Churchill in Northern Manitoba is a small town with a wild spirit. The kind of place where, in the summer, beluga whales coast along the Churchill River en route to Hudson Bay, and in the wintertime, the Northern Lights animate the dark skies in a dramatically beautiful display. It's also home to some of the country's most intriguing and dangerous predators — polar bears.
During mid-summer, after the Hudson Bay thaws, the native population of bears returns to the shores of the northern coast to wait out the season. Then, as the winter approaches, the majestic creatures move toward the bay for their annual winter feast. Whether you're shooting for a warm-weather retreat or prepared to embark on an arctic winter adventure, make Hudson Bay your next stop. Pack some comfortable clothes and your recreational gear, and get ready to meet the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba.
The Polar Bear Capital of the World
There is so much to love about Northern Manitoba. From the Arctic tundra to the lush forests, the region's rugged, untouched landscapes are inspiring and magical. The native polar bear population adds a surreal touch to Churchill, as these majestic creatures must be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Summertime is the best time to witness their arrival onshore as they skip hibernation to relax in the sun, walk along the rocky shores, and swim in the bay. A boat tour offers a unique polar bear viewing experience. It's the perfect chance to watch them use their webbed paws to navigate the pristine waters and to catch the beluga whale migration. The whales that pass through every summer are just as excited to meet you as you are to see them, so don't hesitate to engage these curious visitors.
If you'd rather wait for the winter experience, you can catch the Aurora Borealis in Churchill. This small town is one of the three best places in the world to witness the Northern Lights because of its remote location and lack of light pollution.
How to See the Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
There are several ways to see the polar bears of Churchill. If you're feeling brave, book a safari tour for the ultimate polar bear viewing experience. Explorers set out in raised, reinforced tundra vehicles to get an up-close view of these majestic creatures. The trucks are a safe way for tourists to get some spectacular photos out of harm's way. These tundra trips usually last all day but include a lunch onboard the vehicle — a truly unforgettable meal.
You can also book a walking tour with an experienced guide to see the polar bears from a more personal vantage point. In the summer months, a boat tour provides some fun views from the water. Watch from offshore as the creatures wander along the rocky shoreline or take a dip in the warm waters, relative to the Arctic territories, at least. If you prefer a polar bear viewing experience with drama and flair, book a helicopter tour. From awe-inspiring heights, you'll hover above the vast, sweeping tundra, boreal forests, and the sparkling blue waters of the Hudson Bay.
When You're in the Mood for History
The Prince of Wales Fort on Cape Merry is a massive installation with a unique footprint. The star-shaped bastions, canons, and substantial stone walls are only accessible via a boat tour, but the trip is worth it for the panoramic views and wildlife sightings on the shore. You can also have the rare experience of visiting the Miss Piggy Crash Site, the wreckage of a freight plane that landed among the rocks and stayed there. Thankfully, there were no fatalities, and the fuselage is merely a landmark and a unique Instagram opportunity.