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Belugas and Bears

A Multi-Sport Adventure to the Sub Arctic

Churchill, Canada

July 22nd-July 28th, 2020

 

Day One July 22nd: Arrival into Churchill~ Belugas by Zodiacs

Our adventure begins with a morning arrival into the Polar Bear and Beluga  Whale Capital of the World, the remote town of Churchill, Canada. The only morning flight from Winnipeg currently arrives at 12:45pm which will

require that you overnight in Winnipeg on July 21st. See Getting to Churchill for more details.

 

Upon arrival, we begin our daily search for polar bears and other arctic wildlife as we make our way across the barren terrain to our hotel base for the next 5 nights, the Polar Boutique Inn and Suites in the heart of Churchill.

By mid July, the arctic sea ice has typically melted away. Polar bears, an apex predator of the tundra start roaming the rocky shores of the Hudson Bay where Churchill is located.

By early to late fall, bears are more frequently seen around Churchill, however we have a relatively good chance of seeing polar bear activity during July. 

After getting settled into our quaint Inn, we will gather for a trip orientation and a welcome lunch. Later today, we will board  privately chartered zodiacs  and set off in search of our first beluga whale encounters.

(Lunch and double occupancy rooms included, dinner will be on your own tonight)

 

Fantastic views  of the Belugas  from small Zodiacs:  Curious Belugas by Zodiac

 

(Photo by Kim Powell)

Day Two July 23rd: Historical Fort and Canaries of the Sea by Kayak

After breakfast, we will explore the Churchill Estuary in  a motorized vessel heading to the historic Fort Prince of Wales. Built 250 years ago and strategically positioned in the entrance of the Churchill River,

this iconic stone structure reveals the region's rich cultural history including its use as an early 18th century Hudson Bay Company Fur trading center.

 

Since polar bears roam freely throughout the Churchill region, our interpretive hike will be escorted by

an armed park service guard trained in polar bear safety.  After touring the fort, we will head back on the water dropping a hydrophone into the bay listening to the "Canaries of the Sea".

Belugas are known as one of the most vocal marine mammals and belong to the order cetacean which includes baleen and toothed whales such as beluga whales, sperm whales, all dolphins and porpoises.

The eerie clicks, chirps and whistles signal not only communication among the pod, but sounds are used in their hunting strategies as they employ a sophisticated sonar known as echolocation.

The ethereal sounds produced by beluga whales are mesmerizing. 

 

Listen in here: Canaries of the Sea

 

(Photo by Kim Powell)

 

Later today, we will offer an exciting opportunity to kayak among the beluga whales that forage, molt and mate in the Churchill Estuary. It has been estimated that 3000 beluga whales arrive into this

ecologically productive estuary each summer as the ice fields melt allowing access.

For many people, kayaking among the curious belugas is described as a bucket list activity not to be missed.

(Breakfast, picnic lunch and double occupancy rooms included, dinner will be on your own tonight).

 

(Photo by Kim Powell)

Day Three July 24th: Beluga Boarding, Birds, Bears and Arctic Wildlife

After the summer of 2018, the Canadian government closed the activity of snorkeling with beluga whales.  Admittedly, we found this experience both thrilling and chilling!

Eye to eye encounters with belugas are truly phenomenal and you will have such an opportunity in the summer of 2020. Donning our dive masks and a wetsuit, we will go Beluga Boarding! 

This relatively new eco-adventure sport involves floating on a sturdy platform that is pulled behind a Zodiac.

Curious by nature, belugas may approach the platform allowing you to dip your head into the chilly arctic water for a closer look or submerge a waterproof camera.

During this activity you will wear wetsuits to protect from spray created by potentially choppy marine conditions.

 

Back on land we will prepare for a guided hike through the tundra and boreal forest that should be exploding with color from blooming wildflowers.

Joined by an armed polar bear guard and professional naturalist, we will search for flora and fauna with the hopes of a polar bear or two!  

(Breakfast, lunch and double occupancy rooms included, dinner will be on your own today).  

 

 

Day Four July 25th: Tundra Buggy Adventure

Hop aboard the Tundra  Buggy and get ready for a day traveling the rugged terrain found within the  Churchill Wildlife Management Area! These robust off road enclosed vehicles are designed to handle the rocky terrain.

Fully narrated by a local naturalist, we will search the landscape looking for arctic species such as caribou, arctic foxes, arctic hares and lumbering polar bears. Over 200 species of birds migrate through this region each summer.

We will scan the vast landscape for a variety of wildlife inthe comforts afforded by our Tundra Buggy.

If night conditions look promising,  we will venture out during the darkest hours of the night to observe the northern lights. This will be an optional activity for those who want to add it on, cost TBA.

(Breakfast, lunch and double occupancy rooms included, dinner will be on your own tonight, cost of night tour not included).

 

(Photo by Kim Powell)

 

Day Five July 26th: Beluga Boarding, SUPS and Kayaks

Expect another thrilling day on the water as we offer morning and afternoon sessions of beluga boarding, kayaking and/or Stand Up Paddling (SUP). Worried about your balance? Never Sup  before?

Sometimes, the best beluga interaction is while sitting on your  board as pictured here.

Beluga whales seem particularly intrigued by Sups. It has been speculated that the white coloration of the boards may bring these curious whales in for a closer look.

 

Our day will include a visit to the  Itsanitaq Museum, formerly known as the Eskimo Museum." Itsanitaq" is an Intuit word meaning "things from the past".

Intricate carvings, sculptures and pictorial displays help reveal the fascinating story of the Inuits and other First Nation people  of the region.

Showcasing narwhal horns, seal skin qayaq or covered canoes, moose antlers and mounted polar bears, the museum is a must see for those intrigued by natural and cultural history.

(Breakfast and double occupancy rooms included, lunch and dinner will be on your own tonight).

 

Beluga whale and her calf photo bombing a gelatinous ctenophore

Photo Credit Kim Powell

 

Day Six July 27th: Belugas by Zodiac, Dog Sledding or Town Tour

On our final day in Churchill, we will offer our guest several optional activities. Meeting the canine crew of Waspusk Adventures we will learn about the historical significance of dog sledding in the region.

You will soon see that each husky has it's own unique personality as we meet the friendly working team. Our day will include a Dog "karting" adventure through the boreal forest.

In 2005, Wapusk Adventures received both the Manitoba Aboriginal Tourism Award and the Manitoba Hydro Spirit of the Earth Award.

 

As an alternative, we can arrange an interpretive bus tour of the Churchill region with hopes of catching a last glimpse of a polar bear or other arctic wildlife.

Before leaving Churchill, we have arranged for a final private Zodiac tour among the Beluga whales, marking a grand finale to our Churchill adventure.

 

Our flight departs tonight a 6:45pm and arrives into Winnipeg at 10:15pmWe will then transfer to a nearby hotel.

(Breakfast and double occupancy rooms included, lunch and dinner will be on your own tonight).

 

(Photo by Kim Powell)

 

Day Seven July 28th: Optional Park Outing, Onward to Home

We suggest that you have an early breakfast at our hotel and join us for the optional outing to the Assiniboine Park and

the incredible Polar Bear Research and Conservation Center  at the  Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in Winnipeg.

This extremely informative educational center opens at 9:00am.

 

Admission into the park is less than $20 and is well worth it. Those who wish to visit the park may share Ubers or taxis from our hotel in Winnipeg.

We suggest that you allow at least 2 1/2 hours or explore Assiniboine Park and its world renown Polar Bear exhibit.

Please consider a flight back home on July 28th after 2:00pm  or  later allowing enough time to explore this educational park and polar bear center.

 

For those who decide to skip this outing, you may arrange a taxi to the Winnipeg Airport at your convenience.

(hotel breakfast included.  Lunch, park or airport transfers and park admission is  on your own today)