Located in Montebello, Quebec, approximately an hour’s drive from Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, travelers will find Parc Omega (Omega Park). This is a full-on resort type of setting given everything on the property – a nature park and wildlife safari of North American animals, an onsite restaurant and snack bars, entertainment and seasonal events, and truly unique accommodations that include cabins, conical tents, tipis (teepees), and pods, as well as specialty chalets and lodges overlooking wildlife habitats.
When summed up like this, Parc Omega sounds like an extraordinary experience… and it is. However, if you plan on visiting, beware that the park has some drawbacks.
First, let’s start with an overview of what to expect from this 2200-acre park, which is open year-round.
Wildlife can be seen from the comfort of your own vehicle along a 15-kilometer drive – equivalent to 9.3 miles. Animals include bison, moose, elk, deer, caribou, mountain goats, bears, wild boars, coyotes, foxes and wolves, a variety of birds, and more, all living in their natural habitat. This encompasses various landscapes of forests and meadows, lakes, and rocky hills. Guests can tune their car radio to FM 90.1 for information about the animals, and carrots are available for purchase for feeding deer and elk.
The park also includes walking trails, an elevated boardwalk, playgrounds and picnic areas, an old farm that can be toured, live music and entertainment, children’s activities, and the Omegabon Restaurant overlooking Bird Lake. Seasonal events such as an Illuminated Night Walk take place during the summer months on the walking trails. At Halloween, the lighted trail includes spooky sights and sounds.
For visitors wishing to stay at Parc Omega, various distinctive accommodations are available. Rustic log cabins, a stilted house, tipis, tents, and pods all allow guests to remain on the property. However, it should be noted that, with the exceptions of the pods, all of these are without the benefit of electricity or running water. Communal bathrooms with showers and a common kitchen are offered instead. During peak season, these shared facilities are very crowded.
The most popular accommodations are the specialty chalets and lodges that overlook wildlife habitats – “Sleeping with Wolves” currently exists for the wolf habitat; bear accommodations are under construction. Given that these 2 animals are predators of the other species in the park, they are kept in separate enclosures in view of the accommodations. Chalets sleep between 1 and 4 people, lodges sleep between 1- 6 people and include kitchens and full bathrooms, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area to provide a direct view of the wildlife habitat. Shockingly, these are the only accommodations that include admission to the park. All other guests have access to limited park facilities. If they wish to enter the park drive-thru and other amenities, they must purchase tickets as an add-on to their accommodations. Discounts are offered.
Certainly, these sleeping quarters are all unique ways to experience a night in the great outdoors. However, some accommodations are hard to come by, especially during peak season. And “Sleeping with Wolves” chalets and lodges are in such high demand all year round that bookings extend 6-9 months into the future at any given time. The facilities are all very clean and spacious, but overpriced considering furnishing and amenities are sparse and worn, plus seeing wolves in such close proximity to the chalet or lodge is hit and miss. Despite several online photos depicting wolves with their noses pressed to the glass windows, they often remain sheltered among the trees and can be viewed only at a distance.
If you’re successful in making reservations, we’re sure your stay will be enjoyable. However, cross your fingers that nothing goes wrong with your accommodations while you’re there because management and office staff aren’t known for being responsive or accountable. Refunds or compensation are rarely offered. Sadly, this oversight extends to most office dealings as an alarming number of guests – Go GlobeHopper included – complain that phone calls are not returned, and emails go unanswered.
A lack of oversight also exists in the drive-thru section of the park as guests often stop their vehicles and get out to touch the animals and feed them carrots while taking photos. This is dangerous and should be monitored. It also creates a problem with the flow of traffic, with visitors often experiencing extended wait times and dead stops during their drive.
The drive-thru, which is billed as seeing animals in their natural habitat, causes many people to question how “natural” the environment is. Certainly, interacting with humans in vehicles and being fed carrots is quite unusual. And often the animals are so overfed that they don’t want the carrots and chuck them onto the ground. Parc Omega’s spokespeople indicate that the animals are free to roam in their chosen environment at night, and are fed a balanced meal every morning which is served along the 15-kilometer course. However, using food to coax animals to return also does not sound like an authentic environment, nor are the caged-off areas containing Black Bears, Cinnamon Bears, and Arctic Foxes. It’s commendable that they are all overseen by the Animal Health Department and are monitored by a veterinarian, but again, none of that is “natural”.
- unique and interesting
- features a lot of animals
- good for families and couples
- plenty of onsite facilities and amenities
- a wide variety of accommodations is offered
- accommodations are clean – chalets and lodges are spacious
- free wi-fi
- very crowded during peak season, which encompasses spring, summer, and fall
- accommodations are pricey
- communication and customer service are lacking
- staff can be rude and unhelpful (some guests believe the language barrier causes issues). Though most employees are bilingual, there are some French-speaking staff and management. It was our experience that when a French-speaking rep answered the phone, she immediately hung up on us when we could not communicate in the same language.
- park admission should be included with ALL accommodations
- traffic can get very heavy in the drive-thru, and should be monitored to prevent visitors from stopping and getting out of their vehicles for photos
- location of the tipis causes guests to hear the highway at night
- the park has been known to randomly close without warning and ticket holders have not been refunded
Lead – Shutterstock trial
Tent – Agoda
Arctic Wolf – Ash Farz on Unsplash