Important Information for All Trips
Arrival in Ottawa
Our price does not include your flight or transportation to Ottawa. If you are arriving on Day 1, we will greet you at the airport, train station, or bus station and deliver you to the hotel.
If you want to see more of Ottawa and are arriving a couple of days early, you might want to stay at our initial hotel (please contact us) in downtown Ottawa, to avoid switching hotels on Day 1. For each trip, there will be a group meeting on Day 1 in the hotel lobby at 18:00, followed by dinner in a nearby restaurant.
The trip ends in Ottawa and you will be dropped at the airport, train station, bus station, hotel, or location of your choice.
Passports and Visas
If you are from outside Canada, you must have a passport and it should be valid for an additional 6 months after arrival. Please contact us for visa information regarding your country.
Safety first. It sounds like a cliché but it's true. We approach safety in the context of risk and adventure; with no risk, there's no adventure. So, "safety first" should be your slogan and responsibility too. We will not cover participants in bubble wrap. We provide proper training and equipment for all activities, and all staff members are certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid and CPR. In addition, there are times when mobile phone service is not available, so all staff will carry satellite phones for emergencies. All staff will also carry bear deterents when in remote areas.
Each guest must carry adequate insurance and we ask to see documentation of such, at the time of booking. Most policies which are part of an employment benefits package contain a variety of medical, travel, rescue, and repatriation coverage. Most people will want to have supplemental medical insurance, especially if coming from outside Canada. Cancellation insurance can be purchased through most agents and can cover air travel as well as costs which are not refundable as per Hard Maple's cancellation schedule.
Although it is very unlikely that we would require extraordinary rescue operations (helicopter etc.), it is entirely the responsibility of the guest to ensure that he or she is fully insured for all eventualities. Each guest (or guardian) will be required to sign a waiver form before starting the trip.
Hotel accommodation is chosen on the basis of availability and comfort, but not luxury. Standard rooms are assigned on a twin share basis. If you are not travelling with a partner, we will assign compatible room mates . Single rooms will be available for an extra cost, which varies by the trip (please see the Booking page for your trip).
When camping, we provide a "three person" tent for each pair of campers, so that a bit more space will be available in the tent. Single tents will be available for an extra cost, which varies by the trip (please see the Booking page for your trip) .
If you have any questions or concerns about accommodation, please contact us.
Most meals are provided, as laid out in the itinerary for each trip, either cooked at our campsite or in the form of a picnic lunch or restaurant meal. Meals will be designed and prepared to include variety, innovation, and a special "Canadian" theme, as much as possible. We will also do all we can to accomodate special diets, such as vegetarian, vegan, Halal, or Kosher. Please contact us if you have any questions about diets and food.
You must wear a helmet at all times when on a bicycle. When cycling, we will have at least one vehicle (with bike racks) available, sometimes following us or sometimes meeting us at road crossings. You are welcome to ride in the vehicle at any time. The vehicle will carry all our overnight luggage and equipment. You will only need a small day pack or handlebar bag and a water bottle. All staff members are experienced bicycle mechanics and will carry tools and parts to fix most bike problems.
If you are bringing your own bike, we strongly recommend that you have it serviced by a professional bike shop before leaving home. You should also bring some tools and spare parts to fit your bike (multi-tool, patch kit, tube (correct size), spokes etc.) as well as your helmet and gloves.
Bikes can be rented for an additional cost, (please see the booking page for your particular trip). Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to rent a bicycle and your height and inseam. Rental bikes will be well maintained and high quality Giant XTC 27.5" bikes, (or similar), equipped with front shocks and disc brakes. A helmet and flat pedals are provided but you might want to bring your own helmet, SPD or clip-in pedals and matching shoes, and saddle. Staff members will carry spare tubes etc. for the rental bikes.
Canoe instruction and a swimming evaluation will be given before the canoe trip or section. You must wear a life jacket (personal flotation device) at all times when you are in a canoe. You will learn proper sitting positions, strokes for bow and stern, portaging techniques, and tips for re-entering the canoe if you capsize. When canoeing, in addition to paddling and portaging (canoes and gear), all participants are expected to help with setting up camp, gathering firewood, purifying water, washing dishes etc. Staff will do most of the meal preparation. We must be very self-sufficient when canoeing, because emergency support might not be immediately available.
Clothing and other items
Weather in this area can vary greatly from day to day. We must be prepared for any type of weather because we will canoe or bike "rain or shine". Please see Environment Canada for the normal weather predicted at the time of your trip. It can seem very cold in the early morning or evening; this is Canada. "Quick-dry" clothing is best, so preface all the clothing listed below by "wicking" or "quick-dry". Cotton will stay wet for a long time. If in doubt, over-estimate the amount of warmth you will need.
Luggage: If traveling with your bike (in a box), some airlines count it as a second piece of checked baggage, which can carry a substantial cost. One option is to pack many light items (eg. sleeping bag(s), helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, day pack) into the box and then squeeze the rest into a "carry-on bag" which could be a backpack, tightly squashed into itself. Many airlines have a limit of 44 lbs (20 kg) for each checked bag. We suggest that you pack heavier items in your carry-on bag.
For canoeing, if you will be portaging, you will need to use a solid, internal-frame backpack (approx. 55 litres). Make sure you load it up and try it before leaving home. If it weighs more that 50 lbs. (23 kg), you've got too much stuff. If only biking, a soft "duffle bag" is ideal so that it packs more easily into the support vehicle, but a roller bag is also acceptable. Weigh your bag before you leave home, so there are no surprises at the airport.
Clothing: waterproof/breathable rain jacket and pants, warm fleece sweater, long sleeve top (merino wool is good), long travel pants, long sleeve travel shirt, cycling tights, t-shirt(s), hiking shorts, underwear, socks, swimming suit, sun hat (baseball hat), wool or fleece hat (toque), "buff" or bandana to cover your head and neck.
Sleeping: If your trip involves camping, you will need a good sleeping system. We recommend a down bag (rated to 0 degrees C (yes, really, even in summer)) AND a thin warm-weather bag that can be used on its own or combined with the down bag for extra comfort. Note: some trips include sleeping bags.
Bike: your bike (if you're not renting), padded bike shorts, bike shirt, bike shoes (they will get wet) (with cleats, if necessary), bike gloves, helmet, chamois cream (if you use it).
Canoe: Fingerless biking gloves (very useful for paddling), short but sturdy hiking shoes or running shoes which can be used when portaging (important).
Other items: sun screen (SPF 50 or higher), insect repellent (very important!) (those with Deet are best), water bottle, toiletries, small first aid kit, sun glasses, camera, towel, wash cloth, headlamp and spare batteries (useful for all trips; essential when camping), a few of your favourite gels or snacks.
Additional suggestions: umbrella (portable shelter - very comforting in a storm), a down jacket (for those really cold evenings).
Included and Not Included
From the time you arrive in Ottawa, we take good care of you. All guiding services are included. If arriving on Day 1, we will greet you at the airport, train, or bus station and deliver you to the hotel. All hotel accommodation is included. All meals are included, except as indicated in the trip itinerary. When camping, all tents, sleeping mats, canoes, paddles, life jackets, and other camping gear, except as indicated under "Clothing and other items", above, is included. All presentations by local experts are included.
Your airfare or transportation to and from Ottawa is not included. Alcoholic drinks are not included. Visas to enter Canada (if necessary) are not included. Tipping is not included but is entirely at your discretion.
We suggest you carry some money for souvenirs, local purchases, or discretionary items; $15 per day should be more than enough.