Belugas, Bears & Summer Wildlife of Churchill

© Alex de Vries
Come Eye to Eye with Friendly Beluga Whales on a Canadian Arctic Safari
Few of nature’s marvels match the intense aliveness of an Arctic summer. In a region that's frozen, still and dark for much of the year, the Canadian Northland awakens with a frenzy of energy during these long days when the tundra turns green, wildflowers burst into color, animals come forth in great flocks and herds, and belugas return for their summer feasting. More than 3,000 of these amiable white whales congregate at the mouth of the Churchill River, and our motorized rafts and kayaks put us at eye level with these often-curious cetaceans. On the surrounding tundra, look for terrestrial wildlife—including from a scenic helicopter air tour! We frequently spot polar bears roving or dozing on the banks, their creamy coats contrasting with the rocky shoreline and dark boreal forest. With the remote yet easily accessible town of Churchill as our base on Hudson Bay, we are surrounded by the flurry of natural wonders a northern summer provides.
Polar bear on Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Eddy Savage
Polar bear on Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Young red fox, Churchill, Manitoba.
Alex DeVries
Young red fox, Churchill, Manitoba.
Nat Hab guests photographing belugas at Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Lin Adler
Nat Hab guests photographing belugas at Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Beluga whales at Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Lin Adler
Beluga whales at Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Polar bear and wildflowers, Churchill, Manitoba.
Michael Poliza
Polar bear and wildflowers, Churchill, Manitoba.
Inukshuk at sunset, Churchill, Manitoba.
Alex DeVries
Inukshuk at sunset, Churchill, Manitoba.
Beluga whale pod, Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Michael Poliza
Beluga whale pod, Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Nat Hab guest watching beluga whales, Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Moira Le Patourel
Nat Hab guest watching beluga whales, Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Wildflowers by the Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Alex DeVries
Wildflowers by the Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.
Northern lights above Inukshuk, Churchill, Manitoba.
Eddy Savage
Northern lights above Inukshuk, Churchill, Manitoba.

Trip Highlights

See & Hear Dozens of Beluga Whales Up Close

More than 3,000 beluga whales enter the Churchill River each summer—come within arm's reach on four different outings by Zodiac and kayak, and listen to their songs via hydrophone

Search for Polar Bears & Caribou by Helicopter

Look for roving polar bears and caribou on a scenic flight over the tundra and taiga forest—the only way to survey the vast expanse of this roadless wilderness on Hudson Bay

Take a Tundra Safari & Ride Behind Sled Dogs

By Polar Rover, search for polar bears, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl and ptarmigan against a wildflower backdrop, and take a cart ride with a local musher and his dog team

Photo Departures Available

Capture exhilarating images of Churchill’s summer wildlife and tundra wildflowers during this nature photography intensive on the edge of Hudson Bay. Photograph hundreds of beluga whales in the Churchill River, and take a private helicopter flight to get shots of roving polar bears from the air. Our Expedition Leader is an expert nature photographer and instructor, offering personalized coaching and augmenting your learning with evening lectures on Arctic wildlife and landscape photography. With just 14 guests aboard vehicles designed for 30+, everyone has a window seat, plenty of space for gear, and room to position for the best shots.
View Photo Itinerary

Why Choose Churchill for Your Arctic Summer Adventure?

Churchill may be best known for its autumn polar bear tours. But summer here is a whole different discovery, filled with energy, beauty, wildlife, wildflowers, and all sorts of surprises! If you're looking for a northern nature adventure off the typical track, Churchill delivers. More than one tour operator offers summer trips in the Churchill area. We’re confident ours is a cut above the rest, with elements you won't find elsewhere. Here’s what you can expect when you discover a Churchill summer with Nat Hab:

  1. Small Groups for Better Wildlife Viewing
    With no more than 14 guests, you can expect low-impact wildlife encounters and plenty of personal interaction with our Expedition Leader. And we split our small group in half when we travel by Zodiac to see the belugas, for the most intimate encounters. 
  2. Private Zodiac Excursions Among the Whales
    We use our own private motorized rafts, chartered from Churchill’s highest-quality and most reliable boat company, to visit belugas in the mouth of the Churchill River—with no more than seven passengers per boat. This ensures clear viewing, easy photography access, and a flexible timetable.
  3. Listen to Belugas by Hydrophone
    Belugas are delightfully vocal whales. And while it is thrilling to see them up close, our experience is enhanced by the chance to hear them as well. Most boat excursions don’t offer the opportunity to listen in with hydrophones—but we do!
  4. Kayak with the Pod
    When the tides are right, we offer the chance to kayak among the belugas—an up-close encounter in solitude that's broken only by the splash of your paddle and the whales' inquisitive interactions as they approach your boat.
  5. Take a Ride Behind Local Sled Dogs
    Just because it's not winter doesn't mean you can't have an authentic sled dog encounter! We meet a local musher to learn all about this historic form of northern transportation and recreation, then take a ride behind his enthusiastic team as they pull us in a wheeled cart.
  6. Exclusive Summer Access to the Churchill Wildlife Management Area
    We're one of just two tour operators in Churchill with an exclusive permit to access the full range of the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) via our Polar Rover tundra vehicle during the summer. This is where we may see polar bears, Arctic fox and other northern wildlife. Other operators use school-bus vehicles and can only drive along the road to Halfway Point, which is, as the name implies, just halfway to the best wildlife-viewing area. You’ve come all the way to Churchill to see wildlife…why not make sure you have the best chance to do so?
  7. Northern Lights? The Odds May Be Good!
    Located directly beneath the Van Allen Belt, a band of energy-charged particles that wraps the earth's polar regions, Churchill is one of the best places on Earth to see the aurora borealis. Originating in solar flares, these particles are carried by solar wind, becoming trapped in Earth’s magnetic field to create the phenomenon of the northern lights. As days get shorter toward summer's end, our chances increase to witness the lights in a darkening night sky.
  8. Cultural Interactions with Local Residents
    Through years of developing close relationships with local people, we are able to offer our guests the exclusive opportunity to meet revered elders of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis cultures in Churchill. These Indigenous storytellers are some of the last of their generation in their communities, sharing their knowledge of past and present with our travelers.
  9. The Finest Naturalist Guides on the Planet
    Natural Habitat Adventures is known worldwide for employing the highest-quality guides in the industry. Our Churchill Expedition Leaders have been guiding tours in this region for an average of more than 10 years. And they receive additional training and resources from WWF’s top scientists, ensuring the best interpretive experience available. Expedition Leaders meet each guest in Winnipeg and travel with the group the entire way, sharing their knowledge and insight at every turn. Our philosophy is pretty simple: a nature adventure is only as good as the guide, so we simply must provide the best! See Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
  10. Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Superior North Country Experience
    Natural Habitat Adventures offers an exclusive guarantee, clearly stating that we will meet the lofty expectations we set in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
  11. Feel Good About Your Carbon-Neutral Journey
    We care deeply about our planet, as we know you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset—including your round-trip flights from home. Natural Habitat Adventures has been the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company since 2007.
  12. Natural Habitat Adventures is WWF's Travel Partner
    Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat Adventures as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!

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