Classic Polar Bear Photo Itinerary
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Your polar bear photo tour begins in Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, which was once a former fur-trading post and Canadian Pacific Railway boomtown on the eastern edge of the prairie. A transfer is included from the airport to the historic Fort Garry Hotel, a prestigious Winnipeg landmark that dates to the opening of the Canadian West. Meet your Expedition Leader and fellow photographers at a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Churchill
Transfer to the airport and board our chartered aircraft to fly to the small town of Churchill this morning. This subarctic frontier outpost, originally a Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post, is our base for northern adventure. After lunch in town, settle in to our hotel and begin to get acquainted with this small community of hardy, hospitable residents. This evening, we begin with a presentation on Arctic photography by our Expedition Leader, who is both an accomplished photographer and seasoned naturalist guide.
Days 3–5: Polar Bear Photography on the Tundra
Rise early for breakfast, then board our custom Polar Rovers, specialty vehicles that get us within prime photography range of polar bears on the open tundra. Although each vehicle can accommodate more than 30 passengers, we take a maximum of 16, ensuring that everyone has a window seat, plenty of space for camera gear, and room to shoot comfortably without interference. For three full days, we spend our daylight hours on the tundra, photographing polar bears roaming the edge of Hudson Bay as they waiting for the ice to freeze and seal-hunting season to begin. We may see mothers with cubs and young adult males play-fighting. A large adult male may turn his attention toward us, sometimes approaching within mere feet or even lifting his massive paws onto the side of our vehicle to peer up at us. The elevated outdoor observation platform offers an open vantage point for exceptional photos, and we can also drop the windows inside the warm interior of the Rover to position cameras from inside.
On the wide-open expanse of the tundra, we may spy other northern wildlife, too, including Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl, ptarmigan and gyrfalcon. In addition to sharing photography advice, our Expedition Leader provides a captivating interpretation of the animal behavior and natural phenomena we observe. By late afternoon, if the weather is relatively clear, we often enjoy vivid sunsets that linger a long time at this latitude, offering stunning photo opportunities. As dusk descends over the austere northern landscape, we return to town for dinner and presentations on photography, wildlife and local cultures. Occasionally, we're lucky enough to see the aurora borealis on a cloudless night, and if this is the case, we’ll drive outside town, away from the glow of artificial light, to capture photos of this wondrous event.
Day 6: Churchill—Dog Sledding / Winnipeg
Our return flight is scheduled to depart in the mid- to late afternoon, in order to provide as much time as possible to explore more of Churchill today. A highlight this morning is an authentic dog sled excursion. Meet a local musher and his team and spend time with the frisky dogs before riding in a sled behind them on an exhilarating dash through the boreal forest. If time permits, those who wish may opt to visit nearby Cape Merry, a promising spot for photographing Arctic fox, Arctic hare and willow ptarmigan. Or stay in town to shop for some last-minute local handicrafts and souvenirs. Another option is a helicopter flight over our environs, offering dramatic aerial views of the tundra and Hudson Bay, with the possibility of spotting polar bears from the air. We'll have a farewell lunch in Churchill before we depart, followed by an evening reception back at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg.
Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
An important note on polar bear viewing: Since 1989, we have operated approximately 1,500 departures to Churchill to view polar bears, and we’ve missed seeing them on only a handful of occasions. Some of our sightings are up close, and others are from afar, or even from a helicopter. It’s important to remember that while there is no better opportunity to see polar bears in the wild than our Churchill trips offer, the experience is weather-dependent. That means viewing polar bears—and the distance at which we may see them—is unpredictable and not guaranteed. Check out details on the ebbs and flows of the Churchill polar bear viewing season.