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Gaspe Peninsula

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Quebec's "La Gaspésie" is a rounded peninsula that juts onto into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Bordered by the mighty St. Lawrence River to the north, and the Baie des Chaleurs and New Brunswick to the south, 3 natural habitats combine to give the region it's unique character and appeal as a wildlife destination: the ocean, mountains, and boreal forest. It is home to one of the largest Moose populations in Canada, the most southerly Caribou herd in North America, and some of the continent's most important nesting sites for seabirds. It's coastal waters are also visited each year by some of the largest whales on the planet including the Fin, Humpback, and Northern Right Whale, as well as the biggest of them all, the almost mythical Blue Whale.

The modern day town of Gaspé at the tip of the peninsula marks the spot where the explorer Jacques Cartier first landed in 1534 and claimed Canada for the king of France, and is the gateway to Forillon National Park. This finger of dense boreal forests above dramatic cliffs is surrounded on 3 sides by the ocean and in many ways is like the Gaspé Peninsula in miniature. It is home to Moose, Deer, Beavers, Porcupines, Black Bears, Seals, Great Blue Herons, and a wide variety of seabirds. Visitors should also train their binoculars seaward, as whales are frequently seen just offshore in the Baie de Gaspé.

The picturesque seaside village of Percé just south of Gaspé is considered by many to be the jewel of the Gaspé Peninsula and the site of the most photographed landmark in Quebec: the Rocher Percé or Pierced Rock. Île de la Bonaventure, a small rocky island just offshore and national heritage site is home to a colony of grey seals and is one of the two largest gannet nesting sites in the world, the other being St. Kilda in Scotland. Each year a cliff top plateau in the southeast of the island plays host to around 150,000 Northern Gannets as well as numerous other nesting seabirds: one of the most dramatic natural spectacles in the world.

The Chic-Choc and McGerrigle mountain ranges form the spine of the Gaspé Peninsula which boasts 25 of the 40 highest peaks in Quebec, all of them over 3,300 feet (1,000m), and the final section of the International Appalachian trail which ends in Forillion National Park. The highest peaks are all contained within Parc National de la Gaspésie where endangered Caribou eke out a precarious existence grazing on lichens at the high elevations of Mont Albert and Mont Jacques Cartier, the remnants of a once mighty woodland caribou population that stretched all the way south to Carolina. The biggest threat to the herd's survival is no longer hunting by predation by Black Bears and Coyotes. The park is also home to a very healthy Moose population and a wide variety of other mammals and birds.

Neighbouring Matane Wildlife Reserve has one of the highest concentrations of Moose anywhere in North America (2 moose per square kilometre) and is home to Eastern Canada's first mountain lodge. Perched atop a 2,030 foot (615m) peak high in the Chic-Chocs mountains, and surrounded on all sides by deep valleys and even higher peaks that are home to Caribou and Golden Eagles, this first class wilderness lodge offers the highest standards in accommodation, cuisine, and guiding. Guests can choose from a wide variety of activities including wildlife observation, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and fly fishing, and the high guide to guest ratio ensures that the activities are tailored to the guests' particular interests and fitness levels.

Further west at the base of the peninsula is Bic National Park, which has some excellent walking trails and a number of great locations from which to observe seals and other wildlife, the picturesque Matapedia River Valley, famous for its historic covered wooden bridges and fall colour, and Parc de Miguasha, one of the world's fossil capitals, home to probably the greatest number and best preserved fossils from the Devonian period including the lobe-finned fish that first made the transition from ocean to land.

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