Get wet and wild at the Upper Gatineau Whitewater Festival
- Ottawa Travel Guide
- Friday, 10 August 2012 17:29
During the last weekend of August, Ottawa adrenaline junkies will flock to the Upper Gatineau Whitewater Festival for what has become a staple event in the community. Visitors can take family friendly adventures in large whitewater rafting boats or sign up for a single kayak race - which are reserved only for highly trained athletes due to the sometimes dangerous rapids on the Gatineau River.
History of the festival
About 15 year ago, canoeists rediscovered the river as a perfect destination for thrill-seeking visitors and even locals who had never braved the rapids. Pretty soon, the waterway became extremely popular, attracting thousands of people throughout the year. Small businesses began to pop up at the head of the river, promoting the local economy and strengthening the community.
To prevent hydroelectric development on this stunning river, kayakers and canoeists began the festival, which raises awareness about the waterway and promotes environmental preservation in the region.
Pitch a tent
Those who travel to Canada looking for an off-the-grid vacation may be pleased to know that they can pitch their tents at the nearby Maniwaki High School field, where they can pass stories between locals and international travellers making their way to Gatineau for this fun festival. All participants can enjoy meals together every day, making this an ideal activity for those who want to have a unique holiday experience.
There's more to the Whitewater Festival than races and daring feats down the river. Throughout the weekend, there will be live entertainment provided by La Vespree, along with a number of auctions and exhibitors that will set up stands for those who want to purchase rafting equipment.
Of course, no rafting festival would be complete without awesome races on the river, and Gatineau event planners certainly do not disappoint. Visitors can book a rafting trip - ideal for families with children over the age of 15 - and careen down the river with a highly trained guide. Beginning kayakers and canoers can also reserve a spot on the Saturday morning trip down Desert River, which features easy class I and II rapids and a rugged and mountainous terrain. First-time Canada visitors should invest in a waterproof camera to capture some truly unforgettable photos.