Churchill Wild and Frontiers North bring you up close to the bears, belugas and birds
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Churchill rocks. (Really. In this part of Canada the bedrock is between one and four billion years old.) Nicknamed the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” the tiny seaport on Hudson Bay is the country’s best place to view polar bears, beluga whales and Arctic birds in the wild. To see all three, tour operator Churchill Wild offers the Birds, Bears and Belugas safari that’s a “must-do” on every wildlife watcher’s checklist.
Three things you need to know:
Churchill, Manitoba sits right in the path of the polar bear’s seasonal trek as they move from the tundra onto the winter ice to hunt for seals. As the waters of Hudson Bay freeze up, the great white bears begin to congregate and the best way to get close is from the safe vantage point of a tundra buggy.
Wapusk National Park, southwest of Churchill, is an immense area protecting one of the world’s largest polar bear maternity denning sites. Only a few outfitters have exclusive access to the remote park wilderness.
Birders arrive in Churchill with their species checklist, binoculars and high hopes. They are never disappointed. The heaths, sedges and willows of the Arctic tundra landscape make Churchill a world-renowned birding hotspot. Everyone keeps an eye out for the rare Ross’s gull – Churchill is the spot it was first sighted.
Belugas are the most vocal of whales – nicknamed “sea canaries” – and you can join the concert aboard a tour boat equipped with hydrophones to tune in to the whales’ underwater songs. Wiggle into a dry suit and don a snorkel, then swim alongside pods of the snow-white belugas. Or stay aboard the inflatable Zodiac and listen to their strange, high-pitched whistles and chirps from above the waterline.
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