Classic Polar Bear Photo Itinerary
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Our polar bear photo tour begins in Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, a former fur-trading post and Canadian Pacific Railway boomtown. Today, Winnipeg is the commercial and cultural hub of Canada's eastern prairie region. A transfer is included from the airport to the historic Fort Garry Hotel, a prestigious Winnipeg landmark built in 1913. Meet your Expedition Leader and fellow photographers at a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Churchill
Transfer to the airport where we 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, we settle in to our hotel and begin to get acquainted with this small community of hardy, hospitable residents. This evening, enjoy an orientation to Arctic photography by our Expedition Leader, who is both an accomplished photographer and expert naturalist guide.
Days 3–5: Polar Bear Photography on the Tundra
Each day we rise early for breakfast, then board our custom Polar Rover to head out to the tundra in search of polar bears. Although each vehicle can accommodate more than 30 passengers, we take a maximum of 16, ensuring that everyone has a window seat, plenty of room for camera gear, and space to shoot comfortably. For three full days, we focus on photographing polar bears roaming the edge of Hudson Bay as they wait for the ice to freeze and seal-hunting season to begin. We may see mothers with cubs, young adult males play-fighting, and lone males roaming the tundra. Occasionally, a bear will approach us within mere feet, even lifting its paws onto the side of the vehicle to peer up at us. The elevated outdoor observation platform offers an exhilarating vantage point, and with its steel-mesh grated floor, we are able to observe the bears that sometimes wander beneath just inches away.
On the wide-open expanse of the tundra, we may spot 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. And if we have a clear night and are especially lucky, the northern lights might make an appearance.
Day 6: Churchill—Dog Sledding / Winnipeg
Our return flight departs mid-afternoon in order to provide time 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 being pulled in a sled or wheeled cart through the boreal forest. If time permits, there may be a chance 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 offering dramatic aerial photo opportunities over the tundra, Hudson Bay, and even polar bears far below. 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.
Please note: While all activities will be included, they may not happen in the exact order described above, depending on weather conditions or other scheduling logistics. Your Expedition Leader will let you know the specifics for each day.
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.