When I came across the Facebook promotion for Eco-Odysee, I didn’t really know what it was about. But when I looked into it further, I knew that this was something I wanted to take Little J to.
What is Eco-Odysee?
Eco-Odysee is a water maze located in the heart of Gatineau Park. Using a paddle boat or a canoe, explorers wander through the maze using a map to find clues, while taking in the beautiful park scenery.
- Family travel can be hassle-free if you’re prepared! Check out my post on my 3 secrets for stress-free outings with the kids.
So without further ado, here are the details.
Making a reservation
To avoid having too many people on the marsh at the same time, you are required to book a time in advance. They have various times throughout the day at 2 hour intervals starting at 9h30 a.m.
Their online booking system is very clear and easy to navigate.
What to expect when you arrive at Eco-Odysee
While you have to drive through Gatineau Park to get there, the signs to get to the expedition are very clear off the highway, so it is unlikely that you will get lost.
Once you enter the area, there is plenty of free parking right by the entrance.
We thought it was a very affordable activity!
We paid approximately $50 for one paddle boat (2 adults and 2 children) for the Discoverer Tour. The adventure took about 2 hours to complete.
Prices vary depending on the adventure you choose. You can view the most updated rate information on their website.
Once you get to the main building, you are required to watch a short video explaining the different adventures. You can pick between Observation or Identification Adventures.
After you retrieve your reservation inside the building, you’ll get to choose which adventure you want to embark on.
Once you’ve chosen, you’re provided with a discovery kit (ours included a walkie talkie, a pen, a map, and an adventure guide).
You’re then required to watch another video explaining each item in your kit in more detail.
Following the video, you’re taken to your paddle boat to begin your adventure!
Finding your way through the maze
In the Discoverer Tour, there are 6 different adventures, identified by different animals (ours was the turtle).
Along the waterways, they have placed the corresponding animals with a number on it that matches the numbers on the map you’re provided. You simply follow the numbers in chronological order to find your way through the maze.
For example, because our adventure animal was the turtle, we needed to follow the wooden numbered turtles along the paths to find our way.
The map is colour coded so you know in which intersection you’ll find the clues.
Admittedly, having two children with us made it a little hard to listen to the instruction video carefully, so once we got started on our adventure, it took us a while to understand exactly how it worked.
So if you go, I recommend that at least one of the adults listens carefully to the instructions.
Note that they do provide the instructions in the Adventure Book, but explanations on what to look for wasn’t very clear.
Nonetheless, once we figured it out, it all worked out well and we had a blast!
While the boys were still too young to read, we still had them identify the animals in the Adventure book to help us find the clues. That kept them engaged enough to avoid any whining!
We also got to see a variety of birds – one even followed us for a few stops!
Once we completed the water adventure, we had the option to use our water maze clues to identify a series of frogs on what they call “Frog Island”.
This island is essentially a trail where they’ve placed frog sculptures along the path for us to identify.
This part gave the kids the opportunity to shake their legs a little given that they had been sitting in the paddle boat for about 1.5 hours. They loved running along the trail and checking out the different frogs.
Tips and Suggestions
- You are allowed to bring food and drinks on the paddle boat. So if you’re taking your little ones, feel free to bring some snacks. Having said that, be mindful of the area and try to avoid single-use plastics in case they fly away and get stuck in the marsh, affecting the wildlife.
- Don’t go on a very hot and sunny day, particularly if you have children with you. While the paddle boat does provide a shaded area, it only covers the paddlers, not where the kids would be sitting. So going on a cloudy day would be ideal.
I’m so glad that I was able to take Little J on this Eco-Odysee excursion!
I would definitely do it again and would highly recommend it for someone who needs to entertain out-of-towners, or simply wants to discover Gatineau Park from a different perspective!