This summer we headed to Cambridge, Ontario to visit the African Lion Safari Park! If you can't go to the real one, try the one on this continent. African Lion Safari is a Canadian owned family business that was created to promote conservation. Cambridge is located on Hwy 401 between London and Toronto. There are decent accommodations close to the park, which opens at 10:00 AM. We decided to drive our vehicle through the park, rather than take the bus tour, for that's the best way to experience the wildlife at your own leisure.
The antelopes and the deer were a treat to watch while the cheetah and the lions struck a magnificent pose and looked well fed; they better be! It was a surreal experience to watch the animals roaming freely whilst you are inside the cage, for once.
The giraffes were awesome and would gracefully bend down to peek into your vehicle, especially when people were trying to feed them, much against the park rules. Zebra, Nilgai & Himalayan Tahr roamed aplenty and watching the deer suddenly burst into a stampede was an extraordinary sight for city slickers.
But the highlight of the park were our distant cousins, the monkeys and baboons, who climbed on every passing vehicle for a joy ride, bent and chewed on antennas and looked ready for a spoil.
After you are done feasting your eyes on wildlife, there are other attractions including 'Birds of Prey' flying demonstration, Parrot Paradise show, and Elephant Round-Up. And finally for the kids, there is a neat water park, where you can cool off the rest of the afternoon.
Toronto, the true melting pot, home to over 100 ethnic cultures is just another hour's drive up Northeast. Downtown Toronto is fairly clean with broad streets and shops there have a much vibrant feel unlike many other large cities. A drive through Yonge Street in the heart of downtown is very reassuring and gives the casual visitor plenty of opportunities to shop for trinkets in the Yonge-Dundas square. Some of the major attractions are the CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum. And if your taste buds are itching to have 'chaat', then a visit to Gerrard Street can fulfill those desires.
From Toronto we headed North West driving through several country roads and taking in the scenic beauty of rural Ontario. Our destination was at the tip of Ontario on Lake Huron, in a small hamlet called Tobermory.
Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes, between southeast Ontario, Canada, and eastern Michigan. Tobermory is a port with a lot of natural underwater geological formations that were unfortunately dangerous to many ships resulting in quite a few shipwrecks. Glass bottomed Ferryboats take you over these shipwrecks and you can see them as clear as daylight in the crystal waters of Lake Huron. The ferry then cruises to Flower Pot Island and upon alighting, a guide takes a head count and prompts you to go for a stroll on the island.
This pristine island is lush with thick foliage and a hike up to the tip of the lighthouse rejuvenates you. Waves pounding on the natural calcite and dolomite formations over many years resulted in the shape of flowerpots; hence the name for the island. On the way back you can stop by at American Indian teepees to shop for souvenirs.
We left Tobermory and followed Hwy 21 South all along the lakeshore. We then stopped briefly at Port Elgin whose main attraction is a 'choo choo train' on the Beach! By the time we got to the beach front, the train was packed to the hilt and was running late due to a low supply of fuel. Fortunately the 'steam engine' rolled by in a short while and the guard flagged off the train, which runs through the town into a nice green park and then back to the beach again. Needless to say, the kids had a blast!
As we drove further South towards Kincardine at dusk, the sky was turning a bright orange. We planned to reach Kincardine by 9:00 pm to observe the sunset. Sunsets along the coast of Lake Huron are known to be spectacular, particularly in Kincardine. We checked into the hotel and rushed to the lakefront where the 'Phantom Piper' was getting ready at the top of the lighthouse to put the sun to bed; a daily Scottish tradition that has been followed for many years since the earliest settlers first arrived here. It was quite a sight to watch the piper standing atop the lighthouse playing the pipes, while the spectators stood on the bridge down marveling at the horizon yonder, taking in the beauty of the sunset. As soon as he would finish playing a tune, the crowd would yell, 'One more one more' and off he would go again, another lullaby for the sun.
The next morning, we bid adieu to Kincardine, the land of beautiful sunsets, and stopped by at the Pine River Cheese Factory where you get to watch cheese being made and taste a variety of cheese at the store.
We then drove towards Goderich, dubbed by the Queen as the 'prettiest town in Canada'. This is a quaint little town with a majestic square in the heart of the town and offers delicious pastries.
The sandy beach was one of the most beautiful, small but not crowded although the waters were a tad frigid. But the kids plunged headlong into the ocean and refused to come out.
And our final stop was at Bayfield, another neat little quaint town whose main thoroughfare is lined with majestic maple trees and lovely cottages. You can take a leisurely stroll along Main Street, visiting the quaint little shops and stopping to savor a delicious ice cream, sitting under the shade of a large maple tree.
Then it was time to head back home!