Sleeping With Wolves in Quebec

The best way to understand pack life is to closely observe wolves at play. The experience is even more enjoyable from the comfort of a luxury lodge at Quebec’s Parc Oméga.
 

wolf by roland bast

Photograph by Roland Bast Photo

Located in the town of Montebello in the Outaouais region of Quebec—less than an hour’s drive from Ottawa and an hour and a half from Montreal—Park Oméga wildlife park has offered visitors the chance to learn more about Canadian wildlife since it opened in 1991.

I’ve stayed in Parc Oméga’s Wi-tents before, which are posh lodgings with wooden bases, cosy comforters spread over real beds and fireplaces to keep you toasty. In 2018, a new accommodation was introduced to allow visitors the chance to sleep right in the wolves’ habitat. The two Wolf Cabins, Alpha and Oméga—aptly named after the social hierarchy found in wolf packs—feature an outdoor area with a firepit, a living room, a bedroom for up to four people, full kitchen and, most importantly of all when glamping, a washroom with shower. 

The real highlight though, is that these comfortable cabins feature floor-to-ceiling windows in both the living room and bedroom. This allows for unparalleled views of the wolves and provides lodgers with the rare chance to become part of the pack. 

Photo courtesy of Kristin Addis.

As soon as my family and I arrive at our cabin, the grey wolves bound over to check out their new neighbours. At first, I’m a little unnerved having a wild wolf pack so close—I even instinctively shield my small son from the wolves by standing in front of him. 

Serge Lussier, the executive advisor of Parc Oméga, says the wolves are always interested in meeting the new humans sharing their space. Their enclosure is designed to include hiding areas along with interest objects—including the guests on the other side of the glass—to stimulate and satisfy their natural curiosity.

All the wolves were born in the park and operate as a pack; a family. Hierarchy dictates only the two alpha parents reproduce, while the rest of the pack must ask permission from the pair to eat or even to howl. 

“The young pups love to howl, and they constantly ask for permission from the alpha male to do so. It is mandatory for him to approve this action since he needs to protect and control the family,” says Lussier.

The wolves aren’t the only animals at the park. A tour of Parc Oméga will reveal its other wild inhabitants, including wapiti (French for elk), deer, boars, bison and more. 

Back in our cabin, the wolves provide plenty of entertainment and interest. Some of them hung back when we first appeared and seemed to be guarding or hiding something. A little later, when they are used to our presence, they let us in on their secret and give us a peek at their precious little pup. The adorable baby wolf tries to play with its older protectors, nipping at them and chasing them around, but, like any tired parents, they mostly ignore it. 

Photo courtesy of Antoine Bernier.

By the end of our stay, my five-year-old son is imitating the wolves and prowling on all fours along the window overlooking the habitat, copying the pack’s every move. His favourite wolf is the pup, who likes to roll on his back and show his belly. 

At night, the wolves become even more active. Turn off the lights, sit back and watch them interact. If you’re lucky, the alpha will give permission for a singing competition and you’ll be treated to an exciting—if somewhat intimidating—howling display.


More Places to Get Close to Animals

If you want to stay in the company of wild animals on your next vacation, check out these lodges and sanctuaries.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando, Florida

These luxury suites and rooms near Disney’s Animal Kingdom look out over four animal-filled savannahs, and are the closest you can get to an African safari without leaving your room. 

Lapa Rios Lodge, Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica

This property, located in a private nature reserve spread across 1,000 acres, is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. It offers an exceptional opportunity to see more than 350 species of birds, monkeys, sloths and more.

Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, New York

At this Finger Lakes-area farm, you can stay in a tiny house and spend time watching the rescued animals who have been given a second chance at a happy life.

Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.
[This story appears in the February 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.]

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