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Viking Trail Experience (7 nights)

Start and end Deer Lake, Newfoundland

Journey through time to learn about the birth of a continent and the death of an ocean. Walk in the footsteps of the New World's first peoples and explore the home of the first Viking explorers. This exciting holiday starts and ends in Deer Lake, Newfoundland and explores the nature and geology of Gros Morne National Park - a United Nations World Heritage Site. L'Anse aux Meadows, North America's only known Viking settlement and Red Bay, the Labrador home of over 1,000 Basque whalers during the 1540s, are also highlights of this unique vacation. The holiday also features the northern terminus of the Appalachian Mountains, a visit to the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, lots of birds and wildlife, plus a short journey to the "centre of the earth." Enjoy Newfoundlanders, the culture, and the landscape on this unforgettable holiday.

Day 1

The holiday begins in the afternoon as we meet you at the airport in Deer Lake. In the early evening, we begin our exploration of Gros Morne with a light hike. Features include wild flowers, orchids (in season), lush forests, mountains, birds, waterfalls, and our first moose hunt. Meals: Welcome Dinner. Overnight Gros Morne.

Day 2

Gros Morne provides one of the world's great geology lessons. As Prince Edward noted, "What the Galapagos are to biology, Gros Morne is to geology." Hence, its United Nations World Heritage Site designation. This morning we travel to Western Brook Pond for a 2 ½ hour boat journey through a billion years of geological history. The afternoon features beaches, dunes, spectacular scenery, and often some caribou. Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Overnight Gros Morne .

Day 3

Today we travel to the centre of the Earth. More specifically, we visit the Tablelands where an 80 square kilometer slab of the Earth's mantle has been shoved up on land from deep beneath the ocean floor. Some scientists say the Tablelands more closely resemble the surface of the moon than the rest of the Earth. We then go on to part of the beautiful Green Gardens trail. Our destination is the remains of ancient volcanic islands. If people prefer there are other options including shorter walks, longer hikes, or sea kayaking. Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Overnight Gros Morne.

Day 4

Today we drive north to St. Barbe and the Labrador ferry. Enroute we also visit The Arches, where the ocean has carved tunnels in the limestone rocks. The ferry ride may require an early rise but is a holiday highlight with whales, seals, icebergs, puffins, and pelagic seabirds all commonly seen (100 per cent average so far). This is a small, local service and the schedule can be influenced by weather and other factors, but based on our previous years of experience, it is likely we will have a relaxing and memorable drive with time to watch for wildlife and wildflowers. Meals: Breakfast, lunch. Overnight L'Anse-au-Clair.

Day 5

Today we visit Red Bay -- the 16th Century's Whaling Capital of the World. This little-known part of North America had a population of over 500 European people when areas like Boston and New York were still wilderness. We visit the interpretation centre, and weather permitting, we catch a boat ride to the actual dig site where we explore the trails walked by the Basques over four centuries ago. We also visit Canada's second tallest lighthouse at Point Amour. Another highlight is the oldest burial mound in North America - older than the pyramids. The entire Labrador Straits area is rich in birds of prey, wild flowers, and fossils. Everyone with a camera will want to try to capture the sweeping seascapes and the dramatic colours the sea itself takes on in this wild place. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Overnight L'Anse-au-Clair.

Day 6

Today we get up early and further explore the beautiful Labrador Straits and possibly Quebec before returning to Newfoundland. Once we arrive in St. Barbe we travel to L'Anse aux Meadows - the only authenticated Viking site in North America. From here we can look out at Belle Isle. This is the North American extreme of the Appalachians. The ground where you stand (and where the Vikings stood 10 centuries ago) is the most northerly portion of Appalachia. Meals: Breakfast, lunch Overnight St. Anthony.

Day 7

Today we explore St. Anthony for an hour or two before returning to Deer Lake and on to Corner Brook for the night. St. Anthony on the northern tip of Newfoundland was the staging point for many northern expeditions. Arctic explorers used its sheltered harbour to take on sled dogs and other supplies as the world raced for the North Pole. Another St. Anthony highlight is the Grenfell Interpretation Centre. In 1892 a young English doctor visited St. Anthony and founded the Grenfell Mission in order to bring medical aid to the native and fishing families along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. We visit the interpretation centre that tells the inspiring story of Dr. Grenfell - friend to Kings and Presidents - and we visit his actual home. Step back to the early days of the 20th century and enjoy the tales of dog teams, hardships, courage, and innovation that surrounded Dr. Grenfell. We also stop to explore the Maritime Archaic Indian exhibit at Port au Choix National Historic Park. This is the last archaeological site we visit on this holiday which is considered by some experts to be North America's most diverse archaeological adventure. Learn about the art and artifacts of these ancient Newfoundlanders. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, Farewell Dinner. Overnight Corner Brook (Newfoundland's second city).

Day 8

Depart for Deer Lake Airport.