A Total Immersion in the North, Including Dog Sledding & a Helicopter Trip to a Polar Bear Den
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Our polar bear trip begins in Winnipeg, once a fur-trading center and later a boomtown for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today, sophisticated Winnipeg is Manitoba’s cultural and commercial capital at the eastern edge of Canada’s sprawling prairie. Transfer to the historic Fort Garry Hotel, grande dame of Winnipeg hospitality and one of the city’s most prestigious landmarks. Meet your Expedition Leader at an orientation dinner this evening.
Day 2: Winnipeg / Churchill—Night Tundra Excursion
Fly to Churchill via our private chartered plane and explore this remote small community on a guided tour with our Expedition Leader. Originally a Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post, Churchill is home to just under a thousand people and, in late fall, to a few hundred polar bears that congregate at the edge of Hudson Bay. We head to the tundra this evening in search of our first glimpse of the bears. Dinner is served aboard our enclosed Polar Rover in heated comfort.
Day 3: Helicopter Tour / Dog Sledding / Northern Culture
An exciting adventure is in store as we soar over the tundra in helicopters, surveying the frozen landscape below. From the air we may see roaming polar bears and caribou. Landing on the tundra, we disembark to explore on foot, looking for Arctic fox and Arctic hare and perhaps even crawling inside an unoccupied polar bear den. We also sample an age-old means of Arctic transportation on a dog sledding excursion. We'll learn about the life of a musher, visit with the dogs, observe the team as they prepare for the run, then head out for an unforgettable ride under pure canine power behind an eager team of huskies!
Our immersion in northern culture continues as hosts from Churchill's indigenous cultures tell us about their traditions and what their daily lives are like. These captivating storytellers share tales from their personal histories and offer insight into the vibrant nations that have flourished amid adversity for thousands of years in this harsh environment. We'll also visit Churchill's Itsanitaq Museum, with artifacts collected from centuries of local habitation.
Day 4: Polar Bear Viewing
Our exclusive Polar Rovers are our mobile means for a full day on the tundra among the polar bears. Although these custom-designed vehicles accommodate up to 35 passengers, we take a maximum of 15 on this itinerary, ensuring everyone a window seat and plenty of room to watch and photograph polar bears without intrusion from other guests. Our Expedition Leaders know the best places to look for bears, which are waiting for the ice to solidify on Hudson Bay in order to begin their winter seal-hunting season. As we watch the bears interact, we're delighted by their antics and rugged beauty. We'll have dinner back in town, and enjoy a presentation on wildlife or cultural aspects of life in the North.
Day 5: Polar Bear Viewing / Aurora Domes
Once again we board our Polar Rover for a full-day excursion to explore the subarctic landscape and watch wildlife. Our pace is leisurely as we move over the tundra, pausing whenever we see polar bears to observe their behavior and capture photos. Tonight, if skies are clear, we’ll visit a heated Aurora Dome in hopes of witnessing the northern lights through the 360-degree Plexiglass roof. The phenomenon often begins slowly as a faint white glow, then intensifies in scope and color as the lights undulate across the sky, shimmering curtains of electric green, waves of blue or, rarely, even red. The Hudson Bay Inuit see the lights as the magical display of their ancestors’ souls dancing in the sky. Though we now know the aurora borealis is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field, they are no less entrancing.
Day 6: Churchill / Winnipeg
After a bit of free time this morning to pick up some last-minute handicrafts and souvenirs in town, we enjoy a farewell lunch in Churchill. We then fly back to Winnipeg aboard our chartered plane, where we'll have a final dinner before our adventure concludes.
Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for departing flights.
Please Note: Itineraries may vary slightly, but all inclusions are the same.
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