National Parks Tours Offers

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Appalachian Parks Canada

Call 877-674-9593

Monday - Friday 9:00am - 6:00pm CT

The Harp Seal Watch

 

 

8 days from $4,995

Each March, 250,000 harp seals migrate from Greenland to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to bear their young on the vast ice floes surrounding the Magdalen Islands. For centuries the pups have been hunted for their immaculate white pelts. Now, baby harp seals are protected, and small groups of visitors can spend time in their presence. Someday, we hope the same will be true for all harp seals.

Harp Seals, Magdalen Islands

 

 


    • Roundtrip flights between Quebec City and the Magdalen Islands
    • Accommodations
    • Meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on final day & bottled water
    • Services of Expedition Leaders, local guides and lodge staff
    • Some gratuities
    • Airport transfers on Day 1 and final day
    • One helicopter trip to the seals
    • Slide shows, lectures and presentations by authorities on seals and wildlife
    • Guided outdoor activities (snowshoeing, nature hikes)
    • Dogsledding excursion (if available)
    • Trips to local artisans’ shops and studios in the Magdalen Islands
    • Use of expedition suits and warm boots for ice trips and all equipment for outdoor activities
    • Permits and entrance fees
    • All taxes
    • A rare small-group adventure to see white-furred baby harp seals up close – truly a remarkable wildlife encounter
    • Walk with our expert guides on ice floes among herds of seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
    • Discover the serene winter beauty of the Magdalen Islands, flung far off Quebec’s coast

 

Day 1 – Quebec City
Arrive in Quebec City on the St. Lawrence River, the second-oldest European settlement in Canada, established by Samuel de Champlain in the 17th century. A distinctly French atmosphere still permeates the city today, especially within the historic quarter, with its narrow lanes and stone walls. Meet for a welcome dinner this evening.

Day 2 – Quebec City / Magdalen Islands
Fly this morning to the Magdalen Islands. As we leave the mainland, we gaze down on a subarctic landscape that resembles a frozen jigsaw puzzle, as ice chokes the open water of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, forming jagged floes that float atop the sea. Amidst the ice we can make out the fishhook-shaped archipelago, “Les Îles de la Madeleine,” or the “Maggies,” in less-French colloquial use. Pushed up from the ocean floor and sculpted by waves, winds and currents in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the islands are in a constant state of change. Salt marshes, sand dunes and sandstone cliffs are among their main habitats. The gulf waters sustain a vital fishing culture, and we may see lobster pots and fishing nets awaiting the spring thaw. Though often hidden from view, the islands are home to many wintering birds that find the landscape reminiscent of their summer homes farther north. In a presentation this evening, we learn about the remarkable life cycle of the harp seal.

Days 3 - 6 – Magdalen Islands, Seal Excursions & Northern Adventure
While in the islands, you can fly out to visit the seal herds every day that the weather allows. After a brief safety presentation, our guides issue expedition suits and prepare us for one of the world’s most unique wildlife encounters. The journey to the seals can take between five minutes and one hour, depending on their location. After our helicopter pilot chooses a suitable ice pan, we set down for our up-close experience with the herd.
On the ice pans there may be hundreds of lolling, lumbering, barking harp seals, with fluffy white-coated babies by their sides. We spread out among the seals, giving each traveler ample opportunity for personal time with these captivating animals. When we approach the seals, they have different reactions: some bark at us like puppy dogs, others scurry away, and still others roll on their backs, almost encouraging us to scratch their bellies. Our Expedition Leaders and ice guides are highly knowledgeable in seal biology and behavior, which enhances our experience significantly. When we are not visiting the seals, travelers can participate in outdoor activities (weather permitting) such as snowshoeing and hiking, and we may even have the opportunity to dogsled or ice fish with the locals. There are indoor pursuits available as well, such as slide shows and lectures on wildlife and photography. In addition, we will have the opportunity to tour the islands and visit the many traditional crafts shops featuring the distinctive work of local Acadian artisans. (All of these activities are optional but are included in your fee.)

Day 7 – Magdalen Islands / Quebec City
After a final opportunity for activities today, we fly back to Quebec City. Depending on schedules, enjoy either a farewell lunch on the Maggies or a farewell dinner in Quebec City with your Expedition Leader(s) this evening, with a last chance to share stories of a most amazing week.

Day 8 – Tour Conclusion
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight home.


 

Quebec City: Hotel Clarendon

Magdalen Islands: A clean and comfortable hotel with a view of the bay.

 

 

 

Departure Date Twin Single Triple

 

Additional Information

 

* 7-day trip

Please note: Fees include one flight to the seal herds. Additional flights to the seals may be booked on site, on a space available basis, for approximately $550 CAD per flight. All flights are dependent on weather.

Group Size Limit: Approximately 15 Travelers. A very important feature of our guided adventure to see harp seal herds in their natural habitat is the limited group size as nature expeditions are best experienced with a smaller-sized groups of travelers.

Please note: On our seven-day expedition we travel back to Quebec City on Day 6.

Note on ice conditions: Our encounters with the seals are largely dependent on ice conditions and weather. When the ice is thick we can often walk among hundreds of seals. When the ice is sparse and free floating we may only find individual animals. Poor weather may also limit the number of flights, or cancel them altogether. We ask that our guests recognize that this is a true nature expedition where we cannot predict the exact conditions.