Churchill, Manitoba, Canada is known as the ‘Accessible Arctic’. It lies at the southern edge of the Eastern Arctic and along the treeline, the northern edge of Canada’s boreal forest. This combination makes it one of the best places in North America to view wildlife. It claims the title of both the polar bear capital of the world (about three hundred passing through in the fall) and the beluga whale capital of the world (about 3000 returning to the river each summer).
It is probably best to view Churchill’s seasons in terms of wildlife viewing instead of actual changes in weather. Spring brings bird migration and the return of nesting species, summer follows with the best beluga whale watching anywhere and finally polar bear seasson in the fall.
Tourism numbers have decreased in the past few years and now travellers have more of an opportunity to book late season/last minute travel for Churchill’s polar bears. Group travel is still by far the most common and easiest method for travelling to Churchill in the fall but the opportunity for independent travel is once again appearing. Tundra vehicle companies are once again offering regular polar bear viewing day-trips at approximately $400 per day in high season.
The map below highlights the 25 kilometres (15 miles) of ‘highway’ that runs from Churchill to the area we call ‘Buggyland’. East of the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (marked as B on the map) is where the bulk of the polar bear tours operate. To the west of Churchill is the Churchill River, the summer home of our beluga whales, and of course, to the north is Hudson Bay. The map is intended to give you a general idea of the area.
Churchill Travel Guide
TRAVEL TO CHURCHILL, MANITOBA – There are only two options to get into Churchill – airplane or train. It is about a 2-1/2 hour flight from Winnipeg, Manitoba or about a 44 hour train ride from Winnipeg, Manitoba (the train used to always be late but then they added eight hours to the schedule so now its only late a little bit… just so you know). Travel tips, cost and links included.
HOTELS IN CHURCHILL, MANITOBA – For a small town, Churchill has more than our share of good, family owned hotels. This, of course, is mostly thanks to polar bear tourism but makes it pretty easy to book a room for summer beluga whale season or winter northern lights.
TOURS IN CHURCHILL, MANITOBA – Links to several tour companies serving the Churchill area, polar bear tours, beluga whale viewing, history, birding, you name it.