Combine visit to tiny fishing village of Red Bay with province’s two other UNESCO Sites
It was smiles all round in Red Bay, Labrador, last week when residents found out that their home town was one of just seventeen locations around the world added to UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites list.
Now ranked with treasures such as Egypt’s pyramids and England’s Tower of London, the hamlet (population: 200) has been recognized for its rare and fascinating history.
Red Bay was once the base of the world’s first large-scale whale oil production, from the mid-1500s to the early 1600s, when hundreds of Basque whalers ventured across the North Atlantic from Southern France and Northern Spain in search of whales and their precious oil.
The designation means that Newfoundland and Labrador now boasts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And history and culture buffs can explore all three - Gros Morne National Park, L’Anse aux Meadows and Red Bay - on Maxxim Vacations’ Voyage of the Vikings tour, a weeklong self-drive vacation that takes in the west coast of Newfoundland and Southern Labrador. Or, if you prefer to leave the driving to someone else, and travel with a group of like-minded culture-buffs, there’s Maxxim’s escorted Voyage of Vikings tour.
“Since the arrival of the Basque in the mid 1500's the landscape is practically untouched, and people fortunate enough to visit this site will be seeing the settlement as people did almost 500 years ago,” says Julie Curran, of St. John’s-headquartered Maxxim Vacations. “The UNESCO designation is a wonderful recognition for Red Bay and its incredible history.”
Today, Red Bay is a tiny fishing village that is home to the oldest known shipwreck in Canadian waters, as well as a rich and undisturbed heritage site including a Basque cemetery. Visitors are invited to hike along the beach to the local interpretation centre and travel by boat or kayak to nearby mystical Saddle Island, where those long-ago sailors so far from home once lived.
Red Bay is an ideal place for travellers seeking off the beaten path experiences. “The highlight for me is the chalupa, a 400 year old whaling vessel that was literally taken from the ocean floor and reassembled,” says Curran. “It’s an extraordinary experience to be there in person, you can see and feel how special the place is.”
To round out the tour inclusions for history and nature enthusiasts, travellers will also experience the province’s two other World Heritage sites: stunning Gros Morne National Park – famed for its landlocked fjords – and L’Anse aux Meadows, where you can explore the only known site established by Vikings in North America.
This Maxxim Vacations tour includes round-trip airfare to Deer Lake in western Newfoundland; seven nights’ accommodation in hotels, B&Bs and country inns; a rental car with unlimited kilometers; ferry to Labrador; a scenic boat tour in St. Anthony; a two day pass to Gros Morne National Park, plus admission to L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site and Red Bay National Historic Site. The tour is priced from $1,539 (plus taxes) including airfare from Toronto.
The escorted itinerary is priced from $2,229 (plus taxes) and includes the services of a friendly and knowledgeable local tour director and travel in an air-conditioned coach.
Prices from other cities and complete tour details are available at www.maxximvacations.com. Call them for personalized and expert travel planning anywhere in Atlantic Canada at 1-800-567-6666, or see your travel agent.
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