Tundra Lodge Photo Itinerary
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba Arrive in Manitoba's vibrant capital and transfer to the classic Fort Garry Hotel. This French-style chateau is a National Historic Site, built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and still the grande dame of Winnipeg, offering elegant atmosphere and first-class hospitality. Meet your Expedition Leader for an orientation and welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Churchill / Tundra Lodge
Fly by chartered plane to Churchill, a remote subarctic hamlet that was originally an important Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post. On arrival, we transfer to the Tundra Lodge via Polar Rover—a specialized vehicle built to traverse the tundra—with our first chance to photograph polar bears and other wildlife along the way. Here on the edge of Hudson Bay, where boreal forest gives way to Arctic tundra, animals abound, even in the harsh climate that envelops this environment much of the year. We may see caribou, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, ptarmigan and snowy owl, as well as the undisputed lord of the North, the mighty polar bear. Our Photo Expedition Leaders, intimately acquainted with polar bear behavior, interpret all we see. At the lodge later this evening, our guides share tips for capturing the best shots of Arctic wildlife and landscapes, drawing on their extensive experience in these environs.
Days 3–5: Tundra Lodge—Polar Bear Viewing
The Tundra Lodge is strategically positioned at the beginning of each season in the best area for polar bear viewing. Every fall, some 300 polar bears congregate in the vicinity of Churchill, waiting for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay to begin the winter seal-hunting season—and the small spit of land where the Tundra Lodge is located often attracts the most bears in the area. While we don't see dozens at once, we do tend to get frequent bear activity in this location. As we are staying directly on the tundra, we have ideal early-morning and late-afternoon photo opportunities. And since the lodge has plenty of common areas—a lounge with sofas and chairs as well as a dining car, both rooms with large sliding windows—photographers have plenty of space to shoot spontaneously.
Inquisitive bears often approach the lodge at close range, and it features rows of windows and secure outdoor observation decks to accommodate our own curiosity. As we watch the bears interact, we're delighted by their antics and rugged beauty. We may see mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, and solitary individuals lumbering over the tundra. We combine observation from the Tundra Lodge with excursions in our special all-terrain tundra vehicles called Polar Rovers, to afford lodge guests the best possible variety of wildlife encounters in the region. Our Expedition Leader and entire group may opt to take a full-day excursion together, or we may split time between a half-day trip and viewing bears from the lodge.
At the end of each exhilarating day, we come together for dinner and presentations. On a clear night, we may be fortunate to photograph the wondrous phenomenon of the northern lights, which often begin as a faint white glow, then intensify in scope and color as they shimmer across the dark sky. While the lights are never guaranteed, Churchill has some of the most frequent auroral activity on Earth.
Day 6: Churchill—Dog Sledding / Winnipeg
We reluctantly leave the tundra wilds this morning and head back to the town of Churchill. Before departing on our afternoon flight to Winnipeg, we have a chance for one more distinctively northern adventure: an authentic dog sled ride! Just outside town, we'll meet a local musher and his team, spending time getting to know and learn about the dogs before taking turns riding behind them on an exhilarating run through the boreal forest. If time permits, there may also be a chance to pick up last-minute native-made handicrafts and souvenirs, or to take an optional helicopter flight over the tundra before we depart. We'll have a farewell lunch together before our chartered flight back to Winnipeg, where a final reception caps our Arctic adventure.
Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
Please note: If you are traveling on an 8-day trip in 2018, you will spend an additional day and night at the Tundra Lodge.
An important note on polar bear viewing: Since 1989, we have run approximately 1,500 departures to Churchill to view polar bears, and we’ve missed seeing them on just 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 more details on the ebbs and flows of the Churchill polar bear viewing season.
Physical Rating: Easy
A polar bear expedition with Natural Habitat Adventures requires very little walking. Travelers must be able to walk up/down stairs. Our Polar Rover vehicles, designed to travel over the tundra for polar bear observation, can sometimes offer a bumpy ride. Travelers must be prepared for below-freezing temperatures and slippery surfaces