Come Eye to Eye with Amiable Belugas on Our Northern Canada Summer Adventure
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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 in Manitoba's capital. Meet your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner on this first evening of your Arctic summer adventure.
Day 2: Winnipeg—FortWhyte Alive & Manitoba Museum
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. Take a step back in time and paddle a North West Company voyageur canoe on Muir Lake. We'll also enjoy a birdwatching outing in the park's rich wetlands. This afternoon, continue to the acclaimed Manitoba Museum, with exhibits reflecting the natural and human heritage of the province. In addition to plenty of time to explore on your own, our program features “Inuit: People of the North,” a seminar designed to provide an understanding of the history and traditional lifestyles of these indigenous Arctic dwellers.
Day 3: Winnipeg / Churchill, Manitoba
This morning, we board our flight to the small northern outpost of Churchill, gateway to the Arctic. We’ll spend the day exploring this hospitable frontier town that was originally a Hudson's Bay Company fur trading post. During our tour of the community and its natural surroundings, we’ll walk a local trail through the boreal forest and visit Churchill's Eskimo Museum, with artifacts collected from centuries of local habitation. We’re likely to immerse in the Northern culture as well, as local individuals share stories about their traditions and daily lives. These captivating storytellers share tales from their personal histories and offer insight into the vibrant cultures that have flourished in this harsh environment for thousands of years.
Days 4–7: Exploring Churchill—Beluga Encounters & Wildlife Watching
We’ll spend four full days exploring the tundra and its surrounding waters from our home base along the shore of Hudson Bay. Our activities include two Zodiac trips to see the belugas that congregate in the mouth of the Churchill River, plus an opportunity to kayak among inquisitive whales that often nudge close to your paddle or follow in your human-powered wake. More than 3,000 of these small white whales spend the summer in the region, and our motorized rafts and kayaks 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, 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 custom Polar Rover vehicle conveys us over the tundra 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 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
Our return flight to Winnipeg is scheduled to depart in the evening. This offers ample time to explore Churchill’s environs today, including a chance walk main street, where several shops offer locally made handicrafts from Inuit-designed wall-hangings to caribou fur sculptures. We’ll meet a local dog sled musher and his team, spending time with the lively and affectionate dogs that are such an intrinsic part of winter life on the frozen tundra. And head out to the Northern Studies Center, where scientists are researching the Arctic environment, social issues and sustainable resource development on a fragile and extreme landscape. In the early evening, we'll gather for a farewell dinner, reveling in the memories we've made over the past week, before transferring to the airport for our flight to Winnipeg.
Day 9: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, our Arctic summer tour comes to a close as we transfer to the airport for flights home.
Optional Opportunity to Snorkel with Belugas:
We have arranged a special opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to snorkel among dozens of beluga whales. Please note that these excursions are highly dependent on weather and tides and may not be available on every trip. Contact an Adventure Specialist for details.