We recognize that most people who travel to witness the magic of Churchill's polar bears do so just once in their lives. For that reason, we promise that our guests will enjoy the highest quality polar bear adventure possible given the unpredictable nature of the polar bear season. Here's why.
We Hold Exclusive Permits for the Best Polar Bear Viewing Areas
Just two polar bear tour operators in Churchill have permits to access the full Churchill Wildlife Management Area where the best polar bear viewing occurs. Naturally, Nat Hab and our partner Great White Bear Tours hold one set of these coveted permits. Not only are we able to provide our guests the best wildlife-viewing experience, we travel in the best vehicles to accomplish it. Our custom-built Polar Rovers are designed to navigate the tundra and remote Hudson Bay shoreline to access the prime bear viewing and photography areas in comfort. In contrast, some operators use school-bus-style vehicles that travel the paved and gravel road system to Halfway Point, which, as the name suggests, is just halfway to the best viewing areas. If you’re going to Churchill only once in your life, we encourage you to choose the superior experience.
Our Polar Rovers are the Most Amazing Vehicles on the Planet! (or close, anyway)
The original tundra truck used for polar bear viewing was invented in the 1980s. It was a really cool concept that has been significantly improved upon since. Our partner in Manitoba—a world-renowned specialty vehicle designer—has created a superior vehicle called the Polar Rover, which we use on all our trips in Churchill. It's driven by a unique, cutting-edge drive train that allows us to safely traverse the tundra with virtually no chance of breakdown. Additionally, the heavy-duty suspension system created specifically for these vehicles ensures a more comfortable ride. Polar Rovers have flush toilets (not drop buckets, which tend to smell) and are fully heated for comfort. But the vehicles go way beyond comfort: they are impressively designed so every detail offers guests the closest polar bear encounters. Built into the rear viewing platform is a see-through steel-mesh floor that lets us come within mere inches of curious bears that may wander underneath. From inside, guests can view and photograph bears through elevated sliding windows that can be opened or closed in accordance with the action. And the huge front windshield is angled forward, allowing a panoramic downward view when a bear wanders in front of the vehicle.
The Smallest Groups Make for the Best Adventure
One of the most fundamental elements of a great nature expedition is a small group. Our guests get a more personalized experience, there's plenty of room to spread out and angle for photos (in fact, while our Rovers hold 30 or more, we limit our groups to 16), and our presence and overall impact on the natural environment is more muted. It may cost a little more to operate with fewer numbers, but we—and our guests—know it’s well worth it!
Private Chartered Planes Maximize Our Time with Bears
Your round-trip air transportation from Winnipeg to Churchill is included in the program fee. By chartering private aircraft, we're able to travel to and from Churchill at the most convenient times, rather than losing a big chunk of a day to accommodate airline schedules and airport security lines. Typically, we depart Winnipeg around 9:00-9:30 am and arrive in Churchill in time for lunch. On the return journey, we normally leave in the afternoon so we can maximize our last morning in Churchill.
Our Expedition Leaders Are Simply Extraordinary
One of the most important aspects of any nature adventure is the quality of the guide. And to provide the world's best nature expeditions, we provide the very best Expedition Leaders—it’s that simple. Our naturalist guides are experts on Arctic wildlife and natural history, and while many have one or more master’s degrees or a Ph.D., they are chosen for their good nature as much as their good grades. Each year, we fly our Expedition Leaders in from around the world for annual training, to share ideas and skills that simply cannot be learned in school. In Churchill, our Expedition Leaders average 10 years' guiding experience. It's a quality level that's unmatched in the industry. Click here for bios of Natural Habitat’s Expedition leaders.
The Tundra Lodge Offers a Private Polar Bear Experience
The Tundra Lodge, which we occupy exclusively during polar bear season, is a unique rolling hotel placed in an area of high bear density at the beginning of each polar bear season. It accommodates up to 35 guests, though we limit our groups to 28-30. Each guest has an individual single compartment similar to a sleeping berth on a train. Guests share six flush toilets in individual bathrooms, plus four individual hot-water showers. A large lounge with sliding windows provides unimpeded bear viewing from the warmth of the “living room.” There are also several outdoor viewing platforms, each with steel-mesh flooring enabling guests to come within inches of bears that may wander below! The dining room is staffed by a world-class chef whose creative menus add an element of luxury to this most unique and remote of adventure locales.
World Wildlife Fund is Our Conservation Travel Partner
Because of our reputation for running the world's finest and most environmentally conscious nature expeditions, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has selected Natural Habitat Adventures as its exclusive conservation travel provider, a designation that makes us very proud. WWF scientists provide our Expedition Leaders with the latest research and information on wildlife, habitats and conservation initiatives, which our guests get exclusive benefits from. It's an innovative partnership you won't find anywhere else.