This post originally appeared on the Manitoba Hot website.
Most people know Churchill, Manitoba as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, a place where visitors can gather in the fall to see the annual congregation of the world's largest carnivores. What most people don't know is that Churchill is also a summer destination, not only for polar bears, but for the friendly beluga whales that visit its shores each year.
Here are five unforgettable experiences you need to try on a summer safari in Churchill.
Get up close with beluga whales
Nowhere else on earth can you get as up close and personal with beluga whales. The western Hudson Bay coast is the summer home for the approximately 57,000 social, curious, and friendly whales that visit Churchill each summer.
There are multiple ways to interact with belugas, with Sea North Tours offering daily departures dependent on tide times and weather in July and August. Visitors can choose to glide through pods on kayak, or immerse themselves fully into the experience on a snorkelling excursion. Those who like to watch from a distance can opt to view from a boat, while the most adventurous will go all-in on the brand new stand up paddleboarding excursion.
Spy summer bears
While July and August are not considered prime polar bear season, there are still great opportunities to view a bear (or twelve) as they sleep among boulders, roam the shorelines, and take a dip in the Bay.
Offering full-day boat tours to the renowned Hubbard Point, Lazy Bear Expeditions have the experience and the know-how to bring you to the best bear spots.
"Summer allows us to see the predator prey relationship, with polar bears hunting for seals and beluga whales," says Lazy Bear Expeditions operations manager Wally Daudrich.
For an even closer encounter with summer bears, Churchill Wild offers remote, fly-in eco-lodges and a Birds, Bears and Belugas summer package that includes walking (yes, walking) alongside polar bears with highly experienced guides — perfect for the aspiring photographer looking to capture an unforgettable photo of bears against the wildflowers of the tundra.
Dive into the history of the Bay
Built for defensive purposes during the English/French rivalry, Prince of Wales Fort served several purposes before becoming a National Historic Site. Take a step back in time to the 1700s on a tour hosted by Parks Canada. New experiences include Night at the Fort, which features overnight camping inside the stone fortification and plenty of 18th century activities. Nearby, Sloop Cove offers further insight into the past with inscriptions left by the men who once inhabited it.
Explore shipwrecks and the environment
Churchill is located on a point where opposites attract. Here, freshwater river meets Northern saltwater ocean, while boreal forest sits against Arctic tundra. It's an ancient, rugged area with giant boulders, stone-filled beaches, and grassy knolls.
Nature 1st specializes in exploring the area by foot, covering everything from Canada's most northerly port to a famous rocket range.
Off shore, the ghost ship Ithaca lays at rest after it ran aground in 1960 when its rudder broke, leaving it stranded. The low tide is the best time to venture onto the tidal flats to get a closer look at the 80-metre-long steamship.
Savour a long, relaxing train ride
There's no road to Churchill. In fact, the closest road ends near Gillam, Manitoba, which is still hundreds of kilometres south of the isolated town. The two-hour flight from Winnipeg may be convenient, but it doesn't hold a candle to the train experience.
The Hudson Bay Line covers 1,700 kilometers over two days, and is one of the few in the world that journeys over permafrost. It's also the perfect opportunity to travel the entire length of Manitoba and witness the stark landscape changes. See farmland in the south change to rich boreal forest, all before arriving on the sub-Arctic tundra to the north. Taking the train north is the ideal opportunity to connect with like-minded travellers, or simply enjoy the passing landscape.
For comprehensive information about your Northern summer safari in Churchill, visit www.everythingchurchill.com.