Summary : Churchill is a pilgrimage for wildlife photographers yearning to capture close-up images of polar bears...and this custom photo adventure puts you in the very best spot to get those coveted shots! From the Tundra Lodge, situated outside town on the open tundra, photograph bears from a unique "rolling hotel." Outdoor observation decks grant intimate access to the bears, which often approach directly. There's plenty of room to set up your gear for the best possible images. An on-site Polar Rover vehicle offers excursions to see polar bears and other wildlife farther afield. Your Expedition Leaders, who are professional photographers and naturalists, are eager to share tips from their extensive experience to help you get those once-in-a-lifetime shots.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Photography
Arrive in Manitoba's capital and transfer to the classic Fort Garry Hotel. This French-style chateau is a National Historic Site, built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and still the grande dame of Winnipeg, offering first-class hospitality. Meet your Expedition Leader for an orientation and welcome dinner this evening.
Fly by chartered plane to Churchill, a remote subarctic hamlet that was originally an important Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post. On arrival, transfer to the Tundra Lodge via Polar Rover—a specialized vehicle built to traverse the tundra—with your first chance to photograph polar bears and other wildlife along the way. Here on the edge of Hudson Bay, where boreal forest gives way to Arctic tundra, animals abound, even in the harsh climate that envelops this environment much of the year. You may see caribou, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, ptarmigan and snowy owl, as well as the mighty polar bear. Your Photo Expedition Leaders, intimately acquainted with polar bear behavior, interpret all you see. At the lodge later this evening, your guides share tips for capturing the best shots of Arctic wildlife and landscapes, drawing on their extensive experience in these environs.
The Tundra Lodge is strategically positioned at the beginning of each season in the best area for polar bear viewing. Every fall, some 300 polar bears congregate in the vicinity of Churchill, waiting for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay to begin the winter seal-hunting season—and the small spit of land where the Tundra Lodge is located often attracts the most bears in the area. While you don't see dozens at once, there does then to be frequent bear activity in this location. As you are staying directly on the tundra, you have ideal early-morning and late-afternoon photo opportunities. And since the lodge has plenty of common areas—a lounge with sofas and chairs as well as a dining car, both rooms with large sliding windows—photographers have plenty of space to shoot spontaneously.
Inquisitive bears often approach the lodge at close range, and it features rows of windows and secure 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 mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, and solitary individuals lumbering over the tundra. Combine observation from the Tundra Lodge with excursions in special all-terrain tundra vehicles called Polar Rovers, to afford lodge guests the best possible variety of wildlife encounters in the region. Your Expedition Leader and entire group may opt to take a full-day excursion together, or you may split time between a half-day trip and viewing bears from the lodge.
At the end of each exhilarating day, come together for dinner and presentations. On a clear night, you may be fortunate to photograph the wondrous phenomenon of the northern lights, which often begin as a faint white glow, then intensify in scope and color as they shimmer across the dark sky. While the lights are never guaranteed, Churchill has some of the most frequent auroral activity on Earth.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.
Reluctantly leave the tundra wilds this morning and head back to the town of Churchill. Before departing on your afternoon flight to Winnipeg, there is a chance for one more distinctively northern adventure: an authentic dog sled ride! Just outside town, meet a local musher and his team, spending time getting to know and learn about the dogs before taking turns riding behind them on an exhilarating run through the boreal forest. If time permits, there may also be a chance to pick up last-minute native-made handicrafts and souvenirs, or to take an optional helicopter flight (fee involved) over the tundra before you depart. Enjoy a farewell lunch together before your chartered flight back to Winnipeg, where a final reception caps our Arctic adventure.
Departure dates and itinerary subject to change. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm departure schedule before purchasing air tickets. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Round-trip flights between Winnipeg and Churchill; accommodations and meals as per itinerary; dog sledding excurions; 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; and gear on loan (parka and waterproof boots). Subject to change without notice.
Travel to and from Winnipeg; distilled and alcoholic beverages not listed as included; some gratuities; optional helicopter excursion; travel insurance; items of a personal nature (telephone calls, laundry, etc.).
PHOTOS: © Eric Rock (NHA); © Colin McNulty (NHA); © Mike Bruscia (NHA); © Henry Holdsworth; © NHA