On the shores of the Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba is the small town of Churchill, synonymous with polar bears. Each year they congregate in large numbers as they await the sea ice to form. Polar bears spend the winter on the sea ice hunting seals and during the summer months they can be found lounging in the tundra and searching for berries and other “snacks” to tide them over until the fall and the return of the sea ice.
The town is now a hub for polar bear and other Arctic wildlife excursions. If you want to see polar bears close up then this is the place for you, be it from a tundra vehicle, from the air or for the most adventurous on foot. Other than bears you can see hundreds of belugas during the summer months in Hudson Bay, it is possible to kayak and even snorkel with them. Churchill is also the gateway to the remote wildlife lodges that can be accessed by light aircraft.
The small township of Churchill also has an interesting Eskimo Museum and the Parks Canada Interpretive centre is highly recommended. Slightly further out of town is the historic Prince of Wales Fort built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1700s.
WHY VISIT Churchill
- Take tundra vehicle excursions out into the wilderness in search of bears and other wildlife
- Stay out on a tundra buggy lodge
- For a true wilderness experience, stay in one of the exclusive polar bear lodges a short flight from Churchill
- On a clear night experience the Aurora Borealis
- Kayak or snorkel with Belugas who migrate through the bay
- Photograph bears in spring flower meadows along with prolific birdlife
- Visit polar bear jail and the fascinating Inuit cultural museum
WHEN TO GO
In May and early June is the best time if you want to experience polar bear mother with new cubs and possibly the northern lights, but bear in mind it is also cold then and peak midgy season. In July, August and early September the tundra blooms this is the best time to see belugas, caribou, foxes, wolves and moose.
October and November is peak polar bear viewing season as they congregate along the shoreline awaiting the return of the winter sea ice, as soon as this has formed they dissipate into the Arctic wilderness to hunt throughout the winter.