ATV Adventure at Camp Explora in Montebello Quebec – by Laura Byrne-Paquet
Montebello, Quebec – I have to admit, I was a bit nervous when I saw how my 16-year-old daughter Stephanie and I would be exploring the wooded trails around Montebello, Quebec.
Our vehicle for the expedition resembled a bright yellow golf cart on steroids. Rémi Tremblay, owner of Camp Explora in Montebello, Quebec, unplugged the electric ATV from its outdoor outlet and reminded us to put on the astronaut-style helmets he’d given us.
Then we were off on a ride like nothing I’d ever tried before: a 90-minute (or so we thought) scavenger hunt/history lesson in the wooded hills surrounding the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello resort. It’s an unusual, clever concept: each ATV team of two to four people gets an iPad preloaded with a route along rocky trails and rural roads. Along the way, you hunt for clues, each of which leads you to the next spot. Stephanie, our family’s resident iPad queen, was the navigator, while I clambered into the driver’s seat. Actually, we didn’t have much choice on that score, as you have to be at least 21 to get behind the wheel.
After some quick instructions on operating the little car safely, we raced—well, puttered, as the vehicle’s recommended top speed is 27 km/h—off into the woods.
The first hour went pretty well. We easily followed about 15 of our 27 clues, which took us past the resort’s golf course and among vintage cottages, some dating back to the 1930s. Along the way, we learned about everything from the Canadian Olympic ski team to Bing Crosby. We also learned a lot about the Seigniory Club, a one-time retreat for the rich and famous that eventually became Le Chateau Montebello.
I got the hang of guiding the lightweight little car over rocks and tree roots, while not drenching us too much as we sloshed through early spring puddles. (The vehicles are quite open, by the way, so if it’s a wet day, bring head-to-toe rain gear.)
After about an hour, though, we lost our touch. Try as we might, we simply could not find one particular trail. No matter which way we turned, the iPad gave us the disappointing news: “Cold.” “Colder.” In the process, we trundled past two small children playing in a yard. The first time, they waved. The second time, they smirked. The third time—after we had called Rémi to come to our rescue and redirect us—they openly laughed at us.
By this point, the drizzle that had dogged us all day had turned into full-blown rain, and the dashboard meter showing how much juice we had left was indicating a figure ominously close to zero. That wasn’t a problem, except for my pride; if we’d actually run out of power, Rémi had reassured us he’d come back to save us. However, we did manage to make it back to Camp Explora’s base with the battery—and our dignity—preserved.
Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely—it was a total hoot, especially for families. Just check your ego at the door.
If you go
Camp Explora is about 75km from downtown Ottawa and 125kms from Montreal. See http://www.tourduclub.com/
Laura Byrne Paquet is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the Society of American Travel Writers, she edits two blogs: OttawaRoadTrips.com, focusing on day trips, weekend getaways and longer escapes from Canada’s capital; and FacingTheStreet.com, looking at ways travellers can live like locals.
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