A Winter Adventure in Churchill, Canada—One of the Best Places to See the Aurora Borealis!
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 chateau-style hotel remains the grande dame of Canada's prairie capital, offering first-class hospitality. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Tundra Train
In preparation for our northern lights encounters, we attend a planetarium program at the Manitoba Museum focusing on the science of the aurora borealis. We'll also tour exhibits reflecting the human and natural heritage of the province, including the history of Canada's northern indigenous cultures. Contingent on the train schedule, we board the Hudson Bay Railway to Churchill around lunchtime. As darkness falls, make your way to the train’s new glass-domed observation car for possible sightings of the northern lights from this panoramic indoor vantage that allows you to gaze straight up into the sky.
Day 3: Travel to Churchill by Rail
Continuing northward on the train, we leave the southern prairies behind and enter the landscape of the subarctic. Throughout the day, enjoy the fishbowl view of the wild expanse beyond as you relax in the domed observation car. Plains transition to dense
boreal forest, also called taiga, the coniferous zone that circles the planet beneath the Arctic Circle and comprises one-third of the earth’s forests. This morning, we disembark for several hours, with time to eat lunch in town and explore the frozen waterfall at Pisew Falls Park. Back on board this afternoon, watch stunted spruce trees and boggy muskeg give way to frozen tundra as we continue toward Churchill, a frontier town on the edge of Hudson Bay. The “Tundra Train” is relaxing and comfortable, and each cabin has its own private bathroom. At night, we may get a preview of the northern lights outside the large individual windows of our sleeper cabins, and from the observation car.
Days 4–6: Churchill—History, Culture, Nature & Aurora Viewing
On arrival in Churchill, transfer to our hotel and take a brief tour of this historic northern outpost town. The Hudson’s Bay Company established a fort here in 1717 as part of its fur-trading network across the Canadian North, but indigenous cultures had already been flourishing here amid the harsh Arctic climate for thousands of years. We explore Churchill's heritage and traditions on a visit to a local dog musher, enjoying a dog sled ride through the boreal forest; at the Eskimo Museum; and through cultural programs featuring the arts and traditions of the Inuit, Dene and Metis peoples. Outside town, our Expedition Leader introduces us to northern ecology and the stark yet alluring winter landscape.
As night falls, we await nature’s magic: the spectacle of the aurora borealis, the legendary northern lights. Each evening holds an opportunity to witness the phenomenon in warmth and comfort. Our custom-designed Aurora Pod® features 360-degree views of the sky, courtesy of its exclusive geometric glass construction. Another view on
the lights happens in Plexiglass Aurora Domes positioned outside town in complete darkness. Relax on the sofas below, or climb the ladder to the upper level for an unimpeded circular view of the heavens.
Often, the aurora begins as a white glow low in the sky that slowly starts to shift and undulate. Wavy patterns evolve, colors appear and change, until the lights look like shimmering curtains of green. Sometimes, we even see yellow, red or purple tones. For centuries, the phenomenon of the northern lights was a mystery, inspiring a host of mythical explanations. While we now know that the aurora is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field, more poetic stories of their origin linger, including the Hudson Bay Inuit’s belief that the lights are the ethereal display of their ancestors' souls dancing in the sky. Of course, since the lights are a natural phenomenon, we are never guaranteed to see them, but Churchill has some of the most frequent and intense auroral activity on the planet...meaning our odds are very good!
Day 7: Churchill / Winnipeg
The morning is free to wander Churchill’s main street, where several locally owned shops offer authentic local handicrafts from traditional mukluks to caribou-hair
sculptures. We then transfer to the airport for our flight back to Winnipeg. This evening we'll gather one last time for a farewell dinner.
Day 8: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, our northern lights tour comes to a close as we transfer to the airport for flights home.
Please note: Specific timing on all of our activities in Churchill is flexible to accommodate varying weather conditions.
On the Feb. 1, Feb. 22, Mar. 1 and Mar 15 departures, we do not take the train to Churchill. Instead, we fly to Churchill on Day 2. The total length of this trip departure is 7 days with 4 nights in Churchill. View that itinerary here
Physical Rating: Moderate