The town of Churchill itself is nothing special to look at, but the 900 strong community who live and survive here in such a harsh environment are nearly as fascinating as the local flora and fauna.
Will, Original Traveller
On the shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba sits Churchill, the 'Polar Bear Capital of the world' because it is supposedly the most accessible place in the world to see polar bears. More accurate to say that this is the best place on Earth to see the ice bear in any significant numbers because this is not exactly an easy place to get to - there are no roads into Churchill, and you can only get there by a two-hour flight from Winnipeg or by 300 mile train journey which takes a couple of days.
Why we think you’ll love it
- Between October and November polar bears congregate on the coast line waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze over, allowing you to see them in their natural environment.
- Late summer in Churchill is a wildlife photographer's dream, as the polar bears hunt among the flora and 3000 Beluga whales migrate down the Hudson River.
From the gallery
Our guide to holidays in Churchill
Thanks to its splendid isolation Churchill is a wonderfully idiosyncratic place - a true frontier town on the edge of the Arctic Circle and with a fascinating history as a major trading post. This is a place where the temperature can plummet to -50 degrees C and the trees grow no higher than seven foot tall; where the frogs seem to have antifreeze running through their blood, and where polar bears roam the streets at night before being swiftly locked up in Churchill's polar bear jail!
During October and November you can head out into the tundra on specially adapted tundra buggies, which offer the opportunity to see the congregating polar bears up close in their natural environment. You may even find them peering in through your window. Being able to spend hours on end with these majestic animals is unforgettable but there are also Arctic hare, Arctic fox, camouflaged ptarmigan, and - if you're really lucky - snowy owl and gyrfalcon to spot as well. Other activities include dog-sledding, helicopter rides over Hudson Bay, historical tours and lectures and trips to that Polar Bear Jail to see the latest miscreants.
In July and August you can also see polar bears - albeit in fewer numbers - they normally found further up the Hudson Bay coastline, so you are most likely to see them on a boat trip, and may even see them hunting. And if this wasn't attraction enough, this time sees the arrival of Beluga whales who migrate into Hudson Bay. These incredible creatures are so at ease with humans that it's possible to kayak and even snorkel with them (in a dry suit - this is as still the Arctic, after all).
Churchill is also a twitcher's paradise from May to August when a large number of bird species are in residence in the region, and in the second half of August you might be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. As before, you can also enjoy helicopter and seaplane flights and dog-sledding (but this time on carts not sledges!) and specialist botanist tours. The only draw back to travelling in the summer months are the mosquitoes and bugs. Unfortunately, they just come with the territory and as a reminder you are well and truly in the wilderness.