• 1 week in Gaspésie •

1 week in Gaspésie

Après these 12 first days of my road trip (full programme available here), it’s time for me to go to the southern shore of the Saint-Laurent river: La Gaspésie.
This region of Québec is as big as Belgium. Therefore, I will need a week to visit the main interest points.

Note that some hikes and activities in Gaspésie are closing at the end of September: plan things accordingly!

Day 1

You have to know that the easiest way to cross the Saint-Laurent river from Tadoussac or its surroundings is to take a ferry (to book in advance of course) departing from 3 different places:

  • Les Escoumins (30 minutes away from Tadoussac) links Les Trois Pistoles in 1h30 ($50 for the car and $22/passenger) with the Traversier company CNB ;
  • Saint-Simeon (1h at the south of Tadoussac) links La Rivière du Loup in 1h ($48 for the car and $20/passenger) with the Traverse RDL company;
  • Forestville (1h at the north of Tadoussac) links Rimouski in 1h ($50 for the car and $26/passenger) with the CNM Evolution company.

All offers are quite equivalent. As for me, my booking was canceled the evening before because of bad weather conditions
As I didn’t really know what to do in the morning, I decide to still go to the jetty… and there, surprise! There are lots of trucks and cars queuing. I’m thinking “Great, maybe I can cross after all?!” Nope: after almost an hour waiting, we’re being asked to leave because they won’t be any departures today and nothing is set for tomorrow.
I couldn’t stay in Tadoussac any longer because some activities I wanted to do in Gaspésie were closing in a few days. Therefore, I didn’t have a choice than to go to Sainte-Anne-des-Months by taking the bridge of Québec.
No point telling you all the details of this long day of driving for 9h… Thankfully, petrol costs less than €1 here!

Day 2

I spelt so well in the Sea Shack youth hostel, I was very tired from yesterday. Today, I’m heading to the Gaspésie National Park. I read that THE hike to see moose was the Mont Ernest Laforce one (early morning or at dawn).
I’m thus hurrying to be there first, but… There are already several buses on the car park… More determined than ever, I’m walking quickly because this hike is rather easy. Midway, I’m seeing people that tell me they saw moose when they arrived. I’m walking as never before in my life, ready to see one of those huge animals… And nothing, just people speaking so loud that even I want to run away!
That being said, the landscape at the top is really beautiful and the setting fog only adds more charm to the place.

After such a run, I’m slowing down and take time for the rest of the day. I’m doing 2 small and very easy walks:
Lac aux Américains / Lake (2.6km, 1h): its name is quite self-explanatory. The main interest of this hike is that the lake is hidden in the mountains. I only had time to see it a few seconds before the fog covered it all!
La Chute Sainte-Anne / The Fall of Sainte-Anne (1.7km, 30min). Easily accessible. It’s nevertheless impressive.

I’m also enjoying the heated dining room of the discovery centre, close to the Mont Albert lodge (be aware that there are two discovery centres in this park) to have a picnic break.
The sun is already setting, 2 options: go back to the hostel or once again do the Mont Ernest Laforce hike to try and see moose. You’re starting to get to know me, I chose the second one!
My relentlessness was rewarded. As I was walking slowly but surely, trying to seek through the greenery around me, I’m finally facing a moose peacefully eating in the middle of the path! It took me a few minutes to dare approach a little because its imposing size is intimidating: it looks like a prehistorical horse! As I observe it, a small moose rises and meets its mother. It’s crazy!

Day 3

Thrilled by yesterday’s encounter, I decide to do it again with the Mont Jacques Cartier hike, known for observing caribous.
Be aware, this hike is opened from the end of June to the end of September from 10am to 4pm and it’s mandatory to take a shuttle ($7.5) to link the discovery centre of Mont Jacques Cartier (there are 2!) and the start of the pathway.
I was recommended to take the first shuttle to maximise my chances to see one of these animals. It’s done: here I am, the first one to go up this path that keeps going up! Don’t forget to turn around sometimes to admire the landscape.

I finally see signs explaining how to find caribous, how to behave… I’m thinking “Here we go!”. But time and kilometres are passing by and even though I keep seeking, I can’t see anything behind the rocks!
Unfortunately, I reach the top and I haven’t seen any animals. It’s really cold at 1270m altitude and the wind blowing really hard brought fog. Thankfully, there is an observation tower to shelter and have a picnic.
I’m thinking there is still a chance on the way back, but the fog won’t help me either.
I am a bit disappointed with the bad weather during my 2 days of visiting, but it’s already time for me to go to my car and drive to my next spot.

For the Gaspésie National Park, I also recommend the Mont Albert and Mont Xalibu hikes if the weather is nice (which wasn’t for me!)

Day 4

Bonaventure national park is famous of its crystal-clear river.
Temperatures are going down and down… The swimming option to discover the river is out of the question!
Therefore, I choose kayaking (I hope not to fall in the water!). To do so, I’m going to Cimeaventures that rents kayaks from the start of June to end of September for $59 a day. I choose the “La populaire” parcours with people I met yesterday at the hostel. All equipped with wetsuits, we are taken to the departure point, for a 20 kilometres parcours.
To sum it up, I would say this parcours is harder than the one I’ve done at the Mont Tremblant national park (article available here). More physicial, rapids are harder, there is not enough water at some points… But it’s still really nice to wander on this incredibly see-through water.
With my dead arm, I return to the hostel where I already slept the day before (Chambre d’Ami), which I recommend only for its location, not more…

Day 5

I’m continuing my tour of Gaspésie. Next stop: Percé.
One of the two main interest points here is the rock of Percé. First of all, you can observe it from the road (better points of views if you come from Bonaventure than from Gaspé). Lost in the middle of this large body of water, we can only see it. It reminds me of the Azure Window which was standing in Gozo (Malta) and unfortunately collapsed in 2017.

rock of Percé

It’s also possible to approach the rock by taking a boat to go to the uninhabited island of Bonaventure (which is a national park too).

It’s what I’m about to do this morning, but the boat just left and the next one is in only 2 hours… Well, visiting Gaspésie at this period isn’t easy!
For your information, whatever the season, the ticket costs €27. However, departures are every 30 minutes from 9am to 5pm from the 1st of July to the 15th of Septembre; only 1 to 4 departure(s) in May, June and from mid-September to October.
I decide to take my time and go eat the local dish: lobster. I’m going to the “Resto du village” which was recommended to me by the boat lady. Well, the lobster there looks more like surimi and it’s served in sandwich bread… Meh.
I eventually get n the boat and I’m surprised because we are turning around the rock to see it under different angles. We’re going along the Bonaventure island for a while. We can see “Fous de Bassans” (gannets) by hundreds and a few seals in the water!
Once arrived on the island, we are given a few instructions, including that we are only allowed to do the “Les Colonies” hike because we don’t have much time before the last return boat.

uninhabited island of Bonaventure

This one is nothing extraordinary. I rather recommend you the “Sentier du chemin du Roy” which I heard good things about. What is certain is that you have to go to “Relais des fous” where there is the observation point to come closer to the hundreds of gannets… Don’t miss out!

Back in Percé, I go for the first time in a hotel (Les Vagues Vertes) because once again, during this season, only a few facilities are opened.

Day 6

I’m not staying any longer in Percé and I take the road to the Forillon National Park.
Note that you have to pay for a part of the park only and you will need a ticket (except if you have the Canada Park pass, more details here).
Let’s go for a bunch of hikes:
Rando La Taiga (free, 3km round trip, 1h, very easy) : little stroll in a surprising environment by its diversity. I don’t come across anyone: it’s only me and the nature!

La Chute hike (free, 1km loop, 45min, easy) : once again a walk that doesn’t require a lot of efforts but that still is worth it. The beautiful waterfall at only a few minutes on foot reminds me a lot of Wabers, in Mauricie (which I talk about here)… Except that I had to row and walk for kilometres to get to it. Which goes to show that it’s not the difficulty of access that makes how beautiful the place is!

Mont Saint-Alban hike departing from Cap-Bon-Ami (not free, 7.8km loop, 3h30, average) : it’s a crush! This hike is park of my Top 5 best hikes in Québec. You can also depart from the Petit Gaspé beach, but I strongly recommend you to depart from Cap-Bon-Ami because the view is wonderful there and the hike will be a little bit easier. Once the first kilometre done, I loved this hike: it gives access to great points of views over the Forillon cliffs. On the way, there is an observation tower. You can go up it (careful to vertigo) to have access to a 360° breathtaking view on the land and sea!

• Early evening, I’m heading to “Le Castor” car park to participate in the observation of beavers organised by the discovery centre of the park (free). Animated by the forest rangers, this activity is a good way of discovering the park otherwise. Through their personal experiences, I’m learning a lot. I was able to see my first beaver in its natural habitat!

beaver

It’s now dark, I’m going to the Griffon Aventure youth hostel for 3 nights. I recommend it because of the atmosphere there an its originality: the dormitories, private rooms and sanitaries are split into several wooden huts (you have to be courageous and brave the cold to go from the dormitory to the kitchen, for instance!).

Day 7

It’s already my last day in Gaspésie… I really enjoyed the Forillon park yesterday: I want to discover more! To do so, I’m doing the La Grande Grave hike (15.2km round trip, 5h, easy).

La Grande Grave hike

The first part of the hike goes along the coast while you get lost a little more in the fields in the second part. I’m surprised to still discover new landscapes after 20 days of visits (full programme here). Eventually, I see a pretty lighthouse where it’s nice to enjoy the view while having a picnic.

I thought it was the end of the hike, but no: there is a little pathway which goes down the cliff and reaches the known-to-be the “world’s end”. The endless sea and the cliff in my back: I feel really small!
When going back up to the lighthouse, I notice a group of people looking at tree. I’m coming closer and see a porcupine mum with its baby, nested in between two branches. They seem so soft!
It’s time for me to go back, accompanied by small squirrels running around everywhere.

This week is now coming to and end. Gaspésie was the region where I saw the most typical animals of Canada!
For my following adventures in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, click here!

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