Did you know that Canada is home to around 60% of the world’s polar bear population?
In many parts of Arctic Canada, the wildlife outnumbers the human population. This means that there is no better place to go to take a walk on the wild side! The polar bear is one of nature’s most elusive creatures, and so a chance to spot them is one of the most awe-inspiring and unforgettable wildlife-watching experiences on the planet.
With an ever-changing arctic landscape, there is no time like the present to book your trip to see polar bears in their natural habitat. Here’s our guide to the best locations to spot them in Canada.
Without a doubt, Churchill is the most famous part of Canada for polar bear spotting – it is, after all, nicknamed ‘The Polar Bear Capital of the World’. Hundreds of bears gather each year at Hudson Bay to wait for the sea ice to refreeze so they can continue to hunt seals. Churchill is one of the most accessible and budget-friendly locations for this wildlife-watching adventure, with a number of options from tundra buggies, to guided walking safaris, to boat trips along the coastline. Tundra buggies are the most popular option as they have an indoor and outdoor viewing platform to allow you to get as close as possible to the bears – but don’t worry, the elevation means that you remain safe at all times.
When to Visit: Around 2500 bears arrive in Churchill in October and November each year. Alternatively, take a chance and visit in March, when mother bears will be emerging from dens with their little cubs.
Akpatok Island, Nunavut
Akpatok is an uninhabited island around 70km from the shore of northern Quebec, and is renowned for being home to a variety of wildlife. Polar bears tend to flock on-shore when the ice melts, where the females will den with their cubs while the males continue to hunt for their family. Akpatok can be accessed on specialist tours by both water and air. You can even hike in certain parts of the island, so keep your eyes peeled for these majestic bears on your travels.
When to Visit: July and August are the best time for polar bear spotting, as the ice is just beginning to melt and they can still hunt for seals.
Baffin Island, Nunavut
Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada. Known for its stunning glaciers, wildlife and native culture, this is a popular home for polar bears. This is the perfect location for more adventurous travellers, and various tour companies run expeditions via boat where up to 20 bears can be seen at any given time.
When to Visit: Tours normally run in May and June. These months are unique as there is 24-hour daylight, giving you the best opportunity to spot the bears at any time of day.
Somerset Island, Nunavut
Somerset Island is part of the vast wilderness of the Canadian Arctic, and is only visited by those with a more adventurous spirit. Again, an uninhabited island, this is a great location to spot polar bears on the unspoiled terrain. Somerset Island is accessible with a scenic flight from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Other activities on the island include fishing for arctic char, rafting and exploring the landscape in all-terrain vehicles – all while staying in luxury accommodation with guidance from polar experts.
When to Visit: July and August are the most popular time for jam-packed itineraries due to the 24-hour daylight.
BONUS – Kaktovik, Alaska
Although not part of Canada, The Great White North provides the perfect gateway into Alaska so you can easily add a polar bear expedition to any holiday. Kaktovik is an Eskimo village just off the coast of Barter Island, and polar bears are lured there by Bowhead whales, which are a valuable food source to the native people. You can get there on a small plane from Fairbanks, where half-day viewing tours take place in small boats.
When to Visit: Tours run from mid-August to early October, so there are plenty of opportunities for spotting these bears off the shore of the island.
Would you love to embark on a polar bear spotting adventure?