Nature’s Nightlife – Attractions Before Dawn
Far from the vibrancy of big city nightlife, natural attractions are tapping into the potential for tourism after sundown – their unique products are a potpourri of adventure, discovery and unparalleled cultural experiences.
Lift up the eyes
Cities are ever expanding, thus increasing the luminous fog that veils our night sky. For urbanites, the chance to gaze at the stars is a privilege reserved for vacations away – our Milky Way has become a coveted tourist attraction.
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) has declared Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site the province’s only Dark Sky Preserve. This designation ensures that no matter the time of the year, visitors will undoubtedly have an unrivaled interstellar experience. The park aims to protect and promote its celestial views, to spread awareness of the effects of light pollution, and to create interpretation activities. Tourists can explore using astronomical instruments, enjoy a guided canoe excursion under the stunning panorama of stars, and listen to fireside stories that shed light on the overwhelming presence of astronomy in Aboriginal legends.
Phenomenons like the Northern Lights and exceptional views of our night sky have allowed us to live unique experiences – our twilight sets the stage for certain tourist destinations to earn their spotlight. The village of Kamouraska, Quebec, has often been awarded by professionals in tourism the “most beautiful sunset in Canada”. This inspired the Bas-Saint-Laurent region’s promotional campaign in 2016, which included two contests: “Sunset Treatment” where people chose one of six sunset pictures to send to a friend in need of some vitamin D; and “The Great Sunset Hunt” which recognized the best picture of a sunset uploaded by a participant.
Discover in darkness
When the sun sleeps, much of nature’s wildlife awakens. Exploring our landscapes at night allows us a more profound and fulfilling experience.
Night safaris have attracted many tourists, people who want to see flora and fauna through a nocturnal lens. The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, located in Saint Thomas (the gateway isle of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean) offers guided nighttime tours in their Crystal Clear Kayaks, equipped with LED lights. Visitors are able to observe sea life after dark, while their paddle-boarding tour guide explains the inner workings of the local ecosystem. Lured by the luminosity, nearby tarpons, rays and sea turtles will come and greet their floating guests.
Lakota Guides, in Colorado, offers a unique blend of exploration and adventure activities – including Night Vision Rafting Trips. Participants not only experience the thrill of rafting down the Colorado river (which is heightened by the obscurity), but are also able to absorb the sights and sounds of the river’s landscape. The use of night vision monoculars make this activity extraordinarily unique, combining nature exploration and modern technology.
Learn nature’s culture
Although distant from city enters, natural environments also benefit from cultural richness. In the darkness of night, traditional displays animate the natural scenery – allowing outdoor enthusiasts to observe the often unseen side of wildlife.
Parks Canada offers a variety of inspiring nighttime activities, designed to unlock the mysteries of the different national parks’ nocturnal cultures. New Brunswick’s Kouchibouguac National Park is a prime exemple, hosting various activities that simultaneously entertain campers during the night, while teaching them about the culture of the region. Visitors can gather in a Wigwam and learn about Mi’kmaw traditions, sit around a campfire and listen to Acadian tales or enjoy a show at the outdoor theater.
Another inescapable cultural experience in nature is Foresta Lumina, which provides a truly remarkable experience of nature’s culture. Each summer night, a multimedia pathway within the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook is illuminated, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the almost fantastical scenery of the forest, while learning about the various creatures that star in the park’s legends. This magical site attracted over 156 000 visitors in 2016 and has won several awards, including international recognition.
Urban tourism will seldom be able to provide the same fulfillment offered by these natural attractions. The breath taking view of a clear sky, the almost tangible feeling of a truly dark night… Visitors are surrounded by a very particular ambiance, one which promoters are able to exploit in order to brighten their brand.
Analysis written by Camille Derelle Aubut
– Gendron, Stéphanie. “C’est à Kamouraska qu’on admire le plus beau coucher de soleil au Canada!“, Le Journal de Québec, 16 février 2017.
– Moore, Jamie. “Epic Moonlight: Night Activities for Adventurers“, Smarter Travel, March 6, 2017.