If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that not many can say they’ve experienced – then we recommend visiting the northern town of Churchill in Manitoba. Surrounded by a rugged subarctic landscape that is punctuated by wild animals, it’s a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Canada’s southern cities and alpine resorts. Want to know exactly what you can get up to Churchill? Here are seven things.
1. Spot Polar Bear
Churchill isn’t called the Polar Bear Capital of the World for no reason. It’s one of the few places where people and polar bears interact on a daily basis (and have done so since the 1930s).
The best way to witness these fascinating creatures is to book yourself a Tundra Buggy experience. These are high enough up so you can get close to the bears, but even when they stand up you’ll still be safely out of reach. Many of the buggies are also heated as well.
2. Look for Beluga Whales in Hudson Bay
Not only does Churchill boast some of the best polar bear spotting opportunities in the world, it’s also a great place to witness beluga whales. The Churchill River facilitates the migration of 3,000 or more beluga whales each year, and offer boat trips to view them in their natural habitat. Hudson Bay is also on the town’s doorstep and, if you’re brave, you can hire arctic wetsuits.
3. Bird Watching
Over 200 species of birds pass through Churchill every year as they complete their migratory cycles. The town also offers long daylight hours during the summer (5am to 10pm being the longest) so keen bird-watchers will have plenty of opportunity to catch a glimpse of their favourite winged species.
4. Witness the Northern Lights
Churchill is one of the best places in Canada to witness the Northern Lights. In fact, the light pollution is so low here that it is possible to catch a glimpse of the natural phenomenon from your hotel window. Though guided tours into the wilderness are also available (with warm clothing and hot drinks included in the price).
5. Dog Sledding
Dog power has been utilised for hunting and travelling for hundreds of years and Churchill is more than happy to introduce visitors to this important means of transportation. You can choose between half-day, full-day, or multi-adventure tours depending on how adventurous you want to be.
6. Visit the Itsanitaq Museum
This one-room museum boasts an intricate collection of Inuit carvings made of whalebone, soapstone and caribou antler. There are also stuffed polar bears, narwhal horns and original hide-covered kayaks. But if you really dig through the pieces you’ll find loon-skin shoes, a pickled polar bear fetus, and snow goggles made of caribou antler.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Churchill? Have we missed your favourite?