Acrophobia is the fear of heights. Claustrophobia is the fear of small or confined spaces.
So ask yourself this: would you rather crawl through a dark, enclosed space or hang from a rope 400 metres off the ground?
Well, you can try both by going cave-diving and zip ling in Arbraska Lafleche Park in Quebec. Nothing like a little exposure therapy to start your day, right?
Now, I’m not especially afraid of either of these things. Being up high typically delivers spectacular views and though I don’t love a tight space, I’ll squeeze in to see something good. After zipping through the air and squishing myself through caves at this Val-des-Monts based outdoor adventure camp, I am well on my way to earning my Adventure Lady badge.
“You’ll Have to Speak Up! I’m Inside the Canadian Shield.”
One of the first tree top adventure parks in Quebec, Arbraska Lafleche has a little something extra to get your heart pumping: a massive, ancient cave. This dark, rocky hole of wonder is where the adventure begins.
Donning a headlamp and helmet, I enter through the man-made entrance and move through the narrow passages of the darkest place I’ve ever been. Our guide, a trained speleologist, explains how the passages were formed by water erosion one drip-drop at a time over millennia. She then shoves me through a tiny hole in the dark and we enter a small low chamber large enough for only six people. We take a seat and she asks us to turn off our headlamps and be silent. In this moment I experience unimaginable darkness and absolute quiet. Not quite like being in the country…but quiet like being buried by rocks deep beneath the earth.
I crab-walk through a maze of small passages and it occurs to me that we are literally inside the Canadian Shield and that this is awesome. Inside the cave, it is a consistent 4 degrees Celsius year round and because of this, visitors can explore the space anytime and in any weather. Moving through the dark space, I have no real spatial awareness or light. I’m forced to follow the small beacon of light from my helmet and the sound of an eager speleologist.
At times, the cave was scary but I found it utterly fascinating. Think about it: right now, that cave continues to grow one drop of water at time and sits dark, silent and awesomely enduring. And I got to see it.
Aerial Tree Top Trekking
My next stop is the aerial course and zip lines. The Aerial Course Manager, Danielle Sabourin, helps strap on my harness and helmet before we head to the aerial obstacles course. After a lesson in how to zip line, transfer my pulleys and navigate the course, I strap in for a high-flying jungle gym. I make my way across a series of ropes, wobbly bridges and swings all ranging in difficulty and scariness. By the time I reach the end of the hour long aerial course, I am feeling confident and ready fling myself over the treetop zip lines not just once, but six times.
Each of the six zip lines varies in height and speed, but their greatest offering is the view. Whizzing across a 259 metre line that’s 47 metres above the ground, you can spot trees, water, birds and hills as far as the naked eye. In fact, the view is good enough to make you forget about staggering height and sheer speed and simply relax. For a moment, you can breathe the clean crisp air and fly like a bird through the trees and sky. You’re free.
Each of the platforms, zip lines and aerial obstacle courses are environmentally friendly and installed without the use of nails, bars or other material that could be fixated into the trees. The cave crew protects the space and document its slow motion changes for research purposes.
Arbraska Lafleche also offers kids’ courses, night treks, GPS Rallies, snowshoeing and hiking. Oh and a single one hour zip lining tour only costs $18.70. Cheap thrills or what?
HOW TO BOOK:
To learn more about Arbraska Lafleche Park, visit the website here.
To plan your visit or to get more information about Quebec’s Outaouais region, visit Tourisme Outaouais’ website here.
The writer was a guest of Tourisme Quebec. The tourism board did not review or approve this article.
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