Travel: Rice Lake, Ontario. Chasing Alpacas at an Eco Lodge

alpacas

Curious alpacas at Island Spirits, Rice Lake

I know alpacas are not horses. I know they are toed and not hoofed.

Hey, camels and zebras snuck into this site once before and honestly, I had to tell you about this Eco resort so you could start – like me – fantasizing about (or planning) next summer’s holidays.

No, I didn’t ride an alpaca. But I did follow some around a for a weekend.

At Island Spirits on Grasshopper Island in Rice Lake, Ontario everything is either solar powered, or rainwater filled. Very little is wasted. There’s no gas-powered anything and roaming animals are an essential part of keeping this place green. It’s a true eco experience.

pigs

The cute garbage disposal

Owned by the outdoor loving T.J. Chernuck, everything about this place, which she developed literally from the clearing up, evolved from the quirky vision of an individual who wanted to share these 25 acres with everyone from partiers to meditators; families to corporate retreaters; outdoor hikers to drum circles … as long as you follow her rules and respect the place.

TeePee

TeePee accommodations

The cabins sleep about six, either upstairs or on the main floor, and have some comforts of home such as couches and electrical lights (thanks to solar panels on the roof). Each unit has a barbecue, a rainwater tank and its own outhouse. There are also campsites if you bring a tent.

What’s missing is running water.

There are two showers inside a circle of wooden poles, above which hangs a large metal water tank. The sun heats the collected water then, thanks to gravity, it flows through pipes and cascades over you. It’s possible to get a hot shower, but with about 50 people (up to 100) staying on the island at one time, jumping in the lake is preferable some days.

cottage in Rice Lake

Island Spirit Cottage

All canoes, kayaks, fire pits and some firewood are included. You bring your own food and can buy ice to keep things cool in a metal garbage can lining a hole in the ground. (“That’s our wine cooler,” T.J. says).

But what about the alpacas?

That’s the best part: you share the island with a herd of wandering sheep and three alpacas (all named) that are curious enough to get close, but not close enough to pet.

Sheep and alpacas are part of the eco initiative here. They keep the grass cut. Plus ‘wild’ chickens roam freely and if you find a fresh egg, it’s yours to fry up.

alpaca herd

Alpacas stroll the island all day

What do you do with your food scrapes? Feed the pigs, of course. Thanks to a pen of four pigs, garbage has been reduced by 50 per cent and you get to feed them two containers of pellets a day.

If you want to get to Island Spirits, you have to climb aboard the ferry. Captain T.J. is in charge of that too. It’s also, by the way, how she gets the alpacas here each summer. Ahoy!

54 comments

  1. Wow! That looks like a fun trip! I would love to go there! Alpacas are on of my favorite animals! The pigs are adorable too!

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    1. The pigs were strangely mesmerizing. I must have watched them for hours. I also loved sleeping in a cabin listening to sheep baabaa outside.

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  2. Sounds peaceful and fantastic, wish I could come up there and chill

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    1. Considering I usually don’t like camping this was pretty awesome (we did have dinner catered so that might have helped)

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  3. This sounds like it was a fun camping trip! Alpacas are cool animals. I think that the horses will forgive you for giving them a day off. 🙂

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    1. Actually adding horses to this island would be awesome… But considering the only way over is on a tug boat so that might be interesting to see.

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  4. That sounds like an awesome place to visit! We have therapy alpacas here in Portland that you can pet.

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    1. That sounds awesome. There was something really engaging about these guys.

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  5. Great post – the tee pee accommodation looks really interesting.

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    1. They were actually comfortable because the mattress ate thick foam.

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  6. Golden Daily Scoop · · Reply

    Sounds like a fun camping trip, thanks for sharing!

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  7. That sounds like an amazing getaway!

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    1. Different than the usual, yes.

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  8. Looks like a fun place to visit. I was in a tee pee like this once and it’s really cool.

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    1. Fortunately, I got to stay in the cabin. Showering outside was an experience, though.

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  9. I adore the garbage disposals! What a cool place!

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    1. Yes, apparently there is very little trash produced. Alpacas mow the grass too.

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  10. I love Alpacas -I’ve been to many Alpaca farms as a CVT and they are wonderful. I’ve had to trim their hooves and spend time with them, that soft fur!

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    1. That would be awesome. These ones were too scared to let us touch them.

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  11. What a great place to visit. I love all your photos.

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    1. Thanks. That was the most fun part… stalking the alphas.

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    2. Thanks. That was the most fun part… stalking the alphas.

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  12. How awesome is this place – now I want to go!! Thanks for highlighting it!

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    1. It is near Peterborough, Ontario about 40 minutes from Toronto. Apparently, many city types escape there for long weekends.

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  13. This sounds like an awesome destination for my family. I’m going to have to do some research and see if we can go there this summer.

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    1. They focus on families – especially multi-generational travel because grandparents can stay in cabins and kids can stay in teepees, further away but not too far.

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  14. I would love to meet some Alpacas! Not sure about roughing it without running water and having to use an outhouse though (I’m a city girl).

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    1. Me too. But all the animals there made it worth it. A long weekend I could do – anymore, not so much.

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  15. What a unique sounding experience. Alpacas and pigs, what more could you want?

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    1. Well, dog are welcome but only on leash. That wouldn’t work with my Victor but he would chase the rabbits. (He wasn’t with me.)

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  16. maryehaight · · Reply

    Thanks for sharing your getaway! Sounds like you had a great time =) I’m not a camper, though I did do that once in the Alps years ago, but a cabin might transform the experience =)

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    1. Except for the outhouses, it’s kind of camping light.

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  17. I’m so excited to learn about this place right her in Ontario!!! I will be sure to visit. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Not sure where you are, but it’s near Peterborough.

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      1. That’s not too far! I will definitely make a trip. Thanks again.

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  18. Kitty Cat Chronicles · · Reply

    What a neat place! A unique experience for sure. Love all of the eco-friendly initiatives, and all of the animals. Though not having running water or a real toilet would be hard for me!

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    1. Yes, that last part got me too. But they got my attention with ‘free range’ alpacas and sheep.

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  19. spencerthegoldendoodle · · Reply

    I have never seen an alpaca, but they seem cool! Sounds like a get time! 🙂

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    1. They are odd and curious and it’s surprising how much they trust their leader.

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  20. fivesibesmom · · Reply

    Wow! Fun time! So many great things to see. Thanks for sharing it all with us. Friends of mine have alpacas and it was my first introduction to them. They are sweet!

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    1. These ones were skittish … a little like feral alpacas. But really really curious, especially the leader.

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    2. These ones were skittish … a little like feral alpacas. But really really curious, especially the leader.

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  21. vickisgreen · · Reply

    It sounds like a very unique and relaxing vacation spot.

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    1. Strangely it was easy to decompress. Almost immediately.

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  22. Wow, sounds like a really rustic adventure! Definitely a lifelong memory. I love Alpacas, they’re so sweet and beautiful.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Rustic. Yes, but at least we did sleep in beds.

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  23. Looks amazing. Our dad likes his AM shower, he would be there at dawn to get the hot water LOL!!!

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    1. Yes, my guide actually recommended people shower together to get the most hot water… a little to hippy for me.

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  24. What a interesting place to visit and stay.

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    1. It was different than my usual choices for sure.

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  25. I love Alpacas and they are adorable.

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    1. They were really fun to photograph – and they liked to look directly at the camera with goofy expressions (sort of like supermodels).

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  26. […] via Travel: Rice Lake, Ontario. Chasing Alpacas at an Eco Lodge — Horse Trotting: Global Travel for Ho… […]

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