Published on July 8th, 2016 | by Emma Hackwood0
The Great Canadian Outdoors
Sometimes you don’t have to look too far to find what you’re searching for. If it’s an adventure, it’s right in your own backyard. Our Flightie Leigh Gray discovered the natural beauty that spans the coasts along the Atlantic and shares some of the best moments:
I have been lucky enough to travel to many difference places on this wonderful planet but no trip has been quite like my last. I was born and raised in Canada. I’ve never been in denial of its beauty… but I’ll admit it was never at the top of my list to explore. I’ve always dreamt of travelling to far-off, exotic places; never would I guess that my favourite trip would be in my own backyard! After boarding the Ocean Endeavour, a beautifully intimidating ship I was to call my home for the next ten days, I knew a special adventure was about to begin.
Tadoussac offered us the warmest of welcomes with fresh salmon and foie gras along with a local band playing traditional French music. Although we had a scheduled welcome with the mayor, Adventure Canada provided lots of free time. The natural beauty of this place is next to none. Here, the fresh water from Lac St Jean meets the salt from the St. Lawrence Estuary and provides a rich habitat for large and small marine mammals. It was here that I encountered my first whale! A small pod of belugas passed our ship just before we entered the fjord. They are a local family, a few of nine hundred (which used to be five thousand strong). This trip expressed the importance of local wildlife and preservation. I was in awe at the sight and will never forget that moment for as long as I will live.
Lower St Lawrence
Our second tendering in the zodiacs, this was a really relaxing day and a very peaceful place perfect for birders. I have never seen purple tulips before!
Forillon Nation Park and Gaspe
The first National Park of Quebec, the stunning cliffs are home to the tallest lighthouse in the country. Once threatened by the German U-boats, remnants of this history are preserved here. A beautiful four-kilometre hike along the cliffs gets you to the lighthouse and touches the beginning of what I call Fern Gully. This forest offered something quiet and magical that I cannot explain. Marine birds soar overhead, and if you look down over the cliffs, you can see seals basking in the sun on secluded beaches. Look forward and you may spot a lynx or a moose! An unforgettable place that only Adventure Canada takes you to.
What an amazing day! Here we never hit land. Instead we had the fun opportunity to spend a lot of time in the zodiacs. We were at the helm of a wonderful expedition team who have spent their life studying the different animal and plant species. Here, Yvon and Pierre were stars! After visiting the stunning natural arch at Percé Rock, we pulled alongside the stunning Bonaventure Island in awe of what we were witnessing: a gannet colony of over fifty thousand pairs! The shear volume of birds and rock was crazy! I have never been big on birds until now. I was introduced to gannets and murres, all of which only touch land for a couple months a year to breed. If you are lucky you can spot the famous puffin—but you need binoculars as there are only five pairs on this island!
Prince Edward Island
The smallest province with the biggest heart! We were welcomed to Summerside by the town’s mayor before we were set free to discover the island. I took the Anne of Green Gables tour and learned the real story behind the famous novel. A wonderful fish market was opened just for the guests of Adventure Canada, and if you’re a fan of Tim Horton’s, there is one located across the street from the port. We spent most of our time immersed in nature and this placed provided the home away from home we all needed.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
I had heard so much about this place and I can finally say from first-hand experience it did not disappoint. A long four-hour hike was scheduled, where along the way we were hoping to spot a bald eagle and black bears! A Parks Canada guide and botanist shared their wealth of knowledge of the area. They explained that there once was a vibrant wolf population, now extinct by over-hunting; this left no natural predator for the now-booming moose population. Just how over-populated they had become was made apparent when we reached the top of the mountain to see that all the trees had been eaten. This certainly made our group excited to see this intimidating animal and catch the first picture. High above, we took stunning pictures of Cape Breton and the Ocean Endeavour at anchor. After a long day, the only right thing to do is sit on the patio beside the water and enjoy some local beer and lobster.
By the time we arrived, we were all very excited to experience some nightlife on land. Saint-Pierre is so much fun! The small population certainly knows how to party. We wandered the streets, bar-hopping and enjoying the local scene. The next day we took the Adventure Canada bikes and rode through the streets looking for a certain cemetery we had heard about. The damage that the weather had done to these monstrous monuments was creepy to say the least, and made for really cool pictures. The beautifully coloured houses made this place seem quaint and was a photographers dream. I highly recommend Saint-Pierre and its wine to anyone but bring your passport as this tiny island is owned by France and not Canada!
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” — Saint Augustine
This trip was so special to me and no words or pictures can capture the real experience. I spent most of my time on the top of our ship overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence spotting humpbacks, minkes, dolphins, and belugas. That alone was soul-changing and I believe I found a bit of myself here. If you’re looking for something unique that offers comfort and adventure, then I encourage you to book with Adventure Canada. My next adventure with them will be to the Arctic!
Looking for more information on Adventure Canada? You can connect with Leigh online, visit her in-store, or call 1-866-569-9549. Looking for a short getaway in your own backyard? Our Canada Getaways Sale is on! Get $100* off per person on your trip and live for the great Canadian adventure. Take a stroll through the historic waterfront in Halifax. Watch emerald jewel tones glisten in Lake Louise. See the world from new heights atop the CN Tower in Toronto. Just book by July 31st! For more information, contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert by connecting with us online, calling 1-877-967-5302, or visit your closest Flight Centre store.
*Conditions apply. Save $100 per person off Canada Getaways packages. Packages must include roundtrip flights within Canada with Air Canada, WestJet or Porter, minimum 2 nights hotel in Canada with GOGO Worldwide Vacations plus a local experience, tour or city insider booked through GOGO Worldwide Vacations. Certain exclusions apply. Discount is not combinable with any other offers unless otherwise specified. Additional conditions may apply. Offer expires July 31, 2016.