Churchill, Manitoba – Polar Bear Capital of the World
Every once in a while there is an adventure opportunity that just blows all the other ones out of the water and Churchill, Manitoba located in Canada may just be that opportunity for you and your family. For those unfamiliar with the area, Churchill is often referred to as the Polar Bear capital of the world and it also offers a rare chance to see beautiful Beluga Whales in their natural habitat through some one-of-a-kind adventure options. This is a trip that is sure to thrill any child and adult alike. If you have plans of visiting the province of Manitoba, Churchill is an absolute must stop location.
Explore Untouched Wildlife
The remote location of Churchill allows for some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you and your travel companions will never forget. Because this is the Polar Bear capital of the world you’re in for some fabulous viewing opportunities. It’s also a prime location for Beluga Whale watching as you are able to get out on the water and see them in their natural habitat. For those who are working on the “Big Year” of bird watching you’ll find an incredible amount of species here. There’s also the beauty of the Northern Lights which is an opportunity like no other. With Churchill it’s all about being outdoors and being part of nature and the environment rather than nature conforming to city living. For most tourists, this ends up being a trip of a lifetime that they won’t ever be able to beat let alone match.
Remote Access keeps it Pristine
Part of the allure of Churchill is the fact it is so pristine and untouched and the way this stays possible is that it is very remote and there are no roads that lead into it. In fact, if you want to travel to Churchill the only way in and out is by rail or air. Not to worry you can get to the area year-round but, because the transportation options are limited, you’ll need to book way in advance to ensure your spot. To get to Churchill you will need to depart from Winnipeg, MB. Churchill is a two hour flight from Winnipeg and about 48 hours long by train. If you’d rather you can drive to Thompson, MB and then get on the train there or fly.
When to Visit
Before you book your trip it’s important to think about what it is you want to see because that will determine what time of year you should plan your visit. Busy season is fall, which is October and November and it’s not uncommon for the area to be completely booked up during this time. The popular sights during fall are the Northern Lights and dogsledding, this also happens to be the best time of year for Polar Bear watching. At this time of year they are migrating from their summer habitat to the winter one on the Hudson Bay, for seal-hunting. Even though it’s not technically winter at this time of year, tourists can expect very cold temperatures and snow. Dog sledding and the Northern Lights watching opportunities continue throughout winter though. Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are most resplendent in January through March in Churchill, MB.
Another Polar Bear watching opportunity occurs in late winter and early spring where the female Polar Bears will be coming out from their dens with their babies. This can be seen in Wapusk National Park. Keep in mind average temperatures during the winter are -45˚ C (-25˚ F), so you will want to be prepared with what you pack.
If it’s the Beluga Whales you’re interested in, then summer is the best time to visit. During the summer months, you can actually kayak and swim with them in the Hudson Bay and Churchill River. Polar Bear watching can still happen as well as dog sledding, wildlife watching in general of arctic animals, and bird watching. Even though it’s summer it can still get chilly in Churchill so you’ll still want to pack warm clothes and plenty of waterproof layers.
Hotels and Restaurants
There aren’t many accommodation options in Churchill, which is another reason to book well in advance. You can choose from hotels and bed and breakfasts or if you want a more natural experience you can choose to stay in a remote lodge. While in Churchill, tourists will want to take the opportunity to sample the regional cuisine, which offers dishes you aren’t likely to find in other places. Based on travellers’ experience, Tripadvisor lists following among popular hotels and restaurants in Churchill :
Hotels : Tundra Inn, Lazy Bear Lodge, Bear Country Inn, Iceberg Inn
B&Bs/Inns : Bluesky Bed & Sled, Pola Inn, Bears’ Den B&B
Restaurants : Gypsy’s Bakery and Restaurant, tundra Inn, Lazy Bear Cafe, Seaport Hotel
A Rare Opportunity
If one is to sum up Churchill in just a few words it’s a place that offers tourists rare and beautiful nature and wildlife opportunities that very few places are able to offer. Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears and beluga whales can be observed in their natural habitats.