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This is a sample itinerary - the exact program is tailored to the preferences of the participants and weather conditions.
DAY 1: WELCOME TO NEWFOUNDLAND!
Arrive in Deer Lake and make the short drive to beautiful Gros Morne National Park.
DAY 2: SOUTH SIDE OF GROS MORNE NATIONAL PARK
Spend a day touring the south side of Gros Morne National Park. Start at the Discovery Centre for an interpretation of the natural and cultural history of the park. From the centre, you see the Tablelands, a remarkable stretch of geology that makes this park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now is the time to stroll along the base of these amazing mountains! Feeling energetic? Hike the Green Garden Trail, winding through remarkable biological and geological wonders which are not equalled anywhere else on earth. This approximately 45-minute walk down a park trail leads to the coast. Wander along the coast for as long as you like enjoying the sea stacks, pillow lava, wild meadows, sea cave and semi-wild sheep.
Then - more walking as you head back up the valley to your vehicle. You will be gone for a few hours, at least, so make sure you pack a lunch. An alternative to this walk is to trek along the base of the Tablelands, without the need to go up and down!
Trout River is a picturesque working fishing village wedged between the Tablelands and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Take a gentle stroll along the waterfront and visit the museum, interpretation centre and historic house of Jacob A Crocker, the first settler of Trout River. There are some wonderful craftspeople, so you may be able to get a new pair of socks directly off the clothesline. A visit to the wharf is a must, not only for the photos but because it gives you a chance to meet local fishers and see what is destined for your plate later. Trout River boasts some beautiful walking trails and is certain to a drive-in back of the community to visit Trout River Pond.
When you are overlooking it you have to realize that, as impressive as it is, you can only see about one-third of it! There are several restaurants in town, so you need not go hungry Wander “downtown” Woody Point to explore the shops and waterfront. This is a colourful outport with wharves and a selection of boats.
DAY 3: ICONS OF GROS MORNE NATIONAL PARK
This morning’s mission: visit the Visitors Center, in Rocky Harbour for an interpretation of the natural and cultural history of the park before heading off to enjoy The Lobster Cover Head Lighthouse.
Today you enjoy one of the icons of Gros Morne National Park. A 45-minute walk across a bog (known locally as a “mish”) takes you to the dock of the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour. This journey will take you into a deceptively innocuous notch in the granite cliffs that open to a landlocked fjord surrounded by 2000 foot cliffs. Penetrate miles into mountains on this Canadian Signature Experience, with Hanging Valleys and waterfalls dropping from a height that makes you dizzy just to see them.
DAY 4: L'ANSE AUX MEADOWS
Head north to tour L’Anse aux Meadows. Your second ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ and Canadian Signature Experience, it is the only Viking site in North America. Step back in time in this 1,000-year-old village, which has been brought to life. L’Anse aux Meadows shows where European Vikings first set foot in North America, 500 years before Columbus.
From the Vikings, you set sail for another Canadian Signature Experience, overnight at the northern tip of Newfoundland, where Quirpon Lighthouse Inn draws you into the life of an isolated lightkeeper. This is Newfoundland’s best location for icebergs and whales, so try to beat the captain at spotting them.
The most common whales in the area are Humpback (with the great tail show), Minke and Orca. The challenge here is not to simply take a whale photo but to get a tail shot with an iceberg in the background, or a breaching whale with the lighthouse as a backdrop.
DAY 5: QUIRPON ISLAND
Up early to discover Quirpon Island and visit the island’s unique sites and delicate biology. Don’t forget to ask about Tuckamore and the story of the mass murder that took place on the island. Take a walk along our cliff-top trails or explore the island following only your whims. Kittiwake colonies and Eider ducks nesting in tiny coves where there used to be a fishing village are favourites.
As you have likely learned by now, some of the best viewing and photos are from the land surrounding the lighthouse inn. The currents in the cove are very efficient at drawing in fish, with the whales close behind. The deep water in the cove means whales can use the under-water cliffs as a barrier to drive fish against as they feed. This means that they are routinely touching the rocks at your feet! Your choice is to go down close to smell the spray or head up on the cliffs so you can look down through the water and see the entire whale below.
DAY 6: WHALES & ICEBERGS
Now that you have wandered by land, it is time to visit the whales and icebergs by sea. Our zodiac will take you on an exploration of the coastline, not only in search of the massive wonders of this area, but also the subtle beauty - kittiwake colonies and eider ducks nesting in tiny coves where your boat can squeeze through, ensuring a fun and dozens of photos. Orca is the most curious of the whales. While humpbacks treat our zodiac as if it doesn’t exist, feeding and swimming nearby, the Orcas will often make a point of visiting, to the point where they will touch the boat. Dolphins are similarly attracted to the zodiac, just watch out for their spray on your lens!
Feeling less adventurous? Wander down to the indoor whale watching station or helipad with your book and have a good read – not to worry, the sound of the whales will tell you when to look up.
DAY 7: THE ARCHES & GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA
Just north of Gros Morne keep an eye out for The Arches. This unique rock formation is an ideal spot to stretch your legs. I can never resist the temptation to climb on top for a look, but perhaps you will have more self-control! An adventure race once started at The Arches and headed straight across the Great Northern Peninsula. This was done on foot and was only the first leg of a multi-day adventure that had the participants hiking, climbing, kayaking and biking in some of the harshest terrain imaginable. If you have been out wandering in the Tuckamore and looking at the mountains, you will appreciate the endurance of these folks.
One of the most amazing struggles in nature is Atlantic salmon fighting upstream to spawn. Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park allows you to view this, from, literally, a few feet away. The salmon can land on your feet as they misjudge their jump, trying to clear the falls, on their journey to the headwaters of the Humber River. At times I have seen as many as six salmon in the air at the same time!
Then – All good things must come to an end, but not without photos and great memories!