Churchill: Polar Bears
Journey to Churchill, the "Polar Bear capital of the world" and view at close range an astounding concentration of polar bears in their natural environment.
The Arctic's most magnificent animals gather along the western shores of Hudson's Bay from mid-October to early November, near the town of Churchill to await the freezing of the ice to begin their annual seal hunt. They are viewed from the safety and comfort of specially designed Tundra Buggies that travel through a sub-Arctic wonderland. Passengers open windows or stand above the bears on an outside observation deck to photograph females with cubs, young bears sparring and majestic mature males.
Other wildlife often encountered include Arctic and Red fox, ptarmigan, hare and snowy owls. Our tour combines wildlife viewing with cultural history. Slide shows and interpretive field excursions will be conducted by local naturalists. Churchill is also a centre for Aurora Borealis viewing. With any luck we might observe this spectacle of light. Our polar bear tours are both popular and rewarding. We suggest early registration.
2017 Departure Dates & Costs
OCTOBER 17 to 22, 2017
Tour Cost until January 31, 2017: $4,670CAD / $ 3,730 USD plus 5 % gst per person with air included Winnipeg/Churchill return
Single supplements available on limited and first-come basis: $550 CAD / $440 USD
Deposit: $ 1,200 per person
Second deposit due June 1: $ 800 per person Final Payment due July 10, 2017
EARLY BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL
Departure city: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Maximum group size: 16 persons
July & August departures are also offered: experience whales, birds, caribou and other wildlife found in the fauna rich Churchill area
October 17: WINNIPEG ARRIVAL
Arrival in Winnipeg on own to enjoy some of Winnipeg’s attractions such as the museum, the Forks historic area and the Exchange district. Overnight Country Inn at the airport.
October 18: FLIGHT WINNIPEG/CHURCHILL - ROADS & TRAILS (CB, L)
Continental breakfast at hotel. Taxi to the airport (5 minutes) for the morning flight to Churchill.
Calm Air 549 07:20 am - WINNIPEG 10:15 - CHURCHILL (flight time tbc)
When you arrive in Churchill, you will be picked up at the airport (luggage to be transferred to the hotel) for a day of “roads and trails” with a local naturalist. The activities and areas will depend on weather and wildlife. We may venture to a section of Boreal forest to see the transition of the Boreal forest to the tundra through the taiga. Other areas of interest include the Hudson’s Bay shoreline, the area beaches with their Pre-Cambrian rocks and fossils and Goose Creek. We will observe birds and wildlife enroute. We will look out for wildlife in the various habitats – moose, birds, Arctic and red fox, lemmings, Arctic hare and with any luck polar bear. Lunch included. Drop off at the Polar Inn. Dinner on own. A list of nearby restaurants will be provided. 3 nights Polar Inn
Aurora Borealis alert. Churchill is one of the best places to observe the Aurora Borealis.
October 19: TUNDRA VEHICLE/POLAR BEAR VIEWING (CB,L)
6:30 am Continental breakfast at the Polar Inn (some hot items are included as well)
Tundra Rover full day: 7:30 am pick up from the Polar Inn and departure to the tundra where we board specially designed six wheel drive tundra vehicles ideal for regional travel. The buggy is heated, has its own washroom and observation platform outside. Passengers should layer your clothes as it can get cold in the buggy when the windows are opened for photographs or when standing outside on the observation platform. Often curious polar bears approach the vehicles providing wonderful close range encounters and excellent photographic opportunities. We will also look for other wildlife including foxes, lemmings, ptarmigans, snowy owls and white-phase Gyrfalcons. Lunch included. Return to the hotel by approximately 5pm. Dinner on own.
October 20: 2nd day on the TUNDRA VEHICLE (CB,L)
6:30am Continental breakfast. 7:30am pickup. Another full day out on the Tundra as described on October 20.
October 21: CHURCHILL TOWN & DOG SLEDDDING (CB)
Morning continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. And some time at leisure.
We will provide a map and a list of places that can be visited on a self-guided basis. Everything in the town is within walking distance of the hotel. Of the attractions in town we highly recommend a visit to the Parks Canada Interpretation Centre which has exhibits, information and audio-visual presentations on Natural History and Human Settlement in the area. This is also open in the evening. Essential also is the “Eskimo Museum” housing the finest collection of Inuit carvings and artifacts. Don’t forget a quick visit to the post office where you can get your passport stamped with their special stamp to commemorate your trip to Churchill. There are several small stores and galleries to shop for Inuit crafts and Arctic memorabilia. Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon, you will be picked up at from the Polar Inn lobby and take you to an area just outside of town for a dog sledding adventure. Here you will be introduced to the northern way of life where dogs have historically played a prominent role and you will also experience what it’s like to be pulled by a team of dogs. With any luck you may also experience sightings of some of the local wildlife such as Arctic fox, Arctic hare, Whiskey Jacks, Ptarmigans, etc.
Return to the Polar Inn to retrieve luggage and transfer to the airport for the departure flight.
Evening flight to Winnipeg. Calm Air 6:30 pm/9:00 pm. Overnight at the Country Inn.
October 22: Departure (CB)
Breakfast at the hotel and onward to your next adventure.
Please note: The itinerary may be changed due to weather, movement of wildlife and unforeseen situations! Be prepared for flexibility in the sub-arctic!
* 2 nights accommodation in Winnipeg and 3 nights in Churchill
* Return airfare Winnipeg/Churchill/Winnipeg
* Meals indicated in the itinerary: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner
* 2 full day excursions in comfortable, heated Tundra vehicles with driver/guide
* Dog sledding
* Escorted roads & trails excursion by naturalist guide
* Hotel taxes
Maximum group size 16 persons
Not Included: 5% gst and items of a personal nature.
The world's largest Polar Bear denning area lies just 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Churchill. The area has been protected as the newly designated Wapusk National Park. There is no road access into the park, nor or there any future plans to build roads into this area. In July the polar bears return here after spending the winter feeding on offshore ice floes. At this time of the year, the bears are viewed by helicopter, although may also be seen in the water and on the land. Males and non-pregnant females return to the ice as soon as it freezes again in late October/early November. Close to this time, the bears migrate north, close to town and to Cape Churchill and the areas that the ice first freezes. During this time of the year, polar bears can be seen from specially designed Tundra vehicles or by helicopter. Pregnant females den over winter and the new cubs are born in December.
Churchill has one of the Arctic's highest intensity of Aurora activity. The best months for Aurora Borealis viewing are from September to April.
The area has over 300 years of native culture. The first natives were nomadic, moving through the area to hunt Ringed Seal and Caribou. The first Europeans came through in search of a trading route through the Northwest Passage to China. The Hudson's Bay established a trading post here in 1717. Churchill was the site of the first Astronomical observatory in 1769 and continues to be house an important North American space observatory. The railroad came to Churchill in the 1700's as the Prairie Provinces established a link to ship grain. The Parks Canada Information Centre and the Eskimo Museum are two sources to delve into the interesting history of the area.
Accommodation in Churchill are in comfortable three star hotel the Polar Inn. The tour prices are based on twin occupancy. On request, single travelers may be matched with a suitable roommate. A limited number of single rooms are available on request. The single supplement cost is not included in the tour cost.
The fall is the season to expect to see polar bears. At times as many as 20 have been seen in a single day. Our groups often see Arctic fox, ptarmigan, gyrfalcon and caribou. The Tundra Buggies are specially designed vehicles capable of traveling over the Arctic terrain. These vehicles are heated although at times windows are might be pulled down for occasional photographs. In all likelihood, polar bears will be seen in close proximity as they approach our vehicles offering excellent photographic and viewing opportunities.
Breakfast and dinners are served at local restaurants in town. Lunches are served both as field lunches and in restaurants.
A variety of sightseeing tours are included in the price to enhance your polar bear viewing and Arctic experience. Group participants are transported in comfortable and heated vans and Tundra vehicles. Local guides accompany the trip.
What our clients say...
"Have just received your brochure re the "Polar Bear Adventure" which reminded us of the fantastic trip we did with your company back in October! We will never forget the train journey from Winnipeg, just fantastic despite being longer than expected due to unforeseen incidents. Churchill, the Tundra, all the Bears, fox, the Aurora, dog sledding just made for the most memorable trip. We recommend your company to anyone who talks about going that way….. ….we would join you again tomorrow if circumstances permitted, it was the best ever trip."
Maggie & Gary Cooper
"I'm sending you copies of 2 of my favourite polar bear shots from last October. My most favourite is the mother and cubs at rest..The other shot was a family that my English cousin, first spotted. They ended up coming right up top our buggy, to the point where I switched to a regular lense, and still had to try and back away to get them all in!"
"I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic time I had on the Churchill tour last week. It was everything I had hoped for it to be and more!...I am totally spoiled for any and all future tours! "
"Well that was certainly a trip I'd like to repeat sometime! Thank you very much for fine-tuning all the arrangements & for booking the naturalists. I enjoyed every minute, even in the helicopter!"