Overview

The World’s Most Coveted Small-Group Polar Bear Expedition!

Location: Canada

Looking out onto the snowy tundra, we spy them, white on white.  Alternately regal and whimsical and always awe-inspiring, polar bears in the wild offer a natural encounter charged with drama and magic. In our custom Polar Rover vehicles we can approach at close range without disturbing them, offering a chance for an incredibly moving wildlife experience. From our heated confines – or standing on the outdoor platform – we may see mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, or a huge, solitary male ambling over the tundra. There’s no better time than now to see the King of the Arctic, and no one better to take you up close than us!

Trip Highlights

  • See the world’s greatest concentration of polar bears in the intimacy of a small group, on our flagship polar bear tour!
  • The most comfortable vehicles, with innovative mesh steel flooring on the outdoor observation platform, get you safely up close to the bears
  • Our professional Expedition Leaders are the best in the business, enhancing your polar bear adventure at every turn with their in-depth knowledge

Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba 

Our Churchill polar bear tour begins in Winnipeg, once a fur-trading post and boomtown for the Canadian Pacific Railway, today Manitoba’s cultural and commercial capital at the eastern edge of Canada’s vast prairies. Transfer to the historic Fort Garry Hotel, grande dame of Winnipeg hospitality and one of the city’s most prestigious landmarks. Meet your Expedition Leader at an orientation dinner this evening.

Day 2: Winnipeg / Churchill 

Fly to Churchill this morning. This hospitable outpost town, originally a fur-trading post, is our base for adventure. On the 6-day trip we head to the tundra this evening for our first glimpse of the bears, though we often see them from the bus as we leave the airport, even before we board our Polar Rover. Our 7-day trip opens with an evening presentation on polar bears and the northern environs by our professional staff of naturalists and scientists. 

Days 3 & 4: Polar Bear Viewing 

Uniquely designed Polar Rovers are our mobile means for spending time among the bears. Though they are built to accommodate up to 35 passengers, we take a maximum of just 16, ensuring everyone a window seat. Our Expedition Leaders know the best places to see polar bears, which congregate in the region each fall as they wait for Hudson Bay to freeze, signalling the start of the winter seal-hunting season. As we watch them interact, we're delighted by their antics and rugged beauty. From the warmth of our vehicle we may see mothers with cubs, young males play-fighting, or a lone bear ambling over the tundra in solitary majesty. Our knowledgeable Expedition Leader offers interpretation along the way, explaining the bears’ behaviour and how they thrive in such a harsh environment. In the evenings we'll meet for dinner followed by presentations on wildlife or local cultures. 

Day 5: Explore Around Churchill / Evening on the Tundra 

On the 7-day trip we tour historic Churchill, then head out to the tundra for evening bear viewing and dinner aboard the vehicle. During the day we may visit local sled dogs en route to Cape Merry, where we often see Arctic fox and Arctic hare. If the skies are clear, our night-time tundra excursion might reveal one of nature’s most exhilarating experiences – a chance to view the northern lights away from the glare of town. Though they are never predictable, the aurora display often starts as a white glow in the northern sky, then begins to flicker and dance in shimmering curtains of colour. On the 6-day trip (your night-time tundra journey takes place on Day 2), there’s free time in Churchill or an opportunity for an optional helicopter excursion over the frozen tundra before boarding our flight back to Winnipeg.

Day 6: Churchill / Winnipeg 

Our return flights are scheduled to depart in the mid- to late afternoon, to offer as much time as possible for exploring Churchill today. Pick up last-minute native handicrafts and souvenirs or, if time permits, take an optional helicopter tour over the tundra or an authentic dog sled excursion. We enjoy a farewell lunch in Churchill before flying back to Winnipeg, where we have a final reception before our adventure concludes. 

Day 7: Winnipeg / Depart 

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home. 

On the 6-day trip we return to Winnipeg on Day 5 with flights home scheduled for Day 6. Occasionally on our 7-day trip, the schedule for the night tundra trip alternates between Day 4 and Day 5. Itineraries may vary slightly, but inclusions are the same.

Dates, Prices & Info

Pricing 2015
6-Day Expedition: $5,695 - $5,895
Single Supp.: $840

7-Day Expedition: $6,095 - $6,295
Single Supp.: $950
Deposit: $500 

Pricing 2016 
6-Day Expedition: $5,895 - $6,095
Single Supp.: $840

7-Day Expedition: $6,295 - $6,495
Single Supp.: $950
Deposit: $500 

Dates Available

Departure dates are available throughout October and November. Please contact us and enquire for exact dates of departure. 


Dates & Pricing Notes

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in US Dollars. Dates for 2016 are tentative and will be allocated to guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests who reserve their space prior to final pricing confirmation will receive the lowest rate within the range offered.

Group Size Limit Approximately 16 Travelers 

A very important feature of our polar bear expeditions is the limited group size. Nature is always best experienced in smaller groups and it is particularly important on this expedition so that our guests have plenty of room on board the tundra vehicles. 

Included

R/T flight from Winnipeg to Churchill, accommodations, all meals, cold-weather gear including a parka and boots during your trip, services of NHA's professional Expedition Leaders and assistants, some gratuities, all activities/entrance fees, evening wildlife and cultural presentations, all taxes and service charges.

Not Included

Travel to and from Winnipeg, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, travel insurance, items of a personal nature (telephone calls, laundry, etc.).

Physical Requirements: Easy 

A polar bear expedition with Natural Habitat Adventures requires very little walking. Travelers must be able to walk up/down stairs. Our Polar Rover vehicles, designed to travel over the tundra for polar bear observation, can sometimes offer a bumpy ride. Travelers must be prepared for below-freezing temperatures and slippery surfaces.

Important Information About This Trip

This flagship polar bear expedition has been our most popular adventure for over 20 years. Its longstanding success is due to the extraordinary polar bear viewing opportunities afforded our guests as well as the broad introduction to life in the North over the course of a six- or seven-day adventure. Two Polar Rover day trips and a night trip are complemented by time spent exploring this subarctic outpost, all in the company of our professional and experienced Expedition Leaders. Regarding polar bears in general: Polar bears are typically in the Churchill area all year round. The highest concentration occurs in Oct. and Nov. Sometimes the best viewing is in the beginning of the season, sometimes the middle and sometimes the end - we never know for sure. The bears are waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze, and when it does, many of them depart. Historically, this has been in early December, but an unusually early cold spell may occur, hastening their departure. Check out more details on the ebbs and flows of the Churchill polar bear viewing season.

Getting There & Getting Home

In case of flight or weather delays, we recommend that you arrive a day early and either participate in our Extra Day in Winnipeg program or stay on your own. Our small group tour begins with a 7 pm welcome dinner on Day 1. You are free to depart at any time on the final day.

Winnipeg & Churchill Hotel

Location: Manitoba, Canada

In Winnipeg, we stay at the Fort Garry Hotel, one of Canada's lavish railway hotels built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1913 and long a symbol of the prairie city's importance as a transportation and commerce hub.  Located downtown one block from Union Station, this historic landmark and gracious accommodation built in French chateau style is Winnipeg's finest hotel, exuding an atmosphere of the opulence that prevailed during the glory days of the development of the Canadian West. Relax in the lounge, enjoy a drink in the antique bar, or indulge in a sumptuous treatment at Ten Spa, an authentic Turkish-style bath and spa located on the top floor of the hotel. 

In the Arctic frontier outpost of Churchill, hotels are small and simple. While they would certainly not be considered fancy by any means, they are clean, comfortable and conveniently located in the center of town. Every room has its own private bathroom with a shower. Please be aware that hotel space in Churchill is scarce, and to accommodate demand we must use a variety of local properties. Room size, amenities, and range of services may vary among hotels despite comparable pricing.