Churchill Wild’s Premier Polar Bear Tours – Face to Face with Arctic Giants


It was our third journey to Churchill, Manitoba – The Polar Bear Capital of the World. It was late October once we flew into Winnipeg the night time earlier than setting off on a polar bear safari to our distant lodge on Hudson Bay. The final time we visited Seal River Lodge with Churchill Wild, it was freezing, this time round, it was a balmy zero levels Celcius (32F) in Winnipeg. The climate outlook for Churchill was round minus 10 levels. Good climate for polar bear excursions. This was going to be a very good week.

Polar Bear Excursions Churchill Wild

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild

We thought we have been the cool folks taking our third journey to see the polar bears with Churchill Wild. That’s till we met one other couple from Switzerland who had been 9 occasions a person from China who was visiting for the sixth time. Polar Bear excursions are addictive. When you’ve seen a polar bear within the wild, the expertise stays with you and also you wish to return time and again.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Male Walking

We had visited Churchill once in the summer and one other time within the winter. Churchill Wild has added many polar bear excursions to their arsenal with polar bear safaris resembling their Den Emergence Tour to see feminine polar bears and their new child cubs, the Cloud Wolves of Katai, and {the summertime} journeys to see Birds, Bears, and Belugas. See all of Churchill Wild’s Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bears in Summer time

Earth Day Animals Polar Bears 2

Summertime excursions are fairly totally different from the winter however simply as spectacular. Seeing polar bears with the inexperienced tundra panorama contrasting their white coats is a sight to behold. You may learn all about that have in these articles: Walking with Polar Bears – The Greatest Arctic Safari / Learn extra: Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Churchill

Arctic Gear Offered

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Clothing

After touchdown in Winnipeg on our flight from Toronto, we picked up our baggage and walked throughout the road to The Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel the place Churchill Wild safari visitors spend the night time earlier than flying out the subsequent morning.

Everybody who books a polar bear tour with Churchill Wild is given a parka, snow pants, and winter boots to assist courageous the Northern Canadian chilly. Climate might be unpredictable and it might probably simply go right down to minus 40 Celcius with the windchill. When visiting Churchill for polar bear safaris, it’s necessary to layer and be ready for something.

how to dress for extreme cold weather

Make sure that to pack, mittens, balaclava, hats, heat socks, and thermal layers of merino wool. We additionally packed hand warmers and toe warmers that are a lifesaver. We have now a whole put up about layering for chilly climate and you may watch our video from the final time we have been in Churchill with -45 diploma climate. Learn our full article: 5 Winter Layering Tips to Dress for Extreme Cold Weather

Orientation in Winnipeg

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Prep

We went as much as the highest ground of the Grand Winnipeg Airport Hotel for our becoming, grabbed our gear, and spent the remainder of the afternoon repacking and organizing our luggage for the Greatest Arctic Safari you’ll ever have.

After a fast orientation about what to anticipate on a polar bear journey to Seal River Lodge, our group of 9 folks loved a meal collectively whereas attending to know each other. It was a brief meal although, as flights to Churchill with Calm Air depart early within the morning. Our wake-up name was for 4 am.

Flights to Churchill, Manitoba

calm air churchill manitoba

Morning got here early, however we have been so excited we didn’t really feel drained. All of us walked as a bunch to the airport wrapped in our matching parkas inflicting quite a lot of folks to take discover. Our Churchill Wild escorts did all of the work for us making check-in a breeze. They have been even allowed to return by way of safety with us to ensure all of us received on the aircraft. Now that’s service!

Calm Air is the airline that’s the gateway to the North. The flight to Churchill from Winnipeg is 2 1/2 hours and it’s the coolest expertise. Everybody walks out onto the runway the place our flight attendants greet us whereas carrying Canada Goose parkas. No pictures are allowed on the runway, however that’s okay, that is the right time to only benefit from the expertise. We’re heading to the Nice White North.

Arrival in Churchill

Polar Bear Jail in Churchill Manitoba
The Polar Bear Holding Facility is simply outdoors the airport in Churchill (the photograph is from our final go to)

The journey day isn’t over when you land in Churchill, there’s nonetheless yet another flight to go. We gathered our baggage from the belt and placed on our snow pants and heat climate gear to get right into a small twin-engine aircraft that took every Churchill Wild group to their respective lodges.

We took a brief tour whereas we waited for our flight to the polar bear holding facility close by. That is the place polar bears who’ve wandered too near city and gained’t depart are put in holding whereas ready to be relocated far-off from town. You may learn all about it right here: Best Things to Do in Churchill Manitoba

Churchill Wild Eco Lodges – Sustainability & Duty

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Encounters

Churchill Wild has three lodges on Hudson Bay – Dymond Lake Eco Lodge, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, and our lodging for the subsequent 5 days, Seal River Heritage Heritage Lodge.

The flight is about 20 minutes to cowl the 60 km journey north from Churchill. It was an attractive scenic flight the place we noticed the icy shores of Hudson Bay and a few moose operating on the land beneath.

Seal River Heritage Lodge

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Seal River Lodge
Seal River Lodge on the Shores of Hudson Bay

Seal River Lodge has its personal airstrip, and because the lodge got here into view by way of our window, I might really feel the anticipation decide up. Will we come head to head with a polar bear quickly?

Our hosts and guides have been ready by the airstrip with the final group of polar bear watchers, and as we disembarked, they bid farewell. It was then on to the ATVs to make our method to the comfortable lodge for an introduction, some sizzling espresso, and low and behold our first polar bear sighting!

Seal River Lodge outside of Churchill to view Polar Bears

This heritage lodge is a luxurious eco-lodge situated on the shores of Hudson Bay. At excessive tide, the waters come proper as much as the property. The quiet cove was as soon as a goose looking lodge and a beluga whale analysis station which made it a primary cease for the polar bear migration to the Hudson Bay. It was remodeled right into a polar bear lodge 30 years in the past by Mike and Jeanne Reimer. Since then, Churchill Wild has grow to be the main polar bear tour operator in Churchill and the one one in every of its form that walks with polar bears.

seal river heritage lodge polar bear tours churchill

The lodges observe a minimalist strategy to its luxurious safaris. Electrical energy is solar-powered and every lodge was constructed utilizing native and recycled lumber with a design to permit as a lot daylight as attainable to reduce the usage of power. Belief me, it might probably get downright sizzling in there when the solar is shining, even when it’s beneath zero. Water from the lodges comes from close by lakes which are triple triple-filtered.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Day 1

Most significantly, most of Churchill Wild’s polar bear excursions are carried out on foot to reduce their use of motorized autos. The lodges are situated in prime wildlife hangouts, so we don’t must go far to see wildlife. By strolling as much as see polar bears, we barely impression their on a regular basis lives.

As soon as the polar bears take discover of us, they resolve if they are going to permit our group to remain or not. If they’re okay, we get to face and watch them for a little bit bit earlier than transferring on. Our guides by no means overstayed their welcome, irrespective of how good the photograph alternatives have been.

The Reverse Zoo – Polar Bears Watching People

polar bear tours human zoo

The lodge has lovely bay home windows going through in all instructions. There are scopes and binoculars set as much as view polar bears within the distance, however they’re usually merely hanging across the lodge. This lodge is situated proper on a quiet cove on the Hudson Bay the place polar bears incessantly enter the ice flows as soon as it freezes.

Its prime location makes it the right spot to observe polar bears. When you didn’t wish to depart the compound, you didn’t must. One lady skipped the morning walks to easily benefit from the views by herself from the nice and cozy fireplace inside. She noticed polar bears galore from the home windows.

Strolling with Polar Bears

Walking With Polar Bears Churchill wild

Not like different polar bear excursions in Churchill, a visit to Seal River Lodge will get you out from behind the glass of a tundra buggy and out strolling on the Tundra with polar bears. We went outdoors the gates twice day by day for 2 to 3 hours on every stroll. On common, we have been about 100 meters from polar bears however they usually walked nearer with curiosity and typically we have been about 20 meters from the bears.

Security Coaching for Company Strolling with Polar Bears

Churchill Wild Polar Bear Tour Safety
Our group travels in single file to maintain a small profile

The strolling polar bear excursions are carried out in small teams to make sure that the guides can monitor the protection of all visitors and decrease the impression on the bears and their pure habitat. We had a bunch of 9 visitors with three guides (Boomer, Jess, and Dave) guaranteeing our security. Earlier than embarking on any walks, visitors obtain thorough briefings on security procedures and we have been all educated about find out how to behave when within the neighborhood of polar bears.

Walking single file on Polar Bear Tour in Churchill
We at all times walked in single file

Earlier than leaving the compound, our guides Boomer and Jess confirmed us find out how to stroll in a single file, find out how to transfer in a pinwheel, and find out how to stand as soon as we stopped and so they deemed it protected. Every individual needed to line up in a “V” shoulder behind shoulder so we might spy on the bears whereas spanning the shortest distance attainable. If bears see a protracted line, they might take a look at that as a menace. Once we stroll single file they aren’t involved.

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When stopping, we have been allowed to fan out in a V for pictures

We then stopped as soon as we have been inside a protected distance from the bear and might unfold out into a decent diagonal line. It’s only after the bear has seen us, feels snug with us, and lets us stick round that we’re allowed to fan out in a line to take our photographs and movies. It’s a well-organized and confirmed system that has allowed Churchill Wild to run these excursions for many years with out incident.

Guides talking about Polar Bear Safety in Churchill
Our information Boomer prepares us for an approaching polar bear

However you need to obey your guides. Once they say cameras down, there is no such thing as a hesitation, cameras should go down. Once they say, to begin turning the pinwheel, you could observe instructions. The actions should not just for our security however for the consolation of the polar bear. In the event that they don’t really feel threatened, they are going to permit guests into their area. In reality, I believe they like the corporate.

We spent 5 days strolling with polar bears twice a day. And every encounter was extra magical than the final.

Boomer made positive that everybody had good views and at all times made positive that everybody might see. They have been very acutely aware about ensuring that everybody might {photograph} and see the bears once we stopped, whereas ensuring the group and the bears have been protected.

The Polar Bear Safari

polar bear tours walking with polar bears curious female

Earlier than every stroll, we had a gathering to debate the foundations of strolling with polar bears and what to anticipate as soon as we emerged from behind the excessive fences. After our conferences, all of us went to our cozy rooms to prepare.

After gearing up in our thermal layers, parkas, and hand, and foot heaters, we went into the breezeway to placed on our parkas and boots after which met outdoors within the fenced-in yard to both take a look at polar bears from the remark platforms or to open the gates and head outdoors.

Polar Bear Safari Churchill Wildlife Red Fox

The walks present unparalleled alternatives to look at polar bears within the wild. Not like extra widespread tundra automobile excursions round Churchill, strolling offers you a extra intimate and ground-level perspective. You may see bears roaming the shoreline, foraging, and even play-fighting. We noticed all of them!

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Ptarmigan have been widespread to see on our walks

There may be additionally an opportunity to look at different Arctic wildlife, resembling Arctic foxes, crimson foxes, arctic hares, and ptarmigan.

Is strolling with Polar Bears Protected?

Polar Bear Safety Tips

Every time we point out that we’ve walked with polar bears, folks at all times inform us, “That’s not protected!” We used to suppose that as properly. I used to suppose that individuals might by no means get near polar bears. That’s till I did it. Take a look at: Adorable Tundra Animals – The Canadian Arctic Comes to Life

I’d by no means exit within the wild searching for polar bears alone. It’s necessary to rent professional guides that perceive polar bears and know their conduct. Churchill Wild has established a set of security protocols and procedures to make sure the well-being of each the visitors and the polar bears. We have now at all times felt protected and cozy on our polar bear safaris and consider me, we now have been simply mere ft away from polar bears within the wild with no barrier.

Skilled Guides at Churchill Wild

Churchill Wild Polar Bear Guides
Our polar bear guides resolve find out how to strategy a close-by polar bear safely

Churchill Wild employs extremely skilled and skilled guides who perceive polar bear conduct and are outfitted to deal with shut encounters with wildlife. Our guides are additionally skilled in emergency response and carry security gear always.

We had the utmost confidence in our guides. They carry rifles however have by no means used them. As Boomer stated, “It could be irresponsible for us to exit into the wilderness with no rifle.” However a rifle is the final resort. The deterrents that guides use first are voice and sound like banging rocks collectively after which physique language like stepping towards the bear. It’s superb to see how a little bit sound or motion could make a bear cease in its tracks.

Guides additionally carry noise makers, however they not often (if ever) use them as properly.

Looking for polar bears in Churchill Manitoba
Jess research a close-by polar bear’s conduct earlier than we will stroll additional

Churchill Wild guides are expert at deciphering polar bear conduct and sustaining a respectful distance from the animals. Ought to a bear strategy, the guides know find out how to cautiously handle the state of affairs and use their coaching to maintain everybody protected.

A Day within the Life at Seal River Lodge with Churchill Wild Polar Bear Safaris

What it is like on a Churchill wild Polar Bear Safari

The day at Seal River Heritage Lodge begins at 7:00 am with a contemporary pot of espresso and a heat fireplace. We usually relaxed, went by way of photographs, or chatted with our fellow polar bear lovers till breakfast at 8 a.m.

At 8 a.m., it was time to undergo the breezeway to the breakfast room the place we have been fed a hearty meal every morning. The chef can accommodate all dietary wants from vegetarian to gluten-free.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Food
Gluten-Free Pasta

After breakfast, our guides Boomer or Jess inform us the plan for the day. Whereas we’ve been consuming and having fun with espresso, the employees have been outdoors on the crow’s nest or trying by way of the scopes to see the place the polar bears are. From their they make a plan on what route we are going to stroll that morning.

It’s then again to our rooms to get suited up, decide up our digicam gear, and placed on our coats and boots within the cool breezeway. As soon as outdoors, all of us depart the gates collectively in a single file searching for polar bears.

Polar Bears Sightings

Viewing Platform At Churchill wild Seal River Lodge
Security inside the fenced in compound

Throughout different polar bear excursions, we spent a variety of time strolling and trying to find polar bears, however on this final go to to Seal River Lodge, we barely needed to depart the compound. We misplaced rely of what number of polar bear encounters we had. However I do know that we noticed at the least half a dozen totally different polar bears throughout our safari.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Daily Routine

Many mornings noticed polar bears sitting outdoors ready for us. It’s like they have been excited to see us. Boomer stated that these polar bears are bored. They’ve been patiently ready for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay and we’re their leisure. As an alternative of going out the gates, we walked to the viewing platforms to see the bears go about their day. And more often than not, they determined to observe us as properly.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild FAQ's
This polar bear slept proper outdoors the fence watching us

Seal River Lodge is located on Hudson Bay immediately on the trail that polar bears take to exit onto the ice stream. Within the months of October and November, bears are patiently ready for the ice to freeze, whereas conserving their power. There isn’t quite a bit to eat moreover seaweed and grass at this level, so they’re attempting to maintain as a lot fats on their our bodies in order that they’ll get out on the ice to begin looking seals.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Manitoba

With the lodge being proper on the shore, we noticed bears strolling across the fence and peering inside, sleeping in entrance of our bay home windows, and sitting down to observe the bizarre beings in a zoo alongside their path to the water. They honestly have been probably the most curious creatures.

polar bear tours seal river lodge, polar bear peering inside

Often, we spent about half-hour trying on the bears from the assorted platforms earlier than the bears misplaced curiosity and moved on. As soon as they have been safely away, we might open the gates and begin our stroll.

Polar Bear Encounters Canada’s Finest Journey

We by no means spent too lengthy with one bear. We at all times spent simply lengthy sufficient that they have been okay with us watching, however we by no means wore out our welcome. The primary concern for the Churchill Wild guides is to make it possible for the bears are snug and stress-free. As soon as they began strolling towards us for a more in-depth look or in the event that they confirmed any indicators of curiosity in what we have been doing, our group moved on and left the bear to go about its enterprise rummaging for seaweed or grass to graze upon.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Encounter

Throughout our 5 days (4 nights) at Seal River Heritage Lodge, we misplaced rely of what number of polar bear encounters we had between the 5 or 6 totally different polar bears we noticed. There was a giant male polar bear that frolicked every single day on the lodge. He would stroll as much as the fence to say hi there after which lay right down to look in at us for hours on finish. He slept outdoors the bay home windows all night time to shelter from the wind and chased off smaller polar bears commonly.

Polar Bear Cub

We noticed the cutest mother and cub once we took the ATVs out to cross the lake. This was actually our most magical afternoon. The day earlier than our guides noticed the mother and cub within the distance, however we didn’t make it on the market to see them. The subsequent morning, they determined to load us onto carts and take us shut so we might stroll out onto the lake for a greater view.

The cub was thrilled to see us and it appeared as if it needed to play. It stored choosing up a rock and dropping it prefer it needed us to play fetch. The mother appeared joyful to have the ability to relaxation whereas the cub was preoccupied with us. Mother stored one eye on her treasured cub whereas laying down for a relaxation because the cub chewed on branches, performed with rocks, and stored taking a look at us.

Polar Bear Mom and Cub

Boomer urged that the cub in all probability had a sibling that didn’t make it since most polar bears give beginning to 2 cubs. It’s intuition is to play, so it checked out us as a play companion. Nonetheless, these are wild animals, in order cute because it was, Boomer and Jess stored us a protected distance again and each time the cub got here too shut, they might say “Hey Bear.”

Polar bears reside in silence with little or no noise aside from wind. So one of the best deterrent for polar bears is sound. Once they hear a voice, it startles them and so they again away. As Boomer and Jess defined to us, our voices and actions are our greatest deterrents.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Female Encounter

It’s actually a magical expertise to be allowed to look into the lives of polar bears. We watched polar bears posture for place on the bay with the previous bigger male successful out. Small polar bears would stroll by way of the realm and we might see their demeanor immediately change the second they sensed the bigger male.

We watched some polar bears attempt to take a stand and strategy the bigger male whereas others cowered away. We noticed some have a standoff slowly chasing one after which switching positions whereas the opposite chased them again. We noticed mother and cub crossing the ice and we noticed a younger bear attempting to determine the way it was probably going to outlive the winter.

Polar Bear Standing Male

It was a glimpse into the animal world that few ever get to see and it was a privilege. We got here away with a deeper understanding and respect for polar bears. Like many animals, they’re curious, harmless, and delightful. However you need to have a wholesome respect for wildlife. They might be cute and cuddly on the skin, but when provoked, frightened, hungry, or agitated, they’ll flip wild in a heartbeat.

The Lodge Expertise

Polar bear tours churchill wild staff
Halloween at Churchill Wild – Meet the Seal River Employees

It wasn’t all enterprise and polar bears throughout our time up at Seal River Lodge. Evenings have been a variety of enjoyable as we exchanged tales with guides and visitors and mentioned the superb days we had. We loved 5-star meals with wine pairings after which retired to the lodge to observe shows about polar bears, and life within the Arctic or to get suggestions from resident photographer and information Boomer.

polar bear tours churchill wild room

Churchill Wild actually thinks of every little thing. Our rooms are stylish and cozy with en suite loos, sizzling water, and warmth with a snug cover. We slept like infants. That’s till we have been awoken by one of many guides to see the northern lights.

where to see the northern lights in Canada churchill

Every night time guides maintain a lookout for northern lights and in order for you them to wake you up, they are going to knock in your door. Boomer even helped folks set their digicam settings forward of time so they might run out and snap nice photographs. We have now encountered northern lights every go to to Churchill. With the potential for seeing them 300 days of the yr, everybody has an incredible likelihood. Learn extra: Best Places To See the Northern Lights in Canada In 2024

FAQs about Polar Bear Excursions

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Airport

Are there Polar Bears in Canada?

Sure, Canada has many polar bears. In reality, Canada is residence to two-thirds of the estimated polar bear inhabitants which is round 23,000 polar bears.

Is it harmful to stroll with Polar Bears?

things to do in churchill

You will need to keep in mind that polar bears are wild and unpredictable animals, and there’s at all times a component of danger when in shut proximity to them. Nonetheless, the dangers are managed fastidiously by the safari operators to create a protected atmosphere for an unforgettable expertise.

As individuals on these safaris, we adopted all pointers offered by guides and remained conscious of our environment. We have been a part of the safari. The precedence of operators like Churchill Wild is to make sure the protection of their visitors whereas preserving the pure conduct and habitat of the polar bears. And as individuals who have walked with polar bears 3 times, we will attest, they do care deeply concerning the well-being of polar bears.

Polar Bear Excursions in A Nutshell

Best things to do in Churchill Manitoba polar bears

Wrapping up your days at Seal River Lodge seems like abandoning a bit of your wild coronary heart. This isn’t your common journey; it’s a polar bear strolling safari that invitations you into the world of those noble giants at a tempo that permits you to soak all of it in. Churchill Wild has this entire journey right down to a nice artwork, balancing thrill with take care of our furry associates’ residence turf. Prepared for an escape that’s a tad out of the atypical? That is your cue to affix in and tread softly into the polar bears’ yard.

E-book your subsequent polar bear safari with Churchill Wild. Select from one in every of their many wildlife tours here. Polar Bear excursions begin at $13,295 CAD per individual. Roughly $9,600 USD or €9,000.

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