As I told you the weather wasn’t good at all in this stage of the journey, so we took the first opportunity we had when it stopped raining to buy the tickets for the next whale watching excursion.
The cruise lines, whether ships or zodiacs (pneumatic boats), leave from every village in this piece of coast at different hours during the day, to try to watch whales. It seems really simple to see them, especially two species: beluga and humpback whales. So it’s not necessary to look for many options.
Ship or Zodiac? We were told that both choices are good, but you can see the whales better from the ship, since it’s higher over the water and more stable. From the zodiac boat you’ll see the whales closer, but not so well…
In our case, and because of the bad weather, our decision depended only on the scheduled time of departure of the next excursion, since the rest of options are more or less the same: price, equipment, length, “tracking area”… And we were lucky, as we saw different kind of whales and even a seal.
We could say that these companies are a bit rogue. They’ll tell you first that there are many scheduled departures every day, but they’ll try not to do it, using the excuse of the “minimum capacity”. As you don’t know if there are actually more people wanting to take the ship as the same hour as you, you finally accept the schedule they want. There is little that can be done, at least outside the peak season, where surely there’ll be passengers at every hour.
What can you take with you in this excursion? Take into account that the sailing lasts two hours and the temperature in June on the high seas was 10ºC… So they recommend wearing closed footgear and socks, long and comfortable trousers and 2 or 3 layers of clothing like shirts and sweaters. They’ll give you arctic fisherman thermal rompers (like you’ll see in the photos), gloves and a wooly hat.
The prices depend on the company, but they’re about $50 per adult. A bit further from Tadoussac it’s cheaper, but only a few dollars.
We chose “Croisières Neptune” company at Les Bergeronnes, very close to Les Escoumins, where we stayed. They had only zodiacs for cruising, but it was all right. The equipment was good and the staff was kind and punctual.
Let’s talk about the cruise now. It was a great experience, since we saw a lot of beluga whales (little white whales) and some humpbacks. The only snag is that we didn’t go very close to the whales, for safety and legal reasons. But it didn’t really matter, because we really watched them without trouble.
In Canada there is a very strict law about the security distance that the ships must keep from the whales, depending on the type of ship and the kind of whale. The smaller the boat, the closer it’s allowed to get. The best option, if you have well trained arms, good weather and experience, is to try it on a sea kayak.
All in all, it’s without any doubt a really recommendable journey, at least for those who aren’t used to see whales in their natural environment. Probably if we had better weather we would have gone again on a trip boat.
Here is a pair of photos. The first shows a beluga and the second shows a humpback. We couldn’t take better pics because of the height of the boat, the movement of the sea waves and, you know, because whales don’t ever “pose” for a photo.
Address: 50, route 138, jonction rue des Pilotes, Les Escoumins, QC
GPS Coordinates: 48.244190, -69.540605
More information: Les Croisières Neptune between Les Escoumins and Les Bergeronnes (only Zodiac)
Address: 177, Rue des Pionniers, Tadoussac, QC
GPS Coordinates: 48.143895, -69.720969
More information: Croisieres AML, in Tadoussac and Baie Ste-Catherine. They also organizes ship cruises and zodiac trips through the fjord.