Canadian Bear Necessities
Each year, in the fall, on the west shore of Canada’s Hudson Bay, Polar Bears gather along the shore on the outskirts of Churchill, waiting for the bay to freeze in order to begin the annual hunt for seals. This makes Churchill the self-proclaimed “Polar Bear Capital of the World”. Every fall you can expect in the vicinity of nearly 1,000 bears to pass through Churchill.
The annual Polar bear trek to Hudson Bay provides a fantastic opportunity to see these magnificent animals. Amity World Travel offer tours that range from one to seven days in length that can easily be bolted on to a tour of the Canadian Rockies/Alaskan Cruise, etc or work as a stand-alone holiday. The only way to reach this remote settlement is by plane or a 40-hour train journey from Winnipeg – our recommended option is to fly from Winnipeg and spend 3 or 4 nights in Churchill, this will allow for 2 full days spent viewing the bears.
Your two days of Polar Bear viewing will be spent in the Tundra Buggy; Tundra Buggy’s can only be described as a portacabin on oversized wheels. However they are without doubt the most comfortable and safe way to experience the bears in their natural environment. The Buggy will follow a system of established trails, stopping at leisure to enjoy the scenery. Meandering across the cold landscape in the morning light, the tundra looks a bleak, unforgiving wilderness, with low, battered willow bushes dusted with snow, frozen pools, tidal flats and the odd spruce. Despite the bleakness the sage green and pale turquoise tints of the ice have a peculiar beauty about them, contrasting with the golden brown leaves clinging to the trees and the red and yellow ochres of lace-like lichens on the scattered rocks.
As you weave your way towards Hudson Bay there is a good chance that you will catch the unmistakable outline of the bears plodding along the horizon, their coats honey-coloured against the pure white of the snow. Upon reaching the shores of Hudson Bay you can expect to find an abundance of polar bears, the majority will carry on with their daily life, as if you are not there. Curiosity will get the better of some and you can expect male bears to approach the buggy, puling themselves up against the side to do a spot of people watching, whilst the mothers will just lay close by with their young in tow. With the opportunity to take photos from the observation deck to the rear of the buggy and a highly knowledgeable guide to keep you informed on all that is going on around, you will find the day soon passes and before you know it you will be heading back to town.
The Polar Bears of Churchill are undoubtedly a holiday experience that will live long in the memory, with a choice of tour operators offering an array of options from Adventure tours to the more luxurious and inclusive; it makes sense to speak to Amity World Travel first. Their experienced staff will be able to steer you through the myriad of choices and take the strain out of tying it all together with any plans you may have for before and after your time in Churchill.
The season is short as the bears will be off as soon as the sea ice has formed, which is usually by mid-November, with the high demand to witness this annual migration, early booking is highly recommended.
Canadian Bear Necessities