A superb self-drive trip in one of the most beautiful regions of Canada to discover unspoilt wilderness and a variety of wildlife, including black bear, moose and beaver.
Starting in Quebec city, you’ll head northwards into the wilderness area of Reserve des Laurentides where you can observe black bear, moose and beaver in their own habitat. Visit the Saguenay Fjord, board a Zodiac to enjoy whale watching in Tadoussac and learn about these magnificent mammals. Get closer to this amazing environment on a sea kayak with the chance to observe more marine wildlife.
Fly to Quebec City & collect hire car
Fly from London via Toronto to Quebec City, arriving in the evening. On arrival at the airport, collect your rental car and drive to your hotel.
Accommodation: Manoir Victoria, 1-night
Explore Quebec City; drive to Reserve des Laurentides; bear, moose & beaver viewing
You may wish to take a walk around Old Quebec this morning from the hotel; local attractions include Chateau Frontenac, Petit Champlain Cartier and the St. Lawrence River. You could also explore the Fortifications of Québec, which span close to 4.6km around Old Québec.
In the afternoon, take the road north of Quebec City toward Reserve des Laurentides, approximately two hours' drive. This area is covered by lakes, rivers and dense mixed forest and is a perfect place to observe Quebec wildlife. On arrival you'll meet your guide and check in to your private chalet. Late afternoon transfer with your guide (in your own car) to a bear watching hide. From the hide, you will have the chance to watch black bears and learn more about their behaviour (the animals are baited to increase the chances of seeing them). Return to the main lodge for dinner.
Accommodation: Portes de l'Enfer Lodge, 2-nights
Canoeing on the river
After breakfast at the main lodge, you'll meet your private guide and drive (in your own car) for a day of canoeing on the river. You will paddle along a calm section of the Pikauba river to search for moose and beaver - travelling quietly by canoe is a great way to observe wildlife. Included is a picnic lunch on the shores of the river before paddling back to your departure point. If you wish, you can also participate in black bear viewing (optional, additional cost).
Drive to St Fulgence via Lac St Jean
Spend the morning relaxing at the lodge and soaking up its beautiful scenery. After lunch, depart toward Lac St Jean, a huge interior sea of fresh water, passing through some small villages before reaching St-Fulgence (1-2 hours drive). This is where the Saguenay River becomes a fjord, opening into a wonderful picture of dramatic landscapes and pure beauty. Depending on your arrival time, you could visit the CIBRO (Centre d’interprétation des battures et de rehabilitation des oiseaux), an interpretive and rehabilitation centre for birds (optional).
Accommodation: Hotel Cap au Leste, 1-night
Head south to Tadoussac
From Saint Fulgence, you head south along the fjord towards Tadoussac, a drive of one to two hours. Along the way, you could stop at Sainte Rose du Nord, a small and beautiful village, or Sainte Marguerite Bay in Saguenay Park. Here you'll find the Beluga Interpretive Centre and where you can walk an easy trail (6 km, almost flat) to the observation point overlooking the bay. From this location, it is normally possible to observe belugas and seals (entrance fees not included). Continue your drive to Tadoussac and settle in your B&B. Depending on your arrival time you may wish to take a walk along the shore to observe more whales, and explore Tassoudac, the first fur trading post in North America.
Accommodation: Tadoussac Hotel, 3-nights
Early morning drive to nearby Bergeronnes, where you will meet your guide and group for a half-day of sea kayaking. In this location cold waters well up to the surface which makes this a great place to observe a wide variety of marine mammals. Stable double kayaks are used and no experience is required. After the kayaking, grab a lunch in Bergeronne or Tadoussac and continue your exploration of the area. In Bergeronne, you could visit the Cap Bon Desir Interpretive Centre where biologists organise talks and activities on the St Lawrence shore. Another option is to visit the Centre d’Interprétation Mammifères Marins, an indoor interpretation centre for marine mammals.
Whale watching excursion
This morning you'll board a zodiac for a whale watching tour (three hours) on the St Lawrence River and the end of the Saguenay Fjord. Accompanied by a certified naturalist, you can experience an intimate and unique encounter with the whales. In the afternoon, explore Tadoussac: walk along the shore, explore the beach or perhaps visit the chapel. You could also hike in Saguenay National Park where there are some beautiful views over Saguenay Fjord.
Return to Quebec & depart
Drive through the beautiful Charlevoix area back to Quebec City, just over three hours' drive. Depending on your flight schedule, you may like to stop in Baie St-Paul and its art galleries. Depart on an overnight flight back to the UK, via Toronto.
You should note: Extensions are available to the Chic-Chocs mountains where you can explore trails and seek out the wildlife, and to the island of Anticosti, the jewel of Quebec's natural heritage.