May 2, 2022

OWL Rafting - 40+ years of rafting experience, 400 years of Voyageur heritage, 7 amazing hours of whitewater adventure!

 

Northwest of the nation’s capital, the Ottawa River surges across Canadian Shield country. This is a travel-path forged by First Nations, traversed by fur traders since the 1600s and fostered by foresters at the turn of the last century. Today we’ve come to OWL Rafting for whitewater adventure—and a daylong rafting experience through the dynamic Rocher Fendu Rapids awaits. With experienced and passionate guides at the helm, we splashed through one of the world’s great whitewater routes—a high-volume, temperate, and dynamic waterway that merges exhilaration with natural serenity, and history with heart-pounding adventure.
Sunrise over the water with buildings on shoreline of river
Our day with OWL Rafting started by dipping our paddles in unison with our raft-mates on this Adventure trip. Here we are, a family of five with 7 other strangers in a BIG boat, to experience the most rough-and-tumble rapids of the Ottawa Rivers Main Channel. We could have chosen the gentler ride called Soft Adventure which descends less intense rapids of the Middle channel, but we felt the need for an authentic Canadian challenge.

Sitting in a yellow raft above a rapid so big it rivals the famous section of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, our guide, Tanner who’s fare mane is tied back beneath his helmet, hollers “If you fall out, remember to stay calm!” over the roar of crashing water. The steep rocky banks on either side of us compress the water into muscly currents that may take us for what Tanner affectionately calls “the trip”—an underwater ride lasting as long as thirty seconds. We have come here for the thrill of adventure, and so far, our OWL Rafting trip on the Ottawa River has not disappointed.
OWL Rafting yellow raft on the Ottawa River
After punching through waves called ‘Garburator’ and ‘Chopping Block,’ we come up to the big rapid named Coliseum! The water level of the river changes depending on rainfall and the hydro-electric dams further upstream, and today’s mid-summer level is a lively wave train leading into the Big Kahuna. We are told there’s always a risk of falling out, so swim right if separated from the raft.
Two rafts negotiating white water on the Ottawa River
We peel out into the current, our strokes synchronized after only a few hours practice. From the back of the boat steering with his long silver oars, Tanner adjusts the angle of the raft and sets us up for the black V - we dig in! Yesterday, we were stuck in Friday traffic. We were stuck at our desks looking out the window as summer passed by. With each stroke we pull ourselves closer to the wall of water that will either flip us or let us through. We are told to keep paddling no matter what, and when the bow of our yellow raft splits the frothy maw, the exhilaration is tangible. We crash into the second wave, and the third, whooping with victory. One of our rafters’ teeters from the blow and falls into the water, but someone extends their paddle, and we manage to pull the swimmer back into the boat. Four hours ago, we were two groups of strangers. Now we are each other’s heroes.
Colourful kayaks on sandy beach at OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River
Almost on cue, a bald eagle lifts off from a pine branch and swoops down over the water in search of fish. The sky above us is blue and cloudless. At the bottom of the final rapid, we are met by OWL’s signature pontoon boats for a barbequed meal as we cruise back to the lakeside resort.

We spend the evening by the bonfire in the pavilion at the OWL Rafting base, retelling the stories of the day. A local blues band takes to the stage and serenades us with a throaty version of “Mustang Sally.” We are tired out from all the fun, but memories are as vast as the open sky above us.
People relaxing on a pontoon on the Ottawa River
OWL Rafting is a CanaDream Club partner, offering a variety of half day, full day and overnight rafting trips on the Ottawa River in Ontario. CanaDream Guests will received a preferred rate when booking through CanaDream. RV camping is also available from mid May to mid September when you also book a rafting trip with OWL Rafting.

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