Algonquin Park has become Canada’s # 1 canoe trip destination. Algonquin’s size with thousands of kilometers of canoe routes contributes to its drawing power for canoe trips – not to mention incredible wildlife viewing and scenic lakes. Algonquin Park is also arguably the most convenient of canoe trip destinations. There are dozens of outfitters, and increasingly guides who can take you on a canoe trip. With so much choice, the question becomes should I take an Algonquin Park guided canoe trip or self guided? And with whom?

Guided Algonquin park Canoe trips

It is important to know that all Algonquin canoe trip guides and guided tour companies are not the same. In 2013, there are presently no licenses that restrict guides from operating in Algonquin. In my mind, there are but 3 or 4 authentic top-quality operations that specialize in guided Algonquin trips. These solid 3 or 4 companies are insured, have roots in the area, and have demonstrated for over 10 + years that they deliver quality. A few have won national awards and there is only one Algonquin canoe trip listed by the Canadian Tourism Commission as a signature experience. 

Be careful as several including some that have a major web presence are not insured which means if something goes south – you may be up the creek without a paddle.

Here are few reasons that factor for a guided Algonquin Park canoe trip:

  • Instruction.

With a fully certified canoe trip instructor, you can learn new skills of canoeing, portaging, camping and wilderness travel.

  • Wildlife viewing/wilderness knowledge.

Algonquin Park is abundant with wildlife and a guide is typically well versed in Algonquin Park flora and fauna

  • All equipment, meals are included.

This makes a guided Algonquin Park canoe trip super convenient. Show up, park, and go. Voyageur Quest takes it one step further by offering return transportation from downtown Toronto.

  • Safety.

Again using Voyageur Quest as an example, our guides have wilderness first responder certification, are qualified lifeguards, know evacuation routes, and have over 10 days of specific Algonquin Park canoe trip training every season. A 23 year perfect safety record speaks for itself.

Self Guided Algonquin Park Canoe trips

Algonquin Park has a rich tradition of self guided canoe trips. For many, Algonquin is one’s first canoe trip by themselves. With dozens of outfitters, this option is made easy. There is less risk when it comes to which outfitter as most Algonquin canoe trip outfitters offer decent canoes.

Here are a few factors for selecting a self guided Algonquin park canoe trip:

  • Have canoe experience and are a good swimmer.

Comfort around water is paramount for doing a self guided trip. Can you self rescue if you dump? Could you swim to shore without help?

  • Have some experience camping.

Whether you sleep under the stars or under a tent, it is recommended you have some camping experience if you are considering a self guided adventure

  • Clothing- prepared for rain, wind and cold weather.

Algonquin can be cold at night. Even in July and especially during August, the night time temperature can be below 10c.

  • Do you like adventure? Would you find it fun to figure it out on your own and deal with whatever nature throws at you? If yes – a self guided canoe trip could be for you!

One final comment regarding value. Many Algonquin Park canoe trip outfitters have complete outfitting packages that will cost between 75 and $100 a day per person. A 3-day self-guided canoe trip package for example could cost $270 to $300. A guided canoe trip may not cost much more – perhaps $100 for a trip that includes all meals and instruction. This value for $100 seems like a very good deal when you factor in a trained wilderness guide who is there for skills training, local knowledge, and safety.

As Director of a company that operates both types of Algonquin park canoe trips, here are some 2013 pricing examples:

At Voyageur Outfitting, our Algonquin Park canoe trip outfitter located at access point # 1, our complete canoe trip package is $70/ day or $210 for 3 days.

At Voyageur Quest, our 3-day Algonquin Park guided canoe trip is $395