antibiotics or chemical supplements at all. “Being a novice in such a tedious business as farming should be challenging for city folks” – I asked… yes, and they learn every day.

We also had a chance to learn – about how to feed pigs and chickens and how to take care of sheep and goats;  we would join Leslie to let the animals out of the barn with the first rays of sun and get them all back in the evening…

For us it was just two days – but these days were filled with smiles and laughter, delicious homemade meals and that feeling of love and happiness…

After Dinner Chat

We took a lot of pictures that will remind us about this wonderful place and people that are so enthusiastic about  what they do.  Thank you Jeff and Leslie for teaching us some very basic skills that we miss in our city life!

So, time to leave The Blue Hen Farm… I think I  saw tears in some eyes…, we hope to come again.

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Exploring Waterloo Region – Bingeman’s Big Splash

After lunch at the (nearby) Boston Pizza, we came in to the Bingeman’s Big Splash. After changing into our bathing suits we stepped out on to the deck exited about all of the slides that awaited us. They had many slides to choose from and better yet, the height restrictions are very reasonable so that everyone can go (most of the required heights are around forty inches). My personal favourite slide was the Cyclone.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

Over all, the park quite fairly spread out which makes it feel like there is less of a crowd, there also is a big wave pool

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

which has a shallow end

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

and a deep end however the tubes have to be rented for five dollars each and Cabana rentals are also available, another thing to note is that most of the rides are one person at a time, however there are a couple that two people can ride on at the same time.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

We highly recommend that you try it out especially if traveling with young ones.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

Overall it is the most fun water park in the region.

By Jonathan K.

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Exploring Waterloo Region – Bingeman's Big Splash

After lunch at the (nearby) Boston Pizza, we came in to the Bingeman’s Big Splash. After changing into our bathing suits we stepped out on to the deck exited about all of the slides that awaited us. They had many slides to choose from and better yet, the height restrictions are very reasonable so that everyone can go (most of the required heights are around forty inches). My personal favourite slide was the Cyclone.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

Over all, the park quite fairly spread out which makes it feel like there is less of a crowd, there also is a big wave pool

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

which has a shallow end

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

and a deep end however the tubes have to be rented for five dollars each and Cabana rentals are also available, another thing to note is that most of the rides are one person at a time, however there are a couple that two people can ride on at the same time.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

We highly recommend that you try it out especially if traveling with young ones.

Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
Entertainment Area in Bingman’s Splash Park, 425 Bingeman’s Centre Drive, Kitchener, Ontario

Overall it is the most fun water park in the region.

By Jonathan K.

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Ctrl – V Experience in Waterloo, Ontario

As soon as we knew that we are going to CTRL-V we were so impatient that could not wait for 8 pm! The dinner took so long… Finally at 8:10 pm we arrived at Ctrl-V  – Canada’s first virtual reality arcade that was opened in Waterloo just recently.                                       We walked in the first set of doors… First the parents  had to sign the waver for safety reasons… after the wavers we watched the helpful demonstration video… and finally were ready to start!                           My first game was “Climbey”.  I had a tutorial, also the staff helped me to figure out walking and climbing techniques.  After playing “Climbey”, I choose a game where you pick a song and with your controllers you bump to the beat of the song – I chose “Shake it off” By Taylor Swift. It was a good exercise. My  about an hour experience felt like ten minutes…

By Anna Sophia

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Needle Felting with Peg Learn in Ottawa Valley

Felting with Peg Learn in the Ottawa region

Needle Felting  with Peg Learn

After spending the day in Almonte, we arrived at the Blue Hen farm for a felting workshop presented by Peg Learn ( Learn Creations). She greeted us with a big smile, hand holding a large red dragon made from felt pieces … Surprisingly felting is much easier than it may look; everyone was given a felting needle, a foam pad and of course some colourful wool. Since we are the beginners Peg suggested that each of us make a simple Halloween pumpkin. The process is started by taking wool strands and using the needle to compress the wool together by poking it and combining into a ball. The pad is used to rest the material while using the needle. It was quite entertaining and after we got the pumpkin form down we started customizing our pumpkins in different ways. I put a French mustache on my pumpkin while others placed eyes, and/or smiles..

Peg Learn

It was very fun and informative and we highly recommend it as something to do while in the area. Peg also told us about her experiences in felting competitions where the winner receives many pounds of felt, which means a LOT  of felting fun! And according to Peg ” It is the most fun when you can have stabbing something repeatedly and legally” … It was a great eye opening experience that made something that appeared hard quite easy to learn.

If you wish to learn felting and have really fun workshop with Peg, her contact is: www.facebook.com/learncreations.

By Jonathan K.

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Family trip to African Lion Safari, Hamilton, Ontario

African Lion Safari, Hamilton, Ontario

African Lion Safari first opened its doors to the visitors in 1969 and since then went through a lot expansions and animal additions… About 6,000 visitors come here daily to see the exotic animals that are roaming free in the fields or just enjoying the warm summer day in their artfully created habitats on land and water.

To start our visit we boarded the “African Queen” boat that took us around the island where we saw monkeys jumping in the ropes and multiple birds such as vultures and pelicans.  One of the spots was taken by two lemur families. The boat operators told us about animals routine and some funny life stories…

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

The boat came back to the pierce and we decided to take a bus that goes to African savanna . We had to enter through the specially designed gate system that allows buses and cars to safely go in and out of that area. “Keep your arms and heads inside, no windows opening”…. The bus tour goes through multiple enclosures  each housing different wild animals.  We are surrounded by lions,  then  we pass by cheetahs… We got to see many mountain goats as well as rhinos and many giraffes…

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

The best part of the bus tour was visiting the giraffes, they came up very closely so we had around four of them circling around the bus, one of them even licked the bus mirrors. It is quite a spectacular view  – one of them gracefully approaching our window, the other is in the front of the bus… oh, one more is in the front!

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

Following the bus tour we went on the ”Nature Boy” scenic railway, the tour lasts around fifteen minutes. On the way we got to see the elephants habitat, a donkey and many turtles that came out of the pond for summer sun. It was a nice way to give our feet some rest and enjoy the fresh air coming from the lake and trees…

A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

 

Elephants Bath time was now up, so we headed to the lake to see them coming gracefully – leading was a large male elephant and then smaller ones – females and young siblings. Elephants got in the water, it looked like they are walking on the bottom of the lake – but no, some places are deep and they do have to swim, sometimes we could only see the very top of the head and the trunk… they had some fun time splashing and spraying each other; later rangers came and started throwing apples to the elephants – which was a lot of fun for all!!

Elephant swim
A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada
A day with Family in African Lion Safari, Ontario, Canada

It was a hot day – we would not mind to go for a plunge too – and we could at the Safari’s water park area – however, we were quite hungry and went to the cafe to have lunch…. We had to say goodbye to all the animals big and small before heading of to our next destination.

By Jonathan K.

 

 

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Port Maitland fishing trip. July 2017

The best spots are towards the middle however they are the first to be taken up so arrive early!

We did not have much luck that day, if you are lucky it is very likely that you catch 10 or more fish!

On the way home we stopped at the mudfish statue it was built in honor of the local mudfish