Imagine watching polar bears in their natural habitat alongside a naturalist expert from Polar Bears International, one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to protecting these amazing animals. This opportunity is yours in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Arctic. Sit down to a picnic lunch on the tundra and opt to go dogsledding in the region’s breathtaking landscapes. An unconventional wildlife adventure for the unconventional traveler.
DATES: October 20-25, 2018; October 24-29, 2019
DURATION: 6 DAYS/5 NIGHTS
START: WINNIPEG, CANADA
END: WINNIPEG, CANADA
OPERATOR: National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEYS EXCLUSIVES –
POLAR BEAR DRIVE
Enjoy a full-day Tundra Buggy excursion, in search of polar bears as they gather in numbers along the coast of Hudson Bay. We’ll be joined on board by a scientist from Polar Bears International (PBI) who will teach us about climate change and ongoing efforts to protect these amazing creatures.
PARKS CANADA EXPERIENCE
Drop by the visitors’ center at the Churchill Heritage Railway Station for a lecture about the area by a Parks Canada representative. The center features a collection of Hudson’s Bay Company muskets and replicas of 18th century merchandise.
POLAR BEAR CONSERVATION EVENT
Attend a private cocktail reception with ambassadors from PBI, and hear ﬁrsthand about their work. National Geographic and PBI have been collaborating over the last 15 years on a variety of conservation and education projects.
LOCAL LIFE IN CHURCHILL
Sit down with a resident of Churchill who will entertain us with a presentation and stories about what life is like in an isolated Northern Canadian town – a place where it’s not unusual to walk out your front door and run into a polar bear.
DAY 1 – WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
Arrive at any time. Meet your CEO for a welcome dinner and group meeting. Overnight Sheraton Four Points (or similar). Our joining hotel is located at the Winnipeg airport as we have an early start the next day.
DAY 2 – CHURCHILL, MANITOBA
Catch our early morning flight to Churchill. Upon arrival, enjoy a town and area historical tour including Cape Merry, the Port of Churchill, and Manitoba Conservation’s Polar Bear Holding Facility. After, visit the renowned Eskimo Museum which features one of the best collections of Inuit art and artifacts. Later in the evening, set out on a drive through the remote landscape to view the Northern lights (weather dependent).
Churchill is a small, northern community with a lot of character; big-chain hotels or gourmet restaurants won’t be found here. Visitors will, however, find warm down-home hospitality and clean, comfortable hotels with all the amenities. Staying in town allows you to walk to and from different venues, spend some time on your own, and, perhaps, meet some of the locals.
Churchill is located along the treeline of the northern edge of the boreal forest, and attracts arctic and boreal species of wildlife, birds, and plants. Commonly seen species include arctic and red foxes, arctic hare, caribou, gyrfalcons, snowy owls, ptarmigan, and, in the summer (June-Aug), beluga whales. Overnight Aurora Inn (or similar).
DAY 3 – CHURCHILL
Set out on a full day excursion to enjoy polar bear viewing by Tundra Buggy with a local/expert guide. Take in the majestic arctic landscape, and search for polar bears, arctic fox, and ptarmigan and enjoy a full picnic lunch on the tundra. This evening, join representatives from Polar Bears International (PBI) for a private cocktail reception. PBI is the world’s leading polar bear conservation group – dedicated to saving polar bears by saving their habitat. Their focus is on research, education, and stewardship.
Polar bears begin to swim ashore in mid-July. In October they begin to gather in numbers along the coast, waiting for pack ice to form over the Hudson Bay, at which point the bears disappear in search of seals. Churchill’s ‘bear season’ begins in early October and lasts until early November.
Known as the “Lords of the Arctic,” these spectacular animals are massive with the average male polar bear growing to more than 600kg (1,320 lbs) and standing 3.05m (10 ft). While large, they are surprisingly quick and have great agility. The bears have a highly acute sense of smell and are skilled hunters – able to pick up a scent from more than 30km (19 mi) away. They can even detect the presence of seals under 3 ft (.9m) of snow and ice. Polar bears have no natural enemies and no fear of other animals (including humans).
Overnight Aurora Inn (or similar).
DAY 4 – CHURCHILL
Enjoy a free morning to visit some of the local shops or opt to take a dog sledding excursion or helicopter flight. After lunch, visit the Parks Canada Interpretive Centre for an educational presentation about the National Park service and its history in the Churchill area. This evening, enjoy an informal talk with a local from Churchill who will talk about what life is like living in a far north, remote Canadian town.
The helicopter and dog sledding optional programs are weather/condition dependent and may be switched to other days for availability.
Enjoy the morning at your leisure to visit local craft shops or opt for dog sledding or a helicopter ride.
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Parks Canada Experience
Visit the Parks Canada Interpretive Centre and heritage railway station to meet with a Parks Canada representative for a discussion about the fur trade and unique (and colorful) human history in the Churchill area. The center features a collection of Hudson’s Bay Company muskets and trade goods, including replicas from the 18th century. Parks Canada is actively involved in the conservation of Churchill’s historical sites including Prince of Wales Fort, Cape Merry and York Factory National Historic Sites, and Wapusk National Park.
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Local Life in Churchill
Sit down with a resident of Churchill who will entertain us with a presentation and stories about what life is like in a secluded, Northern Canadian town – a place where it’s not unusual to walk out your front door and run into a polar bear. Set amid rugged wilderness, Churchill melds innovation and tradition in unique ways, like the fascinating town center complex that features interior walkways linked with brightly colored Inuit wall hangings and prints. Proud and optimistic, this remote but accessible community stays firmly connected to the world as well as to its heritage.
Optional Activities – Day 4
- DOG SLEDDING ADVENTURE
100-115CAD per person
Hosted by a local resident and dog sledding expert, you will learn about the history associated with dog sledding in Northern Canada. Enjoy an exhilarating ride behind a strong team of huskies on a custom-made sled (or cart, weather permitting). Join the musher’s for hot chocolate and freshly made bannock after your ride and share their personal stories of their dog sledding adventures.
- CHURCHILL HELICOPTER TOUR
550CAD per person
Experience the extent of Churchill’s wild beauty with its rugged coastline, the mouth of the Churchill River, forest to the south, and the treeless tundra to the north. The chances of spotting wildlife such as caribou and polar bears are excellent.
DAY 5 – CHURCHILL – WINNIPEG
Enjoy a second full day excursion onto the tundra in search of polar bears and other arctic wildlife alongside an expert from PBI. This evening, fly back to Winnipeg for our final night.
Overnight Sheraton Four Point Airport (or similar).
DAY 6 – WINNIPEG
Depart at any time
CHURCHILL POLAR BEARS - National Geographic Journeys
|Per Person Rates - USD||October 20-25, 2018
October 24-29, 2019
MEALS - 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Allow USD300-390 for meals not included.