Downtown Edmonton and Elk Island National Park
Our Wednesday began at 8.30am where we met our fellow adventurers in the lobby and together, we headed on a 15 minute drive to Downtown Edmonton.
To all of our delights, we were welcomed with a cup of coffee from Nomad Espresso and a selection of breakfast dishes from Northlands Truck 1879…
Breakfast poutine (UNREAL), an eggs benedict sandwich and a white chocolate yoghurt and muesli pot!
All eager to tuck in and fuel up for the day, we sat on a picnic bench nearby amongst the trees. The fresh crisp morning air ensured we were all awake as our eyes gazed across the greens and golds that surrounded us and our mouths filled with flavour and warmth.
Our first activity of the day?
A mixture of feelings had been arising on the coach journey here about this activity. Only a couple of people had tried the Segways before and for the rest of us, we were convinced we were about to create enough footage for a whole series of You’ve Been Framed…
…basically fall flat on our faces.
We headed into the Segway headquarters (Facebook.com/SegwayAlberta) where we all scared ourselves EVEN MORE watching the safety video, as it showed us what NOT to do. And how it could end up…
…basically fall flat on our faces.
At this point we all seriously beginning to reconsider.
Luckily, we got a bit of 1 to 1 during the induction, with the instructor taking us through every tiny step, making us feel comfortable and at ease very quickly.
Before we knew it, we were off and begun our tour along the river valley.
Rumours were right about the beauty of Downtown Edmonton – particularly at this time of year when the leaves are beginning to fall off the trees creating a blanket of gold dust along the walkways.
You can see a clip of us on the Segways in my GoPro Canada YouTube video.
By the time we had all got to grips and become comfortable on the Segways we had around 20 minutes to explore on them which was over pretty quick.
I would definitely like to head back and explore a bit further as its a great (& lazy) way to get around.
If you’re thinking to do this activity and have never done it before, I’d suggest planning 2 sessions. One to get to grips, and one to full on explore.
The adventures were back to back today so there was no time to rest!
Next we headed to Fort Edmonton, an activity that, if I had been left to plan the trip myself, I probably wouldn’t have done.
Only because history isn’t something that I’m naturally drawn to. I’m really glad I came though, it’s so important to understand the history of a place so appreciate why and how things are the way they are today.
We learnt all about Edmonton’s past back to 1885, and had a guide (dressed in first country) to explain every step of the way.
The majority of the tour is outside so we were lucky we had a great day for it.
See more information on the tour and opening times here:
Next we were transferred outside of Edmonton to Elk Island National Park on our Brewster Coach. It took just under an hour to get there, driving through a lot of YEG construction zones as they continue to develop the city.
Elk Island National park was a massive cornerstone in Canada’s bison history, with a higher density of hoofed mammals per square kilometre than any other area in the world.
There was a time Bison came extremely close to extinction and it is here that you can join on a tour and learn just how serious it was and how EINP contributed to the incredible turn around.
A truly fascinating and a profound story.
Just as we came to accept the fact we had come at the wrong time of day to spot the bisons in the flesh, we were driving to our dinner spot and had to abort mission when we were met with this…
(This is why it’s important to stick to the speed limit when within the national park)
Moments later, a motorcycle came from the other direction, alarming the Bison, and they all stampeded towards our coach in attempt to clear in the bushes.
As if the day couldn’t get any better, it was just about to.
We arrived at Lake Astotin (still in the EI National park) where were were greeted with wine, bowls of soup and canapés in a gorgeous open air hut with the most stunning views over the lake.
We were dined exquisitely by Chef Brad Smoliak who cooked up some Alberta specialities in a very ‘thanksgiving’ long table style dinner.
We had the warmth of the open fire on our backs and for those needing an extra kick – a glass of red wine.
Always with my eye on the sunset, I hopped out with a couple of others, just before pudding was served to capture the gorgeous sun set that was before our eyes…
Once we had snapped the changing colours of the sky and got more than our fill of money shots, we took our puddings out to the campfire set up and continued to admire the last fires of colour.
But still, the treats kept on coming…
Elk Island National Park is also a Dark Sky Reserve (Beaver Hills) and we were spoilt with a star gazing experience where we shown star formations and stories as we tucked underneath some blankets provided.
There truly is nothing more grounding and breathtaking than a clear night sky filled with a million stars.
An experience I’ll treasure forever.