Wildlife Observation

| 17 days |2560 km (1590 mi.) + 2 h by ferry | from La Pocatière to Tadoussac

The maritime regions of Québec, in Canada, are home to many wildlife species. You can observe up to 13 species of whales, a multitude of seabirds (including northern gannets and Atlantic puffins), four species of seals as well as caribou, black bears, moose and many others. This itinerary will allow you to discover wildlife in all four of our regions during your next vacation in Québec.

Travel Itinerary

70 km (45 mi.)La Pocatière to Rivière-du-Loup

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Your trip begins in Bas-Saint-Laurent, home to mudflats that are easily accessible bird-watching sites. In La Pocatière, you may spot Canada geese and black scoters while further east, in Kamouraska, you may see snow geese and ducks.

SIDE TRIP

If you want to explore the Témiscouata region inland, visit Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata where you may see up to 150 species of birds, including bald eagles, the park’s animal emblem. If you head to Pohénégamook, you are very likely to see white-tailed deer instead.

110 km (70 mi.)Rivière-du-Loup to Rimouski

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From Rivière-du-Loup, set off on a whale-watching excursion in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. From June to September, you will see various species of marine mammals as well as many birds. You can also observe seabirds on Île du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie (Brandy Pot Island) and Île aux Lièvres (Hare Island), off Rivière-du-Loup. Société Duvetnor, the organization that protects these islands and their bird colonies, offers sea excursions with an interpreter guide. You can also hike to the tip of Île aux Lièvres to admire seals basking in the sun.

If you are a birding enthusiast, be sure to stop along the coast in the Cacouna and L’Isle-Verte sectors as you drive east. You will finally arrive at Parc national du Bic, a few kilometres west of Rimouski. Harbour and grey seals are one of the park’s main attractions and are easily observable from the shore. Seabirds, birds of prey (in the spring) and white-tailed deer are also likely to cross your path in the park.

260 km (160 mi.)Rimouski to Carleton-sur-Mer

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Facing Rimouski, Saint-Barnabé Island offers about 20 km (12 mi.) of hiking trails where you may see nearly 70 species of birds as well as harbour seals.

Follow Route 132 inland towards the Matapédia Valley, in Gaspésie. Once you arrive in Matapédia, you can participate in an unusual activity: snorkelling with Atlantic salmon with Nature Aventure. Then keep driving towards Carleton-sur-Mer and stop in Parc national de Miguasha. Here you can learn more about animals that lived 380 million years ago! The park is home to an impressive collection of fish fossils, including the only intact specimen of Elpistostege watsoni in the world.

SIDE TRIP

From Pointe-à-la-Croix, you can make your way to Souris, Prince Edward Island, and take the ferry to the Îles de la Madeleine. During your stay on the archipelago, you can observe up to four species of seals: grey, harbour, hooded and harp seals. In the winter, harp seals congregate on the ice surrounding the Islands to give birth to their pups, which leads to a unique seal-watching activity. In addition, over 300 species of birds have been identified in this region, much to delight of birding enthusiasts.

215 km (135 mi.)Carleton-sur-Mer to Percé

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Drive on to Bonaventure, where you can visit the Bioparc de la Gaspésie, home to 40 species that are indigenous to this region, including caribou, moose, white-tailed deer, black bears and various reptiles, amphibians and insects. Want to try something unusual? Spend the night in this wildlife park during the “Overnight with the Wolves” activity.

On your way to Percé, you will drive by several renowned bird-watching sites, such as those found in Paspébiac, Port-Daniel and Chandler.

65 km (40 mi.)Percé to Gaspé

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Percé is home to the world’s most accessible northern gannet colony on Bonaventure Island. About 116,000 of these birds nest in Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé. Boat excursion companies such as Les Bateliers de Percé and Croisières Julien Cloutier offer boat trips to the island as well as whale-watching excursions.

On the way to Gaspé, stop at the Malbaie Barachois to see more than 200 species of birds, including great blue herons, American bitterns and Canada geese.

200 km (125 mi.)Gaspé to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts

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In Gaspé, Forillon National Park offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature on a territory that is home to diverse and abundant wildlife. On land you may encounter moose, black bears, beavers and porcupines, while in the sky you may spot razorbills, gulls and other birds. Inquire about guided interpretive activities. Out at sea, Croisières Baie de Gaspé will take you on a whale-watching excursion to meet the giants found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including impressive blue whales and spectacular humpbacks. Cap Aventure, on the other hand, offers you the opportunity to go sea kayaking and encounter seals.

Past Forillon, your journey through Haute-Gaspésie will be dotted with rest areas that are perfect spots to observe birds.

90 km (55 mi.)Sainte-Anne-des-Monts to Matane

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To find out more about the marine species that live in the St. Lawrence, stop to visit the Exploramer science museum in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. Touch crabs, sea urchins and sea cucumbers in the touch tanks; participate in a fish-harvesting activity along the shore; or help haul in the crab and whelk traps. Be sure not to miss the museum’s two astonishing exhibits!

SIDE TRIP

From Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, head inland to Parc national de la Gaspésie, where a hike may lead to amazing encounters with white-tailed deer, moose or caribou. In fact, the park is home to the only herd of caribou south of the St. Lawrence (a threatened population). Several interpretive activities with naturalist guides are also offered in the park.

2 h by ferryMatane to Baie-Comeau

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A detour inland to the Réserve faunique de Matane will give you the opportunity to observe two majestic species in the company of a guide: moose and black bears. This wildlife reserve is also home to white-tailed deer, small mammals and over 150 species of birds.

Next, you will take the ferry from Matane to Baie-Comeau (or Godbout) in the Côte-Nord region. Keep your eyes peeled during the crossing as you are likely to see marine mammals!

220 km (135 mi.)Sept-Îles to Havre-Saint-Pierre

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In Sept-Îles, enjoy a sea excursion to the Sept Îles Archipelago, which will take you to the bird sanctuary on Corossol Island. Although the boat must stay beyond a 500-metre (1640-foot) radius of the island, you will see many birds wheeling overhead, including razorbills, black guillemots and common murres. As a bonus, you will undoubtedly spot whales!

250 km (155 mi.)Havre-Saint-Pierre to Kegaska

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Off Havre-Saint-Pierre, you will see a mysterious and impressive sight: the islands and islets in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. Home to limestone monoliths sculpted by the sea, this archipelago is also one of the best places in Québec to see Atlantic puffins, which have earned their nicknames “sea parrots” and “clowns of the sea.” The park reserve is also home to the largest concentrations of terns and common eiders in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as many marine mammals.

SIDE TRIP

A stay in Parc national d’Anticosti, on Anticosti Island, in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is an opportunity to encounter white-tailed deer: about 160,000 of them live on the island. In addition, the largest concentration of bald eagles in the province of Québec is found here.

SIDE TRIP

From Natashquan, board the MV Bella Desgagnés, a supply ship that serves the Lower North Shore. As you travel from village to village all the way to Blanc-Sablon, you will have many opportunities to spot seals, whales and birds that lives in and along the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

300 km (190 mi.)Kegaska to Rivière-au-Tonnerre

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Heading back west on the same road, be sure to stop a few times along the way. In this sector, you will find several popular bird-watching sites, including the Baie-Johan-Beetz marsh where you may spot American bitterns, green-winged teals and up to 40 species of passerines.

360 km (225 mi.)Rivière-au-Tonnerre to Pointe-aux-Outardes

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Before you continue your journey, take a moment to observe marine mammals from the shore in Rivière-au-Tonnerre. You will have many other opportunities to do so along Route 138, including in the Godbout and Franquelin sectors.

190 km (120 mi.)Pointe-aux-Outardes to Tadoussac

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Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes, which is home to 255 species of birds, is one of the five best bird-watching sites in Québec. Birds can be sighted in the nature park’s eight ecosystems as well as the bird garden, which also includes a butterfly aviary and an insect hotel. Want to sleep like a bird? Enjoy an unusual glamping experience in a giant birdhouse!

As you continue driving southwest, you will have other opportunities to see birds, namely at the Longue-Rive salt marshes, the second largest in the province. Take advantage of the raised decks to observe various species, including several that are threatened.

In Les Escoumins, bordering the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, the Marine Environment Discovery Centre is a popular place to observe whales from the shore and participate in a live virtual dive. The exhibit on site is a perfect complement to your whale-watching experience.

Learn more about the whales at the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Site in Les Bergeronnes, before setting off on a sea excursion to see marine mammals up close. Sea kayaking enthusiasts will enjoy the excursions offered by Paradis Marin and Mer et Monde Écotours, while those who prefer a Zodiac adventure can opt for a cruise with Essipit. This company also offers black bear watching in a natural setting in complete safety.

Tadoussac

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One of the best places in the world to observe whales, Tadoussac is the last stop on your itinerary. Board a sightseeing boat or Zodiac with Croisières AML to explore the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. Minke whales, humpbacks and blue whales (the largest animals on the planet) await you here! If you would prefer to stay on dry land, head to Pointe de l’Islet, an excellent land-based observation site. To find out more about these giants of the sea (and even learn how to sing like them!), visit the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM). To learn more about belugas in particular, which are a threatened species that lives in the St. Lawrence, visit the beluga interpretation centre in Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay, where you can also observe these whales from several lookouts.

Tadoussac is also a renowned bird-watching site. The Tadoussac dunes are a rare staging area for the migratory boreal owl, a small, relatively unknown bird of prey. You can even participate in owl banding nights!

SIDE TRIP

From Tadoussac, take Route 172 to Sacré-Coeur, where you can visit the Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort. Spend the night at the farm, which is a refuge for wild animals (including moose, wolves and bison), and participate in caring for the animals. A black bear-watching activity with a guide is also available.