Churchill Polar Bears
Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay is considered the polar bear capital of the world, and this two-day trip will introduce you to its star citizens in a little more comfort. Obviously, the polar bear is not the sort of animal you want to pat on the back, so we’ll keep you safe and sound in a Tundra Buggy while still getting amazingly close to these awe-inspiring animals. A photographer’s dream, a once-in-a-lifetime experience – superlatives can’t express the feeling of seeing polar bears in their arctic home.
Tundra Buggy ride to view polar bears and other arctic wildlife (1-day). All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Overnight in the polar bear capital of the world, witness the gigantic beasts in their natural habitat, make your friends jealous with stunning shots of arctic scenery, experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment with these endangered animals
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
**Please be at the Aerocentre by no later than 6:45am on Day 1 of your tour. It is highly recommended that you make arrangements to stay in Winnipeg on the night prior to departure as your flight will leave VERY early in the morning of day 1. The actual flight time will be confirmed to you a few weeks prior to departure. It is also recommended that you book a hotel in Winnipeg for your return on day 2, as your flight will not get in until late evening. We do recommend that you book these additional accommodations with us for convenience and to save yourself some money on transfer costs. Our pre/post hotel (optional) is located within walking distance of the Winnipeg airport and does include a transfer to the private hanger on day 1. Please speak to your sales agent for details.
DEPOSITS AND PAYMENTS
Please note that this trip does have different deposit/payment terms as well as different terms and conditions compared to other G Adventures trips. Please note the following:
Deposits based on your home country:
Final payments: is due at 90 days prior to trip
61-90 days prior to departure – 50% of the price of the tour penalty
60-0 days prior to departure – 100% of the price of the tour penalty
LEGAL DRINKING AGE
Please note that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and in Canada, 19 (with Alberta and Quebec at 18). Drinking laws in both countries are strictly enforced.
While this should not stop those under legal drinking age from booking a tour, it is important to note that if a traveller is under-age there are certain optional nighttime activities that they may not legally be able to participate in. When trying to book the right trip, we recommend that travellers under legal drinking age take this into consideration when booking.
If you are interested in dog sledding, it must be pre-booked directly with the local supplier (unfortunately G Adventures cannot do this for you – nor can we intervene in any way once you have booked and paid). We recommend www.wapuskadventures.com and dogsledding excursion should be booked on the afternoon of Day 1 of your tour.
Group Leader Description
This tour is run by a local specialist operator in conjunction with G Adventures. There is no G Adventures staff on this tour. You will be assisted by local hotel staff. They will be able to provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and various activities.
Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility.
Please note that do to its remote location in Northern Canada, food is quite expensive in Churchill. You can expect to pay $20 – $30 CAD for a main course. There are a few restaurants and a pub in the Town of Churchill, all within walking distance of your hotel. Normal Canadian fare is offered as well as local game, such as caribou, Arctic Charr and bison.
Local flight, bus/van, Tundra Buggy.
About our Transportation
Land Transfers & Included Tours/activities: Many of the land transfers and included tours will be shared with other travellers.
Local flights from Winnipeg to Churchill and return are included.
A mandatory single supplement applies for single travellers. Please contact us for rates.
Comfort hotel (1 nt).
Accommodation in Churchill is at the Tundra Inn. While not fancy, the hotel is comfortable, with some amenities and located in the middle of town. This hotel features 31 spacious rooms with double or queen size beds; private bath and shower; cable television; phones; internet connection; coffee maker, hair dryers and in house laundry facilities. A kitchenette is also available just off the lobby.
**While unlikely, accommodation is subject to change without notice.
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
Pre and post accommodation in Winnipeg is not included, nor is a transfer to the Winnipeg airport private hangar on day 1. Should you like to pre-book these services with us, please ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
The trip will begin at the Kelly Western Aerocentre 30 Hangar Line Road. Please arrive by no later than 6:45am to ensure you are on time for your flight. This is a private hangar on the other side of the Winnipeg airport. It is easiest reached by taking a taxi, Taxi fare should be approximately $20 if staying at a hotel near the airpot. Upon arrival at the hangar you will check in with the representative who will have your name on the list of the private charter.
Exact time of your departure will be provided to you prior to your trip.
Please note that our pre/post hotel (optional) is located at the Winnipeg airport, and can be reached by foot. We highly recommend that you book this service with us as it also includes a transfer to the private hanger.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call the G Adventures Local Representative. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Representative:
Winnipeg, MB: 1-800-663-9832
Churchill, MB: +1 204 675 2121
Churchill, MB: +1 204 949 2050
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local operator, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible.
For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.
We recommend using a backpack for your convenience, or a medium-sized suitcase if you prefer. A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential to carry your personal gear for the day, as access to luggage between destinations will be limited. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.
• Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
• Warm gloves
• Warm hat
• Warm layers
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
Note: Layering is the key to dressing warmly in Churchill.
Note: It is very expensive to purchase sundry items in Churchill (upwards of 2 to 3 times more than what you would pay in other areas of Canada), we highly recommend you bring whatever you need for 2 days with you
Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge.
Visas and Entry Requirements
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation.
As of March 15, 2016, all travellers to Canada will have to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) from the Government of Canada. The ETA must be requested prior to departure for Canada through the following link:
The authorization has a fee of $7 CAD per person and it is your responsibility to apply for the ETA prior to departure.
This policy does not apply to US citizens or nationalities that require a visa for Canada.
Detailed Trip Notes
Polar bear season runs from beginning of Oct to mid November. You can expect snow, but that is not always a given. Temperatures are generally around the freezing point in October, but can dip as low as -20°C/-10°F towards mid November. Be prepared with extra layers and a very good windbreaker to protect you from the VERY harsh tundra winds.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
There are no banks in the community for exchanging money or travelers cheques, so you should bring sufficient Canadian dollars with you (EUR and US cash should be exchanged in Winnipeg). There are a few ATM’s in town but it is best not to rely on them. Master card and Visa are accepted in most retail outlets in the community but certain services like carvers and artists will only accept Canadian cash.
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ‘emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
It is customary in North America to tip service providers such as waiters, bartenders and taxi drivers, at approximately 15-18%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip any local guides used. Recommendations for tipping local guides would range from $5-10 CAD per activity depending on the quality and length of the service. If your local guide met and exceeded your expectations, feel free to tip more.
Optional activities can be booked at your hotel upon arrival in Churchill. Please note, all prices are subject to change without notice.
Helicopter Tour: Experience the extent of Churchill’s wild beauty with its rugged coastline, the mouth of the Churchill River, forest to the south, and the treeless tundra to the north. The chances of spotting wildlife such as caribou are excellent and guaranteed to see polar bear. This is a one hour tour and is $515.00 CAD per person including taxes.
Dog Sledding: Hosted by a local resident and dog sledding expert, you will learn about the history associated with dog sledding in Northern Canada. Enjoy an exhilarating ride behind a strong team of huskies on a custom-made sled (or cart, weather permitting). Join the musher’s for hot chocolate and freshly made bannock after your ride and share their personal stories of their dog sledding adventures. The per person rate is $110.00 CAD per person
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that quite often we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings in this dossier for trip specific information. For travelers over 70 years a completed Medical Form is required. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveler from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.
We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:
Trip Specific Safety
It’s unwise to wander the back streets of Churchill late at night as bears occasionally enter the town. All vehicles and houses are usually left unlocked, so if you do meet an animal, then take cover immediately in a calm and orderly fashion.
Don’t be tempted to feed the bears, as it’s punishable by an instant fine and it’s also extremely dangerous.
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at:
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
The Planeterra Foundation planeterra.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems for their endeavours. Planeterra provides capacity building and catalyst grants to get community social enterprises off the ground. These businesses address local challenges by providing benefits for indigenous people, empowering marginalized women, and granting disadvantaged youth access to education, employment, and brighter futures. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures’ Dollar-a-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar for every day you are on trip. 100% of these donations go directly to support community development projects worldwide that are implemented by Planeterra.
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You must be 18 to travel unaccompanied on a G Adventures tour. For minors travelling with a guardian over 21 years old, the minimum age is 12.
Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
Local guide/hotel staff.
PRODUCT_LINE: TNCPBC, ID: 23054
Day 1 Winnipeg/Churchill
Churchill is a small, northern community with a lot of character; big-chain hotels or gourmet restaurants won’t be found here. Visitors will, however, find warm down-home hospitality and clean, comfortable hotels with all the amenities. Staying in town allows you to walk to and from different venues, spend some time on your own, and, perhaps, meet some of the locals.
Churchill is located along the treeline of the northern edge of the boreal forest, and attracts arctic and boreal species of wildlife, birds, and plants. Commonly seen species include arctic and red foxes, arctic hare, caribou, gyrfalcons, snowy owls, ptarmigan, and, in the summer (June-Aug), beluga whales.
Meet at a private hanger in Winnipeg (located at 30 Hangar Line Road) for the early morning flight. A cold boxed breakfast will be served in-flight. Please arrive by no later than 6:45am to ensure you are on time for your flight.
Plane (2.00 hour(s))
Day 2 Churchill/Winnipeg (1L)
It will be an early start, but worth it. Get picked up at the hotel and be transferred to the Tundra Buggy launch at around 7:30am.
Polar bears begin to swim ashore in mid-July. In October they begin to gather in numbers along the coast, waiting for pack ice to form over the Hudson Bay, at which point the bears disappear in search of seals. Churchill’s ‘bear season’ begins in early October and lasts until early November.
Known as the “Lords of the Arctic,” these spectacular animals are massive with the average male polar bear growing to more than 600kg (1,320 lbs) and standing 3.05m (10 ft). While large, they are surprisingly quick and have great agility. The bears have a highly acute sense of smell and are skilled hunters – able to pick up a scent from more than 30km (19 mi) away. They can even detect the presence of seals under 3 ft (.9m) of snow and ice. Polar bears have no natural enemies and no fear of other animals (including humans).
In the evening, transfer back to the airport for an evening flight back to Winnipeg. The group will then be transferred back to the Four Points by Sheraton (overnight not included) where the tour ends.
Hotel night in Winnipeg is not included. If you would like the night booked for you, please speak to your agent.
Polar Bear Excursion
Plane (2.00 hour(s))