We sit on the edge of the Zodiac raft, clutching the nylon straps, faces turned into the breeze. The sun is shining down on Rafael, Rachel and I as we watch the foot high wall of water rush towards the raft. The excitement builds as the tidal bore rushes past us with a little bump under our feet. Our raft picks up speed; we do a quick turn and race back to where the bumps have turned into Class V rapids. Stomachs drop and roll as we ride up and down the tight sets of waves. The sun-warmed water splashes in our faces as we laugh and hold on tight. When we get to the end of the waves, our driver races back around to the beginning and starts over again. We are on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, experiencing the thrill of tidal bore rafting. It is a unique and wild ride!
The Bay of Fundy, which has the largest tidal range in the world at more than 47 feet (14+ meters,) is what provides us the big waves. When the tide comes in, it changes the flow of the river, with the Bay water rushing in over the River water flowing out. Don’t miss Hall’s Harbour, a very tiny, picturesque fishing village on the coast of the Bay of Fundy. Come at low tide when boats in the harbor literally sit on the sandy bottom. Come back at high tide to see them floating in 47 feet of water!
But I digress…
Back on our Zodiac, we ride the waves until everyone has had enough. We then cruise over to a part of the river that has muddy banks. Here the more adventurous can jump out of the raft, climb the bank and slide down in the mud. Rachel loves it! The mud itself is warmed by the sun and is very fine and smooth. Go ahead and slide down, head first, feet first, or just roll down into the water. By the end, we look like we were dipped in chocolate. We take a swim to clean up a bit and jump back in the boat. On the way back to our starting point, we see Bald Eagles flying overhead, which make for a perfect ending to a wonderful adventure!
Can I do this adventure?
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult.
Courage level: 2 – Unlike traditional white water rafting, you do not have to hold a paddle and maneuver your boat around rocks. You can just hold on to the straps. This makes it much safer and easier. Even if you fell out of the boat, there are no rocks beneath these waves.
Fitness level: 2 – All you really need to be able to handle is the physical stress of being thrust up and down on the boat. If you have a bad back or neck, or are pregnant, this is not the activity for you. I actually have all kinds of work-out related injuries, but none of them bothered me here!
Do I need special gear?
The Shubenacadie River’s water is full of mud during this adventure (maybe it always is, I don’t know!) You need to wear clothes you are willing to throw away. I’m not kidding, everything will have to go. There is a thrift store called Louis’ in Truro that you can get some cheap clothes if you don’t bring any. We didn’t know this ahead of time, so we went there and got clothes for the three of us for $16. Rachel and I did wear our own underwear, which we then had to toss because you cannot get that dirt out! I even took mine home to try and wash it with good detergent and no luck. So don’t wear a bathing suit or anything decent!
If you have a shock or waterproof camera, you could bring that. We did not have our Olympus Stylus Tough yet for this trip. It would have been fun for the mud sliding, but we were holding on too much for the rafting part! The rafting photos shown here are not my own.
Any more info?
There are a number of companies offering rafting trips. We went with Tidal Bore Rafting Park http://www.raftingcanada.ca/rafting.php and we liked them a lot. Our guide was friendly, everything seemed well maintained, and safety was an obvious priority.
We stayed in Truro at the Tulips and Thistle Bed and Breakfast. http://www.tulipsandthistlebedandbreakfast.com/ We loved it. The room was very comfortable and the breakfast was so good! It’s also in a good location for a number of other attractions.
Nova Scotia is a great family destination. There is so much to do and see. There are a lot of outdoor activities, like rafting, hiking, whale watching and rock collecting. There is also an incredible amount of history, museums, culture, great food and music, and in July, they have the Highland Games in Antigonish. That is a treat for anyone to see!