Sometimes when life presents you with a travel opportunity too good to pass up, you just go for it. That’s exactly what we did earlier this year when we received a last minute invite to stay at the Grey Gables Inn in Pembroke. We had never been to the area known as the Ontario Highlands and the Ottawa Valley so we asked for referrals on things to do in the area and fellow travel blogger, Lauren, suggested a visit to Bonnechere Caves.
Here’s video from the caves 60 feet below the surface!
If you liked this video then remember to subscribe to our YouTube Channel & be the first to know when our next video is published!
We had never been to the area so off we went at 5AM on Friday before a long weekend. We stopped off at the Ontario Highlands and Ottawa Valley offices conveniently located in the same building and on the way into Pembroke. We were tired after a long day of driving so we decided to save our visit to the Caves for the following day (remember we left the house at 5AM!)
The next day, we arrived 15 minutes before the start of the next tour so that gave us time to settle in and snap a few pictures of the place. Our group tour started off with a brief history lesson and demo of various fossils found in the area. These fossils are said to be millions of years old dating back to the Ordovician period.
We then continued into the caves to personally experience what we had just learned about. The steps descend to 60 feet below the surface level. We immediately felt the drastic temperature difference from the outdoor above-ground temperature to the underground temperature. We visited in the middle of summer so we went from 28 degrees C with humidity to what felt like a cool 10 degrees C in the cave.
While walking along the boardwalk, we were surprised to see that the caves were well lit, because they installed a lighting system throughout. We didn’t realize the value of this system until our Tour Guide, Laura, turned off all the lights to demonstrate the lack of any natural light. It was the first time in our travels that we stood in literal darkness unable to see anything in front of us.
We continued the tour within the tunnels that varied in width and height. Some areas have cathedral height ceilings, while others had some tight corners and narrow spaces which the kids really enjoyed as it was only accessible to them. We were also told to look up at one point to notice the stalactites which were so small in comparison to their age.
We really enjoyed having Laura (pictured above) as our tour guide in the caves…she and Tony have the same appreciation for punny jokes. Don’t believe me? See our video from inside the caves: https://youtu.be/Tb0MqGnDZVY
Our final lesson of the day was the fact that a local colony of bats make the Bonnechere Caves their home over the winter months. We guess this fact was saved for the last to avoid any unnecessary panic. It’s funny how humans generally get scared of harmless little bats!
Hours of Operation
The Caves are a seasonal operation from the Victoria Day long weekend in May to the Thanksgiving Day long weekend in October. Tour Schedules also vary, depending on the month, throughout the operating season.
During our visit in 2017, entry and tours was less than $20 for adults, and even lower for seniors and kids.
Keep in Mind
- You can only visit the Caves on a guided-tour. Self-guided tours are not permitted so plan ahead and arrive 10-15 minutes before your desired tour time to buy your tickets.
- The temperature below ground is significantly cooler (approximately 10-12 degrees celsius).
- Watch your step as the grounds and walls could be wet from the natural run-off.
- Some parts of the caves are extremely tall, as much as 25 feet high! However, in lower areas, be prepared to bend if you’re 6′ or taller. Thankfully that wasn’t an issue for short people like us!
- Babies and toddlers will have to be carried through the Caves as the tunnels are not suitable for strollers.
Must Do or Try
- If you need a place to call home for a night or two then we highly recommend the Grey Gables Inn in Pembroke. It’s a 30 minute scenic drive from Pembroke to Eganville.
- Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it on site before or after your tour.
- Go for a hike on one of the several trails along the Bonnechere River.
- Check out one of the many special events hosted in the Caves.
There’s so much to learn about the region’s geology, fossils and cave formation. Luckily, we got a chance to meet Chris ‘The Caveman’ Hinsperger, who is co-owner and operator of the Bonnechere Caves. He’s the resident expert, and he ‘rocks’! (Tony made me include that) We could have easily spent all day discussing caves and the various topics mentioned above. He’s extremely proud of the fact that these caves are unique and provide a sense of wonder to new visitors everyday.
Our visit was sponsored by Bonnechere Caves however all opinions, recommendations & reviews are our own.
Have any photos or videos of your visit that you would like to share with us? Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.