There has never been a better time than now to unplug, and the undisturbed wilderness of Newfoundland and Labrador is prime territory to disconnect and get grounded in the stark beauty and uniqueness of the landscape.
Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism has created fresh itineraries called Expedition 51° that follow a new themed route along the Québec-Labrador Highway through the heart of the “Big Land.” The route loops from the border of Québec at Labrador City to the Atlantic Ocean and runs back along the coast to the southern Québec border.
“There is an intrinsically inherent rich storyline in this province connecting this earth to the evolution of marine, natural, and human history,” says the Canadian DMO’s Charlotte Jewczyk.
Before setting out, Jewczyk suggests being prepared with plenty of water and gas (service stations are few and far between) and by taking a satellite phone, which are free to borrow. Be ready to do some time travel, as the time zones do a bit of bouncing around, and much of the land maintains its original form of boreal forests, lakes, and rivers. When heading west, groups will travel through the Labrador wilderness, cross over the Churchill River, and view the 245-foot Churchill Falls. It’s the largest river in Atlantic Canada and hosts one of the world's biggest underground hydroelectric generating stations.
A few hours through subarctic forests toward the inland coast brings travelers to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, home to the largest military airbase in northeastern North America, and the Labrador Military Museum. On the drive south, views of the breathtaking countryside and a string bog on the Eagle River Plateau are accessible along the partial-dirt highway. One of the stops (and one you must get to by boat) is Battle Harbour, a 19th-century fishing village and a place for respite in beautifully restored seaside houses. On the island, which has no cell towers, cars, or paved roads, visitors can spot whales, icebergs, and, depending on the season, the Northern Lights.
The last leg of the journey brings travelers into Red Bay, a 16th-century Basque whaling station and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. After a scenic ferry ride from Point Amour to the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, they can hike the lovely Labrador Pioneer Trail through a historical interpretation about the Jerseymen from the Channel Islands who fished there long ago.
While this 16-hour trek full of natural beauty and intriguing history is a COVID-era-friendly experience, Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism has taken the extra steps to keep visitors safe.
“Be assured that we continue to work diligently to ensure best practices and recognize that responsible and sustainable tourism is paramount for each and every visitor during these ever-changing times,” Jewczyk says.
Top photo: Battle Harbour
Photo by Dru Kennedy Photography/Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism