March 2 - 7, 2023
Join us on a six-day small group guided tour of Îles de la Madeleine and the surrounding Atlantic Canadian Harp Seal habitat.
On this wildlife adventure we take helicopter flights to ice floats, viewing harp seal pups in their natural arctic homes. Thomas’ informational presentations on photography and the seal’s life cycle promise to make this tour an educational adventure!
Tour Type: Wildlife/landscape
Temp Range: 15° F / 35 ° F
Leader: Thomas Kokta
Group Size: Maximum 10 people
US $5,895 (per person, double occupancy)
5 nights accommodation
All meals as noted in itinerary
Park entrance fees
Waterproof suit rental for helicopter flights
TWO helicopter flights to the seal colony
Flights to and from Îles de la Madeleine
Phone calls and personal expenses
Previous Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Îles de la Madeleine
Pushed up from the ocean floor and sculpted by waves, winds and currents in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Îles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) are in a constant state of change. Salt marshes, sand dunes and sandstone cliffs are among their main habitats. The gulf waters sustain a vital fishing culture, and we may see lobster pots and fishing nets awaiting the spring thaw. Though often hidden from view, the islands are home to many wintering birds that find the landscape reminiscent of their summer homes farther north.
Today we will pick you up from the airport and take you to our accommodation. We will have a short orientation meeting to discuss logistics and helicopter operations. In a presentation this
evening, we learn about the remarkable life cycle of the harp seal. Depending on flight arrivals, we will also meet for dinner.
Day 2-5: Magdalen Islands, Seal & Island Excursions
For the next 4 days, we will get up early for breakfast and then attempt to fly to a seal colony on the ice floats. About 200,000 to 250,000 female harp seals gather here every year. The helicopter pilots will make their best attempts for short flights, but the flight distance tends to vary between 5 and 50 miles from the island, meaning it may take a few minutes up to an hour to reach the seals.
Once our helicopter pilot chooses a suitable ice float to land on, we have about 2 hours (depending on flight distance) to spend with the seals. We like to spread out to give everybody an opportunity for personal time with these captivating animals. Seals react very differently to human presence – some “bark”, others roll on their backs and others scurry away. The pups’ moms tend to only come out of the water for short periods of time to nurse; many pups you will see are alone. Some newborns have a yellowish coat and most of the older pups look pure white.
Our leaders and ice guides are highly knowledgeable and have been at the seal colonies many times, this enhances your experience significantly. When we are not flying, we will do one or two half-day island excursions, as well as slide shows and talks on wildlife and photography. In addition, we will have the opportunity to tour the islands and visit some of the local crafts shops that feature the distinctive work of local Acadian artisans. These activities are optional.
Day 6: Magdalen Islands/Flights back home
After breakfast, we will take you to the airport for your return flight home.