Stay on the Tundra Among the Bears—and in the Northern Frontier Town of Churchill
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the historic Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this prestigious landmark has long been a symbol of genteel elegance in the heart of Manitoba's capital, which was once a fur-trading post and railway boomtown. This evening, we meet for a welcome dinner and orientation with our Expedition Leader.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Churchill / Tundra Lodge
Take a chartered flight to Churchill this morning, where we board a custom-designed Polar Rover vehicle for our transfer to the Tundra Lodge. As we drive out of town, watch for Arctic wildlife against the vast, wide-open landscape—we may even be able to get our very first polar bear shots en route! Once we reach our tundra outpost, we'll have a presentation on polar bears by one of our naturalist Expedition Leaders, providing an enlightening introduction to our northern adventure. As dinner is served in the Tundra Lodge dining room, keep your camera ready—we may see polar bears wandering right outside the windows!
Day 3: Tundra Lodge—Polar Bear Viewing
The Tundra Lodge is strategically positioned at the beginning of each season in the best area for bear viewing near the edge of Hudson Bay. Inquisitive bears often approach the lodge, which features rows of windows and safe outdoor observation decks to accommodate our own curiosity. As we watch the bears interact, we're delighted by their antics and rugged beauty. We may see protective mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, and solitary individuals patrolling the tundra as they wait for the ice to form on the bay, signaling the start of their winter seal-hunting season.
The unique location of the Tundra Lodge, combined with excursions in our special all-terrain tundra vehicles called Polar Rovers, affords lodge guests the best possible wildlife encounters in the region. The small spit of land where the lodge is located often attracts the most bears in the entire area. We typically divide the group for activities so that each guest enjoys a half-day trip on the tundra, complemented by a half day of viewing bears from the lodge. In addition to polar bears, we may also spot caribou, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl
At the end of an exhilarating day, we retire to our cozy accommodations for dinner and a naturalist presentation. In the light cast by the lodge across the frozen tundra, look for the illuminated eyes of animals that roam near us after dark. And if we are fortunate to have a clear night and good luck, we may see the North’s spectacular aurora borealis light show after darkness descends—Churchill has some of the world’s most concentrated northern lights activity.
Day 4: Exploring Churchill
Today we depart the Tundra Lodge on a morning drive across the tundra back to Churchill. This remote hamlet was once an important Hudson's Bay Company trading post, and our comprehensive tour of the town and environs includes cultural activities that highlight the frontier history and indigenous heritage of the area. There will be time to wander the few blocks that comprise "downtown," with a chance to pick up some souvenirs and Arctic handicrafts from the local shops. Later this afternoon we check into our hotel. We'll have dinner at a restaurant in town, followed by an evening cultural presentation.
Day 5: Polar Bear Viewing
We head out onto the tundra this morning for a full day of nature and wildlife observation. Traveling aboard our custom Polar Rover, we scout for polar bears and other Arctic animals. Our vehicles are the newest and best in Churchill, with huge picture windows, a slanted front windshield that allows us to look down on bears that may wander in front of us, and best of all, a steel-mesh grated observation deck on the back—bears sometimes wander directly below, and we are able to come safely within inches of them! Our heated vehicles are large and comfortable, and while they can accommodate 30 or 40 passengers, we hold our numbers to 16 or fewer, so everyone has a window seat and plenty of room to spread out and get terrific photos.
Day 6: Sled Dog Excursion / Winnipeg
This morning we learn about a distinctly northern pastime: dog sledding. We'll meet a local musher and hear all about this traditional means of Arctic transportation, interacting with the lively dog team as we learn about their care and training. Then we take turns enjoying an exhilarating ride as the dogs whisk us down a trail through the boreal forest. Depending on flight schedules, there may also be time for an optional helicopter tour over the tundra—a great chance to spy polar bears from the air. We'll enjoy a farewell lunch together in Churchill before our return flight to Winnipeg, followed by a reception and final night at the Fort Garry Hotel.
Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
[Please note: the November 17 departure will run in reverse in Churchill. The group will spend two nights in the town of Churchill and then two nights at the Tundra Lodge.]
Physical Rating: Easy
Check out more details on the ebbs and flows of the Churchill polar bear viewing season.