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Journey through time with us to learn about the birth of a continent and the death of an ocean. Walk in the footsteps of the New World’s first peoples and explore the home of the first Viking explorers. This exciting holiday starts and ends in Deer Lake, Newfoundland and explores the nature and geology of Gros Morne National Park — a United Nations (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. L’Anse aux Meadows, North America’s first authenticated Norse settlement and another UNESCO World Heritage Site joins Red Bay, the Labrador home to over 1,500 Basque whalers during the 1540s, as destination highlights you experience during this unique vacation. In 2013 the Red Bay site became this holiday’s 3rd UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of how this 16th century enterprise shaped the history of Europe and the world. Your Newfoundland and Labrador holiday also features the northern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains, an arctic lifestyle encounter at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, lots of birds and wildlife, plus a short journey to the “centre of the earth.” Enjoy Newfoundlanders, Labradorians, our culture, our distinctive food flavours, and our landscape on this unforgettable holiday. And you will help us remember the Norse who walked our shores and explored our coast over 10 centuries ago.
Our program begins Sunday afternoon as we meet you at the airport in Deer Lake, Newfoundland (Airport code: YDF). In the early evening, we begin this Newfoundland and Labrador adventure with an overview of your vacation and perhaps a light hike in Gros Morne or a wander along the dockside. Enjoy the coast and fishing communities. The region is rich with moose, waterfalls, orchids, mountains, songbirds, and wildflowers. The priority for the day is meeting you at the airport and getting you to our comfortable hotel. Tomorrow is when the fun — and your vacation — really begins. Enjoy the next two days exploring Gros Morne National Park.
Gros Morne provides one of the world’s great geology lessons. As Prince Edward noted, “What the Galapagos are to biology, Gros Morne is to geology.” Hence, its United Nations’ World Heritage Site designation. This morning we enjoy the gentle 60-minute walk to Western Brook Pond for a 2.5-hour boat journey through a billion years of geological history. The gorge, the mountains, and the glacier-carved valleys viewed during this boat trip have been included among the scenic highlights in Canada’s tourism literature for decades. The level trail’s highlights include orchids, carnivorous plants, and sometimes moose and caribou. The afternoon features beaches, dunes, spectacular scenery, and more opportunities for sighting caribou and moose.We also take the time to enjoy the region’s fishing villages and lighthouses.
Today we travel to the centre of the Earth. More specifically, we visit the Tablelands where an 80 square kilometer slab of the Earth’s mantle has been shoved up on land from deep beneath the ocean floor. Some scientists say the Tablelands more closely resemble the surface of the moon than the rest of the Earth. We will visit Parks Canada’s Discovery Centre and learn more about this UNESCO site’s intriguing history and geology. A poet on our Tablelands walk might claim that we are actually walking on the centre of the earth, while photographers will marvel at the mountains and the visual spectacle of this glacier-carved landscape. An astronaut on the same walk would remark how the Tablelands share a similar geology to the surface of the planet Mars while NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are studying the region’s bacteria to prepare for the possibility of microscopic life on Mars. This special region of Gros Morne….and planet Earth…also features a unique collection of plants including high arctic species, southern mountain top varieties, and carnivorous plants that are tolerant of these heavy metal rocks thrust up from deep inside the planet. Our leader will share his in-depth knowledge of the geology and botany with you; or you can simply enjoy the rugged scenery and the local stories. During today’s adventure we also take some time to remember the Cambrian as we show off some of our secret fossil beds. Did somebody say, “Out of this world!”?
Today we depart Gros Morne and take the dramatic Viking Trail highway north to St. Barbe and the Labrador ferry. Enroute we visit The Arches, where the ocean has carved dramatic tunnels in the limestone rocks. The ferry ride may require an early rise but it is a holiday highlight with whales, seals, icebergs, puffins, and pelagic seabirds all commonly seen (100 per cent average so far). This is a local service and the schedule can be influenced by weather and other factors, but based on our previous years of experience, it is likely we will have a relaxing and memorable drive with time to watch for wildlife and to enjoy the mountains. We always spend some time outside during the 90-minute ferry ride to view the marine wildlife and to enjoy the scenery. This voyage is often included among listings of the planet’s best pelagic seabird watching trips but you don’t need to be a birder to enjoy the sights. This evening we have the option of sampling the delicious flavors of Labrador’s berries and seafood.
Today we visit Red Bay — the 16th century’s whaling capital of the world. Less than 50 years after Columbus, this little-known part of North America had a population of over 1500 European people whereas areas like Boston and New York were still wilderness. We visit the interpretation centre, and nature permitting, we catch a boat ride to the actual dig site where we explore the trails walked by the Basques almost five centuries ago. In 2013 this area became Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. The new world’s first written documents originated here with ships’ manifests, whalers’ wills, and other poignant remembrances of this past era being recorded and preserved. We also learn the lessons taught by the huge gatherings of northern whales that once called these productive waters home. Our local leader is delighted to share this history and special sense of place with you. We also visit Canada’s second tallest lighthouse at Point Amour. Another highlight is the oldest burial mound in North America — older than the pyramids. The entire Labrador Straits area is rich in birds of prey, wild flowers, ancient reefs, and fossils. Everyone with a camera will want to try to capture the sweeping seascapes and the dramatic colours the sea itself takes on in this wild place. Our leader will show you the coastal sites where the land-based whale and seal watching is amazing
Today we travel to Blanc Sablon, Quebec and take the Labrador ferry back to Newfoundland. Along the way we get our last look at Labrador’s whales, seabirds, lighthouses, and seals. Once we arrive in St. Barbe, Newfoundland we travel to L’Anse aux Meadows to visit the only authenticated Viking site in North America. From here we can look out at Belle Isle which is the northern extreme of the Appalachians in North America. The ground where you stand (and where the Vikings stood 10 centuries ago) is the most northerly portion of Appalachia, the backbone of this continent. Now we relive the early Middle Ages as Parks Canada with its historic enactors and recreated boats and buildings bring the story of the Norse in the New World to life. The staff of Wildland Tours works with Parks Canada to share the story of the families, researchers, and modern explorers who contributed to both the discovery of this site and to humanity’s knowledge of this long forgotten epic. Tonight we sometimes rejoin the historic enactors for a Viking feast in a great sod-covered hall overlooking the headland frequented by Lief Ericson over 10 centuries ago. We can also consider a boat trip to look at dolphins, whales, and wildlife off the dramatic coastline. In June and July we often see icebergs in this area too.
Today we explore St. Anthony for an hour or two before returning to Deer Lake and on to Corner Brook for the night. St. Anthony on the northern tip of Newfoundland was the staging point for many northern expeditions. Arctic explorers used its sheltered harbour to take on sled dogs and other supplies as the world raced for the North Pole. Another St. Anthony highlight is the Grenfell Interpretation Centre. In 1892 a young English doctor visited St. Anthony and founded the Grenfell Mission in order to bring medical aid to the native and fishing families along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. We visit the interpretation centre that tells the inspiring story of Dr. Grenfell — friend to Kings and Presidents — and we visit his actual home. Step back to the early days of the 20th century and enjoy the tales of dog teams, hardships, courage, and innovation that surrounded Dr. Grenfell. We also stop to explore the Maritime Archaic Indian exhibit at Port au Choix National Historic Park. This is the last archaeological site we visit on this holiday which is considered by some experts to be North America’s most diverse archaeological adventure. Learn about the trade, art, and artifacts of the ancient people that occupied this site 3,500 years ago.
Included All accommodations, all ground transportation, all breakfasts and lunches, the services of our experienced guide, all admissions, all boat/ferry passes. This is a comfortable vacation featuring the exclusive and informed hosting that goes with our smaller group size (maximum of 18 guests per departure).
Folks wishing to book a 2017 vacation in 2016 can check the dates here but should contact us via e-mail rather than clicking our booking button to reserve your place.
Not Included Transportation to and/or from Newfoundland. Evening meals are on your own but our accommodations all feature great restaurants with other interesting dining options often available nearby.
Other We do reserve the right to re-arrange the schedule for your comfort and convenience should the weather or ferry schedule require changes to be made.
Physical Requirements: Participants need to be able to comfortably complete two level and gentle 1-hour walks at a leisurely-to-moderate pace over a six hour period in order to participate in this vacation program. Our days all feature many shorter walks and explorations. If you cannot comfortably complete several short walks or the journey required to walk into and out of Western Brook Pond as described above (with the two, 1-hour walks), then this is not the vacation for you.
Terms and Conditions*These are the per person prices based upon room occupancy. The 15 per cent Canada/Newfoundland Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is not included. Non Canadians receive a FCTIP tax credit on their invoice from us and thus actually pay only 7.5% HST.