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 - Flight to Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for our 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 Capital of the World
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 giving us an amazing opportunity to watch as they lumber among the rocks and wildflowers that dot the shoreline. Often, we’ll also see them swimming in the pristine waters of the Bay. Local conditions permitting, you might even have the chance to go ashore to 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 a local dog musher, Dave Daley. In the 1960s, Cormorant, Manitoba was a small Métis community accessible only by the Hudson Bay Rail Line – and dog sleds. They are proud of their Métis heritage and strive to give their visitors a glimpse of the Métis lifestyle. With the possibility of witnessing the Aurora Borealis in the dark northern sky, tonight’s congenial discussions with Dave promise unique insight into the life, people and traditions of Manitoba. Meals B+L
Day 4 - Beluga Whale Watching
Today’s 3-hour expedition finds you in our highly maneuverable Zodiacs, exploring the waters of the Churchill River and Hudson Bay. In summer, up to 60,000 beluga whales come here to feed, mate, and raise their young. Belugas are highly intelligent and curious, and they will often swim surprisingly close – as if to investigate our boats and their 2-legged passengers! You’ll also step ashore for a guided tour of the Prince of Wales Fort, built by the Hudson’s Bay Company during the fur trading days of the 1700s. Later today, A+R guests will have a chance to get even closer to the beluga whales with their choice of an included AquaGliding or kayaking adventure:
AquaGliding Adventure: Get up-close with these gentle giants under the experienced eye of our guides. Starting with an instructional session, this 3-hour tour includes an Arctic dry suit and all gear; it is shared with other Lodge guests and subject to weather and water conditions.
Kayaking Expedition: This 3-hour guided adventure begins with a short instructional session. Venturing onto the Churchill River in single or double kayaks, you’ll have a chance to closely observe beluga whales in their natural environment. This excursion is shared with other Lodge guests and includes wet suits, life jackets and equipment.
Later today, join other 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 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.]