Churchill Polar Bear Tour
Land Based Adventures
Each year in Churchill, Canada, from October to November, massive polar bears congregate on the tundra outside of town. I had encountered polar bears on Baffin Island as an Expedition Leader, but it was usually from a distanced vantage point. Since I had heard great reviews of the polar bear tours outside of Churchill, I decided to set out on a 6-day Arctic tundra safari to check it out for myself and see if these adventures would be a good match for ExpeditionTrips travelers...
We flew into Winnipeg, Manitoba, and met our group at the gorgeous Fort Garry Hotel to go over trip specifics with our full-bearded guides, Brad and Jared. We boarded a charter flight to Churchill, and when we stepped out of the plane we were greeted with a temperature of 4 degrees F!
Our trip felt similar to an African safari. We spent our days exploring the tundra in giant polar rovers spotting polar bears, Arctic hare, silver and red fox, and a number of Arctic bird species. The rovers resemble huge transformed school buses, with enormous tires to elevate the vehicles high enough to prevent the bears from reaching the windows.
The polar bears were amazing to see up close! They are huge, lumbering animals that appear to move slowly, but when you see the amount of ground they cover in their strides you understand how quick and powerful they are. There was one that we observed for about an hour. He was napping in a little snow bed and would awaken periodically to stretch, and roll around, glance over at us, and then go back to his nap.
Another highlight of the trip was a dog sledding excursion on the final day. The people who operate these trips are so wonderful and have such a passion for what they do. Their dogs were happy, healthy, and all wanted to be hooked up to the sled for a run!
Our guides were fantastic wildlife spotters, as well as hosts and information booths. We were spoiled with hot chocolate and snacks and very tasty meals, most of which were eaten on the buggy. Our group was a lot of fun. There were a total of twelve of us, guides included, and we all shared binoculars and assisted one another with camera shots - see slide show for said shots. The polar bears are truly magnificent beasts, and to experience them in their natural environment is an unbeatable treat!