Saguenay Fjord

We’re planning a trip to Saguenay Fjord and maybe surrounding areas in late August/early September. We’ll camp, but have no definite plan yet, aside from the hope of seeing Belugas.

Setting up camp and doing day trips in empty boats is fine, as is paddling to off islands and new destinations each day, or some combination of the two. Any ideas and experiences from the group are welcome.



where are you camping?
Are you camping in the wilderness area, or at Paradis Marin?

We stayed at Paradis Marin in Bergeronnes, and did day paddles along the coast, and also up into the Fjord, up to Bai St. Margarite (if I’m remembering that name correctly?)

We saw no wildlife except for a few ducks when we paddled in the Fjord. When paddling out of Bergeronnes, or Taddoussac, or from the Campground, we saw dozens of whales and seals everytime, and at very close range. Belugas, Minkes, Fins, and even a Blue.

I don’t know if our experience was unusual, but if your primary objective is to see whales, I’d recommend paddling more in the St. Lawrence, and less in the Fjord.

Whale sightings
After 2 trips and 10 days paddling the area, I can say you will see very few, if any, large whales in the fjord, you will see many Beluga’s at Baie St. Marguerite which is where they go to birth their calves.The big species stay mostly on the river where you will see many of them as mentioned by Nate. The Beluga’s at Baie St. Marguerite are so plentiful at times it looked like a northern iceberg field there were so many white spots on the water! They are very curious and come very close. I actually had my kayak lifted about 6 inches out of the water when a young calf went under my stern. My paddling partner said it looked like he did it on purpose, like he was scratching his back! Be very aware of the tides, tide changes and wind direction in the fjord, it can and does get very gnarly very fast! Enjoy your trip it is and awesome place to paddle, the fjord is ridiculously beautiful!

When we paddled to Baie St. Margarite we didn’t see Belugas, unfortunately. A couple days we went there by car, and same thing. No Belugas. That was in late July, I think.

We did, however, see a pod of 20-30 Belugas come streaming right past Paradis Marin, within about 100 feet of shore.

Maybe it’s all in the timing?

Both times I’ve paddled there the week of August 23. We put in at public launch in Anse de Roche for paddles to Baie St. Marguerite, great bar right there for after paddle enjoyment! We rented cabins from Essipit indigenous peoples in Les Escoumin, launched right from our front yard for all river paddles.

Be prepared for wind
Very strong winds can come up quickly and create a following wind/waves situation down the fjord. Otherwise it is a great area with excellent paddling, hiking, etc. How is your French? It will help if you have at least basic French.

late summer
Late August/early September is our plan, I was told that’s when the belugas are there.

Not sure where we’ll stay. I’m trying to understand if camping is generally open and easy (as in paddling along, finding a decent take out and setting up camp) or is planning required? I’m not asking about inside the fjord itself, that I understand is highly regulated. I’m asking about the general area along the banks of the river between the mouth and the fjord. We’ll have a car so will probably drive to a launch site, paddle for a few days, then drive to another launch site and repeat.

Thanks for any advice,


I’m not sure what you mean by “the area between the mouth and the fjord”, but camping is not just generally available on the shore. Along the fjord the shoreline is generally very steep, and few landing areas are available. You’ll need to plan where you camp, either in the park, or at a commercial campground like Paradis Marin.

Saguenay Area and Whales

Been there twice (June '06, August '12). Camped at Paradis Marin both times. They don’t take reservations or speak much English, but we managed just fine. We could hear the whale blows at times during the night from our sites too! I think it was #50 or 51.

We saw lots of belugas (50+) both times. On each of these trips, we’ve also seen about a dozen fins, maybe a hundred minkes, at least 3 blues and 1 humpback (‘06). Probably as many from shore as from our kayaks. A couple of fins and 1 blue were about 20’ away from our kayaks (they surfaced and came near us!).

All of this has been on the St. Lawrence (in 39F water-bring your drysuit!). We did see a handful of belugas from our kayaks on the Saguenay as well as about 25 in Baie Ste. Marguerite, after hiking to the lookout platform.

In '06, the blues were within 150 yds. of shore at Paradis Marin. They were going back and forth, feeding, for a couple of hours. Literally every camper in the campground was on the rocks getting as close as possible. Someone said that afternoon was a pretty rare sight.

We hope to return there again next summer and have more amazing experiences. We stopped in Quebec City for a night on the way up and another on the way back. That was just icing on the cake!