Tundra Lodge Photo Expedition
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Arrive in Winnipeg, Manitoba's vibrant capital. Once a fur-trading post and boomtown for the Canadian Pacific Railway, today Winnipeg is the cultural and commercial center of the province, lying on the eastern edge of the vast Canadian prairie. Transfer to the classic Fort Garry Hotel, a French chateau-style property built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. A National Historic Site, the elegant Fort Garry is still the grande dame of Winnipeg hospitality. Once you arrive, visit our gear room in the hotel to pick up your heavy Arctic parka and winter boots to use while you are in Churchill. Then 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 all-terrain vehicle built to traverse the tundra—offering our first chance to photograph polar bears and other Arctic wildlife along the way. Here on the edge of Hudson Bay, where boreal forest gives way to treeless 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 King of the North, the mighty polar bear. Our Photo Expedition Leaders, intimately acquainted with polar bear behavior, interpret all we encounter. 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 the region.
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 return to the Churchill vicinity, waiting for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay and the start of their winter seal-hunting season. The small spit of land where the Tundra Lodge is situated often attracts the greatest number of bears in the area. While we don't see dozens at once, we do tend to get frequent bear activity in this location. Since we stay directly on the tundra, we have ideal early-morning and late-afternoon photo opportunities. Inquisitive bears often approach the lodge at close range, and safely elevated outdoor observation decks give us exceptional proximity to indulge our own curiosity. And the interior common areas—a lounge with sofas and chairs as well as a dining car—have large sliding windows, so you'll never miss a shot.
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 Polar Rover excursions to afford guests the best possible variety of wildlife encounters in the region. Our Expedition Leaders and the entire group may opt to take a full-day excursion together, or we may split the group for a half-day Rover outing along with viewing bears from the lodge. At the end of each exhilarating day, we come together for dinner and presentations. If we're fortunate to get a rare clear autumn night, we may have a chance to photograph the northern lights. And while the lights are never guaranteed, Churchill has some of the most frequent auroral activity on Earth.
Day 6: Churchill—Dog Sledding / Winnipeg
Leaving the Tundra Lodge this morning, we board the Polar Rover to head back to Churchill, scouting for wildlife photo opportunities along the way. Before we depart for Winnipeg this afternoon, one more northern adventure awaits: an authentic dog sled ride. We meet a local musher and his team, getting to know the dogs and learning about the heritage of sledding. Then it's time to hop in the sled for an exhilarating run through the boreal forest, driven by the power of paws. Once we're back in town, if time permits, pick up some last-minute local handicrafts and souvenirs, or take an optional helicopter flight over the tundra. After lunch, we board our chartered flight back to Winnipeg, where a farewell reception at the Fort Garry Hotel caps our Arctic photography adventure.
Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
Please note: While all specified activities will be included, they may not happen in the exact order described above, depending on weather conditions and 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 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.