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Ocean mist that permeates the air of quaint colonial towns, the smell of freshly grilled seafood along scenic waterfront boardwalks, and picture-perfect lighthouses perched on rocky outposts - Canada's Maritimes are like nowhere else in the world. This 15-day expedition takes you to some of the east coast's most charming towns, best attractions and incredible parks. Cruise the Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park, traverse the scenic Cabot Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands, see the unusual formations of Hopewell Rocks at different stages of the tide, and visit some of the oldest towns in North America. Add a hearty dose of quaint Atlantic charm for an outdoor adventure that will stay with you long after you've left Canada's beautiful Atlantic provinces.
Day 1: St John's, Newfoundland
Welcome to the Maritimes! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. St John’s is Newfoundland’s capital and the oldest city in North America. After meeting with your travel crew, why not get together for an optional introductory dinner downtown along the waterfront or at one of St John’s’ many pubs.
Day 2: St John's, Newfoundland
Lucky you – you’ve got the full day to check out this slice of Atlantic history. Vaguely resembling San Francisco due to the colourful wooden row houses perched on a hill – known locally as Jelly Bean Row – St John’s definitely has a small-town feel. Spend time exploring its historic downtown, where museums, restaurants and artisan shops can be found along winding streets. For more hiking, trek up Signal Hill or walk the Grand Concourse – a series of trails that connect historic sites, parks and Victorian buildings. Whatever you do, make sure you leave time today for a Newfoundland tradition. Gather your group together head to one of St John’s’ pubs for a ‘screech-in’ – an unusual ceremony in Newfoundland of taking a shot of a local high-alcohol spirit, completing a short recitation and kissing a cod. How better to initiate your group into Newfoundland than this?
Day 3: Terra Nova National Park / Gander, Newfoundland
This morning, make tracks for Gander and stop by Terra Nova National Park on your way (total driving time today is 3.5 hours). You may have time of going for a hike on one of the parks many trails, so keep an eye out for wildlife that resides within the rolling forested hills, including moose, caribou, coyotes and beavers. Onwards to Gander: a town of around 10,000 with a unique history – once being a crucial transatlantic stop for international flights in the early-to-mid 1900s. Fast forward to 2001, and 38 planes were forced to land at the airport because of New York and Washington’s 9/11 terror attacks. This town’s generous spirit and kindness opened their doors travellers from all corners of the globe for six days until US airspace was re-opened. So much so, these events even inspired a hit Broadway musical – Come From Away! Check out where these passengers spent their time, and perhaps head on an optional visit to the aviation museum to learn more about all things flying.
Day 4: Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Today, you’ll set off for a 3.5-hour drive to begin exploring Gros Morne National Park. The 1805-square kilometre park is a World Heritage-listed site, and it’s not hard to see why. Shaped by colliding continents and grinding glaciers millions of years ago, Gros Morne is a spectacular mix of towering cliffs, waterfalls, freshwater fjords and pristine lakes. Dense forests contain rare plants, animal and bird species, and its distinct red landscape is actually part of the earth’s mantle exposed. It’s untouched nature on the biggest scale imaginable, and it’s all yours to explore.
Day 5: L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland
Continue your adventure through Gros Morne National Park with an included two-hour cruise on Western Brook Pond. This land-locked body of water is Gros Morne’s largest lake and is home to Atlantic Salmon, Brook Trout, Arctic Char as well as a colony of cliff nesting gulls. On board your cruise, you’ll see waterfalls cascading off the carved cliffs, deep glacial waters shimmering against the rugged backdrop and wildlife sightings aplenty along the way. Afterwards, make tracks further north towards L’Anse aux Meadows. After travelling for around 5 hours total today, you’ll stay the night in a nearby town.
Day 6: Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
After stopping for breakfast this morning, continue on your way to explore the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. Sitting at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, L’Anse aux Meadows is thought to be the first place Vikings settled in North America. This is the fabled Vinland from Norse Sagas. Here, you’ll get the chance to explore 1000-year-old Norse ruins and original artefacts, as well as a recreated base camp for a fascinating glimpse into the early Viking experience. Later on today, you and your group will head back to Gros Morne National Park, where there may be time to take on one of the park’s hiking trails through a range of landscapes, and to some pretty epic lookouts. Today, you’ll be travelling for around 5 hours, in total.
Day 7: Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
Take the 3-hour drive to Port aux Basques on the south coast of Newfoundland. You’ll arrive in Port aux Basques for an afternoon free to explore at your own pace – you might like to stroll the hiking trails of Grand Bay West beaches, check out the Railway Heritage Center or Hook & Line Museum or just put your feet up and head into town for dinner with some travel pals. This is a very sleepy town but is the perfect pitstop before your ferry ride tomorrow, so take it easy and have an early night.
Day 8: Louisbourg / North Sydney, Nova Scotia
Be prepared for a very early morning and long day of travel as you make your way to Nova Scotia. Your 7-hour ferry journey will leave Port aux Basques at around 6.30 am (plus you’ll have to be there a couple of hours earlier to check in and get settled). Though the boat has a cafeteria and shows movies, it’s a good idea to bring snacks and things to do in order to pass the time. Better yet, catch up on some of that sleep that may have passed you by this morning! Arrive in North Sydney with the afternoon to check out the Cape Breton coast. Starting at the Louisbourg Lighthouse, walk the aptly name Lighthouse Trail first through forest and wetlands, then along the coastline. Take in stunning ocean views as the waves crash into the rugged shores before arriving at the Fortress of Louisbourg. A one-quarter reconstruction of the original French town and fortification, the fort played an important role in Canada’s early history. You’ll have time head inside to explore the grounds within. Tonight, head back to North Sydney for a relaxing evening with your group.
Day 9: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
The mountain-covered national parks in western Canada tend to hog the limelight (think Banff and Jasper), but Cape Breton Highlands National Park should be on every nature-lover’s radar. The place where the mountains meet the sea will leave you in awe. Today, you’ll have another chance to hike along the rugged coastline, where steep cliffs and deep river canyons have made for miles of jaw-dropping trails. As you walk among 350-year old trees, make sure to keep an eye open for moose, bald eagles and other wildlife. Relax this evening after approximately 2 hours of travelling today.
Day 10: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Like other parts of the Maritimes, the landscape has been carved by wind and wave to fascinating effect, and you’ll get to see it all when you travel the Cabot trail today (total driving time approximately 2 hours). The park boasts serene and unspoiled nature, a series of interconnected trails travels from saltwater lagoons and sheltered marshes to small, secluded beaches – with surprisingly warm water! – and wooded areas of white spruce, balsam fir and maple. Bird-lovers might be lucky to spot a bald eagle or osprey soaring above. Stop by a number of viewpoints to take in your pristine surroundings and perhaps embark on a short hike up in the highlands. Today you can also choose to opt in for a whale watching tour where it’s possible to see minke whales, pilot whales and harbour seals.
Day 11: Prince Edward Island
Leave Cape Breton Island in your dust and travel approximately 4.5 hours to catch a ferry over to Prince Edward Island. Head to Charlottetown – PEI’s picturesque capital city with a charming small-town feel – for another free day. Compact and easy to explore, you might want to hire a bike and explore the network of walking trails and waterside boardwalks that take you past colourful houses, Victorian buildings and historic monuments. Otherwise, stroll along Victoria Row – a pretty street line with interesting shops and restaurants featuring fresh seafood and local produce. Charlottetown played an important role in the founding of Canada, so history buffs might want to spend the day checking out the historic buildings and galleries showcasing Canada’s heritage. If you’re after a sweet treat, you can’t beat an ice cream cone from local favourite, COWS Creamery. Afterwards, continue on to Cavendish to stay the evening.
Day 12: Prince Edward Island
Enjoy some free time to explore the rocky red cliffs, wind-sculpted sand dunes and sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island National Park. Stretching across the island’s north shore and facing the Gulf of St Lawrence, the park boasts miles of hiking trails that lead through woodlands and tranquil ponds. Keep your eyes peeled for red foxes, warblers and herons. This is the serene landscape that Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, grew up in and which inspired her beloved novel, Anne of Green Gables. Kindred spirits may want to visit Green Gables Heritage Place – a restored farmhouse that was once owned by Montgomery’s cousins and served as the inspiration for Anne’s fictional home. During the day, you'll also go lighthouse spotting with your group, driving around the island to East Point Lighthouse and other seaside beauties. In the evening, meet back up with your tour leader for an included seafood dinner of fresh and locally caught produce.
Day 13: Alma, New Brunswick
Today, drive a few hours’ south, crossing the water via Canada’s longest bridge, Confederation Bridge and into New Brunswick to visit the eerily beautiful Hopewell Rocks Park. Here, you will find an unusual twisted ‘flowerpot’ rock formation as tall as 20 metres (70 feet) caused by tidal erosion from the renowned Bay of Fundy. You’ll have plenty of time in the park to see the rocks at different stages of its tidal pattern each day – perhaps exploring the rocks from the bay floor! Afterwards, continue to bayside Alma and settle in for the night. You’ll spend approximately 3.5 hours driving with your small group today.
Day 14: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Head out of New Brunswick to visit some of Nova Scotia’s best sights, starting off with a visit to Peggy’s Point Lighthouse. Situated in the picturesque fishing village of Peggy’s Cove, the striking white and red lighthouse is an enduring image of Canada’s east coast. After snapping some pics, travel to Lunenburg, located on the island’s historic South Shore. Its World Heritage-listed Old Town – with 18th century colonial-era wooden houses painted in a rainbow of colours – now house an eclectic mix of shops selling artisan goods, galleries and restaurants. The Bluenose II, a replica of an important fishing schooner in Canadian history – so much so that it has been immortalised on the Canadian dime – can usually be seen parked in the port here, unless it’s sailing season. All in all, there will be around 5 hours of driving today, so when you reach Halifax, take some time to chill out and find some good food with your travel crew.
Day 15: Halifax, Nova Scotia
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policy. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to come to an end! Once the gateway into Canada for over a million European immigrants, Halifax’s historic boardwalk is a lively hub of shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and in the warmer months, some tall ships. It’s a great place to sample some fresh local seafood, and if you’re lucky, local music as well! If you’d like to spend more time in Halifax, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
- Terra Nova National Park
- Gros Morne National Park
- Gros Morne NP - Western Brook Pond Boat Tour
- L'Anse Meadows Historic Site
- Cape Breton Island - Lighthouse Visit
- Cape Breton Island - Louisburg Fortress admission
- Ferry to Cape Breton Island
- Cape Breton National Park
- Prince Edward Island - Seafood Dinner
- Prince Edward Island National Park
- New Brunswick - Hopewell Rocks
- Halifax - Peggy's Cove
3 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Dinner(s) Included
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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