Saguenay Fjord National Park: Spanning Boundaries

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SAGUENAY FJORD NATIONAL PARK: SPANNING BOUNDARIES
By Stacey Wittig

 

Saguenay Fjord National Park called Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay by the French-speaking locals is a place where salty sea water collides with fresh, clear Canadian waterways. Where tall granite cliffs and glacier-gouged gorges disappear into the playgrounds of beluga, minke, blue and fin whales. Into this transition area where the boundaries of ecosystems overlap, came the French in the late 1600s. The culinary traditions they brought with them fused with the Indigenous peoples’ wild food harvests of blueberries, wild grapes and smoked meats.

Today you could spend weeks exploring the vast 78,900-acre park while crossing back and forth over the convergences of sea and fresh water, traversing around edges of mind-blowing geological formations and crisscrossing the fine line of where culture has eked outposts in the Canadian wilderness over the past three hundred and fifty years.

National Geographic named the trail system at Saguenay Fjord National Park one of the world’s ‘Top Walks and Hikes’ with its unique ecosystems and proximity to authentic auberge inns being a few of the reasons cited for the commendation. Indeed, the park’s focus on preserving wildlife and organizing outdoor activities makes it easy for hikers, bikers and kayakers to experience the backwoods by day and sample French Canadian cuisine and sleep in chalets by night.

Marine Shuttle Service
One way reason for the ease of navigating from wild to tame is the fjord’s marine shuttle, which is a hop-on, hop-off water taxi that services trailheads, marinas and charming villages that offer world-class dining. Some use the boat service to shuttle their bikes from shore to shore as they pedal the 270-mile cycling route that skirts the Saguenay River. Kayakers shuttle their kayaks, while backpackers board at the National Park and are dropped off at remote trailheads. Others come aboard the bateau mouche, known as such because of its retractable roof and windows, to experience the park from the water on a roundtrip excursion. We enjoyed the one-and-a-half hour voyage from the national park at Baie Eternite, upstream to the cliff side Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay statue and then downstream to L’Anse-Saint-Jean where we spent the night at Chalets du le Fjord hotel and had a splendid meal at Chez Montagner, a new restaurant by Quebec City restaurateur.

The service runs daily from early June through mid-October. Watch the whales from July 2nd to September 15th when you can board a 24-passenger zodiac at L’Anse-Saint-Jean to cruise down the Saguenay Fjord to the St. Lawrence River. You’ll observe splashing whales and other marine animals that feed in the river waters. After the whale-watching excursion, you’ll be dropped at Tadoussac beach for a free afternoon to wander the village. At 5 p.m. A Cap Liberté shuttle boat delivers you back to L’Anse-Saint-Jean. More: http://www.navettesdufjord.com  

Traverse the Edge: Via Ferrata
Other outdoor activities organized within the park are Via Ferrata courses. Climb along the edges of incredible glacial cliffs, and all the while be clipped into safety harnesses and steel cables. Via Ferrata, Italian for “Iron Path,” steers adventurers along giant adrenalin rushes above Saguenay Fjord. Adrenalin enthusiasts scramble along the cable course embedded into the tall cliffs of Baie Eternité located right in the park. The guided adventure utilizes three circuits:

  • La Passerelle / The Walkway for beginners.
  • La Grande Dalle / The Large Rapids – in four hours, intermediates will traverse a 650-foot high, vertical wall to climb a thirty-foot inverted ladder and then cross over a steep gorge on an almost 280-foot long suspension bridge.
  • The six-hour L’Odyssée / The Odyssey advanced tour includes everything on the intermediate tour and then some. Thrill seekers tight-rope walk over a 56-foot long Nepalese bridge to another part of the park which offers the highest peaks of Saguenay Fjord National Park. The Nepalese-style bridge has a single cable on which to walk and another single cable at head-height to clip onto and hang onto for balance. Span the boundaries of earth and sky from June through the first week in October. For reservations call 1-800-665-6527.

Sidebar Information
Saguenay Fjord is one of the most southerly fjords in the Northern Hemisphere and one of longest in the world. The 65-mile-long fjord, a narrow glacial carved valley filled with salt water, is located in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region in central Quebec and attracts visitors from around the world.

The Saguenay Fjord is a tributary of the Saint Lawrence River. Its head is at the City of Saguenay, which includes the boroughs of La Baie, Chicoutimi and Jonquière.

Getting there:Fly to Montreal and take the train to Jonquière or fly to Bagotville airport and taxi to Saguenay Fjord National Park (about $30 CAD.) Baie-Éternité, Rivière-Éternité Sector is 44 miles from Chicoutimi. Other options include riding the marine shuttle, which operates from the end of June to the beginning of September, from La Baie to the national park.

Plans your visit by going to www.saguenaylacsaintjean.ca/en

 “Unstoppable Stacey” Wittig is a travel writer based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Enjoy this article? Then follow her on Instagram at Unstoppable Stacey or online at www.unstoppablestacey.com

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

 


Website Link www.unstoppablestacey.com
About the Author:

 “Unstoppable Stacey” Wittig is a travel writer based in Flagstaff, Arizona.

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