"What is a Yurt?" This is a question I get almost every time I talk about our family's camping vacations. The simple answer... It's a little bit of paradise. It's what makes me not want to "accidently" run my husband over with our van while trying to put up a tent. It's the only way that I will go camping!
So what is a yurt? It's like a tent, but much more solid and better able to withstand the elements. Many of the provincial parks and National Parks now have them as a camping option. The design for these structures is based on the structures used by the ancient nomadic peoples of Mongolia. It is often round in shape and has poles holding it up. In ancient times they used animal skins for the outside, but now most are made of a plasticy canvas. In the provincial parks and now at the Bruce National Park we have been very impressed with yurts. They come furnished. Some have electricity, some have wood stoves. You arrive with your supplies like you would if you were renting a cottage.
I have often heard the word "Glamping" to refer to staying in a yurt. Now that we have stayed at the Bruce National Park, I get it. It's the best of both worlds. You are out in nature, but do not wake up shaped like the letter S. I also find that I like my family more in a yurt.
Here is what makes the Bruce yurts superior to any other yurt that we have stayed in ....
If you look closely at the picture above, you will see a screen door. The yurt had two doors, front and back. They had opening windows for ventilation, as well as a screen door. There were also blinds on all of the windows.
Our yurt came with a bunk bed, that had a twin on the top, and a double on the bottom, with a wipe-able mattress. It also came with a murphy bed. There was composite Muskoka Chairs and a table.
The floor was not the plywood we have come to expect, but rather a laminate. It came with cupboards and a broom.
In the roof was a skylight that had a pole that you could crank to open it for ventilation. I woke to see clouds, really nice.
There was also a wood stove to keep the chill at bay. I am pretty sure that who ever designed this set up was a genius! Did I mention that they included two lanterns?
Just steps away from the yurt was a comfort station. There were flush toilets! I didn't have to go to the bathroom in a stinky outhouse, life was good! There was a locked area to recharge cell phones and ipods (the kids LOVED this), but the best were the showers! It felt very exclusive because you had to have a special key to open them! Only the Yurt people were allowed to be clean! Honestly it was heaven. You need to remember that growing up my parents called me "Princess", and not in the loving way that I call my girls. When I grew up I wanted to be a "YUPPY". Oh, I appreciated being able to be clean at night.
At the comfort station there was a set of double sinks. These are perfect for washing dishes. Oh those geniuses thought of everything!!!
The yurts are in a different part of the park than the rest of the camping. This meant that at least when we were there, there was not a high volume of traffic. It was gloriously quiet, almost as if we had the place to ourselves. In the centre of the yurt area there was a covered picnic area. This would be perfect for groups of people.
One of the things that I really appreciated about The Bruce, was that there was a parking area for cars, and no cars went beside the yurt. On paper this seems inconvenient, but the reality is much different. All of the yurts were very close to the comfort station and parking area. Each Yurt had it's own wagon to carry supplies from your car to your yurt. Here's what I loved about this... my kids could explore the area, have fun, be kids, and I didn't have to worry about them being hit by a car (eaten by a bear maybe, but not hit by a car). I thought back to a few years ago when we had teeny weenies, and what a God sent that would be for families with toddlers to not live in terror of the cars.
It was absolutely beautiful at Bruce Peninsula. Our yurt looked out onto Cyrus Lake. The kids loved venturing down to the water. It was a very gradual deepness to the water, so they could wade out and have fun, but be safe. We were also surrounded by trees, so at night you could hear the trees sway, and it sounded a lot like the ocean. It really was beautiful.
Each yurt has a small deck attached. Each deck has a small enclosed fire pit, composite Muskoka chairs, and a table. It also came with a small covered area which I used to prepare food, and a barbecue that came with a full tank of propane, and a spare. I know that I keep saying it, but honestly they thought of everything that would make this camping adventure, less hassle and more spending glorious time with our family.
The kids loved the resident bunnies and named them all. They took great delight when they would see "Miles" the bunny (named 'Miles' because he hopped along miles around the camp sites). They named the family of Canadian Geese that calmly walked around the grass, and the Loon who solitarily floated around (at night Christopher and I called it something a little different when it screeched out).
Here is my answer, my true answer to what is a Yurt. A yurt is an affordable step into nature. It is almost a cottage, and almost a tent. It allows you to feel like you are out in the wilderness roughing it, but without it being too rough. It allowed us the time to spend with the kids, really being a family. There were no outside distractions, no cell phones, no computers, no t.v., just us. The kids had their electronic devices, but instead of using them for play, they used them to take pictures. It helped us to have a holiday that was only about us. We smelled like nature, but not body odour. We could allow the kids to have free rain, and to explore their surroundings. Whenever I looked up, they were usually together as a pack tossing the nerf football, trying to entice the bunnies to be their pets, or up to their ankles in the lake. As a parent, that did my heart good to see them enjoying each other. What is a yurt? An affordable gift of nature, and a the gift of family.