What a day! We spent the whole day at Gros Morne National Park, one of the most exciting natural places on Newfoundland Island. Our guests and staff were offered different options. One party hiked to a high hill along a path across the boreal forest. There were impressive views of Bonne Bay, a true fjord reminiscent of the Ice Ages. The path made its way across the forest of conifers and maple trees, dense stands of at least four species of ferns, and a multitude of herbs and bushes with flowers and berries. Some of us were very fortunate to observe songbirds, among which there were pine grosbeaks and crossbills. Once on the top of a hill, the boggy area revealed thousands of hidden pitcher plants, which are carnivorous, with their flowers on tall stalks to prevent pollinators from being confused with prey insects. Another party enjoyed a different hike that took guests and Natural History staff to perhaps the highest attraction of the Gros Morne: the foothills of the serpentine barrens, which are beautiful, ancient rocks that represent the Earth’s mantle. Again, everybody enjoyed the magnificent scenery of landscapes, carnivorous plants (pitchers and butterworts), and information from our staff and local guides. In the afternoon, we enjoyed time to explore a local marine research centre and a historic lighthouse by ourselves or with guides. The day was sunny and warm with a delightful breeze from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
National Geographic Explorer
We spent another fine day in Twillingate, a community of 2,000 folks on a five-mile-long island on the east coast of Newfoundland. The guests split up into different walking groups led by the natural history staff. Several adventurous folks hiked up the hill outside of town to observe an overlook over the whole community strung out along the bay. Other groups went on nature and photo walks on the outskirts of town. We walked across the metamorphic rocks on this extension of the Appalachian Mountains, admiring the colorful layers and quartz veins. There were many brightly colored buildings, wood crab traps, and quaint fishing boats along the harbour. Sprinkled throughout the town were several churches and cemeteries of different sizes and shapes. Most surprisingly, we observed wild and domesticated flowers everywhere. After our walks, many of us converged on a brewery to sample the various types of beer made there. There were several gift shops and art galleries in this artistic community, including a digital arts festival happening this weekend. Perhaps the most unique artworks were the large, knitted characters displayed on several buildings, which provided much humor for the guests. During the afternoon, we relaxed and packed our bags for the departure tomorrow. We admired the beautiful coastline as National Geographic Explorer cruised southeast along the rocky coast. Then, we spotted whales! We spent an hour in the sunlight watching humpback whales surface with spouts. They swam along the surface and then dove back down to feed in this rich ocean along an upwelling zone. During the evening, we had the captain’s farewell cocktail party and dinner. It was a relaxing way to finish this amazing journey around the Canadian Atlantic provinces.