Summary : In the same land that hosts the brief, brilliant summer of beluga whales and the polar bears of autumn, comes an amazing phenomenon that illumines the dark winter skies. The ethereal Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis, meaning “north wind of the dawn,” brighten the night in a mystical display of color. Churchill has one of the heaviest concentrations of aurora borealis activity in the world. On this grand subarctic adventure, your days are filled with distinctly northern activities such as dogsledding, and your nights with the potential for the best aurora viewing on the planet.
Activities : Culture, Hiking
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, the French-chateau-style hotel remains the grande dame of Winnipeg, offering first-class hospitality. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with your Expedition Leader.
In preparation for your Northern Lights encounters, this morning you attend a planetarium program focused on the science of the aurora borealis and how to best capture the magic of the lights on film. Depending on the train schedule, you board the evening Hudson Bay passenger train to Churchill around lunchtime.
Leaving the southern prairies, you travel into the landscape of the North. Plains give way to boreal forest, the coniferous zone that circles the globe beneath the Arctic Circle and accounts for one-third of the earth’s forests. Stunted spruce trees and boggy muskeg give way to frozen tundra as you approach Churchill, a frontier outpost in the middle of a vast white openness at the edge of Hudson Bay. The “Tundra Train” is relaxing and comfortable, and each cabin has its own bathroom. At night, you may have a preview of the Northern Lights outside your large private windows.
On arrival in Churchill, transfer to your hotel and take a brief tour of this historic settlement. The Hudson’s Bay Company established a fort here in 1717 as part of its fur-trading network across the Canadian North, but native cultures had already been flourishing here against the harsh arctic climate for thousands of years. Explore their heritage on a dogsled ride in the boreal wilderness, during a visit to the Eskimo Museum, and through cultural programs featuring the arts and traditions of the Inuit and Dene peoples. Your guide introduces you to northern ecology, and if interested, there’s a chance to practice photography skills as you focus on the stark, yet alluring winter landscape.
As night falls, you move into heated viewing domes to await an unparalleled experience of nature’s magic: the spectacle of the aurora borealis, the legendary Northern Lights. Often, they begin as a white glow low in the sky that slowly begins to shift and undulate. Wavy patterns evolve, colors appear and change, until the lights look like shimmering curtains of green, blue, yellow or red. For centuries, the phenomenon of the Northern Lights was a mystery, inspiring a host of mythical explanations. While you know now that the aurora is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field, more poetic stories of their origin linger, including the Hudson Bay Inuit’s belief that the lights are the magical display of their ancestors’ souls dancing in the sky.
Your morning is free to wander Churchill’s main street, where several locally-owned shops offer authentic native handicrafts, from traditional mukluks to caribou hair sculptures. You will then be transfered to the airport for your return flight to Winnipeg. If your flight schedule permits, this afternoon you visit the acclaimed Manitoba Museum, renowned for its exhibits reflecting the human and natural heritage of the province, including the history of northern native cultures. This evening, gather one last time for a farewell dinner at the Fort Garry Hotel.
After breakfast, you will be transfered to the airport for your return flight home.
Departure dates subject to change. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm departure schedule before purchasing air tickets.
Please note the activities in Churchill are flexible to accommodate varying weather conditions.
Special Photo Departures: 3/4/2013, 3/11/2013
On special photo departures, you do not take the train. Instead, fly to Churchill on the afternoon of Day 2 and spend an additional night in the remote town of Churchill to allow extra time to photograph the aurora borealis.
Six Day Itinerary: 2/10/2013 only
The total length of this departure is six days. You will fly to Churchill early in the morning on Day 2, instead of taking the train. The Churchill inclusions and activities are identical to the regular itinerary. In Winnipeg, you may have time to take a guided tour of the Manitoba Museum after the return flight on Day 6. There will not be a planetarium program.
R/T transportation between Winnipeg and Churchill (train and plane); accommodations; all meals (except those taken aboard the train); services of Expedition Leaders and assistants; most gratuities; airport transfers; permits and entrance fees; all taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip; meals aboard the train; alcoholic beverages; some gratuities; optional activities; items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, etc.); optional travel insurance.