Magpie River Adventure - 8 Days - All Inclusive

Beauty in the backcountry 

Enjoy a week on a world-class river.
 
Starting from the seaside town of Sept Iles (Seven Islands), Quebec, we’ll fly ‘into the wild’ by helicopter to Lake Magpie. 
 
The Magpie has awesome whitewater. Led by your expert and friendly instructors, you’ll paddle fun rapids and gain river skills. Navigating in the rafts is a good team challenge. If you want to step it up a level, you can paddle on your own in an inflatable kayak, following a kayak guide.
 
When we get to camp each afternoon, everyone lends a hand with setting up. Then you’ll have the time and freedom to do as you like: from hiking, to fishing (the speckled trout fishing is amazingly good!), to relaxing with your book or sketchpad—to hanging out by the fire and getting a start on ‘happy hour’.
 
Enjoy camping by the river’s edge with nights under a blanket of stars and if we’re lucky, a dazzling display of northern lights.
 
On the last two days, you’ll see and experience the awe-inspiring Magpie Gorge and Magpie Falls, The rafts and most of the equipment will get flown out by helicopter and we’ll continue downstream in inflatable kayaks and canoes all the way to the river’s end.
 
This trip is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a great sense of accomplishment. You’ll come away recharged and excited for your next adventure.

Highlights

National Geographic ranks the Magpie amongst the best rivers worldwide for multi-day whitewater trips. Here are some highlights:

  • Enjoy truly untouched nature ​(only accessible by helicopter or float plane) and breathtaking scenery 
  • Paddle fun and exciting whitewater. The Magpie has great class III & IV rapids for rafting and inflatable kayaking with little flatwater in between
  • Gaze at the awe-inspiring rugged beauty and power of Magpie Gorge and Magpie Falls near the end of the trip
  • Other optional activities we’ll help you with:
    • Fish—if you try, you’re guaranteed to catch speckled trout whether you are an experienced angler, fly caster, or beginner.
    • Stand-up paddle (SUP)—we’ll bring along a couple of inflatable SUPs for you to cruise along on calm stretches and paddle near camp
    • Hike and explore the forest for animal tracks, wild edibles, and photo ops
    • Wilderness skills—your guides have diverse skill sets and enjoy teaching and watching guests gain skills and confidence. So whether you want to bake bread in a dutch oven, light a fire with no matches or lighter, develop your whitewater paddling and safety skills, or master a couple of knots, you’ll have the opportunity to learn in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Private groups and custom trips

If you have a group of 9 people or more and are looking for a Custom Magpie River Trip, click here
 

We take care of all the details to make your planning easy.

The following services and equipment are all included:

  • Your professional guides are always available (maximum 5:1 guest to guide ratio)
  • All ground transportation and flights from Sept Iles onwards:
    • Get picked up (day 1) and dropped off (day 8) at the airport by your guides
    • Helicopter or float plane flight to Lake Magpie
    • Helicopter portage (equipment only) around Magpie Gorge and Magpie Falls
    • Van shuttles to the helicopter (day 2) and from the river take-out back to Sept Iles (day 7)
  • 2 nights (first and last) at the Chateau Arnaud Hotel in Sept Iles, double occupancy. If you are travelling alone we’ll pair you with another traveler of the same gender. If you would prefer your own room, the single supplement is $120 per night
  • 5 nights fully guided wilderness camping
  • All meals and snacks from day-2 breakfast through day-8 breakfast—amazing food guaranteed! You’ll get to adjust your menu for your preferences (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) by picking your meals if you prefer, leave it to us.
  • Your river equipment including wetsuit, personal flotation device, helmet, and paddling jacket.
  • A large drybag for your camp clothing and gear, a small drybag for daytime access, group drybags for tents and wetsuits
  • A 2-person expedition tent for couples or family members or 1-person tent if you are on your own
  • All group camping equipment (all kitchen equipment and dishes, tarps, repair kit, chairs, water filter, portable toilet, tools), river equipment (rafts, inflatable kayaks, inflatable SUPs, paddles) and safety gear (satellite phone, InReach device, complete first aid kit, river rescue equipment)
  • Basic fishing equipment

What’s not included?

  • Travel between your home and Sept Iles (Seven Islands), Quebec
  • Personal clothing and camping gear. See the packing list
  • Alcoholic beverages (we will bring some wine and beer but if you would like something special or extra, bring it and we will pack it along)
  • Day 1 dinner in town. Sample the local fare—you’ll have options from fine dining to fast food within walking distance of the hotel, before or after our 7pm welcome meeting
  • 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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Day 1 Arrival in Sept Iles and welcome meeting

Your guides will pick you up at the airport (they’ll be wearing Boreal River t-shirts). We’ll drive you to the hotel. You can wander around the harbor and town and make it back for the 7:00pm briefing where you’ll meet the group, we’ll have a welcome cocktail and snack, and we’ll give you your drybags to pack for the next day.

We’ll provide you with dinner recommendations. Within walking distance of the hotel you can choose between awesome pub fare with Quebec microbrew beers, higher end steaks and seafood (lobster, crab, scallops, or shrimp are all fished locally), or the Quebec chip stand classic: poutine and milkshakes…or you can even order in!

Day 2 – Fly to Lake Magpie and start trip

This morning we’ll get an early start, driving along the coast for up to an hour and a half to our aircraft. Most trips use helicopters but small groups may fly on float planes. Both are amazing experiences! You’ll get a true sense of the immense wilderness as you fly over lakes, rivers, steep cliffs, forested valleys, and barren hill-tops.

Lake Magpie is 100km (60 miles) long and luckily we start at it’s southern tip, just meters from the river’s start. Before getting on the water you’ll learn about river safety. Then on the flat water we practice strokes and maneuvers before floating into the first rapid—where the whitewater fun begins!

Today we go a short distance, stopping to make camp after a few rapids. The scenery changes several times throughout the trip and this first section coming out of the lake is both spectacular and unique for it’s steep hills and the mix of boreal forest with tundra-like open areas.

As we set up camp for the first time, we’ll show you how everything works. The guides can show you how to set up your tent; how the toilet works; our hand washing system; and the kitchen layout. Once settled in, there should be time to get to know the river. This is usually a good spot for an optional ‘swim through’ in one of the rapids. We can also go for a 15 minute hike to the nearby hilltop for an aerial perspective

Days 3 to 5 – The river life: running the river and wilderness camping

Each morning, the guides rise early to get coffee, tea, and fruit ready followed by breakfast. After breakfast, we ‘take down’ camp and pack up.

On the river, you’ll be delighted by how continuous the current is. 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.

In the rafts we paddle as a team, improving our technique and co-ordination and building confidence.

With the inflatable kayaks, shortly after hopping aboard, you’ll be maneuvering the stable boats on your own, charging down rapids and surfing waves. Guides lead the way in safety kayaks and are always nearby.

We’ll get to a few rapids that are too big and steep to paddle down. We can ‘line’ (guide our boats with ropes from shore) or do short portages to get around these.

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. We’ll scan the river banks for tracks of moose, wolves, lynx, and bear and look out for Osprey nests.

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.

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.

One of the greatest things about a river trip is how the group comes together. By day we work as a team to paddle the rapids and safely work through the obstacles along the way. At camp, with the leadership of the guides, everybody plays a part in making for a great trip. Every group is different because of the variety of people and experiences that come together. But we always share highs and challenges; moments of laughter and calm; and adventures that make for lasting memories and shared bonds.

Days 6 & 7  – Big whitewater and stunning falls

All of the whitewater practice and teamwork get put to use on day 6 as we get to the biggest rapids on the river including ‘Chute des Femmes’, ‘Trust Falls’, and ‘Borealis’. These are fun and big!

Once we are through this section, our trip shifts from paddling whitewater to witnessing awe-inspiring falls and campsites. At Magpie Gorge, the river thunders through a canyon and tumbles over a series of dramatic drops.

We camp overlooking the gorge—this makes for a world class setting to enjoy our last evening and morning in the wilderness. There are a couple of hikes that we can do to gain different vantage points and take in the beauty and power of the river.

We fly out most rafts and equipment by helicopter or float plane so we don't have to portage them around these big obstacles.

On our last morning, a forest path and a short paddle across a lake takes us to another spectacular location: the stunning 100-foot Magpie falls. A beautiful mossy trail takes us to a breathtaking rest spot amongst giant water-sculpted boulders at the edge of the drop.

We’ll stop here to explore and rest by the falls. We’ll have lunch and try to capture some photos of this incredible place.

From here, a short float and paddle takes us to the coastal highway. We’ll transport everybody by road back to the hotel in Sept Iles. It is about an hour and twenty minute drive and we’ll make a quick stop in a seaside village along the way for souvenirs (cloudberry jam is a big hit).

You’ll have time to shower and get adjust back to ‘civilization’ before we meet for dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Day 8 – Good-bye’s and airport drop-off

After breakfast, we’ll drive you to the airport for your flight home. Alternatively, you can stay in the region to continue your adventure…

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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 we may experience any combination of strange weather. Bring along a full set of ‘river clothes’ as well as a full set of ‘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.

Avoid cotton as it dries slowly and doesn’t insulate.

Please follow the packing list closely. Let us know if you have any questions as you get ready for your trip.

Equipment that we will provide for you:

  • 3-season, expedition tent. If you are in a couple or if you request to share with a family member or friend, we’ll provide you a 2-person tent. Otherwise, we’ll provide you with your own tent. Our tents are high quality and lightweight such as this one: https://www.msrgear.com/ca/tents/backpacking-tents/hubba-hubba-nx
  •  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 equipment such as cooking and eating utensils, dishes, group shelters, camp chairs, etc.

Your packing list

For the river

  • 1 pair of closed-toe shoes for the river. The ideal river shoe is lightweight and drains but is supportive and grippy enough for walking on rocky and uneven terrain. Lightweight running shoes or trail running shoes work best.
  • 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.
  • Long-sleeved medium-weight fleece top or neoprene top
  • Thick fleece sweater
  • Thick fleece pants

For camp

  • Three-season sleeping bag, rated to 0°c / 32°f or below. You can rent a high quality, packable, and warm sleeping bag from us for $55 CAD
  • Inflatable camping mattress. You can rent a high-end inflatable mattress from us that is both comfortable and lightweight such as this one for $45 CAD
  • Pillow
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 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.
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Q. Where and when do we meet?

A. We’ll pick you up at the airport in Sept Iles when you arrive on day 1. If you arrive on a previous day or are if you drive to Sept Iles, we’ll meet at the hotel—Chateau Arnaud 403 Avenue Arnaud, Sept-Îles, QC G4R 3A7— at 7pm.

Q. When is the trip over?

A. We’ll drive you to the airport on day 8 after breakfast. If you have a later flight, we’ll drive you anytime.

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 25% 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.  

90+ days: full refund less 100 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.

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Magpie River Adventure arrival meeting: Sept Iles, Quebec. Day 1 of your trip.

 

Where is Quebec's Magpie River Map

Travelling by air

Air Canada, Provincial Airlines, and Air Labrador offer daily flights to Sept-Iles connecting through Montreal and Quebec City.

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 9.5 hours of driving time from Quebec City to Sept Iles. 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.  

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 Sept Iles.

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

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

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 Sept Iles. 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. 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