Take the ultimate Arctic nature tour with Naturalist Journeys. See some of the 60,000 Beluga Whales that fill Hudson Bay to feed on schools of Capelin, Arctic Char, and Brook Trout. Experience the sight of Polar Bears swimming in the open ice and cavorting on the rocky shoreline. Spectacular views of Red-throated and Pacific Loons, Smith’s Longspurs, Whimbrel, and Hudsonian Godwits raising their young, along with a wide variety of other arctic species. You’re sure to be amazed at the wondrous natural world of the subarctic north.
On this Arctic wildlife tour, we also take some time for cultural experiences too, with a full day in the cultural mecca of Winnipeg to discover the wildlife, geography, and culture of Manitoba’s majestic north through must-see attractions. Explore the fabulous food and craft stalls, entertainment and history of The Forks, Winnipeg’s foremost destination.
An exciting exploration in any season, Churchill in summer is easy to navigate, especially based out of our unique and eco-friendly lodgings, the Lazy Bear Lodge— the most modern facility in town. Comfortable, hand built log furnishings, unique and delicious indigenous food, along with classic standards and a central location right in town create a comfortable and relaxing setting.
- Visit the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s Journey to Churchill exhibit and go behind the scenes at the Leatherdate International Polar Bear Conservation, an education, research, and transition facility for Polar Bears relocated to the zoo
- Tour some of Winnipeg’s must-see historical sites
- Cruise for a day on a Hudson Bay Coastal Tour to see Polar Bears on their summer grounds
- Observe Arctic birds in the middle of breeding season
- Enjoy plenty of Arctic wildflowers and butterflies
- Venture into the feeding grounds of schools of Beluga Whale, and visit the Prince of Wales Fort
- Explore the culture and heritage of Churchill, including historic Cape Merry and an outside tour of the famous “Polar Bear Jail”
- Relax in some of Winnipeg and Churchill’s most modern and comfortable lodgings
Day 1: Arrivals
Arrive at Winnipeg International Airport at your leisure today, a travel day with no planned activities. For those who arrive in time, our comfortable accommodations are conveniently located to explore The Forks, Winnipeg’s most popular tourist attraction, or one of the many fine museums, historical sites, parks, and fine restaurants that led Winnipeg to be named the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2010 by Canadian Heritage.
Accommodations at The Inn at the Forks, Winnipeg
Day 2: Assiniboine Park Zoo | FortWhyte
We officially assemble as a group this morning, meeting up early for a great day of sightseeing and discovery. At the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, Winnipeg is the capital largest city of the prairie province of Manitoba. The “Gateway to the West” was a trading center for indigenous peoples long before Europeans arrived. Now a multicultural city, Winnipeg has a great historical and cultural cityscape to explore.
Prepare for your week’s activities with a morning visit to the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s “Journey to Churchill” exhibit, the most comprehensive zoological exhibit of its kind detailing the wildlife, geography, and culture of Manitoba’s magnificent north. The exhibit's expansive enclosures, pools, rugged landscapes, and shaded dens provide the zoo’s Polar Bears with a stimulating environment inspired by their natural habitat and plenty of space for exercise, exploration, and socialization. Go behind the scenes at the Leatherdate International Polar Bear Conservation, an education, research, and transition facility for polar bears relocated to the zoo. Learn about current work to assist the Canadian Polar Bear population.
After a delicious lunch in Assiniboine Park, travel to FortWhyte. This urban oasis is one of Manitoba’s star attractions for birding and ecotourism, conveniently located within city limits. Take a step back in time and power a North West Company voyageur canoe around scenic Lake Muir. Let the splash of the water and the feel of the paddle connect you to that pivotal time in Canadian history. Get a real taste of voyageur life with fire-roasted bannock as you savor your experience back onshore.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to rest or explore The Forks before we come back together as a group for dinner at one of Winnipeg’s fine farm to fork restaurants.
Accommodations at The Inn at the Forks, Winnipeg (B,L,D)
The Forks, located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years. Indigenous peoples traded at The Forks, followed by European fur traders, Scottish settlers, railway pioneers and tens of thousands of immigrants. Over the last 30 years, an abandoned railyard has been transformed into The Forks as it is today—an exceptional array of dining options, fantastic local crafts and retailers, and a constantly changing slate of entertainment and events.
Days 3 – 6: Four Full Days to Explore Churchill
This morning we are up early for a two-hour charter flight to Churchill, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. We arrive and take some time to settle in to our accommodations for the next four nights. The unique Lazy Bear Lodge offers comfortable, hand-built log furnishings in a cozy setting. Our lodge exudes the rustic charm of the 1800s but is also the newest and most modern facility in Churchill.
We have four days to explore with experienced guides, getting to know the spectacular nature accessible from this northern outpost. With 60,000 Beluga Whale filling the Hudson Bay and Polar Bear leaving the melting sea ice, summer is an amazing time to visit Churchill. See beautiful wild places that offer the very best opportunities to see Polar Bears, Beluga Whales, Arctic Ground Squirrels (Sik Sik), over 200 nesting or migrating bird species including Harris’s Sparrows, Black and White-winged Scoters, and Arctic Terns, seals, Arctic Hare, Arctic Fox, and more.
On one of the days, we travel in a customized marine vessel certified by Transport Canada on an adventure to experience one of the more remote Polar Bear viewing areas on the west side of Hudson Bay. Experience the opportunity to view Polar Bear in their summer environment, swimming and walking around the rocks and wildflowers. Weather and wildlife permitting, we disembark the boat and walk where Polar Bear roam.
Along the same shoreline, hundreds of Beluga Whale come to feed, mate, and give birth in the warm, shallow near-coastal waters. A second day’s boat tour focuses on viewing Beluga Whale in their natural habitat in the Churchill River and into the Hudson Bay area as they feed on schools of Caplin, Arctic Char, and Brook Trout. Look for Pacific Loon, Ross’s Goose, Bald Eagle, along with Willow Ptarmigan and Common Redpolls on shore. You can also go ashore for a walking tour of the historic Prince of Wales Fort. Right on the water, we look for Common Eider, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, and more. Weather permitting, kayaking with the whales (safe for beginners and first-time kayakers) is available as an option (for an additional fee).
Next, we may hop on a bonus summer tundra tour in Arctic Crawlers™ to view the beautiful landscape. Later that evening after a delectable supper, depending on weather and cloud coverage, it may be possible to see the Northern Lights.
The final day’s Cultural and Heritage Tour takes us through Churchill and the surrounding area to explore various historic sites. These include Cape Merry, an outside tour of the Polar Bear jail, the wreckage of the famous plane, "Miss Piggy," and many other historic sites that make Churchill the town it is today.
Our first and last night’s suppers are hosted at the Lazy Bear Café, in Churchill. Known for its fine cooking, you have the chance to sample indigenous food such as Braised Peppered Elk, Arctic Char, and Manitoba Bison along with other made-from-scratch main entrees. Two additional nights provide the opportunity to sample other dining venues in Churchill—the Tundra Inn Dining Room and Pub and the Seaport Reef Restaurant.
Accommodations at Lazy Bear Lodge, Churchill (B,L,D)
Day 7: Churchill to Winnipeg
On your final day in Churchill, enjoy a free morning before taking a chartered flight to Winnipeg and the Inn at the Forks. Settle in before our special farewell dinner.
Accommodations at Inn at The Forks (B,L,D)
Day 8: Departures
Make flights at your convenience from Winnipeg International Airport, airport transfers are provided. (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the tour is $5690 DBL / $6488 SGL per person, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Cost of the tour includes: accommodations for 7 nights, all meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), park entrance and other activity fees for activities as described in the itinerary, flight to and from Winnipeg to Churchill, two boat tours, professional guide services, pre-departure materials, and miscellaneous program expenses.
Cost does not include: round-trip airfare to and from Winnipeg, Manitoba, items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services.
Group size: maximum of 10, minimum of six. The cost of the journey is based on 8 participants; with fewer than 8, a small-group surcharge (typically $100 – $300 per participant) may apply.
The airport for this journey is Winnipeg International Airport (YWG). Please plan to arrive in Winnipeg at a time convenient for you on Friday, July 10. Airport transfers to and from the Inn at the Forks are arranged for you once we have your flight schedule. Please plan departures at a time convenient to you on Friday, July 17.
Photo credits: Polar Bears by Jason Ransom, courtesy Lazy Bear Lodge (LBL); Northern Lights, courtesy LBL; Polar Bear by Jason Ransom, courtesy LBL; Beluga Cruise by Sam Hearnel, courtesy LBL; Willow Ptarmigan by Peg Abbott; Lazy Bear Lodge, courtesy LBL; Kayaking with Belugas, courtesy LBL; Common Mergansers by Hugh Simmons Photography; Arctic Terns by Greg Smith.