The peak of summer is the only time that you can see both Polar Bears and Beluga Whales as they come to the shores and coastal waters of Hudson Bay. And with only 16 guests, the smallest groups on tour in Canada, our exclusive itinerary features 4 nights at the famed Lazy Bear Lodge; with this unhurried stay, we can take you out by land and water for multiple up-close encounters with two of the most amazing animals on the planet.
Day 1 - Our Canada Tour begins in Winnipeg, Manitoba
On arrival at the airport this morning, you’ll be met and chauffeured to the Inn at The Forks. Distinguished by its casual sophistication, our contemporary luxury boutique hotel offers a privileged location in the heart of Winnipeg. Just outside our hotel’s front door, The Forks is a National Historic Site at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. With a fascinating past dating back 6,000 years to ancient aboriginal settlements, the area has witnessed waves of history from European fur traders and buffalo hunters to 19th-century railway pioneers.
This afternoon, you’ll join our in-the-know resident guide for a sightseeing tour of the city. You’ll see St. Boniface Cathedral, a well-known landmark in Winnipeg’s vibrant French Quarter, and drive along Broadway to marvel at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Built in the early 1900’s, the cupola of this impressive provincial building is topped by the Golden Boy, a gilded statue of the Roman God Mercury.
Then learn more about Winnipeg’s long history as you get to know The Forks, still a popular gathering place as it has been for centuries. Here along the banks of the two rivers, not far from your hotel, you’ll find tree-shaded parks, promenades, and outdoor sculptures along with cafes, shops and restaurants – many of them set in restored architectural landmarks. After sightseeing, you’ll have time to refresh before this evening’s Welcome Dinner. Meals D
Day 2 - Charter Flight to Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for our chartered flight to Churchill. Set along the Churchill River where it flows into Hudson Bay, this remote and inviting northern town of 1,000 residents is uniquely situated between two distinct eco-systems: The Boreal Forests to the south and the Arctic Tundra that stretches north toward the Arctic.
On arrival at the airport, you’ll be met and escorted to the Lazy Bear Lodge where you’ll find a welcome bottle of wine in your cozy log and wood-paneled guestroom. This afternoon, join your fellow Lodge guests for a Culture + Heritage Sightseeing Tour of Churchill. You’ll see the legendary Polar Bear Jail where rogue bears that come too close to town are safely housed until they can be released deeper in the wilderness. At historic Cape Merry, you’ll learn about the town’s founding in 1717 when James Knight sailed up the mouth of the Churchill River and built a fur trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. In the midst of the boulders and hardy pine trees that dot the shores of Hudson Bay, you’ll also see Miss Piggy, a Curtiss C-46 freight plane that famously went down in 1979 – landing in the wilderness, well short of the runway, without any fatalities.
This evening, A+R guests will join a local wildlife and nature photographer for a specially arranged private presentation. Viewing his mesmerizing photographs of the Hudson Bay region offers an excellent introduction to your own upcoming explorations. Photographers, regardless of your experience level, will find his tips insightful and helpful.
Tonight you’ll dine at the Lazy Bear Café, an inviting venue with a vaulted log-beam ceiling and stone fireplace. If fresh homemade specialties like Roasted Manitoba Bison or Braised Peppered Elk don’t appeal, the chef is also well-known for his fine pasta dishes, vegetarian stir-fries, and Arctic Char fresh from the waters of Hudson Bay! Meals B+D
Day 3 - Polar Bears of Hudson Bay
The western coast of Hudson Bay is one of the best places in the world to encounter Polar Bears in their native habitat. This morning, you’ll step aboard our Coast Guard certified, custom-built boat to go in search of these amazing creatures. In late summer, the Polar Bears are a little bit lazy, gathering on the shore and sometimes going for a swim to cool off: This gives us an amazing opportunity to watch as they lumber among the rocks and summer wildflowers that dot the shoreline. Conditions permitting, you might even the opportunity to go ashore and walk with the bears! With insight and guidance from our expert wildlife guides, it’s not unusual for guests to have remarkably up-close encounters that allow for truly once-in-a-lifetime photographs! Today’s expedition lasts 6 to 8 hours and includes a boxed lunch.
Tonight, we’ve made private arrangements for our guests to spend some time with Gerald Azure. In the 1960’s, Cormorant, Manitoba was a small Métis community accessible only by the Hudson Bay Rail Line – and dog sleds. It was here that Mr. Azure developed a lifelong connection to his land, heritage and sled dogs. He arrived in Churchill more than 15 years ago and found a welcoming community where he could found his own dog-sledding enterprise while retaining his Métis history, culture and heritage.
With the possibility of witnessing the Aurora Borealis in the dark northern sky, tonight’s congenial discussions with Mr. Azure promise unique insight into the life, people and traditions of Manitoba. Meals B+L
Day 4 - Beluga Whale Watching Expedition
Today’s 3-hour expedition finds you on the waters of the Churchill River and Hudson Bay. In summer, up to 60,000 Beluga Whales come to feed, mate, give birth and raise their young in these shallow, near-coastal waters. With our experienced wildlife guides and crew, we’ll set out in highly maneuverable Zodiacs to go in search of these amazing marine mammals here in their native habitat. Often times, we’ll find them feeding on schools of Arctic char, capelin and brook trout. Belugas are highly intelligent and will often swim quite close to us - as if driven by curiosity to investigate our Zodiacs and their 2-legged passengers!
You’ll also step ashore for a guided tour of the historic Prince of Wales Fort. Built by the Hudson’s Bay Company during the fur trading days of the 1700’s, this National Historic Site bears witness to the rivalry between the French and English as they struggled for control of Hudson Bay and its resources.
Later today, A+R guests will have a chance to get even closer to the remarkable Beluga Whales with their choice of an included AquaGliding or Kayaking excursion:
AquaGliding Adventure: Get up-close and personal with these gentle giants on this exciting marine expedition with our expert naturalist guides. Lying prone on specially designed, highly-buoyant aquatic mats puts you as close as you can get to water level without actually being in the Bay. The mat is tethered to a Zodiac so your guide can take you out to carefully selected settings based upon the real-time locations of the Beluga pods. These AquaGliders are new to Hudson Bay and are sure to engender the whales’ natural curiosity. You should not join this expedition if you will be anxious or uncomfortable when your mat is approached by a friendly and curious Beluga! This 3-hour excursion is shared with other Lodge guests and includes transfers to the dock, a wet or dry suit, neoprene boots, gloves and lifejacket.
Kayaking Expedition: Appropriate for beginners and experienced kayakers alike, this expertly guided 3-hour adventure begins with a short instructional session. Venturing onto the Churchill River in single or double kayaks, you’ll have a chance to get up close with Beluga Whales in their natural environment. These amazing marine mammals are highly curious and will often trail closely behind our kayaks. This excursion is shared with other Lodge guests and includes wet suits, life jackets and neoprene boots.
For generations, fur traders, mail carriers and other residents relied on dog sleds to travel across the winter snow; for many, it’s still the most convenient way to get around. As winter gives way to spring and the snows begin to melt, people often replace their sled runners with wheels – it’s a convenient means of transport and keeps the dogs in shape all year long. Later today you’ll join other Lodge guests for a Dog Carting adventure. Riding behind a team of energetic sled dogs is a terrific way to appreciate the beauty of the countryside and to experience a slice of Manitoba life. You’ll also learn how the dogs are trained and gain insight into the local dog-mushing culture. Meals B+L
Day 5 - Tundra Tour on our Arctic Crawlers™
Today you’ll hop aboard our Lodge’s exclusive Arctic Crawlers™ for a guided tour across the Tundra. With massive all-terrain wheels and large windows that open, these vehicles are prefect for exploring the rugged landscapes outside of town. In addition to the more-famous Polar Bears and Beluga Whales that you’ve already encountered, the lands along the western coast of Hudson Bay are home to many other species - including a variety of migratory birds, Arctic Hare, Arctic Fox, caribou, moose and eagles. Accompanied by our expert naturalists, you and other Lodge guests will spend 3 to 4 hours getting to know the geology, flora and fauna of the wildly beautiful Tundra.
Because our included AquaGliding and Kayaking excursions are dependent upon weather and water conditions, this free afternoon offers another chance to enjoy the tour of your choice - if it was not available yesterday. Or you might even have the opportunity to do both excursions.
This evening, you’ll gather for a festive Farewell Dinner at the Lazy Bear Café. Meals B+D
Day 6 – The Life of the Polar Bear + Return to Winnipeg
After breakfast, A+R guests will enjoy a private presentation at the Churchill Northern Studies Center, a highly regarded field station founded in 1976 to sustain research and education regarding the subarctic. This morning’s presentation will focus on both individual bears as well as some of the family groups that come to here to the western shores of Hudson Bay. Delving into the lives of these animals and the mounting challenges they face, you will come away with an even deeper appreciation of the magnificent creatures that you have come to know over the past few days. Then we’ll take you to the now-abandoned Churchill Rocket Research Range for a guided tour of an historic site that witnessed thousands of rocket launches between 1956 and 1985.
Then transfer to the airport for our charter flight back to Winnipeg. On arrival, you’ll be met and escorted once again to our deluxe boutique hotel in the historic Forks district of the city. Your evening is free to enjoy downtown Winnipeg as you wish. Meals B
Day 7 - Homeward Bound
You’ll be chauffeured to the airport today for your homeward flight. Meals B
[Please Note that all activities in Churchill are dependent upon local weather and water conditions. These included excursions may need to be rescheduled during your stay, but every effort will be made to ensure a complete program as per our itinerary. Local staff, crew and naturalists have the final authority to make decisions to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests. A more final itinerary will be given to you when you arrive at the Lazy Bear Lodge.]