Summary : Looking for a polar bear adventure that combines the best of both worlds? You've found it! Spend two nights at the exclusive Tundra Lodge, a custom-designed rolling hotel that offers unparalleled seclusion and proximity to wild polar bears—then add two nights in the historic town of Churchill, for cultural activities and a chance to meet the hardy locals who call this subarctic outpost home. Experience the thrill of Polar Rover excursions on the tundra, close-up bear viewing from the safe and cozy confines of the Tundra Lodge, a comprehensive tour of Churchill, plus an exciting ride with a working sled dog team. This multifaceted trip truly does it all.
Activities : Birding, Culture
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the historic Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this prestigious landmark has long been a symbol of genteel elegance in the heart of Manitoba's capital, which was once a fur-trading post and railway boomtown. This evening, meet for an orientation dinner with your expedition leader.
Take a chartered flight to Churchill this morning, where you board a custom-designed Polar Rover vehicle for your transfer to the Tundra Lodge. As you drive out of town, watch for Arctic wildlife against the vast, wide-open landscape—you may even be able to get your very first polar bear shots en route! Once you reach your tundra outpost, you'll have a presentation on polar bears by one of your naturalist Expedition Leaders, providing an enlightening introduction to your northern adventure. As dinner is served in the Tundra Lodge dining room, keep your camera ready you may see polar bears wandering right outside the windows!
The Tundra Lodge is strategically positioned at the beginning of each season in the best area for bear viewing near the edge of Hudson Bay. Inquisitive bears often approach the lodge, which features rows of windows and safe outdoor observation decks to accommodate your own curiosity. As you watch the bears interact, be delighted by their antics and rugged beauty. You may see protective mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, and solitary individuals patrolling the tundra as they wait for the ice to form on the bay, signaling the start of their winter seal-hunting season.
The unique location of the Tundra Lodge, combined with excursions in your special all-terrain tundra vehicles called Polar Rovers, affords lodge guests the best possible wildlife encounters in the region. The small spit of land where the lodge is located often attracts the most bears in the entire area. The group will typically divide for activities so that each guest enjoys a half-day trip on the tundra, complemented by a half day of viewing bears from the lodge. In addition to polar bears, you may also spot caribou, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl and ptarmigan.
At the end of an exhilarating day, retire to your cozy accommodations for dinner and a naturalist presentation. In the light cast by the lodge across the frozen tundra, look for the illuminated eyes of animals that roam after dark. And if you are fortunate to have a clear night and good luck, you may see the North’s spectacular aurora borealis light show after darkness descends—Churchill has some of the world’s most concentrated northern lights activity.
Today you will depart the Tundra Lodge on a morning drive across the tundra back to Churchill. This remote hamlet was once a Hudson Bay Company trading post, and your comprehensive tour of the town and environs includes cultural activities that highlight the frontier history and indigenous heritage of the area. There will be time to wander the few blocks that comprise "downtown," with a chance to pick up some souvenirs and Arctic handicrafts from the local shops. Later this afternoon you will check into your hotel. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in town, followed by an evening presentation.
Head out onto the tundra this morning for a full day of nature and wildlife observation. Traveling aboard a custom Polar Rover, scout for polar bears and other Arctic animals. These vehicles are the newest and best in Churchill, with huge picture windows, a slanted front windshield that allows you to look down on bears that may be in front of you, and best of all, a steel-mesh grated observation deck on the back. Bears sometimes wander directly beneath you, and you are able to come safely within inches of them! Your heated vehicles are large and comfortable, and while they can accommodate 30 or 40 passengers, you will only share the experience with 17 or fewer, so everyone has a window seat and plenty of room to spread out and get terrific photos.
This morning you will learn about a distinctly northern pastime: dog sledding. You'll meet a local musher and hear all about this traditional means of Arctic transportation, interacting with the lively dog team as you learn about their care and training. Then you will take turns enjoying an exhilarating ride as the dogs whisk you down a trail through the boreal forest. Depending on flight schedules, there may also be time for an optional helicopter tour (fee involved) over the tundra—a great chance to spy polar bears from the air. You'll enjoy a farewell lunch together in Churchill before your return flight to Winnipeg, followed by a reception and final night at the Fort Garry Hotel.
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.
Reverse Itinerary: 11/17/2018 (Town to Tundra)
Round-trip flights between Winnipeg and Churchill; accommodations and meals as per itinerary; dog sledding excursion; beer and wine at the Tundra Lodge; services of professional expedition leaders and assistants; some gratuities; activities/entrance fees; evening wildlife and cultural presentations; taxes and service charges; boots and parka on loan for use during trip. Subject to change without notice.
Travel to and from Winnipeg; distilled and alcoholic beverages not mentioned as included; some gratuities; travel insurance; items of a personal nature (telephone calls, laundry, etc.).
PHOTOS: © Eric Rock (NHA); © Colin McNulty (NHA); © Mike Bruscia (NHA); © Henry Holdsworth; © NHA