15 Ecotourism-Certified Outdoor Activities in Québec

Seal watching from kayaks
Vincent Gaillard

Content partner: Québec Adventure Outdoor 

Eastern Québec is full of amazing outdoor activities that are both environmentally friendly and super safe. That’s partly thanks to the certified ecotourism professionals in the Québec Adventure Outdoor network, who champion eco-friendly outdoor activities every day through their work. Let’s take a look at some of the companies dedicated to promoting sustainable adventure through their activities. Some of them contribute to the Outdoor Fund 1% for the Planet.

  • Hiking, the Mellow Way to Scale New Heights

    With its forests, valleys, mountains, and sea, Québec’s incredible scenery inspires both contemplation and active exploration. That’s why hiking is so popular in the regions along the St. Lawrence Estuary. It’s a mellow, easy way to explore Eastern Québec’s gorgeous natural surroundings.

    The vast network of marked, maintained trails makes it easy to choose your own adventure—everything from gentle strolls to challenging rambles for seasoned hikers. In addition to Eastern Québec’s national parks, here are two other names synonymous with great hiking and safe ecotourism adventures.

     

    1

    Québec International Appalachian Trail

    The Québec International Appalachian Trail (IAT) is the first Grande Randonnée (GR®) footpath in North America. Set course for the Gaspé Peninsula and choose from a range of options for exploring this 650 km route running through the mountains of Parc National de la Gaspésie and the Matane wildlife reserve.

    Newbies and seasoned trekkers alike will find plenty of room to roam, with everything from self-guided hikes to 1- to 3-day guided outings through some of the peninsula’s most spectacular terrain. We’re especially keen on the services available to hikers doing the IAT on their own, including vehicle and luggage transport and food drops. Along with the views from the summits, there are great opportunities for viewing wildlife, particularly moose, which are common in this part of the Gaspé.

  • 2

    Attitude Nordique-Plein air

    Next stop: Baie-Comeau on Québec’s North Shore, home to another accredited Québec Adventure Outdoor member. The folks at Attitude Nordique-Plein Air share their love of the outdoors through a great lineup of guided activities on land, on water, and high above it all with a via ferrata and ziplines.

    We love the Nord-Côtière package: a guided hike along the St. Lawrence shoreline past ancient glacial grooves that ends in an uber-fun finale with two overwater ziplines. Here too, every effort is made to deliver safe, quality adventures with minimal environmental impact—the trademark of the Québec Adventure Outdoor network.

  • Whale Watching, for Memories Larger Than Life

    Thinking you might just skip the whale watching on your trip to Eastern Québec? Think again. The food-rich waters of the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay Fjord are home to a full dozen species of whales, including the blue whale, the largest animal on the planet. What you might not realize is just how many opportunities there are for observing these gentle giants. Whether you’re aboard a cruise ship, Zodiac, sea kayak, or paddle board or watching from a coastal viewing site or hiking trail, there’s one thing that’s constant—the magic you feel when these fascinating animals surface.

    3

    Mer et monde écotours

    The sea kayaking excursions offered by Côte-Nord’s Mer et Monde écotours are an ideal way to explore the whales’ world with minimal impact. This company runs half- and full-day guided tours from Bergeronnes and Tadoussac.

  • 4

    Organisaction – Québec Off the Beaten Path

    Organisaction – Québec Off the Beaten Path boasts 30 years of experience as an adventure and ecotourism operator in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. The company offers guided whale watching tours on the fjord and estuary aboard a covered 48-passenger Zodiac and an open-air 24-passenger version.

  • 5

    Croisières Baie de Gaspé

    Over in the Gaspé, hop aboard the Narval III, a safe, fast, and comfortable vessel run by Croisières Baie de Gaspé. Count on this company for an exciting ride in the waters off Forillon National Park, at the tip of the peninsula, where six species of whales can be seen. Just don’t get too distracted by the beautiful scenery in Gaspé Bay!

  • A Via Ferrata Rush on Some of the Most Beautiful Rock Faces in Québec

    Via ferratas have become a hot item on Québec’s ecotourism circuit in recent years. A cross between climbing and hiking, these thrilling routes along sheer rock walls can be safely navigated with the help of steel cables and a certified guide.

    There are at least a dozen of these “iron ways” across the province. Known for their thrilling terrain, the Charlevoix and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regions are home to some particularly impressive via ferrata courses.

    6

    Parcours Aventures

    Parcours Aventures offers challenging routes for both beginners and experts on some of the most spectacular cliffs these two regions have to offer: the Saguenay via ferrata snakes its way along the massive rock face overlooking the Saguenay Fjord at Baie-Éternité, while the Mont-du-Lac-des-Cygnes via ferrata is located in the heart of Parc national des Grands-

    Jardins in Charlevoix. In both cases, you’ll need to book your via ferrata experience through Sépaq.

  • 7

    Projet Vertical

    Charlevoix-based Projet Vertical is another company offering a memorable via ferrata experience. La Charlevoix is the name of the route they’ve created on a rock face at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie. The 500-metre mid-level course (which kids age 7 and older can do) offers breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River.

    This adventure experience is also “Quality and Safety” certified. What does that mean? Rigorous safety standards, quality equipment, and expert local guides who know the local environment inside out—your guarantee of an eco-friendly experience.

  • Sea Kayaking, for a Paddling Experience Like no Other

    Lightweight and maneuverable, ideal for gliding across the water unnoticed, and perfect for encountering marine animals, the kayak is a legacy of the First Peoples. And with its abundance of lakes and rivers, challenging white water, St. Lawrence shoreline, and open seas, Québec has become a popular destination with kayakers of all stripes. We love sea kayaking along Eastern Québec’s coastline to explore areas especially well known for their beauty and biodiversity.

    8

    Aventures Archipel

    At Parc national du Bic, Aventures Archipel runs daily guided kayak tours to explore the capes, bays, and secret coves where harbour seals lie in the sun, surrounded by seabirds. These tours are a great way to learn about the area’s natural history and cultural heritage while giving your arms a bit of a workout and treating your peepers to some beautiful sights.

  • 9

    Cap Aventure

    The same kind of magic awaits further east at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, where Cap Aventure is the sole sea kayak operator authorized to run tours in the waters of Forillon National Park. Accompanied by a seasoned guide with in-depth knowledge of the local environment, you’ll paddle in complete safety as you admire Gaspé Bay’s gorgeous scenery and abundant marine life, including seals and whales.

  • 10

    Fjord en kayak

    For more spectacular scenery and encounters with the giants of the sea, head to the north shore of the river and the Saguenay Fjord—specifically to the lovely village of L’Anse-Saint-Jean, where Fjord en kayak offers a great lineup of guided sea kayak excursions and expeditions.

    With their stunning terrain and incredible biodiversity, Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay and the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park form a remarkable playground for the adventure that awaits. It’s simply one of the best whale-watching spots in the world! All activities—from 2-hour family excursions to 3-day expeditions to the estuary—are “Quality and Safety” certified for an outstanding experience that’s easy on the environment.

  • Wildlife Viewing and Interpretation, a Window Into Nature and its Inhabitants

    Eastern Québec is a fabulous place to observe wildlife. There are lots of opportunities to view animals in their natural habitats. Just be sure to take all the usual precautions not to disturb them and to stay safe. National and regional parks and hunting and fishing lodges are all great options, as are the many companies that run wildlife tours.

    Eastern Québec’s iconic seals and whales and big-name land mammals like black bears and moose are all big draws. And don’t forget the birds. Ornithologists will have a field day with the many migratory, marine, and raptor species to be found.

    11

    Contact Nature Okwari Le Fjord

    Based in La Baie in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, Contact Nature Okwari Le Fjord is committed to protecting and enhancing the environment through its outdoor activities. Contact Nature’s naturalists offer an opportunity to learn more about an animal you might otherwise have overlooked—the Atlantic salmon—at the interpretation centre the company runs at Rivière-à-Mars. Penetrate the secrets of the fish ladder and delve into the habits of the “King of Fish,” which shares its habitat here with the sea trout.

  • Unique Accommodations for Sweet Forest Dreams

    Whether you’re in the mood for quiet times or rarin’ for adventure, nature-rich Eastern Québec boasts an incredible variety of outdoor activities in magnificent surroundings. Now you can take your nature immersion experience to the next level with these anything-but-ordinary accommodation experiences, each designed to actively contribute to ecosystem sustainability. They give you the chance to truly connect with your surroundings and add a new twist to your overnight.

    12

    Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux

    Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region is one of those places where you can experience nature up close and personal—even in your sleep! In addition to a varied lineup of outdoor activities, the park features a nice selection of out-of-the-box accommodation options. Treehouses, hanging spheres, glass domes, coolboxes, and log cabins (not to mention classic conventional camping) make for nights to remember along the Saguenay Fjord.

  • 13

    Griffon Adventure Hostel

    Sleeping green is also a “thing” at the Griffon Adventure Hostel in the Gaspé. Here too, a philosophy of sustainability informs both the hostel’s outdoor activities and accommodations, all just steps from Forillon National Park. Whether you’re staying in one of the rustic cabins dreamed up by the owners, glamping in a prospector tent, or camping under the trees, everything is designed to be authentic and eco-friendly. For a rustic roof over our heads, we’re gaga for Le Griffon, a converted fishing boat with room for six, a giant deck, and a sweeping ocean view. Epic!

  • Lakes, Rivers, and Canoes!

    Canoeing, like snowshoeing and dogsledding, comes to us from Indigenous cultures and is one of the most iconic outdoor activities in Québec. It’s a great option for exploring both quiet lakes and turbulent white water.

    14

    Matapédia Nature Aventure

    This summer, for a memorable experience with family or friends, we recommend the rivers that wind through the hinterland of the Gaspé Peninsula. Their names? The Matapédia, Patapédia, Restigouche, Upsalquitch, and Kedgwick—each an adventure in the making thanks to Matapédia Nature Aventure, which operates out of the town of Matapédia.

    This ecotourism company rents canoes and equipment and provides a shuttle service for independent paddlers. They also offer a wide selection of guided packages: everything from 2-hour outings to 7-day river adventures, with camping and healthy meals full of local flavours. Nature Aventure is great for learning the ropes of canoe camping, but also for trying stuff that’s completely different, like snorkelling to watch Atlantic salmon!

  • Mountain Biking, for the Challenge and the Speed

    This thrilling outdoor activity continues to flourish throughout the province, especially in the eastern regions of Québec where the landforms and valleys offer exceptional playgrounds.

    15

    Vallée Bras-du-Nord

    To learn or to get gnarly like never before, make a beeline for Vallée Bras-du-Nord, just a short trip from Québec City. With more than 100 km of well-maintained trails in two distinct sectors—Saint-Raymond and Shannahan—VBN is a mountain-biking must. The impressive network includes more than 60 km of singletrack. Many trails buffs see this site as the ultimate cross-country destination in Québec.

    In addition to the tours for all levels and bike rentals, we like the tips and introductory courses developed for beginners by this Québec Adventure Outdoor network member. Fill your lungs with fresh air and enjoy a safe, high-quality, eco-friendly experience as you pump up and blast down VBN.

Recommended Experiences

  • Plongée en apnée avec Matapédia Nature Aventure
    Snorkeling Tour and Salmon Observation Québec Adventure Outdoor

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    One of a kind! With Nature Aventure, take a canoe trip down the Matapedia River, then swim and snorkel with the salmons in their natural habitat.

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  • Un ours et son ourson
    Observe the Black Bear in the Wild Québec Adventure Outdoor

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    Discover wild black bears in their natural environment with a passionate guide from Contact Nature. From a secure stand, you will also have the chance to photograph them.

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    Guided Hike in the Chic-Chocs Québec Adventure Outdoor

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    Guided hike of 4 days and 4 nights from hut to hut with luggage transportation, in the Parc national de la Gaspésie, on the International Appalachian Trail.

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Québec Le Mag’ is a French-language media outlet dedicated to the two types of people in this world: those who love Québec and those who will soon. Check out their website for great stories, articles, and recommendations.

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