Virtually the entire province is public land, where animals roam free, so you visit them in their natural setting.
Moose populations on Newfoundland have reached over 100,000 - it is time for your expedition in search of your very own! As you drive, keep your camera handy – moose and caribou are both common along this remote route. An evening outing to a favourite moose hangout is the ideal way to end a day. Your guide knows some of these moose personally, so your chances of spotting one are great!
Today tour L’Anse aux Meadows. This ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ is the only Viking site in North America. Meet a Viking in this 1,000 year old village, where, 500 years before Columbus, Europeans first set foot in North America. Vikings are impressive but this is also a perfect area for spotting moose. As you walk the site, keep your eyes on the woods, inland from the sod huts.
Overnight at the northern tip of Newfoundland where Quirpon Lighthouse Inn will draw you into the life of an isolated lightkeeper. Catch the boat to Quirpon Island, Newfoundland’s best location for seeing whales, and beat the captain at spotting their spouts. The humpbacks put on the spectacular tail show, but orcas bumping the boat will definitely raise your pulse!
You won’t likely need any assistance in seeing the monstrous mountains of ice that can arrive overnight… This is Iceberg Alley and Quirpon Island hosts them longer than anywhere else in Newfoundland. Take a day to wander the island’s unique sites and delicate biology (don’t forget to ask about Tuckamore). After you have earned your supper, relax on the front porch that overlooks Iceberg Alley and enjoy your favourite beverage while watching northern gannets diving like torpedoes, with a backdrop of whales and bergs.
The indoor whale watching station is the perfect spot to get cozy, or perch where you can smell the spouts - on the rocks where this shot was taken.
In addition to the massive whales, keep a watch for the smaller delights – the seals and otters that call the waters around Quirpon Island home. While the seals spend most of their time in the water, a visiting orca will tend to encourage them to take to land! The sea isn’t the only source of photo and sighting opportunities – this arctic fox has lived on the island for a few years along with coyote and red fox.
Wend your way through Gros Morne National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is spectacular, and the beauty of this coastal drive, as you watch for moose and caribou on one side and whales on the other, is a treat. Just north of Gros Morne, visit The Arches. The unique rock formation is an ideal spot to stretch your legs. I can never resist the temptation to climb up on the top for a look, but perhaps you will have more self-control!
Time for one of the icons of Gros Morne National Park. A 45 minute walk across a bog (known locally as a “mish”) brings you to the dock of the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour. This journey takes you into a deceptively innocuous notch in the granite face that opens into a landlocked fjord, surrounded by 2000 foot cliffs. Penetrate miles into the fjord, with hanging valleys. Anywhere along the trail or on the tour, animals may appear. This is your best opportunity to see a black bear. Newfoundland has over 20,000 of them, and they are some of the largest in the world. While the bears are generally shy, the isolation and calm of the fjord is their comfort zone, so scan the shoreline.
One of the most amazing struggles in nature are Atlantic salmon fighting upstream to spawn. Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park allows you to view this, from, literally, a foot 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!
Elliston is a fabulous spot for viewing puffins from land, After getting that perfect photo, head for Bonavista to explore this historic town. The Mockbeggar Plantation is a must for understanding the life of this coast in the past, as is the sealer’s museum.
Arrive in St. John’s. You may want to wander downtown in the evening. No other city offers such a strolling-friendly waterfront where you can still see evidence of the centuries of shipping. From explorers in the 1400s, through the Portuguese White Fleet and on to today with massive cruise ships tied side by side with the active fishing trawlers bringing in tonight’s meals for the local restaurants. For a completely different kind of wildlife - head to the pubs on George Street…
Explore south as you trace the eastern edge of the continent to Bay Bulls, the ideal spot for a boat trip to visit whales and puffins. These colourful birds are irresistible to any wildlife photographer!