It’s always a good sign when a friend comes to you with the question, “You’re up for a winter adventure, right? Ever stayed in a yurt?” I may not have it verbatim, but in any case, it’s not the sort of opportunity I could turn down.
It’s probably a little incongruous to write a post on winter adventures and yurting just as spring is starting to roll in, but I’ve been rocking the city life for a few weeks now which makes me yearn for some ‘get away from it all’ vibes. Staying at Minaki Yurt Adventures definitely soothed that itch.
It felt like no time at all between when my friend Carly enticed me with her opening lines to when we were packing up her truck and heading out of town along with Crystal. Just three adventure girls, embarking into the wilderness, roughing it. At least that’s what we told ourselves. In truth, Minaki Yurts is only about a 3-hour drive from Winnipeg, 45 km or so out of Kenora in Northwestern Ontario. Not a bustling metropolis, by any means, but not quite as outrageous as yurting in the outer reaches of Mongolia.
Following the directions we had been given, we carefully looked around until we found the distinctive tri-level yurt that we had been told to expect. Pulling into the site, we were greeted by two friendly dogs, with their owner not far behind them. Minaki Yurts is run by a lovely outdoorsy couple, Nadene and Jordy. Open year-round, there are five yurts to choose from depending on the size of your group, the amenities that are important to you, and how far you want to haul your stuff into the woods.
Home sweet home: Fireside Yurt
We chose the Fireside Yurt: near the lake, not too far from the main yurt or the Finnish sauna. Fireside is heated by a wood stove, as is the sauna, so the one ‘outdoorsy’ skill that you’ll want to make sure someone in your group has is the ability to start a fire and keep it going all night. Aside from that, the truth is that it was pretty swanky (at least as swanky as you can get without running water). All of the yurts have easy access to trails for snow shoeing and cross-country skiing (or hiking and mountain biking, in the summer). Just enough amenities to make you feel comfortable while still feeling like you were able to conquer the wilderness.
After hauling our stuff on sleds to the yurt, we settled in for a weekend of snow shoeing, reading, eating, and drinking. Oh, and of course, enjoying the fire, the sauna, and the utter quiet. We were only there for the weekend, and yet us three ladies had managed to bring enough food to bunk down for three times as long. If you do find yourself underprepared, the town of Minaki is only a short drive up the main road.
Playing with lantern shadows on the yurt ceiling
We were incredibly lucky with the weather. While the clouds prohibited any exciting night sky photography, it did make for very picturesque snowfall (and a tense drive home at the end of the weekend). The trails were well-marked, with lots of options on where and how far to go (more so for skiing than snowshoeing).
So Canadian: canoes and hockey sticks
If there are any criticisms to make, it’s of the website. I’m no web designer, but I was ready to offer what little service I could to make their website more useful for people seeking information, especially on what to bring in order to be prepared. Thankfully, Nadene and Jordy had endless patience in answering the constant stream of questions we had as we got ready to head out. Beyond that, Minaki Yurt Adventures was perfectly lovely. I left at the end of the weekend feeling refreshed and ready to handle the city once more. I look forward to my next visit to Minaki Yurts and to other interesting accommodations.
What’s the most unusual accommodation you’ve stayed in? Would you do it again?