Saturday, June 11, 2016

Spelunking at Bonnechere Caves

This past week, we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.   Since we were at our campground located near Eganville, we were trying to figure out what we could do with the kids on our special day.   I approached Bonnechere Caves to see if it could be possible to visit and an agreement was made.   I will be honest is telling you that I always wanted to check out these caves since we were camping at Logos Land Resort for over 10 years but it never happened.   Originally we had the idea of visiting Bonnechere Caves on the day of our anniversary which is June 6th but the rainy day on June 5th ended up the day we took the tour.   It was perfect in many ways and we had a blast exploring the caves.   

Bonnechere Caves is located near Eganville next to the Fourth Chute Falls.


The caves were discovered in the late 1800s by a guy while he saw these holes near the chutes. 


Looking for adventures, he explore the area and found this hole in the ground which he decided to explore by simply attaching rope on a tree and slide through it.


And he entered the cave to explore it…  but before I give you too much on his explorations – which is after all the story you will learn while visiting Bonnechere Caves – let me tell you more about the tour itself.

The first part of the tour will introduce you to fossils found in the area (not only in the cave).   We somewhat arrive a bit late for this part of the tour but we got a private presentation at the end of the tour which was very thoughtful from the tour guide.


After this presentation, we are guided toward the area where you can see the caves via the river nearby and to the entrance of the Bonnechere Caves.  The entrance is easy to access and wooden stairs have been made for visitors.


Throughout the tour, you will hear the story of the first explorer of these caves.  I will not tell the story as it wouldn’t make it interesting for you if you decide to visit Bonnechere Caves.  However, we found the story fascinating and very interesting to follow.  Now only do you get the history of the caves but you also get the snapshot of the person who explore the caves.  You will also learn how to be more secure when spelunking and how it is important to never be alone when doing so.


At one point, our tour guide needed a volunteer.  Our son, Dominic, stepped up to the place and inserted his hand in the hole found on the wall.    There is a story linked to this hole in the wall but again it is part of the tour so I won’t spoil the mystery surrounding this particular place.


At some point during the tour we arrived in the bat cave.  Unfortunately at this time of the year the bats have left the cave for the spring/summer so there was no little brown furry friends to observe.  If you want to be able to see the little brown bats, it is suggested to go in the fall which is when they come back to nest for the winter.  This is where they would be found.   When the first person to explore the caves arrived at that point there was over a thousand bats hanging there.  Nowadays, there are about a hundred of them coming in the fall.


The next thing that you can do if you are not claustrophobic is to go through the path that was taken by the original spelunker of the caves.  The area is not too bad to walk though you might get your shoes wet at some places due to water accumulating in some areas.   There is one section that get very tight and can be frightening for some. But it was fun to retrace the steps of the person who first visited the caves.


At one point, we stopped and we could see a rope crossing the path.  I thought that it was an area not opened to visitors but we learned that at some point pumps were used to remove the water from the area further in order to explore more of the caves.  So in the spring, the pumps remove the water and in the falls the pumps are stopped.   It would take about three days for this section to be filled with water.  At this point in the story, the tour guide will warn everyone to stay together and will demonstrate how dark the caves can be without light.     Let me tell you that it was pitched dark…


Finally at the end of the tour before exiting the caves through another entrance, you have the opportunity to take a picture.


Once the tour is finished, you can get back out in the woods.   Be aware that you will have a bit of climbing to do with the help of a staircase that has been added to help the visitors.  The area is almost magical and reminded me of scenes in the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit or the Narnia movies.


The tour for the Bonnechere Caves starts daily (rain or shine) and happens every 20-30 minutes.   Plan to spend about one hour for the tour alone.  However, you can explore the above ground site to see the original hole where the first explorer went through or the falls nearby.  By aware that it is extremely recommended to stay on the paths due to the presence of poison ivy.


In case you are wondering how easy it is to walk in the caves, I can assure you that it is beautifully setup for anyone who desires to explore.   The paths are sturdy with wooden trails (except for the excursion to retrace the path of the first explorer which has patch of water here and there…) and the lighting is making the exploration easier to do.


We were extremely blessed to have been able to visit the Bonnechere Caves in exchange of a review.  However, for a family of six like ours the fees would have been almost 90$ which is expensive for us.  And I know numerous homeschool families with many children who would enjoy doing a tour and spelunk as well.  It is a great way to discover caves in the area.   It would be interesting if a special family fee would be put in place in order to facilitate large families to come and visit.  However, they do special pricing for homeschool groups if you desire to organize a field trip.  Homeschool groups qualify for school rate which can be seen by going at the Teacher’s Info section on their website.

Nevertheless, exploring Bonnechere Caves will cover history, spelunking, security, and learn a bit about the bats that live in the caves and the beavers that were found in the caves at some point.    It is a great field trip to do with your kids.  Bring a picnic and explore the area afterward.  There are beautiful falls close by and many other things to discover in the Ottawa Valley.  

Bonnechere Caves is located at 1247 Fourth Chute Rd in Eganville, ON.   If you desire directions please visit their page which listed directions from Ottawa, Toronto, Algonquin Park, and NorthBay-Petawawa-Pembroke.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Chris for allowing us to visit Bonnechere Caves in exchange of a review. I was not monetarily compensated for this post . Please note that the post was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own. All pictures posted on this blog post were taken with our own cameras.

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