Canadian Polar Bear Experience
Imagine watching polar bears in the wild alongside a naturalist expert from Polar Bears International, one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to protecting these amazing animals. The opportunity is yours on this six-day adventure in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Arctic. Sit down to a picnic on the tundra and opt to go dogsledding through the region’s breathtaking landscapes on a one-of-a-kind wildlife adventure.
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Polar Bear Conservation Event, Churchill
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Parks Canada Experience, Churchill
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Far-North Local Life Talk, Churchill
National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Polar Bear Drive, Churchill. Churchill historical tour. Eskimo Museum visit. Northern lights viewing (weather dependent). Tundra Buggy polar bear excursions (2 days). All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Take part in a historical tour of Manitoba Conservation’s polar bear holding facility, visit the Eskimo Museum, witness the northern lights, experience a full day of polar bear-viewing by Tundra Buggy, enjoy a picnic on the tundra
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.
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.
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.
Group Leader Description
This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager and leader, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.
We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Group Size Notes
5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
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 due 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 specialties, such as caribou, Arctic Charr and bison.
Plane, private vehicle, Tundra Buggy, walking.
Local flights from Winnipeg to Churchill and return are included.
We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels (5 nts)
My Own Room
Please note that if you have booked the “My Own Room” option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops
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.
**Accommodation is subject to change without notice to a similar hotel.
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
An arrival transfer is not included but our joining hotel is located at the Winnipeg airport, and can be reached by foot.
Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other then your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.
Your CEO will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time and your transfer times back to the airport the next day. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
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. Heavy luggage is not recommended for the health of the CEO, who will take a lead in loading the storage trailer. Due to space in the trailer, we will not be able to accommodate more than one piece of main luggage per person. 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.
It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings, as well as a light jacket.
• 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
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Note: Specific cold-weather gear is available to rent for this trip. To reserve gear, click here and fill out the applicable form.
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.
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.
Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $5-10 CAD per person, per day can be used as a guide. If your CEO met and exceeded your expectations, feel free to tip more.
Optional activity prices are subject to change and can fluctuate in relation to the high/low season and the number of people on a specific excursion. Not all excursions listed here may be available, due to season or weather conditions. As generally not a lot of time is spent in start/end cities, you may want to arrange to arrive early, or stay longer after the trip in order to allow sufficient time to participate in optional activities there.
Please see the full itinerary for information on optional activities, descriptions and estimated pricing.
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 jewelery 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 group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (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 and 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 judgement 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.
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. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
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 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 leaders 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.
Please note that all passengers traveling to Antarctica are required to fill out this questionnaire.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at www.gadventures.com/medical-form.
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 group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
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 leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. 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.
PRODUCT_LINE: NCPNG, ID: 24479
Day 1 Winnipeg (1D)
Arrive at any time. Meet your CEO for a welcome dinner and group meeting.
Our joining hotel is located at the Winnipeg airport as we have an early start the next day.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Winnipeg/Churchill (1B)
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.
It’s unwise to wander the streets of Churchill at night as bears occasionally enter the town. Local vehicles and houses are usually left unlocked, so if you do meet an animal, then take cover immediately in a calm and orderly fashion. Polar bears are predators and should never be approached on foot. Don’t be tempted to feed the bears, it is punishable by an instant fine and it’s also extremely dangerous.
Town and Historical Tour
Day 3 Churchill (1B, 1L)
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).
Polar Bear Excursion
Polar Bear Conservation Event
Day 4 Churchill (1B, 1L)
Enjoy a free morning to visit some of the local shops or opt to take a dog sledding excursion or helicopter flight. After lunch, visit the Parks Canada Interpretive Centre for an educational presentation about the National Park Service and its history in the Churchill area. This evening, enjoy an informal talk with a local from Churchill who will talk about what life is like living in a far north, remote Canadian town.
The helicopter and dog sledding optionals are weather/condition dependent and may be switched to other days for availability.
Parks Canada Experience
Far-North Local Life Talk
Day 5 Churchill/Winnipeg (1B, 1L, 1D)
Enjoy a second excursion in the tundra in search of polar bears and northern wildlife. We are joined by a species expert from Polar Bears International who will share their expertise on polar bears and their habitat. In the evening, fly back to Winnipeg for our final night.
Polar Bear Drive
Day 6 Winnipeg (1B)
Depart at any time.