From Baie-St-Paul we pretty much hugged the river climbing into ranges not dissimilar to the Great Ocean Rd. We stopped for lunch at a village whose focus is a magnificent lilac garden complete with church bells for big and little children to play with.
But the pièce de résistance of this road trip has to be the whales!
We boarded the Zodiac (worth $200,000 Ca!) at St Simeon, all geared up, eyes wide, with the thrill of anticipation in our blood. Belugas, orcas and minke whales are enticed more than 500 kms up river from the Gulf of Saint Laurence to the emergence of the Saguenay River, a major river of Quebec 1750 kms long. The merging of the two rivers with their different temperatures produces a perfect environment for krill and therefore a vast and relatively safe feasting field for the whales.
Barely half a kilometer down river we sighted our first belugas, a sight that never fails to touch something deep and soulful. Suddenly the chill of the river and the open boat was gone! Belugas like to travel in pods of about ten and we were able to observe several playful pods on our way to the Saguenay junction. Belugas are unusual in that they don’t have fins so that they are able to use their backs to push up through the iced up river in winter to breathe.
Then an Orca rolled in the water just ahead, sharing with us the splendour of it’s distinct black and white lines and powerful body. WOW!! With great respect our captain always sat the boat back from the whales allowing them to choose to come closer or not… Two hours later we turned for home catching numerous more glimpses of belugas and another spectacular orca display. It was known that there were several huge Minke whales in the area but we were not to sight one on this day.
What a treat and a treasure to add to those special never to be forgotten memories.