On the shores of the Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba is the small town of Churchill, synonymous with polar bears, but if you are thinking of grubby bears scavenging on the town dump then think again. In recent years the town has cleaned up and embraced the polar bear. Bears are kept well away from the rubbish dump and you can now experience them in their natural habitat congregating in large numbers as they await the return of the sea ice and the chance to hunt.
Bears that do wander into town are tranquilised then spend time in polar bear jail before being rereleased, this generally puts them off close human interactions but repeat offenders are flown north deep into the tundra where they are unlikely to encounter humans. 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 buggy, from the air or for the most adventurous on foot. Other than bears you can see hundreds of belugas in Hudson Bay, take a walk around the historic fort, visit the Eskimo Museum and the Parks Canada interpretive centre.
WHY VISIT Churchill
- Take tundra buggy 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.