Summary : When you encounter a polar bear up close, something powerful happens. You make a connection in that gaze with one of the world’s most charismatic—and most threatened—wild creatures. And while it’s nearly impossible to put that ineffable feeling into words, well-crafted photos can capture it. That's the goal on this small-group nature adventure. No one offers you more time and proximity with the King of the Arctic, coupled with our intensive focus on helping you make outstanding images. You'll spend three full days on the tundra aboard our custom-designed Polar Rovers, with plenty of space for your equipment and room to maneuver for terrific shots. Coaching from your expert photographer-guide is complemented by evening lectures on how to capture Arctic wildlife through the camera's lens—most notably polar bears, but also Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owls and more.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Photography
Arrive in Winnipeg, a former fur-trading post and boomtown for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which today is Manitoba's provincial capital on the eastern edge of the prairie. A transfer is included to the historic Fort Garry Hotel, a prestigious Winnipeg landmark that dates to the opening of the Canadian West. Meet your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers at an orientation dinner this evening.
Fly to the small town of Churchill this morning. This hospitable frontier outpost, originally a Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post, is your base for adventure. Kick it off this evening with a presentation on Arctic photography and your northern environs by your Expedition Leader, who is both an accomplished photographer and seasoned naturalist guide.
Rise early to board your custom Polar Rovers, specialty vehicles that allow the group to get within prime photography range of polar bears on the open tundra. Although each vehicle can accommodate up to 35 passengers, we take a maximum of 16, ensuring that everyone has a window seat, plenty of space for camera gear, and room to shoot comfortably without interference. For three full days, spend your daylight hours on the tundra, photographing polar bears roaming the edge of Hudson Bay waiting for the ice to freeze and their winter seal-hunting season to begin. From the warm interior of your Rover, see mothers with cubs and young adult males play-fighting. A large adult male may turn his attention toward you, sometimes approaching within feet or even lifting his massive paws onto the side of your vehicle to peer inside. The outdoor observation platform offers an open vantage point for exceptional photos.
On the wide-open expanse of the tundra, we may spy other northern wildlife, too, including Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl, ptarmigan and gyrfalcon. In addition to sharing photography advice, our Expedition Leader provides a captivating interpretation of the animal behavior and natural phenomena we observe. By late afternoon, if the weather is relatively clear, we often enjoy vivid sunsets that linger a long time at this latitude, offering stunning photo opportunities. As dusk descends over the austere northern landscape, we return to town for dinner and presentations on photography, wildlife and local cultures. Occasionally, we're graced with the good fortune to see the aurora borealis on a cloudless night, and if this is the case, we’ll head away from the lights of town to capture photos of this wondrous event in total darkness.
Your return flight is scheduled to depart in the mid- to late afternoon, in order to provide as much time as possible to explore more of Churchill today. A highlight this morning is an authentic dog sled excursion. Just outside town, we meet a local musher and his team, spending time with the frisky dogs before being pulled behind them on an exhilarating ride through the boreal forest. And, if time permits, those who wish may opt to visit nearby Cape Merry, a promising spot for photographing Arctic fox, hare and birdlife. Or, stay in town for some last-minute shopping to pick up local handicrafts and souvenirs. Another option is a helicopter flight over the tundra (extra fee), for dramatic aerial views of your environs and the possibility of spotting polar bears from the air. Enjoy a farewell lunch in Churchill before you depart, followed by an evening reception in Winnipeg.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
Departure dates and itinerary are subject to change without notice. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm departure schedule before purchasing air tickets. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes. Some of the sightings are up close, and others are from afar, or even from a helicopter. It’s important to remember that while there is no better opportunity to see polar bears in the wild than one of these Churchill trips offer, the experience is weather-dependent.
Optional Winnipeg Extensions:
Learn about the Northland's natural history, Inuit culture, Canada's fur trade and more as you explore historic Winnipeg and its world-class Manitoba Museum. 1 Day.
Double Occupancy from $275 per person
Airport transfers on Day 1 and Day 7; accommodations as per itinerary; dog sledding excursion; gear on loan (parka and boots); meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 7; some gratuities. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; extensions; optional activities; optional helicopter flightseeing; alcoholic beverages; some gratuities, travel insurance; items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, internet, etc.).
Photos ©: Patrick Endres, Henry Holdsworth, Colin McNulty, Eric Rock