Magpie Raft & Kayak Expedition - 6 Days

Join on your own—or with friends and family

When you land on Lake Magpie by float plane or helicopter, you'll be entering a river valley very few people are lucky enough to experience. Join a group of other adventurers and professional guides as you travel through 65km of untouched wilderness.

You'll take part in all aspects of the expedition, from setting up camp to cooking. Paddle fun rapids in a guided raft, inflatable kayak, or your own boat. You'll gain confidence and a huge sense of accomplishment from learning new wilderness skills and completing a challenging adventure as part of a team.

 

 

Highlights

National Geographic ranks the Magpie amongst the best rivers worldwide for multi-day whitewater trips. Here are 7 reasons why:

  1. Enjoy truly untouched nature and breathtaking scenery of cliffs, steep hills, and never-ending boreal forest.
  2. Paddle fun and exciting whitewater. Great class III & IV rapids for rafting and inflatable kayaking with little flatwater in between.  
  3. Cruise along awesome stretches for standup paddleboarding (SUP) on calm sections in between rapids and near the camping spots.
  4. Start your trip with an incredible float plane or helicopter flight to gorgeous Lake Magpie.
  5. Catch trout - the fishing is great for experienced anglers, fly casters, and beginners alike.
  6. Gaze at the awe-inspiring rugged beauty and power of Magpie Gorge and Magpie Falls near the end of the trip.
  7. Experience Quebec's Cote-Nord region - a mix of seaside villages, expansive wilderness, island chains and coastline—and the area's friendly people.

Private groups and custom trips

Do you have a group of 9 people or more (friends, family, colleagues) and are looking for a Custom Magpie River Trip
 

What's included?

  • Guide staff (1:4 ratio)
  • All ground transportation and flights from Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan onwards.
  • All meals and snacks from day-1 lunch through day-6 supper.
  • Your river equipment including wetsuit, personal flotation device, helmet, and paddling jacket.
  • A large drybag for your camping clothing and gear.
  • All group camping equipment, boats, paddles, and safety gear (satellite phone, first aid kit, rescue gear)
  • Basic fishing equipment.

What’s not included?

  • Airfare or ground transportation to and from trip meeting points.
  • Accommodations in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan the nights before and after the expedition.
  • Personal items. See packing list below.
  • Alcoholic beverages (we do include some wine and beer but if you would like something special or extra, bring it and we will pack it along).
  • Travel and medical insurance.
  • Optional - Quebec fishing permit (can be purchased at a local convenience store before your flight to the river).
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Summary description

Day before your trip - Meet guides and group at 5:00pm in Longue-Pointe-De Mingan for briefing, packing tips, and introductions.

Day 1 - Shuttle to float plane or helicopter. Flight to Lac Magpie. Start trip!

Days 2 to 5 - River descent and wilderness camping.

Day 6 - Get to the awe-inspiring Magpie Falls and Magpie Gorge (we fly out most rafts and heavy items by helicopter or float plane so we don't have to portage them around these big obstacles). Float and paddle another 45 minutes or so past Magpie falls to the coastal highway. Shuttle (20 minutes) back to Longue-Pointe de-Mingan for farewell dinner and goodbyes.

Detailed description

Getting started - Welcome to Boreal River

Day before your trip

Our adventure begins with a glimpse of the land and culture of Quebec’s ‘Cote Nord’. The remote region is made up of charming fishing villages, ruggedly beautiful coastline, and a vast and wild backcountry of Boreal Forest and glacier-carved waterways.

You can choose from a variety of accommodation options - from seaside cabins to bed & breakfasts ('Gite' in French) to hostels and campgrounds - in and around the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan. We meet for a welcome briefing, go over the plan for the coming days along with some packing tips, and get to know our group for the week ahead. Those who arrive early can explore the area and Mingan Archipelago National Park.

Day 1

This morning we get an early start, driving to the float plane or helicopter meeting location. Views during the flight are of endless forest, hilltop ponds, and rivers in every direction.

Riviere Magpie - Twin Otter

Landing on Lake Magpie, we wave goodbye to our pilot and rig our boats on a small rocky beach. It is a great feeling as the aircraft flies away, leaving us alone on a massive lake surrounded by mountains and immense wilderness with no other humans for miles around.

Days 2 - 5

The River and Rapids

Magpie River rafting expedition

Over the following days we descend the Magpie river running numerous rapids. We switch between crafts to maximize fun, using guided rafts and solo inflatable kayaks. We also bring along a few inflatable stand up boards (SUPs) that we can cruise along with on calm stretches. Guides give thorough safety briefings and paddling instruction, making sure that everyone is comfortable on the river.

In the rafts we paddle as a team, improving our technique and co-ordination and building confidence. Towards the end of the trip we are ready for the three hardest rapids, Double Drop, Trust Falls, and Borealis.

Magpie River Rafting Expediton

Inflatable kayak Aire Lynx 1 on the Magpie River

With the inflatable kayaks, shortly after hopping aboard, you’ll be confidently maneuvering the stable boats on your own, charging down rapids and surfing waves.  Guides lead the way in safety kayaks and are always nearby. Of course, all rapids are ‘challenge by choice’ and at any time guests can opt to ride in the guided rafts or to walk around.

 

Standup paddleboard (SUP) on the Magpie River

Several unrunnable rapids occur as the water travels from source to sea. We can ‘line’ (guide our boats with ropes from shore) or do short portages to get around these. The guides handle the rafts and equipment packs and everyone takes part in carrying drybags. Standing in the mist and blowing wind of falling water, the effort of portaging feels well worth it as we appreciate the power of these thundering falls.

The scenery is ever changing throughout our trip. Trees grow in stature as we descend the river. Calm sections allow us to gaze at giant cliffs and adjoining rivers tumbling off of the hilltops. The many beaches can be scanned for tracks of moose, wolves, lynx, and bear and the treetops searched for Osprey nests, the fishing birds of prey that circle high above. So seldom are people here that the curious and cautious animal inhabitants watch us from afar.

Camping in comfort

Each camp has its own character and allows us different vantage points of the river valley. We set up tents on beaches and flat rock ledges and collect driftwood for a fire. Guides prepare ‘happy hour’ and you can change into dry clothes, relax with a book, take a swim, or go fishing.

Magpie River_scenic_happy hour.JPG

Experienced anglers will rejoice in the quality of speckled (brook) trout fishing in the evenings and early mornings. We also bring along several fishing rods for beginners and guides will show those interested how to catch trout.

Meals are delicious, wholesome, and plentiful. We cook sauces on a stove, grill meats and vegetables over open fire, and bake desserts in a dutch oven. We use as many fresh, locally bought ingredients as possible: produce from a greenhouse near Sept-Iles, organic Quebec farmed cheeses and meats, and wild caught seafood from local waters.

Food on the Magpie River

Evenings are relaxed with a crackling fire and a pot of fresh picked Labrador Tea as we settle in for nights under the starry northern sky. August is the time for meteor showers and if we’re lucky, dazzling displays of Northern Lights.

A remarkable send-off

4ieme quatrieme chute riviere Magpie Gorge

Day 6

On our sixth day, we arrive at Magpie Gorge. The majority of our equipment gets flown out from this point and we are able to continue ‘lightweight’ for a final afternoon of exploration. Before walking the trail, we can head to the brink of the Gorge to see a series of remarkable drops where the whole river thunders through narrow gaps in the rock. A forest path and another short paddle takes us to another spectacular location: the stunning fifty-meter Magpie falls. A beautiful mossy trail arrives at a breathtaking rest spot amongst giant water-sculpted boulders at the edge of the drop.

As we float away from the falls we relish in our final afternoon on the river. Before long we turn a corner and see our take-out point at HWY 138 and the mouth of the river.  Here, a Boreal River vehicle takes us back to Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, the perfect spot to ease our way back to civilization with a farewell dinner and the recounting of stories from our incredible week.

Magpie River Rafting - Magpie Falls troisieme chute

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An option for experienced kayakers & open boaters

While friends or family paddle close by in rafts and inflatable kayaks, you can kayak or canoe along. A Boreal River guide will be paddling with you and the other boaters to point out lines and provide safety.

If you have a whole group of boaters and would like a raft-supported trip, check out the Magpie for kayak & canoe groups page.

Skill level

Boaters considering this option should be confident class III paddlers. The class IV rapids can be scouted and walked and there are often multiple lines to choose from. The Magpie is similar in nature to the Quebec’s Gatineau, California’s Cal-Salmon, and West Virginia’s Lower Gauley.

Bring your own boat or contact us to discuss rental options.

Flying with canoes

For canoeists with very small OC-1's, it should be no problem to get your boat onto the float planes. There is a surcharge for bigger boats, since the canoe has to be attached to one of the pontoons, reducing the carrying capacity of the aircraft. 

For groups with multiple open boaters, we usually fly the boats in by helicopter. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss options.

Riviere Magpie, Quebec, Canada. Kayaking on the multi-day river expedition.

Riviere Magpie Canoe - OC1, Quebec, Canada2014-08 Magpie River Adventure-105 copy.jpg

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The Magpie typically has great weather in August with sunny days and cool starry nights.

We will, however, be relatively far north and any combination of strange weather can occur. We carry a full set of ‘river clothes’ as well as ‘camp clothes’. It is best to dress in layers.

The first layer is a ‘wicking layer’ of thin material that sends moisture away from our body. Next are some thicker synthetic (fleece) or wool “insulating layers” and lastly is an outer layer that provides a barrier from wind and water.

Cotton garments should be avoided as they dry very slowly and steal body heat when wet. Please follow the packing list closely and let us know if you have any questions.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions as you are packing and choosing equipment.

Your packing list

For the river

  • 1 pair of shoes for the river. The ideal river shoe is lightweight and draining yet supportive enough for walking on portages and scouting rapids, with a grippy sole. These can be lightweight running shoes, water shoes with a supportive sole, or sturdy sandals with toe covering.
  • 2 pairs of thermal socks for the river. Wool, fleece, or synthetic.
  • Bathing suit / surf shorts
  • Lightweight synthetic t-shirt
  • Top and bottom medium-weight long underwear.
  • Longsleeve neoprene ‘surf’ top or longsleeve medium-weight fleece top
  • Thick fleece sweater
  • Thick fleece pants

For camp

  • * 3-season, expedition tent
  • * Inflatable camping mattress such as 'Therm-a-rest' or 'Downmat'
  • * Three-season sleeping bag, rated to 0°c or below
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 2 or 3 pairs of thermal socks
  • Undergarments
  • Lightweight t-shirt
  • Lightweight long-sleeve shirt
  • Lightweight ‘quick dry’ long pants
  • Thick fleece or wool sweater
  • Thick fleece pants
  • Top and bottom medium-weight synthetic or wool long underwear
  • Rain gear top and bottom
  • Toque (wool or fleece winter hat)
  • Pillow and pillow case
  • Sun hat
  • Small quick-dry towel
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
  • Sunscreen, lip protection, and insect repellent
  • Water bottle, 1 litre
  • Sunglasses with strap
  • Prescription glasses with strap if necessary
  • Toiletry kit with biodegradable soap and shampoo as well as personal medications
  • Optional: reading material, journal, binoculars, camera (waterproof or with waterproof case)
  • Optional: fishing rod with tackle and hard carrying case. We provide basic equipment but experienced anglers will enjoy using their own specialized gear.

General:

  • Some clothes for the trip home
  • Travel documents (passport) and medical insurance cards or policies.

* Items with a * can be rented from from a outdoor stores such as Mountain Equipment Co-op or La Cordee.

Equipment that we will provide for you

  • A large drybag in which to keep all of your personal items
  • A smaller drybag that will be accessible during the day in which you can keep your rainwear, sunscreen, etc.
  • Whitewater helmet and flotation device
  • Wetsuit, 'Farmer John' style
  • Wind and waterproof paddling jacket
  • All group camping equipments such as cooking and eating utensils, dishes, group shelters, etc.
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Q. Where do we meet?

A. 'Carrefour mer et culture', 381 Rue du Bord de la Mer, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec: https://goo.gl/maps/c4687​. You’ll find it at the west end of town, on the coast, near the national park building and a playground.

Q. What is the meeting time?

A. Day before your trip, 5:00pm.

Q. When is the trip over?

A. After dinner on the evening of Day 6.

Q. How do I register?

Step 1 - Call 1-866-242-9383, fill in the online form, or e-mail [email protected] to join and pay a 200 CAD deposit.

Step 2 - Receive a confirmation e-mail with a ‘trip information and registration package’ 

Step 3 - Pay the balance 90 days from your trip start date.

Q. What is the cancellation policy?

A. If you cancel prior to or during your trip, the following cancellation policy will apply. We highly recommend purchasing Trip Cancellation insurance, which will reimburse you for trip costs in the event that you need to cancel or leave your trip early.

The numbers refer to the number of days before the trip start date that cancellation takes place.

150+ days: full refund less 50 CAD  

90 to 149 days: full refund less 200 CAD

60 to 89 days: full refund less 50% of trip cost

Less than 60 days: no refunds available

Q. What kind of insurance do I need?

A. Participants on Boreal River trips need to have appropriate Medical insurance and Medical Evacuation insurance. Any evacuation costs will be billed to the person that is leaving the trip. Insurance should cover emergency air evacuation from the river to a local hospital (this can cost 10,000 CAD or more), medical treatment within Canada, and repatriation to a medical care facility in your home region.

We also strongly recommend obtaining Trip Cancellation insurance, which will reimburse you for the unused portion of your Boreal River trip if you must cancel prior to departure or leave your trip early due to illness, accident, or family emergency. If you have insurance coverage from a credit card or an existing plan, please make sure that it will cover you for the above mentioned emergency situations and that you are covered while participating in whitewater activities and remote wilderness travel.

For an insurance package that will cover you for the specific situations encountered on our trips, we recommend contacting:

TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators Ltd.
http://www.travelinsurance.ca/index.php or 1-800-379-9628.

Q. What type of experience do I need?

A. No whitewater experience is necessary. This trip is the perfect introduction to river travel. However, experienced paddlers will be satisfied with the quality and challenge of numerous class 3 and 4 rapids.

Q. What type of physical condition should I be in?

A. Expect five to seven hours of activity per day. You need to be comfortable walking on uneven terrain. Swimming ability is recommended.

Q. I am an experienced kayaker/canoeist. Can I paddle the whole river in my own boat?

A. Yes. If you are a confident class III kayaker or canoeist you will love this river.  A kayak guide will lead the way down every rapid. See the Kayak/Canoe option toggle on this page for more information.

Q. Who will my guides be?

A. Your guides are professionals who have years of whitewater and wilderness travel experience. They are a diverse and talented group and they are all super nice and friendly people who enjoy sharing their passion for the river and helping everybody feel comfortable and confident. Read more about Boreal River guides and instructors here.

Q. Besides rafting and kayaking, what other activities can I do?

A. Standup paddleboarding (SUP), fishing, short side hikes, photography, forest interpretation and looking for edible plants. We can also show you how to bake the perfect dutch oven cake!

Q. How much ‘downtime’ per day to fish and pursue other activities?

A. You can expect on average 2 - 3 hours per day in the late afternoon to pursue these activities. Or just relax with a book and a glass of wine or cup of tea around the fire.

Q. How is the fishing?

A. Excellent. This area is very rarely visited let alone fished. The river is clean as can be and the speckled trout populations are very healthy. Pike and lake trout can also be caught.

Q. Will we eat well?

A. Meals are plentiful, delicious, wholesome, and freshly prepared. Snacks are always available. Our guides love to cook and it shows. Please see the Trip Description for more on our great meals.

Q. Where should we stay in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan?

A. There are a range of options from seaside cabins to B&B's ("Gite" in French) to hostels and campgrounds.  You are responsible for booking your own accommodations for the night before the trip and night 6. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Recommended Bed & Breakfast
Gite La Chicoutee: www.chicoutee.com/en/ 198 rue de la Mer, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec G0G 1V0, Canada Phone: 418 949 0030 E-mail:[email protected]

Recommended Hostel
Auberge de la Minganie: Stunning location on the coast 20 mins. from Longue-Pointe Hostel and cabins with shared bathrooms and kitchen 3980 rte. 138 O., Havre-Saint-Pierre Québec, Canada, G0G 1P0 Phone: 418 538 1538

Les Maisonnettes des Îles
Cabins, hotel rooms, camping, and excursions 126 rue de la Mer, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Québec, G0G 1V0 Phone: 418 949 2302, 877 949-2302 Web: http://www.minganie.info/en E-mail: [email protected]

Famille Loiselle - Camping de la Minganie & Condos de la Mer
Cabins, houses, camping, and excursions109, rue de la Mer Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Québec, G0G 1V0 Phone : 418 949-2307, 866 949-2307 Web: http://www.tourisme-loiselle.com/fr/condos.html Email:[email protected]

Motel Le Poseidon
860 ch. du Roi, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan Québec, Canada, G0G 1V0 Phone: 418 949-0080, 418 538-4092

Hotel-Motel de la Minganie
905 ch. du Roi, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan Québec, Canada, G0G 1V0 Phone: 418 949-2650, 418 949-2506, 877 949-2650

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Magpie River Adventure arrival rendezvous: Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan (48km West of Havre-Saint-Pierre), Quebec.  5:00pm, Day before your trip.

 

Where is Quebec's Magpie River Map

Travelling by car

Driving to Quebec’s North Shore makes for a great road trip. We highly recommend allowing ample time to rest and enjoy the many sights en route. Expect about 12 hours of driving time from Quebec City to Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan. From Quebec City there are two route options:

Route Option 1: Via Tadoussac - This is the more scenic route and is fastest, but does include lots of hills, bends, and undivided highway. 

Follow Hwy 40 East to St. Anne-de-Beaupre. Continue on Hwy 138 East all the way to our rendezvous point. There is a short free ferry that crosses the Saguenay River from Baie-St-Catherine to Tadoussac. It runs hourly 24 hours a day. The historic village of Tadoussac, perched on the Saguenay fjord, is an excellent choice for an overnight stay. From Tadoussac it takes 7 to 8 hours of driving time to get to Longue-Pointe-De-Mingan

Route Option 2: Via Rimouski or Matane - This route includes a ferry crossing that has to be timed and reserved in advance, but involves bigger highways and less hills.

From Quebec City, follow Hwy 20 East and take either the Rimouski - Forestville, Matane - Godbout, or Matane - Baie-Comeau ferry. Once you have crossed the St. Lawrence, follow Hwy 138 East to Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan.

Rimouski Ferry Reservations: Website, phone: 1-800-973-2725, 418-725-2725

Matane Ferry Reservations: Website, phone: 1-877-562-6560

Traveling by air

Air Canada, Provincial Airlines, and Air Labrador offer daily flights to Sept-Iles connecting through Montreal and Quebec City. From Sept Iles, you can rent a car and drive 2 hours to Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan. Or contact us to organize a shuttle for your group.

Travelling by train/boat

For those with extra time available, an adventurous route is to take a passenger train to the town of Rimouski followed by the weekly boat Relais Nordik* to Havre-Saint-Pierre. Contact us to organize a shuttle from Havre Saint Pierre. Reservations for the boat must be made well in advance, as it is a weekly boat you will need to plan for extra days in the region before and after your trip.

*This ship then continues to the remote lower North Shore, for a six night round trip voyage, carrying supplies to some of the most isolated villages in Quebec as well as providing sleeping berths and meals for passengers.

Relais Nordik Boat - Website, Phone: 1-800-463-0680, (418) 723-8787

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The Magpie flows through the heart of Quebec's ‘Cote-Nord’ (North Shore) region, the area north of the St-Lawrence Gulf from the Saguenay Fjord to Labrador. Along the rugged coastline, river after river - all wild Atlantic Salmon runs - bring freshwater to sea. These rich estuaries are feeding grounds for whales, seals, dolphins, and colonies of puffins.

Inland, on the glaciated rock shield, vast stretches of Boreal forest extend into Quebec’s central mountains and to the tundra. This is one of the three biggest areas of intact forest in the world. It is home to common Canadian animals -- black bear, moose, beaver, loons -- and rare and endangered ones like lynx and woodland caribou.

The earliest human inhabitants of this area arrived eight thousand years ago. For the last two thousand years it has been the home of the Innu or Montagnaise people, who used to live as nomadic hunters. The first Europeans appeared on Viking and Basque fishing fleets. Then, the French settled in fishing villages along the coast.

Riviere au Tonnerre church

Today, coastal highway 138 connects the villages and few roads extend inland. Though the road ends at Kegasksa (276 km/171 miles east of the Magpie), a small population inhabits the area further east, known as the Basse Cote Nord (Lower North Shore) where tiny villages, some French, some Innu, some English, are currently only accessible by a weekly supply boat, flight, or snowmobile in the winter.

The region's industries include fishing for crab, lobster, scallops, bourgot, and halibut (though the fishery is less significant than it once was when cod 'filled the bays'), tourism to Mingan Archipelago National Park, and mining in the interior. The biggest towns of Sept Iles and Baie Comeau have mineral processing plants and shipping ports.

Construction of the Romaine River hydroelectric dams began in the summer of 2009. The over $8 billion development is currently one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Canada. Other projects in the future include the extension of the 138 eastward and new hydroelectric dams.

The Magpie River is unprotected and therefore can be dammed by Hydro Quebec. Learn more about the movement to protect the river and what you can do to help here.

5 Things to do on the Cote Nord

  1. A road trip to Kegaska, the end of the Highway, only connected to the rest of Quebec since 2013. Jumping off point for marine travel to the Lower North Shore.
  2. Sea kayaking or boat trips to the islands of Mingan Archipelago National Park to see monoliths (rock statues carved by the tides) and marine wildlife.
  3. Slow down and absorb the relaxed seaside charm of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Riviere-Au-Tonnerre, and Magpie.
  4. Whale watching or hiking near Tadoussac, the historic town at the confluence of the Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
  5. Visit Anticosti island for spectacular canyons, cliffs, and salmon fishing.

puffin on Ile du PharePuffins in Mingan Archipelago National Park

lighthouse in Mingan Archipelago National Park

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Upcoming Trips

"A perfect trip. Everything was well planned, well managed, and very professional. I loved trying kayaking, learning which little berries we could eat, and how to fly fish. Thank you again for everything and for the opportunity to live out such an incredible experience."

- Josée Tremblay.

Lac St. Jean, QC
Magpie Raft & Kayak Expedition 2010

"Thanks again for such a great trip! My three favourite things were: a) The food: exceptional, delicious and always a surprise - five stars b) Being outside in the fresh air c) The memories - definitely worth spending time with my family."

- Adam Marien

Toronto, Ontario
Magpie Raft & Kayak Expedition - 2014