Visit Niagara Falls in Canada
Niagara Falls is situated on the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. It’s about one-and-a-half hours away from Toronto by bus. There are a number of companies that operate day trips, and most of them pick you up from any of the main hostels. Tickets can be purchased online or from any of the hostel reception areas. I chose a full day trip that included Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake and also an Ice Winery Tour (free taste-testing was obviously the selling point). Once at the falls, like always, you’re one of the other 20 buses full of tourists who had the same idea. After you’ve successfully pushed your way to the front of the barrier, it’s an impressive sight! Niagara Falls is the most powerful waterfall in Northern America, and world-famous for having the largest volume of water. It is actually comprised of three waterfalls – The American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Canadian Falls. There are two hydroelectric plants which draw water into their reservoirs, generating enough hydroelectric power for 25% of Ontario’s total electricity. I felt cheated when I heard that they are regulated each night to reduce the flow rate over the falls between 10pm and 8am. They are then “turned” back on, ensuring flow is greatest during the daytime during peak tourist season (June – August).
Despite this, I figured it’s the type of tourist attraction you only visit once, so agreed to pay the extra $10 to take the Journey Behind the Falls. Everyone is given bright blue plastic raincoats that in reality do nothing more than make you resemble a large, wet condom (you get to keep this one, and can re-use it at a later date if desired). This in itself is worth it – to see your friends and a bunch of Asian tourists march uniformly onto the Maiden of Mist boat, as if in an Army of latex. The trip itself was short-lived, but worthwhile. The boat goes down the river and to the bottom of the main falls before heading back again. The viewpoint from the bottom offered another perspective, while the sound of the water crashing down, combined with the off spray/mist reiterated just how voluminous the falls really are.
Tip: Wear a white t -shirt, no bra and waterproof mascara, and unless your camera is waterproof, leave it on land. You get absolutely soaked!
Once you’ve taken the obligatory touristic photograph, do not explore the surrounding area. Sadly, they’ve done a great job of ruining the natural beauty by plastering colourful neon billboards and advertisements wherever possible. It’s horrendous and tackier than your average Gold Coast meter maid. The streets are lined with souvenir shops, casinos, high-rise hotels, fast food outlets and not much else. Save your photos and get back on the bus to Toronto!