There’s a lot you wish you could do with your car but would never dare to do. As a big fan of the British car show Top Gear, I’ve always heard about Land Rovers but didn’t really know what they were like until this past winter when I got to do the Hibernot experience with them in Toronto. During that drive, I was able to feel the awesome power of the 510 HP Range Rover Sport but I was hungry for more. So when I found out that Land Rover had an actual driving school that involved off road terrain, I was all in.
Land Rover Experience
There are 35 experience centers all over the world, with 4 in North America and only 1 in Canada. What makes the Montebello Land Rover Off-Road Driving Experience unique is that it’s a special obstacle course and trail carved out of a special 65,000 acre land that used to be part of the Fairmont property.
After registering and signing in for our two our course, we were immediately paired one on one with our instructor for the day, Alex. He started off giving us a run down of everything to expect. I particularly loved how he explained that what we were about to embark on is “the slowest extreme rollercoaster you’ll ever be on” and that similar to being in Top Gun flight school, we would also need to think in a three dimension axis as our Land Rovers will be on all sorts of pitches and rolls.
From there we jumped into the Land Rover LR4 we were assigned and off we went, exiting the Fairmont property and driving a good 15 minutes through the town and up north to Kanauk, a private wilderness park. After twisting and turning through wooded trails, we finally made it to an area that seriously looked like a big playground for 4x4s.
— Will (@GoAwesomePlaces) June 15, 2015
From there you’ll have to watch the video which shows you just how many GoPro mounting points I tested and how quick on my feet I had to be given the time constraints we had.
What I’ll say about the Land Rover and the course is this. Damn, the LR4 and its cousins is one fine and sophisticated piece of machinery. It is a vehicle designed to make the driver look good no matter what the terrain. Whether it’s mud and ruts, or climbing rocks (the two main modes we used), the Land Rover was simply a beast. Honestly, I barely had to do anything at all aside provide a little bit of gentle gas and brake. Even though things may have looked hairy on the outside with two opposite wheels dangling in mid air but from the inside, you’d never know that was happening. The Land Rover simply hums along as if it’s nobody business.
As Will Smith says in Independence Day, “I got to get me one of these!”
The instructors at Land Rover Experience are world class. Throughout the course, Alex was able to intelligently speak to all the features of the car and give us that invisible guiding hand to make us breeze through the obstacles as if they were nothing. I know my girlfriend was a bit nervous about driving but with Alex’s help she was able to conquer each part with confidence and a left a huge grin on her face.
The @LandRoverCanada Experience Driving School was way too much fun not to share and I don’t even own one. #offroadextreme #montebello #jetset #travel #instatravel #travelgram #tourist #tourism #vacation #getaway #traveling #trip #ilovetravel #jetsetter #visiting #instago #holiday #fun #instatravel #passportready #travelphotography #travelblogger #instaTBN #travelstoke #wanderlust #explore #ngtradar #fernweh #picoftheday #ttot A photo posted by Will Tang (@goingawesomeplaces) on
To wrap it all up with a nice little bow tie, we arrived back at the driving center each with our own framed and signed certificate as proof of course completion. To us, what it really meant was that we had just completed having some of the most fun I’ve had in a car (aside from that time I drove a Ferrari of course).
Fairmont Le Château Montebello
A great feature of the driving course is that it’s right on the Fairmont Le Château Montebello. This rustic and fully wooden chalet gets the first class treatment of the Fairmont name while staying down to earth with its storied history and serene surroundings.
The largest log cabin ever made along the Ottawa River and in the charming town of Montebello, Quebec @fairmontmontebello #Quebec #QuebecOriginal #jetset #travel #instatravel #travelgram #tourist #tourism #vacation #getaway #traveling #trip #ilovetravel #jetsetter #visiting #instago #holiday #fun #instatravel #passportready #travelphotography #travelblogger #instaTBN #travelstoke #wanderlust #explore #ngtradar #fernweh #picoftheday #ttot
When you walk into the chalet, it doesn’t take a lot of time to hit you that this has to be one of the world’s largest log cabins in the world. The grand foyer is definitely the most impressive part of the property with its centerpiece hexagonal stone fireplace that rises straight up to the roof. As you look up, two mezzanine levels encircle the foyer along with the massive cedar logs that build up to support the roof and rafters.
The summer gives guests access to great hiking trails, water sports, outdoor pool, sports, and even an evening bonfire. In the winter is where I see this resort really hitting its stride with curling, cross country skiing, tubing, ice fishing, sleigh rides, dogsledding, and snowmobiling.
During our time there, we had a chance to kayak out on the river, hike the 3km trail, hot tub our aches away and even squeeze in nap time under the sun on one of their many beach chairs.
Le Château Montebello is the perfect place to spend a relaxing couple of days taking the calm shore of the Ottawa River, being amongst the wildlife sanctuary and calmly driving that Range Rover over potholes made by giants.
What You Need To Know
- One hour lesson: $250/vehicle
- Two hour lesson: $400/vehicle
- Two hour trail session: $400/vehicle
- Full-day adventure: $1200/vehicule (Not available during the winter season)
- 7 days a week: 9AM – 5 PM
- Phone – 1-819-423-3038
- E-mail – [email protected]
- Note that the price is per vehicle. This means that you can easily have 2-3 people in the car and simply rotate amongst yourselves and divide the time accordingly.
- If you’re going in the summer, make sure you bring mosquito repellant. You may be standing outside to take photos/videos and you want to make sure you don’t get eaten alive out there.
- Make sure you reserve before hand.
- Le Bistro in town is a great place for pizza.
- Delices Champetre in town has some of the best poutine. Their soft serve ice cream is also a nice treat.
- Think about what season you want to go off-roading in. I can only imagine winter being even more ridiculous.