• Danik Bates

Tales from Newfoundland: A tour of the Western Brook Pond

Updated: May 7

Yes, I have done a tour on a pond. But pond’s are not big you say? Well, in Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost province, a pond is their word for lake and one particular pond I came across was the Western Brook Pond, located on the western edge of the Gros Morne National Park.

To be honest, it’s actually a fjord. However this is one fjord which has been on my ‘bucket list’ for a while and when in Newfoundland, it just had to be ticked off. I booked my ticket in advance as during the ‘tourist season’ (which runs from July to August due to the weather around these parts), and collected them from their ticket booth located in Ocean View Hotel in Rocky Harbor, located about twenty minute drive south of Western Pond. It is easier to book or collect tickets from here, as I was told that the credit card machine might not work at Western Brook Pond due to its location and connecting the machine to a server.

Starting early from my hotel in Rocky Harbor, I drove twenty minutes north on route 430 until I saw a signpost on the right hand sign saying ‘Western Brook Pond’. If visitors are running late and have to drive to this location, don’t speed. There are moose and bears lurking in the trees but I didn’t see any that morning. It was a splendid drive with the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to my left and the mountains appearing above the forests to the right. After parking up I can tell you that the toilet block here came in very handy. After this point, it will take forty-five minutes to an hour to walk to Western Brook Pond.

It’s a strange pond (or lake) or even fjord. This is because this is the only fjord I have come across in the world which isn’t connected to the sea. I was walking past mini ponds between the sea and the fjord. The scenery around here is flat but beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, the walk is very pleasant on the gravel track, with no sounds apart from birds in the trees nearby.

I arrived at the pond to see a huge crowd of people got here even earlier than me to get the best places on the boat. The boats were small, two storeys high in both and everyone wanted the top deck (as there were limited seating). I can’t be bothered to play that game anymore and make sure I had a nice cup of tea from the cafe here (and an emergency toilet stop just in case the water got rough during the boat tour). It was first thing in the morning, a hike was done, nature was cooling and I had cups of tea. What more could make me happy….

Well, this ...the view of the opening of the fjord. What a sight! I for sure had trouble thinking of ways of describing this scene but it was simply stunning! On the boat I met the two tour guides providing the commentary. A fantastic guy in his forties (I am guessing) who put so much energy when it came to describing stuff along the route and providing information. He would make a great soccer stadium announcer. The young lady did all the French (Quebec-dialect) language to which I understood and was trying to translate some words from their dialect to the French spoken in France. It was all a learning curve. Still the two tour guides made the announcements very enjoyable to listen to.

The views were simply amazing as the boat rode into the heart of the fjord. This has to be one boat tour I won’t forget in a hurry, the dramatic settings made sure of that. The boat rode all sixteen kilometers of the lake to the eastern end (which has a depth of 165 meters) and not for one second did I take my eye off the views. I saw waterfalls cascading down from 2000 feet, one of which is named Pissing Mare Falls (which I couldn’t stop giggling about). I tried to spot the fish here ranging from Atlantic Salmon, Arctic Char and Brook Trout. Did I see the colony of cliff nesting gulls, I did not.

After a while the boat reached the eastern end of the fjord where the boat dropped off a few hikers who were going to hike for a few days to reach the summit of the mountain called Gros Morne (to which the national park is named after). Good luck to them, they had to defend themselves. No toilets, no shops, no nothing. Just forest where the bears and moose like to play.


Arriving back after my two hour tour I decided to have some food before the hike back to the car. They had a good barbecue outside the cafe and had some of the finest hot dogs I have ever had.

Check out my blog post on the different landscapes of Newfoundland here

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