We just discovered camping paradise and it’s in our own backyard!
I’m not one to call camping an idyllic experience. Sure, there are aspects I love such as kids running free, gallons of fresh air, the fact everyone pitches in to make the experience a success. But there is much about camping I could do without: setting up the tent, the dirt which gets into the most unexpected places, and needing to pack everything including the kitchen sink in order to function in the outdoors.
The gorgeous and luxurious oTENTiks found in various Parks Canada locations resolves all of my dislikes: no tent to set up, laminate flooring, a front porch (with a broom to take care of the dirt!), and a very well stocked cabin which requires me to pack next to nothing. I am in awe of the incredible comfort and home-like feeling created by the oTENTiks.
At the Fort Langley National Historic Site there are 5 oTENTiks and we stayed in #4 the gold rush themed cabin. Check-in time is between 3pm – 5pm; I highly recommend arriving as early as possible, since all buildings (except the washrooms) are locked down at 5pm to give yourself the opportunity to tour the Fort and check out your surroundings.
At 5pm the gates were locked and the Fort was ours (shared with the guests staying in the 4 other oTENTiks). Our boys brought their bikes and they were away to the races. I don’t know if they realized how lucky they were to be flying around the Fort Langley National Historic Site on their bikes but I sure did! There are many activities to entertain your kids, should you not have the ability to bring bikes. A toy box was provided on the front porch of our cabin: skipping ropes, a game of horseshoe, blocks and more. There are animals to visit, a garden to explore and a panning for gold station. Our kids weren’t lacking for activity options.
When we arrived the host Stephen gave us a lovely guided tour of our accommodations and an overview of how camping in Fort Langley works. Guests are given keys for their oTENTiks and the big Fort gates. Having the keys allows guests to go for dinner in the village of Fort Langley before returning to the oTENTik for bedtime.
However, should you wish to cook for yourself, Parks Canada has thought of everything. Four communal BBQs are provided; one is even reserved for vegetarians. There are cooking utensils, oven mitts, cutlery, cups, bowls and plates provided in every oTENTik. There is also a wash cloth, towel and dish soap provided so you can clean up. We made a delicious dinner of corn on the cob, chicken and tabbouleh salad, enjoyed on the picnic table in front of our oTENTik.
The physical space of the oTENTik is impressive. There is ample room for four people to sleep on the bottom bunks and one (or two small) sleepers on the top bunk. Should it rain, you won’t feel cramped and you’ll be able to dine inside on the kitchen table with 4 chairs. Parks Canada has also provided a mini fridge so you can bring perishable items and keep them cold. As an added treat for mom and dad, alcohol is allowed in the Fort so I felt rather civilized enjoying a glass of chardonnay while wandering around the birthplace of BC. Parks Canada oTENTiks are a genius idea which may just make a camper out of this less-than-enthusiastic-camper! We loved our experience so much we’ve already booked our return visit!
oTENTik camping can be found at a number of Parks Canada locations, here is a breakdown by province:
Prince Albert National Park
Riding Mountain National Park
Thousand Islands National Park
Fundy National Park
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
Newfoundland and Labrador:
Gros Morne National Park