The roads snake north of Charlevoix, but they all spread into dozens of detours as they edge a deeply forested, craggy cleft that tears into the heart of this province: the Rivière Saguenay fjord. Overlooking its deep blue waters are windblown, lichen-and-pine studded cliffs that stretch some 500m high. Formed during the last Ice Age, the fjord is the most southerly one in the northern hemisphere. As deep as 270m in some places, the riverbed rises to a depth of only 20m at the fjord's mouth at Tadoussac.
This makes the relatively warm, fresh waters of the Saguenay jet out atop the frigid, salt waters of the St Lawrence, leading to massive volumes of krill, which in turn attract the visitor highlight of the region: whales. They and the entire waterway now enjoy protected status.