Another Saturday arrived, a beautiful day dawned and I thought: what can we do today? That besides tidying up the house, dealing with the DIY mini projects that are always going on and so on.
I remembered that it was on my list to visit the Bonnechere Caves, 123km west of Ottawa, in Eganville – Ontario. I researched the schedules, called in some friends at the last minute and right after lunch we headed there.
Once you get there, you see right away that the infrastructure is very simple and rustic, no big ads, sidewalks or buildings.
Simple washrooms, ticket office/souvernirs/water and a parking lot are the things you will find there before you go down into the caves.
I managed to find a Groupon for the tour that is always guided, but the usual value is $17 per adult and children, teenagers and 65+ will pay a bit less than that. For kids under 4 is free. The tour takes place from mid-May to mid-October.
The whole tour lasts on average 1 hour, starting with a briefing/lecture on the site’s history and fossils found at the excavations.
The Bonnechere Caves are limestone caves that have been carved by the Bonnechere River for millions of years. They were discovered around 1855, but only explored 100 years later, in 1955 from a forgotten map that got re-discovered at the local municipality.
Our guide told us stories and facts about the caves for the whole extension of the tour, about how it was discovered and the evolution to the present day.
The visit to the cave only occurs for 5 months during the year, as I mentioned above, when all the water is pumped out of the caves for visitation.
In the remaining months, it is flooded. The temperature inside is about +10ºC, constant all year round (we even took extra sweater for the girls, but it was not necessary!) and we didn’t have any encounters with bats, which inhabit the cave from September on wards.
Walking through the cave was easy, with the exception of a tunnel that we passed about 1.2m high in some places (you don’t have to pass through it). It was a bit tricky with our young girls (4.5 years old and 7 months old). Besides being narrow, the tunnel was unleveled and muddy, but we faced it as a challenge and in the end, everything worked out…
For children, it is a great trip, specially if your kids are little explorers. There are not many dangers inside (like high places etc.) and the cave is relatively small (you can’t get lost for long). For babies, it’s okay, as long as the baby is in your arms or in a carrier (which I totally recommend!!), since it is not stroller accessible. Diana stayed in the carrier for the whole tour, didn’t complain and just kept an eye on things and people.
At the exit, a 5-minute trail takes you back to the parking/access area, with views of the Bonnechere River.
We found it so surprising to find a cave complex like the Bonnechere Caves this close to Ottawa. It was worth the visit, for sure.
I just don’t think it’s worth coming to the region just for that, since the cave is relatively small and in one hour, at the maximum, you have heard and seen everything. The best thing is to come and spend a few days in Ottawa and go to Bonnechere Caves in a morning or afternoon, check out and come back, like a perfect day-trip.
*Special thanks to our friend Keli that took all the photos of us!