Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the Fort Garry Hotel, built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The French-style chateau is still the grande dame of Winnipeg, offering first-class hospitality. Meet your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner on this first evening of your Arctic tour.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Train to Churchill
Today we explore Winnipeg’s history and natural environs, including FortWhyte Alive, featuring 640 acres of lakes, forest, marsh, meadow, farmland, and a 70-acre bison prairie. Here, we take a step back in time and paddle a North West Company voyageur canoe on Muir Lake. We'll also enjoy a birdwatching outing among the park's rich wetlands. Depending on the train schedule, we'll board the Hudson Bay passenger train to Churchill around lunchtime.
Day 3: Train to Churchill
Traveling northward, southern prairies give way to dense boreal forest. We disembark to explore the surrounding subarctic environs and enjoy lunch by the lake before continuing by rail to the edge of the tundra. The train is relaxing and comfortable, and each cabin has its own toilet, sink and large windows, offering a broad vista of the changing ecosystems.
Days 4-7: Churchill
Early in the morning, we arrive in the small northern outpost of Churchill, gateway to the Arctic, with four full days of adventure ahead. Our activities include two Zodiac trips to see belugas in the Churchill River. More than 3,000 of these wondrous white whales spend the summer in the region, and our motorized rafts put us at eye-level with them. With their unusual ability to turn their heads from side to side, they appear to be as curious about us as we are about them. Through the use of a hydrophone on board, we can even listen to their otherworldly songs. Few wildlife encounters offer as intimate a perspective as this one.
We’ll also take a larger vessel across the river to Prince of Wales Fort, established by Danish explorer Jens Monk in 1619, and where the Hudson’s Bay Company built one of its original fur-trading posts. Churchill became a stopover point for explorers searching for the fabled Northwest Passage and was instrumental in the opening of the Canadian West. A unique polar rover conveys us to a point near Hudson Bay, where we enjoy an outdoor cookout while watching for wildlife here at the interface of the boreal forest and tundra. We may see caribou with calves, snowy owls, Arctic fox and ptarmigan, and we may even spot polar bears. At this time of year, it is not uncommon to find mothers with cubs. The Churchill area also has plenty of walking trails that line the border of the northern boreal forest and southern tundra. This nexus of ecosystems is home to a variety of flora and fauna which we'll encounter on our short walks.
Day 8: Churchill / Winnipeg
Your morning is free to wander Churchill's main street, where several locally owned shops offer Native handicrafts from Inuit wall-hangings to caribou fur sculptures. We then transfer to the airport for our return flight to Winnipeg. This evening we gather over a farewell dinner one last time, reveling in the memories we've made over the past week.
Day 9: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, our Arctic summer tour comes to a close as we transfer to the airport for flights home.
Train timetables are unconfirmed until shortly before each departure. Changes to train schedules may affect our itinerary on Days 2-4.
On our July 14, 2016 departures, we do not take the train to Churchill. Instead, we fly to Churchill mid-morning on Day 2. If our flight schedule permits, on this morning we visit the acclaimed Manitoba Museum, renowned for its exhibits on the human and natural heritage of the province, including the history of northern Native cultures. The total trip length for these departures is 7 days. The Churchill inclusions and activities are identical to our regular itinerary. Please note that we will not visit FortWhyte Alive on this departure.
Snorkel and Kayak with Belugas
We have arranged an optional opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to snorkel or sea kayak among dozens of beluga whales. Please note that these options are highly dependent on weather and tides. Contact an Adventure Specialist for details.