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Welcome to our Newfoundland Family Wildlife Adventure. Join Margaret and Victoria plus their mom for a week of family fun and adventure on the eastern edge of North America. Our family vacation program is designed to engage, enrich, and entertain all generations. During the days you will join other travelling families and watch whales, measure giant squid, study puffins, walk through lighthouses, watch salmon jump in wild rivers, and visit science centres. During the evening we can enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool, take a haunted stroll through the new world’s oldest European city, and enjoy a family bonfire on the beach. There are many optional fun activities. You will experience the company of the world’s largest gathering of humpback whales as they swim among some of the planet’s most spectacular seabird reserves. You will explore the wonders of the ocean and flavours of the north. Caribou, moose, icebergs, and more add to our subarctic tales of ocean riches and adventure off Newfoundland and Labrador. We invite you to join us on a safe but thrilling adventure that will take your kids away from their computer and game screens and give them an unforgettable encounter with life and adventure, and their own family, in the natural world.
Arrive St. John’s. Enjoy a presentation on the week’s family adventure with Catherine’s brother, internationally renowned marine educator David Snow. We let everybody settle in before providing a brief overview of the new world’s first city and a review of our upcoming vacation plan. During the evening Dave and Catherine will make sure everybody knows what it is like to be bitten by a shark and they will introduce the animals pursued for Viking wealth 1,000 years ago including the tale of how the Vikings sold a unicorn’s horn to the first Queen Elizabeth.
Dave and Catherine will also introduce you to the languages of the local whales.
Join us for a visit to the continent’s largest puffin colony. As a student biologist in 1979, Dave was tasked with counting the murres, puffins, gulls, and kittiwakes of this huge seabird reserve. Learn about these different colourful seabirds and help us provide an estimate of their numbers any way you can. How do you count 10 gazillion or is there a more accurate number we can figure out? Population estimates like this are an important way to figure out the health of the world’s ocean.
This colony is the world’s second largest storm petrel colony and the continent’s second largest murre colony. We will see tens of thousands of seabirds with their chicks but since the petrels are nocturnal they may elude us. Numerous pelagic or offshore seabirds such as shearwaters and skuas also frequent the area. It will be fun trying to keep the kids busy watching (and counting) the hundreds of thousands — or gazillions — of seabirds since members of the world’s largest gathering of acrobatic humpbacks will be trying to capture their attention too.
During lunch Dave will review seabird censusing methods and you will join the other families for a sampling of the delicious seafood flavours from coastal Newfoundland and Labrador. (That is a fancy way of saying our lunch can be fish and chips or lobster or something else from our restaurant menu. Catherine and Dave will talk a little. We will all still be having fun!)
The afternoon takes us to the most easterly point in North America where we wander tunnels, walk to a lighthouse, and look out for more whales. We should be back at the hotel for 4:00 pm so everyone can enjoy the swimming pool, parents can visit the gym, and everyone can relax before our welcoming dinner. Other than our farewell dinner families will have the choice of going to one of the many downtown restaurants independently for the other evening meals.
Meals Breakfast, lunch, welcoming dinner
The Salmonier Nature Park is a place where injured animals are rehabilitated and people are educated about wildlife. We take 90 minutes to wander its trails looking at the moose, caribou, lynx, arctic fox, eagles, and other Newfoundland and Labrador wildlife before continuing on for a picnic in the woods and a visit to a large, natural swimming hole. Next we learn about digital photography, view salmon returning from the ocean, and we visit a dramatic waterfall. We should be back at the hotel for 4:00 pm but if the kids are having fun at the swimming hole we reserve the right to stay in the countryside a little longer.
Meals Breakfast, picnic lunch
Today we visit the Geo Centre in St. John’s and speculate about what we know about the ages of the earth from the rocks of the earth. Next we learn about an amazing ocean mystery… the giant squid. We view a specimen and review the known biology of this creature. How does it live? Who does it eat? What eats it? How much do we know? The physics of the squid propulsion system of siphons will be reviewed… are giant squid aggressive ocean predators eating fish, terrorizing small whales and occasionally eating swimmers… or are they giant deep water zooplankton that simply snare unlucky fish that happen to swim too close to their two predatory arms? We will view an actual giant squid dissected by Dave in 1981 and have the students do some simple but revealing measurements with us.
Next we satisfy the youthful “need for speed” as our group enjoys a zodiac ride out to explore the dramatic coastline south of St. John’s. We will use our time to enjoy the region’s natural and geological wonders. We also plan on enjoying the company of more whales, puffins, and other wildlife. (We anticipate using a variety of zodiacs so kids will be able to photograph their new friends as they explore the sea stacks and whale spouts of the North Atlantic.)
Meals Breakfast, lunch
Visit and learn about a salmon restoration project (fish ladder, counting trap) on the way to one of the world’s most spectacular seabird colonies at Cape St. Mary’s. Here we consider how to count a new variety of seabird… the gannet… and we study how they build their nests. With safety the overriding concern we also try to count the site’s murres and kittiwakes using the techniques we reviewed on Day 2. This site is the breeding ground for thousands of seabirds, including the continent’s third-largest gannet colony and the world’s most southerly breeding thick-billed murres. We get great views of gannets, kittiwakes, and murres with their eggs and/or chicks. The high sea cliffs serve as a perfect viewpoint to watch the whales cavort around their northern coastal feeding grounds. The driving on this day takes about four hours so we include a whale workshop that reviews the varieties of whale spotted over the program to date. What types did we see? How do they live? Why are they in Newfoundland? We look at and hold orca teeth, humpback baleen, other varieties of baleen, sperm whale teeth, whale bones, and other specimens as we ponder the whales of the world. We may return to our swimming hole and waterfalls if time allows.
Meals Breakfast, lunch
Today we experience life on the edge. We travel to the edge of North America by sea and we take a coastal walk while looking at how glaciers and geology have shaped the land. We also enjoy some time at leisure so families can explore or shop independently. We all gather together for our farewell dinner.
Meals Breakfast, lunch, farewell Dinner
Single occupancy (Adult) $3,000 (CAD) Single (Student) $2,350 (CAD) Double occupancy (Adult) $2,500 (CAD) per person Double (Student) $1,950 (CAD) per person Triple/Quad occupancy $300 (CAD) per person discount off double prices
Included Price includes all accommodations at the Delta St. John’s, six breakfasts, five lunches, two dinners, all transportation including airport transfers, all admissions including up to three boat trips, all hotel taxes, and luggage handling. This program will be led by marine educator and Wildland Tours president David Snow together with Catherine Hesson, RN, Victoria Hesson (16) and Margaret Hesson (14). If the number of participants is high enough additional program leaders will be provided.
Not Included Transportation to and/or from Newfoundland
Other Your price depends upon the number of rooms you require. One single adult and one single student in one hotel room means that each individual is charged their respective double price. Three people in one room means that the triple rate is charged while three people in two rooms means that two folks pay the double rate and one pays the single rate. This vacation program is ONLY available to families with student-aged kids 17 and younger. There will be no unaccompanied adults. While our leaders will provide supervision during the outdoors part of this program, there will be areas with high cliffs, waterfalls, ponds, rivers, and unsupervised beaches. Versions of this program has been provided to numerous select families and individuals over our 25 years, but we do require that parents assume responsibility for their child’s safety and good conduct during each day’s travel adventure. All participants will be warned against running near cliffs, diving into the hotel pool or a river, and other boisterous or potentially dangerous behaviours. This program is lots of fun for the whole family but as with a city street or anywhere else, reckless or dangerous behaviour could easily lead to injury or worse. Parents and/or grandparents will need to work with the leaders to ensure a safe, fun, and educational program for all.
Terms and Conditions*15 per cent Canada/Newfoundland Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is not included. Non Canadians receive a FCTIP tax credit on their invoice from us and thus actually pay only 7.5% HST.
Comments from 2010:
“Best vacation ever!” - Alex Vroom, Holland; July 2010 Family Adventure
“Best swimming pool ever! (I mean the swimming hole at the river!!)” - Jack Craze, UK; July 2010 Family Adventure
“The whales were just magical!” - Roni Jay, UK; July 2010 Family Adventure