Not to be confused with the ‘Maid of the Mist’ operated by the United States, the ‘Hornblower Cruise’ is a thrilling Canadian cruise on the Niagara. Two 700-passenger capacity catamaran boats carry enthusiastic tourists to the mouth of the raging waterfalls. The cruise starts from the Canadian dock at the base of the Niagara gorge and steers past the American Falls, the Bridal Veils Falls and finally lands in the gushing waters of the Horseshoe Falls. This Niagara Falls boat tour experience is the oldest attraction of North America and has been enjoyed by famous dignitaries and celebrities including the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Mikhail Gorbechev, and Princess Diana.
The Journey Behind the Falls takes visitors through a tunnel dug into bedrock one-third its way behind the massive sheet of waters of the Horseshoe Falls. Two viewing portals, the Cataract Portal and the Great Falls Portal, are two open windows in the tunnel, offering awe-inspiring views of the 2,800 cubic meters of water thundering down from a height of 13 stories, into the basin below. Outside the tunnel, there are also two upper and lower observation decks that allow tourists to watch the falls, up close and personal. Passengers are provided with biodegradable ponchos to avoid getting drenched by the flying mist of the waterfalls.
The Whirlpool Aerocar is an electrifying adventure ride over the Niagara whirlpool where the Niagara River turns abruptly in an counter-clockwise direction. The antique cable car was designed by Spanish engineer, Leonardo Torres Quevedo, in operation since 1916. The ride (safely!) transfers 35 passengers along a round-trip distance of about 1 kilometer over the dangerous waters of the Niagara Whirlpool. The Whirlpool Aerocar also offers some breathtaking views of the Niagara gorge, the Niagara Whirlpool and the raging Niagara rapids.
A boardwalk unlike any other in the world takes tourists along one of the wildest stretches of whitewater in the world. The White Water Walk includes traveling past the Niagara rapids on a 305 meter-long boardwalk with two observation decks at the edge of the violent Niagara River. The Niagara rapids are Class 6 whirlpool rapids where waters travel at a rate of 48 kilometer per hour along this stretch of the river with three to four meter-tall standing waves. No boats are allowed in these treacherous waters, but we highly recommend checking them out via the safety of the boardwalk.
The Bird Kingdom is a must-see for any bird lover. A world class attraction with exotic birds, reptiles and other animals, it is one of the largest free flying aviaries in the world. Here, in the Animal Encounters section, visitors can handle and take pictures with colorful macaws, boa snakes, iguanas and other animals that are safe to handle. In the Night Jungle, visitors encounter nocturnal creatures like owls, bats and some reptiles. The major attraction of this spot is, however, the Bird Kingdom: a multi-level rainforest with vibrant exotic birds flying freely. macaws, African grey parrot, blue crowned pigeon, budgerigar, and easter rosella are a few of the many species of colorful birds found in the Bird Kingdom.
If you’re more a butterfly person than a bird person, Butterfly Conservatory Niagara hosts over 2000 vibrant, fluttering butterflies in a magical environment with lush and flowering exotic vegetation. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the conservatory. Be sure to check out the Emergence Window in the conservatory for a view of butterflies emerging from their pupae. Check out butterflies enjoying feeding plates throughout the conservatory, while freely fluttering butterflies land themselves on your head or shoulders. Make sure to bring along your camera: the conservatory is a photographer’s paradise and a small wonderland for both children and adults.
Niagara Glen is a gorgeous spot in the Niagara Gorge area and is designated as a Nature Reserve area. The Glen has four kilometer-long trails that wind through a pristine Carolinian forest region. The region hosts some important plant and animal species; visitors to this place must be cautious to follow only designated trails and leave behind nothing more than footprints. The Niagara Glen offers a peaceful retreat into the heart of nature, overlooking the stunning Niagara Whirlpool rapids.
The Niagara Falls fireworks show offers one of the most memorable fireworks display in the world. The backdrop doesn’t hurt: fireworks explode in the night sky, illuminating the Niagara Falls. Fireworks schedules are available on the official website; last moment schedule changes are always a possibility, given the weather-dependent nature of fireworks. Take the risk and try to ensure you catch a show.
By Dr. Oishimaya Sen Nag
Dr. Oishimaya Sen Nag, a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Kolkata, India, is currently residing in Toronto and is engaged in full-time freelance writing. She travels widely and loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.