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If you are looking for a holiday that is out of the ordinary for you and for the whole family, from snowshoeing in winter to kayaking in summer, Canada's east coast, has a lot to offer. But for a unique experience, why not let Air Canada take you to Newfoundland and Labrador, the 'whale and seabird capital of North America' for a whale watching holiday – and explore at the same time one of the most unspoilt, diverse and beautiful areas not just in Canada, but in the entire world – where not only can you watch whales, but also follow the progress of icebergs, bird watch, walk, kayak and simply enjoy the warm hospitality of the Newfoundlanders. You can quite literally get away from it all.

No virtual or natural history programme, however how good the quality – no large-scale aquarium, or theme park of the 'Flipper' variety, no matter how enjoyable – can possibly prepare you for the exhilaration of a genuine whale watching experience, and seeing and hearing whales in their natural environment. And there can be no better place to do it from, than Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.

'The Rock ' as Newfoundland is affectionately known, has over 10,000 miles of the most diverse coastline in the world. On the south coast there are miles of sandy beaches, in the north east, there are the islands of Notre Dame Bay, to the west, the fjords, and finally, the massive, forbidding cliffs on the eastern coast. And in the ocean surrounding this vast area, there are about 22 viewable species of whale – from the small, harbour porpoise, of about two metres long and locally known as 'puffin pigs' because of their grunting when they blow, to the giants such as the humpback whale, which can often be seen breaching the waves, smacking the surface of the water with its distinctive tail and balloon shaped 'blow' and, of course, though very rarely, the massive blue whale, which a few years ago was almost extinct. Although still an endangered species, it now numbers at an estimated 1l,000. This shy, gentle giant, is the biggest mammal in the world – ever. Larger than the largest dinosaur recorded, it can measure up to 33 metres in length, weigh 145 tons (imagine the average house), and although its oxygen retention is relatively short, reach a depth of 194 fathoms.

If you mistrust your sea legs, you can watch whales even without binoculars, from the many trails and walks along the Newfoundland coast. Or you can take trips from half a day to longer on one of the larger boats which look a bit like modernized fishing snacks. If you go from St. Anthony's you will have the added advantage of seeing Iceberg Alley, where not only will you observe whales, but also encounter those majestic ice towers floating down from Greenland toward the warmer gulf streams, and where the Titanic came to its dramatic and tragic end. But undoubtedly, the best and the most adventurous way of enjoying every aspect of Newfoundland's coast, flora and fauna, and, of course, the closest you will ever get to a whale, is to take a sea-going kayak. Even if you are a beginner, there are highly qualified guides who will monitor you all the way.

Whichever way you choose, you will learn how to identify whales by their fins, their colour, their 'blow' and their habitat. You will learn which ones can 'hold their breath' longest, which have teeth and which don't – which ones like the Orca (the so-called 'killer whale) belong to the dolphin family. It will be the most unforgettable experience you have ever had.

There are many highly experienced tour operators in Newfoundland who will guide you to the best spots, who will know when, where and why different whale pods can be found, they will initiate you into the secret, intricate language of whales and even if you opt for the shortest whale watching excursion, you will be more than enriched by the experience. You can take whale watching tours up to three days long. There are other combination tours of whale watching, bird watching,walking and kayaking. Or you may well be inspired enough to join the whale study group based in St John's. This is a week's program conducted from land and at sea and actively contributes to the research into whale numbers and their behaviour. This is, in effect, the deluxe whale watching program. However, you will find there is an instructive tour to suit every pocket.

The best news, of course, is that from May 2010, Air Canada is offering a seasonal direct daily flight to St John's, Newfoundland from London. So you will be able to enjoy the complete Canadian experience. Air Canada is in a class of its own when it comes to looking after its passengers and ensuring their comfort.








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