Kayaking In Parc national de la Jacques‑Cartier


We knew when researching what to do in Quebec we wanted something outdoorsy. We love our national parks so why not look at Canadian national parks? We found that Parc national de la Jacques‑Cartier was not far from Quebec City and offered various outdoor activities. The hiking looked amazing, but not everyone in our group was dedicated to 6 miles of hiking. The next option was a scenic kayak ride along the river. Everyone decided this sounded like the best option. The day before we called to reserve 4 double kayaks and book the reservation for the scenic easy trip. The person on the phone spoke decent English, so making the reservation went smoothly. (Or so we thought…)

“O Canada! Where pines and maples grow. Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow.”

We arrived one hour prior to our booked reservation. It was a short drive from the entrance gate of the park to the visitor center, where we were meeting for the kayak trip. We were rewarded with amazing views right at the visitor center. At check-in, Cory noticed that they had us down for the “intermédiaire” (intermediate) kayak trip that was labeled as “difficile” (difficult). It had various technical aspects and even had 4 class I to III rapids. Our group was prepared for a scenic easy kayak trip, so we were slightly panicked. Cory and I have kayaked rivers before so we knew how to handle a kayak, but we have never been on rapids that had a classification. The guide at the front desk reassured us that it’s not “that bad” and he even said it would be “funnier” than the scenic kayak trip. We assumed he meant more fun, but looking back he may have meant that it would be funnier to watch these inexperienced Americans go down the river…

“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The kayak trip required us to wear a wet suit since the water was below 15 degrees Celsius and it was included in the price of the rental. We boarded a school bus to get to the drop off point and before getting on we were given general instructions on how to maneuver the river. They gave a separate talk in English for some of the people who didn’t speak French there (like us). The bus ride takes about 25 minutes to get up the dirt road and along the way the guide pointed out things of interest about the river and the park in general. He was mostly speaking French while pointing out all of this stuff, but would then translate it to English. One part in the bus ride he was describing one of the rapids in French and then said “In English, good luck.” Everyone laughed, expect those of us that spoke English. We were pretty nervous by this point!

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