Canadian Maritime Wildlife Safari
11 day Canadian Maritime Wildlife Safari Celebrating Canada 150 aboard Akademik Ioffe
The islands of Canada’s Atlantic coast feature a rich and diverse culture, found in small fishing communities and remote out ports. The area is well known for its Celtic traditions, and its music and cuisine are celebrated the world over. Historically, this is one of the most fascinating places in North America. The region also offers a staggering abundance of wildlife, including prolific birdlife, numerous seal and whale species and we even encounter the fabled wild horses of Sable Island. Beaches and lagoons provide viewing opportunities for numerous shorebirds. As we cruise towards the mouth of the St Lawrence River we hope to see the great baleen whales such as the humpback, minke and blue whale, as well as grey and harp seals.
This sailing is also ideal for families with discounts for under 21s and special young explorer activity, social and entertainment programmes - please ask for details.
Note: All bookings on voyages that operate domestically within Canada, are subject to a compulsory 5% goods and services tax (GST). This will be added to the cruise price on the confirmation invoice.
- Whales and marine mammals
- Superb birdlife
- Spectacular scenery
- Experience unique local culture
- Historical sites
- Transfers to and from ship
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Zodiac excursions and shore landings
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
ITINERARY10 Nights 11 Days
- Day 1 | Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
- Day 2 | Sable Island
- Day 3 | Cape Breton
- Day 4 | Prince Edward Island
- Day 5 | The Magdalen Islands
- Day 6 | Bonaventure Island and the Gaspe Peninsula
- Day 7 | Anticosti Island
- Day 8 | Gros Morne National Park
- Day 9 | Francois
- Day 10 | St Pierre et Miquelon
- Day 11 | Louisbourg
Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Our adventure begins in the historic port town of Louisbourg of Nova Scotia, where we board our expedition vessel, the Akademik Ioffe. First visited in 1597 by the English, the town was fortified in 1713 by the French in recognition of its very strategic maritime location. During the 18th century, Louisbourg was the third busiest seaport in North America. We will board the vessel in the late afternoon in time for a dinner of fresh, local lobster as we sail out past the lighthouse and onto the Grand Banks.
Located on the edge of the Grand Banks, hundreds of kilometers from the coast, Sable Island has a storied history as a graveyard of ships, with more than 350 ships falling victim to the treacherous currents and sandbars. Sporadically inhabited by sealers, shipwreck survivors and salvagers, the island is now home to fewer than six year-round inhabitants, a herd of wild horses and one of the largest gray seal colonies in the world. It is an important stopover for numerous migratory bird species as they make their way to and from the High Arctic regions. Sable Island is now one of Canada’s newest national parks.
We return to Cape Breton and continue our exploration of this beautiful island by stopping in Englishtown. We have a few options in this area. We encounter Atlantic puffins and razorbills on Bird Island where we explore by zodiac. The seaside community of Englishtown is also a fascinating location featuring numerous points of interest. The Gaelic College in Cape Breton is a short bus ride away from the beach where we disembark, and provides an interesting diversion. There are opportunities to launch the sea kayaks, enjoy a stand-up paddle board excursion in the placid waters, or a cruise in the zodiacs. On shore hiking and gentle cycle touring are other activities to enjoy.
Prince Edward Island
In September of 1864, representatives from the British Colonies in North America met in Charlottetown to discuss Confederation. On July 1st, 1867, the Dominion of Canada came into being. This is a very historic location and a fitting place to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. Today, we anchor off Prince Edward Island near the town of North Rustico. From here we can split off in several directions. A tour into Charlottetown for those interested in a day in town is an option, or perhaps a visit to Green Gables, or spend a few hours at the island’s famous Cavendish beach with a mandatory sampling of Cows Ice Cream. Other enticing options could be a leisurely bicycle ride along the Confederation Trail or the Coastal Drive, a round of golf on one of the islands celebrated golf courses, or a kayak paddle in Rustico Bay.
The Magdalen Islands
Sculpted out of sandstone, these islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are home to unique fishing communities with beautifully maintained waterfront houses and boats, flowing grassy meadows and sandstone shorelines sculpted by the elements. In addition to the traditional fishing and sealing culture found in the islands, we encounter a wide diversity of bird and sea life. Europeans first discovered the islands in the mid 15th century, though it’s thought indigenous Miíkmaqs had been visiting for centuries to hunt walrus. Quebecois and Acadian culture features strongly in the local cuisine, craft and language. The island’s gentle terrain is a cyclist’s paradise, while the sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding through sea arches and into sandstone sea caves are superb. Otherwise you might enjoy a whale-watching cruise in the zodiacs or head to the beach to soak up some sun or build sand castles!
Bonaventure Island and the Gaspe Peninsula
At Bonaventure Island we drop the anchor near the town of Percé and explore the island by zodiac. This location has a rich natural, historic, and geological heritage. Sculpted over time by the sea, the island is situated at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. The outstanding flora and fauna, including its famous colony of Northern Gannets, make this location a highlight. Almost 300 different species of birds have been recorded as visiting, migrating to, or living on Bonaventure Island. An afternoon visit to the community of Percé will provide a window into the rich fishing culture of French-Canada. Zodiac cruising, sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are all activities that can be undertaken here, weather permitting.
At the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, where the river water mixes with Arctic waters and the more temperate Atlantic waters, lies Anticosti Island. We plan to hike along the beaches near the eastern end of the island followed by a zodiac cruise along the cliffs at East Point. We hope to observe several species of shorebirds and seabirds as well as whales and seals, which are frequent visitors to the island's waters. Bald eagles soaring along the shoreline, deer in the woods and whales just offshore are all common sights in this location.
Gros Morne National Park
Sailing into majestic Bonne Bay, in the heart of Gros Morne National Park, the cliffs soar up out of the water and are covered in a green blanket of tuckamore forest – windswept spruce sculpted by the ocean breeze. At Woody Point we are welcomed ashore by a delegation from the community before hiking up to the excellent interpretation centre. From there, various guided walks take us into the World Heritage-listed Tablelands and to the lookout for a view over much of the park! A boreal wetland landscape, featuring dramatic rock ridges, pitcher plants, white-throated sparrows and perhaps even a moose could all be encountered as we explore the park. The twisting mountain road to Trout River makes for a challenging bike ride with our guides or a paddle along the shores of Bonne Bay is another great option.
The community of Francois on the south coast of Newfoundland was settled in the late 1700s. Francois’s rich fishing heritage also included operation of a whale factory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as an ‘out-port’, and accessible only by boat or from the air by helicopter, Francois has a deep harbour which is navigable year-round. When entering Francois harbour, we are first greeted by one of the few remaining manned light stations on the coast of Newfoundland. Once past the light, the narrow opening leading into the steep-walled rocky fjord amazes us. This is a spectacular location and for many, a highlight of the trip.
St Pierre et Miquelon
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon are a small group of islands situated off the south coast of Newfoundland. They were first settled by the French in the early 17th century and today, the islands are the sole remaining vestige of France’s once vast North American empire. Walking down the streets feels like taking a stroll through a provincial French town. There's an excellent puffin colony here and, if weather permits, we cruise in the zodiacs to see these colourful birds. Tonight we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain to mark the end of our voyage through Canada’s spectacular Atlantic provinces.
We sail back to Cape Breton across the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, heading again for the historic port of Louisbourg. We will disembark in the morning and while some of us will hustle to the airport, many will add a few extra days in Cape Breton to enjoy one of the gems of Canada’s East Coast.
What Our Customers
Superlatives abound – a truly amazing experience...awesome. Thanks to all for making it such a memorable experience.
We have just returned from our Spitsbergen trip with Wildfoot and had to tell you what an amazing time we had! We saw 6 polar bears including a mother with 2 cubs as well as whales, walruses and lots of birds. The ship (Expedition) was really comfortable and the guides were so helpful and friendly. Thank you so much for making it all so easy.
I came to Wildfoot because a friend had booked with you when you were Antarctica Bound and they were right. Everything went perfectly, even when our flight was cancelled, you made sure we still made it to the ship with time to spare. L’Austral is a beautiful ship with first class service and food and the guides looked after us well. Very happy to recommend Wildfoot and L’Austral...
We had always wanted to see the Arctic and travelling all the way from Australia needed lots of information. After getting nowhere, we came across Wildfoot and found people who knew what they were talking about! Sara and John were so helpful and made the process easy, suggesting Iceland Greenland and Spitsbergen. This was perfect for us – amazing scenery and lots of wildlife, especially the polar bears in Spitsbergen. Thanks for everything. Ps, the ship was great too!
Just wanted to say thank you for suggesting a trip to Franz Josef Land as something different for the Arctic. We had a super trip and really enjoyed the Sea Spirit. Galapagos next!
Standing on the North Pole has been an ambition of mine since childhood and now I have done it! Thank you for making the process so easy - seeing polar bears and whales too was a real bonus.
The Sea Spirit expedition was excellent and the team organising it all were extremely good. 10 out of 10. Everything went very smoothly. The Iceland extension worked perfectly, all the organisation, connections etc. were excellent
The cruise was beyond my expectations. Got to see everything the captain wanted, even a polar bear mother with three cubs. Coal Miners Cabins were smashing. I did loads of birding and exploring over three days. All the people were great from the expedition leaders down to the passengers. So glad to have achieved my ambition of some 50 years standing and got amongst the ice of the Arctic, walked amongst it’s islands and witnessed the antics of its wonderful wildlife. What’s next??? I’ll need to speak with Sara again.
Thanks so much for enabling me to get to places I had always wanted to see from a very young age. “Ace” as my boys used to say!
Just wanted to send a quick note to say thank you very much for all your help in arranging our recent trip to Svalbard. Everything ran smoothly and the trip was a great success. Unfortunately I had to flew back a few days early and missed out on Isfjord Radio, which the rest of the team said was a brilliant place with amazing food, still the Basecamp Hotel and Nordenskiold Lodge were pretty amazing places, so I’m not complaining!
Writing back to tell you that the trip to the Arctic was all that it promised and more. It was a great wild-life sightseeing opportunity and the staff were really good.I had an excellent trip and have thousands of photos to go through.
I had an absolutely fabulous time won the Sergey Vavilov, it is an excellent ship. Sara was indeed right in her recommendation that they would be the most likely to push north into the ice to find the polar bears. We even circumnavigated Spitsbergen which was awesome and not o n the itinerary.It is such a wonderful way to take a trip when you are on your own – so if any of your potential single clients are unsure, definitely recommend it – I didn’t feel alone from the moment I stepped on board. I will be at the Birdfair next weekend and so will catch up with whoever is there – regarding this trip, and potentially my next!
Great cruise, staff and expedition team. Had a great trip.
Great cruise, staff and expedition team. Had a great trip.
We had a wonderful time, even though we didn't do all the places we were supposed to but we all felt were we went instead couldn't beaten. Saw animals I wanted to see. Bit worried what the food was like as some of the ships cooking leaves something to be desired, but food was very good. We thought all the guides were brilliant and informative, friendly and knowledgeable It was far better than we expected and even my husband thoroughly enjoyed it!
I wanted to let you know that I had a wonderful cruise in the Russian Far East. The landscape and destination were inspiring, we had some excellent wildlife sightings (sea otter, grey whale, Steller's sea eagle, snowy owl and Arctic fox were all firsts for me), and the Heritage team were superb. Rough seas forced a few changes to the itinerary but we also had some fabulous weather. All in all, a thrilling travel experience.Thanks once again for all your efforts
I thought you might like to know that this was an excellent holiday. Our guide, Brad, was absolutely wonderful, his enthusiasm and knowledge made the holiday even better. All in all the whole trip was excellent and we saw lots of bears, 24 on the first day. Fewer on the second and third days but still plenty, as well as arctic foxes,silver foxes and snowy owls. Even on the last day near the town we saw a bear on rocks by the beach.
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