Polar Bear in a patch of flowers

Walk with Polar Bears on the Ultimate Canadian Safari

In partnership with Travel Manitoba

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Polar Bear in a patch of flowers

This safari is one of the only ways to see these majestic creatures in the wild. Photo courtesy Travel Manitoba

Accessible only by plane or train, the town of Churchill, Manitoba, is certainly remote—but its hard-to-reach location is part of its charm. Nestled on the historic shores of Hudson Bay, Churchill is known for its beautiful beluga whales, its breathtaking Northern Lights, and of course, its most notable inhabitants: the polar bears.

With an almost one-to-one ratio of humans to bears, it’s easy to see how these majestic creatures became such a celebrated focal point of the town. They’re even honored with murals and sculptures at every turn.

Though Churchill is known as the “polar bear capital of the world,” the greatest opportunities to interact with these white giants lay beyond the town’s limits. If you’re seeking a truly wild experience, hop on a prop plane to one of Churchill Wild’s four luxury ecolodges, which offer visitors an exclusive opportunity to stroll with some of Canada’s most iconic wildlife.

The team at Churchill Wild is well-acquainted with the region, having chosen the spot for their first lodge over 25 years ago—but their connection to the land goes even deeper than that. Co-owner Jeanne Reimer’s parents have been involved in adventure tourism in the Arctic region for over 40 years, and her family history in the area stretches back nearly 100 years.

Trust that you’re in good hands when you embark on a Churchill Wild Arctic safari. Their lodges and tours will bring you face-to-face with polar bears, beluga whales, and other majestic wildlife like black bears, wolves, moose, Arctic foxes, and over 100 species of birds—all featured against the glorious backdrops of the Canadian tundra and taiga.

Vacation in polar bear paradise

Polar Bear in Manitoba

Churchill Wild’s tours allow you to explore the Canadian tundra and taiga on foot. Photo by Robert Postma, courtesy Churchill Wild

If polar bear sightings are what you’re after, check in at the Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, the Seal River Heritage Lodge (both National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World), or the nearby Dymond Lake Ecolodge. Churchill Wild boasts the world’s only remote fly-in ecolodges where you can walk with the polar bears, so you might as well take advantage. They’re also one of the only adventure companies that prefer to approach the Arctic tundra on foot, allowing for an intimate and thrilling experience unlike any other. Visiting in October and November ensures even more polar bear viewings, as the local population reaches upwards of 2,500 as the annual seal hunt begins. In the summer, however, the bears can be spotted in their “waiting room” on the Hudson Bay coast, near Churchill Wild’s lodges, where they wile away the warmer months until the sea ice returns.

Choose your own adventure

beluga whales swimming in Manitoba

Spot (and even kayak with) beautiful beluga whales. Photo courtesy of Churchill Wild

Once you decide a Churchill Wild expedition needs to be checked off your bucket list as soon as possible, start by perusing the 12 different polar bear safaris to figure out which one is right for you. If the thought of polar bears lounging about in bright fields of fireweed enchants you, consider signing up for the Birds, Bears, and Belugas safari. This incredible summer adventure also gives you a front-row seat to the migration of the friendly beluga whales, making it a great choice for families. Approximately 60,000 of these beautiful, playful sea mammals enter the Hudson Bay and Churchill river around this time to mate and birth their young.

arctic fox in the wild

The area’s diverse wildlife provides once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities. Photo by Robert Hlavica, courtesy Churchill Wild

For the ultimate polar bear experience, there’s The Arctic Discovery: a tour that immerses travelers in the rugged Northern Manitoba wild, boasting unrivaled access to polar bears and many other species of unique wildlife. This is one of the most comprehensive of Churchill Wild’s safaris, as it also allows you to explore the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg and kayak with the belugas in Hudson Bay. Prefer to practice your photography skills and build a remarkable portfolio? Sign up for the Polar Bear Photo Safari, available at either the Nanuk or Seal River lodges, which are ideally situated for polar bear sightings.

Indulge in luxury accommodations

Wraparound windows give visitors front-row seats to Northern Lights and passing polar bears.

Wraparound windows give visitors front-row seats to Northern Lights and passing polar bears. Photo by Scott Zielke, courtesy of Churchill Wild

In between wildlife excursions, you’ll be treated to world-class service and accommodations. While the scenery, wildlife, and exclusivity of a Churchill Wild ecolodge are what attracts guests initially, the culinary experience is almost as memorable as an up-close-and-personal encounter with a polar bear. Churchill Wild matriarch and long-time chef Helen Webber (Jeanne Reimer’s mother), along with her good friend and fellow chef Marie Woolsey, have even published a series of cookbooks, aptly named Blueberries and Polar Bears. Focusing on local and regional fare, the culinary creations at Churchill Wild’s lodges regularly include dishes like fresh, almond-crusted lake trout with decadent leek and lemon cream, or a gorgeous cream cheese tart, stuffed with wild blueberries.

From July to November, you can travel to the world’s only fly-in, luxury ecolodges and learn all about the magic of the Arctic tundra with Churchill Wild, the pioneers of the polar bear walking safari. Don’t miss this exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime adventure!


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