Hudson Bay Expedition at Nanuk Lodge

Polar Bears at Nanuk Lodge Polar Bears at Nanuk Lodge Dennis Fast

Priced from $9,795 CAD   Days: 7 Special: Save $200 per person by booking before Dec. 23, 2016 for 2017! (New bookings only)

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge in Northern Manitoba offers a pristine, wilderness area for viewing and photographing polar bear mothers with cubs while in a comfortable, just-remodeled lodge setting.

Leaving from Churchill, we have a chance to spot beluga whales from the air as we fly over the mouth of the Nelson and Hayes Rivers.

This is a great wilderness area for a variety of wildlife to view and photograph. 

Our base, Nanuk Lodge, is located on the Hudson Bay shoreline. The area is fenced off for safety but still allows for great observation and photography. Plus, daily excursions from the lodge onto the taiga and tundra will allow us to walk among the bears and other wildlife. Our experienced guides are well-versed in bear safety and use great care in not disturbing the bears.

This is a great polar bear tour for those wanting to see and photograph mothers with cubs as they congregate along the bay shore, waiting for the fall freeze-up. Other willdife can be seen such as caribou, foxes, moose, wolves and ptarmigan. It's also a great time to see the fall bird migration in full swing!


 

  • Itinerary
  • Date - Rates
  • Lodging
Itinerary:

Highlights

    • Polar bear mothers with cubs up close
    • Migrating birds
    • Tundra hikes at ground level with the bears
    • Other wildlife such as fox, caribou, wolves & moose
    • Relaxing wilderness lodge accommodations
    • Excellent food
    • Top-quality local guides
    • ATV trips along the tidal flats

polar-bears-watching-people-Nanuk-LodgeDay 1: Arrive Winnipeg. Overnight in Winnipeg 

Arrive in time to meet your group at 7:00 PM for dinner. 

Day 2: Fly to Churchill and on to the Lodge

Fly to Churchill early in the morning where you hop on your private charter for your remote wilderness lodge. Have your camera ready as there may be plenty to photograph on the way such as belguas at the mouth of the Nelson and Hayes Rivers. On arrival after getting checked into your room and a short orientation, you will be served delious lunch.

After lunch, your adventure begins! There will be an interpretive walk on the inland Palsa Bogs, Tundra Ponds, and Taiga Forest.  Appetizers and cocktails at 6:00 with dinner at 7 and bed at 10:00 when the generators are shut off. L,D

polar-bear-plane-Nanuk-Lodge-cropDays 3-5: Explore tundra and mothers and cubs close up

In the next several days, after breakfast that is served at 8:00 a.m., your daily excursions will begin at about 9:30 a.m. There are several excursions depending on weather, tides and group interest that you will enjoy.  If the bears are next to the lodge, we may delay our trek as we watch and photograph them up close. B,L,D. 

    • A typical day includes morning and afternoon excursions with lunch at the Lodge or a picnic lunch. 
    • ATV coastal tour to the tidal flats and Hudson Bay shoreline are included. Lunch and a tea are served around the campfire.
    • There will be full day tour of the coastline of Hudson Bay to photograph the polar bears along with other abundant wildlife in their natural landscape. Lunch and a tea are served around the campfire. After lunch explore along the river deltas and coastal eskers.
    • Staying close to the Lodge takes advantage of the opportunities that present themselves as the day progresses to photograph the King of the Arctic. Visitors are invited to embrace the Arctic environment. Lunch is served at the Lodge on this day.
    • Aurora Watching – The latter part of the season is the best time for Aurora watching. It can be the greatest light show on earth in summer. The northern skies are a perfect location for the dancing lights of the aurora. Bring a tripod to photograph the lights as it makes sharper photos.
    • Rest and Relaxation – Keep in mind, you are on vacation and if you decide to remain back at the lodge to relax, you should feel free to do so.

Day 6: Flight back to Winnipeg

Taking advantage of any last minute photo ops, pack your gear and getting ready to depart will be the end of the adventure.  A fabulous breakfast is served as well lunch before we depart on our charter flight to Churchill where we get the flight back to Winnipeg.   On arrival in Winnipeg,  for your last overnight. B,L

Day 7: Depart for your home

After breakfast you can depart at anytime for home.

Date - Rates:

Special: Save $200 per person by booking before Dec. 23, 2016 for 2017! (New bookings only)

Strong US Dollar translates to 20% or more savings! ]Because of the current exchange rates (March 2016) between the US and Canadian dollars, the US Dollar price for these trips is more than 20% less than the listed Canadian dollar price.  Call our office for a current quote.

2017 Dates:

August 20-26

August 27 - September 2 - Photo Leader Jad Davenport $10,195

August 31 -September 6 - Photo Leader Jad Davenport $10,195

September 9-15

September 13-19

September 17-23

September 21-27

2017 Rate information: $9,795 CAD from Winnipeg, plus taxes of 6.5% based on double occupancy.

Child rate: $8,795 for children 8-12 sharing with 2 adults

Private room rate: 2017: If you are traveling alone and would like us to arrange a suitable roommate, we will make every effort to do so.  If you prefer a room alone, then the private room rate applies of $18,195.

Note: If guests are weathered in at the lodge a $200 per day supplement will be charged. 

To calculate today's spot exchange rate, click here.

Please note that this is the "spot" rate, and the actual bank exchange rate may vary a few points from this. Your exact rate will be determined at the time of your booking and payment in full. VISA and MasterCard accepted.

Tour Details

Registration: To confirm your space on this tour, please send a deposit of $3,500 CAD to our office. Balance is due 120 days prior to departure. Please note: Tour rates are based on Canadian Dollars. Call: 800.808.4492 US and Canada or globally 575.524.0084.

Cancellation Policy: In the event you must cancel your reservation, refunds will be made according to the following schedule: Deposit non-refundable. All monies paid 120 days prior to departure,  100% non-refundable.

Insurance: Because many advance logistical arrangements have been made prior to the running of this trip, we must adhere to the above policy. In addition, please be aware that many insurance policies do not cover illness and accident expenses outside of the U.S., and Medicare does NOT cover any such expenses at all. In light of this, we strongly recommend trip cancellation and supplemental insurance.

Weather can be a factor in getting in and out of the lodge.  If you are delayed by weather, it will be at your expense in Winnipeg or Churchill and a rate of $200 additional will be applied to the lodge and paid at the lodge if you are stranded at the lodge.

A travel insurance form will be sent to you upon registration, or you can purchase it from our site by clicking on the "Purchase Travel Insurance" in the left-hand column. Our insurance carrier is Travelex.

Lodging:

Winnipeg: Grand Hotel

Main Tour:

Nanuk Lodge is your home base for our Mothers and Cubs Polar Bear trip. This lodge was built on the shores of the Hudson Bay 250 kilometers southeast of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
Nanuk Lodge Nanuk bedroom
polar-bears-watching-people-Nanuk-Lodge polar-bear-plane-Nanuk-Lodge-crop
 


Access: By air only, float plane, wheel plane or helicopter.

Location: 250 kilometers southeast of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada on the Hudson Bay coast.

Nanuk Lodge Features:

  • A viewing tower to take in the expansive tundra landscape and its wild inhabitants
  • Cozy common area with fireplace for evening wind down
  • 8 guest rooms with private bathrooms
  • Full service gourmet meals
  • Electricity run by generators, every day
  • Library with maps
  • Radio/Telephone by satellite
  • Perimeter fencing for safety
  • Large windows for bear viewing

 

Churchill Polar Bear Tour Primer


Which polar bear tours are right for you? There are many styles, length and prices, so the choice can be a bit intimidating.

Manitoba and Churchill-400pxTHE most reliable place in the world to see polar bears up close is in the Churchill, Manitoba area, known as "The Polar Bear Capital of the World" (see map).

Begin by deciding how much time you can spare and what your budget is. Cost can vary according to trip length, number of participants on the trip and the location and style of the tour. Do you prefer to stay in a hotel at night, or base your entire trip out of an enormous portable camp/bunkhouse on the shore of Hudson Bay? Or stay at a comfortable, remote wilderness lodge? All are great for seeing polar bears!

Below are brief descriptions of each of the polar bear excursions to choose from:

Tundra Buggy Hotel and Lodge-based Polar Bear Tours

Churchill polar bear tours 3These are the original polar bear tours begun almost 30 years ago by International Wildlife Adventures' founders and use the now-famous Tundra Buggies®, enormous all-wheel-drive vehicles, to roam the tundra and view the bears from. Each buggy can hold from 22 to 48 passengers, have on-board restrooms, openable windows on all sides and an outdoor back deck or platform for unrestricted viewing and photography.

There are three levels of trips to fit your interest and budget: Adventurer, Enthusiast and Specialist. Each style of trip listed in the Churchill tour section has a hotel-based or tundra lodge-based option.

One advantage of the hotel-based trips is that you have your own private hotel room at night, eat in a variety of town restaurants for breakfast and dinner and have time to explore the little frontier town of Churchill. While Churchill doesn't have any large, chain hotels, we use several small, modest but comfortable family-run hotels in town.

lodge with heli800pxAn alternative is to choose one of the Tundra Lodge-based trips. The Tundra Lodge is a giant, mobile facility composed of linked-together modular units that are pulled by the Tundra Buggies and parked in the prime bear viewing area on the Hudson Bay shore, east of Churchill. The facility is reminiscent of a passenger train, with a dining module, lounge and sleeper modules, all linked with outdoor viewing decks. (See the slideshow, above.)

On the lodge-based style, you use tundra buggies to view the bears during the day (in the exact same area that the hotel-based trips utilize), but return to the tundra lodge at night. The prime advantage of this style is you have more time on the tundra because there is very little "commute time" back to your night's lodging. And, the bears gather all around the lodge so that you can watch them even at night! The tundra lodge also has outdoor viewing platforms for easy viewing and photography.

 

Permanent-style Wilderness Lodge-based Polar Bear Tours

Seal River LodgeThese polar bear excursions utilize several classic Canadian fixed and remote wilderness lodges some distance from Churchill town. Access is by bush plane or helicopter. Eash lodge is totally self-contained with warm, comfortable private accomodations, excellent food with a cheery wood stove and full-stocked bar to relax after a long day of bear-watching.

One advantage of this style of polar bear tours, aside from the cozy creature comforts, is that you get to walk the tundra during the day to view and photograph the polar bears and other Arctic wildlife! There are fewer greater thrills than standing on the tundra with an adult polar bear, weighing some 800-1000 pounds just a short distance away.

Seal River 090Your guides are experienced wilderness guides and carry protection from the bears. But one thing you will quickly learn is that other than being curious, the polar bears are more interested in playing and sparring with each other than the group of humans on the tundra! This is an extremely exciting one-of-a-kind style of trip, but does require the ability to walk on uneven, frozen ground to be fully enjoyed. 

 

 


Polar Bear Trip Style Comparison

Hotel-based

Tundra Lodge-based

Wilderness Lodge

  • View bears from the world-famous Tundra Buggies®
  • Daily trips to the prime bear-viewing area
  • Stay in comfortable hotels in Churchil
  • Activities such as dog sledding and native culture available
  • Stay in mobile lodge in prime bear-viewing area
  • Outside viewing decks between each lodge module
  • Daily trips to view bears in Tundra Buggies® 
  • See bears around lodge at night, & northern lights
  • Stay in classic Canadian wilderness lodge
  • Daily walks on the tundra to view & photograph bears & other wildlife
  • Bear-safe outdoor area for viewing from lodge
  • Exciting flight to lodge by bush plane

    

     

    Best Time to See the Polar Bears

    polar bear seal riverFrom late November to June/July, polar bears spend as much time on the ice as they can hunting their favorite prey, ringed and bearded seals. After the ice melts, they come ashore to spend the summer and early fall resting, hanging out and conserving energy, waiting for the next freeze-up in the fall. So the bears can be seen during this period, summer or fall, but they do tend to concentrate along the Hudson Bay shore as cold weather approaches, making them easier to see in larger numbers. Except for occasional opportunistic feeding on carrion, they fast and live off their fat stores from June to November. 

     


    Churchill polar bear tours 7IWA offers trips in both summer and fall, but they are very different style trips. Summer provides the chance to see the bears on the flowering tundra, along with other seasonal species such as beluga whales in the Churchill and Seal River estuaries. By October, snow starts to fall and by early November it's there to stay for the duriation of winter. Ponds skim over with ice and sea ice starts building along the bay shore. The world becomes white and the bears are finally in their element once again. They become more active, and spend hours sparring with their friends and wandering around the shore.

    To sum up:

    Late June - Mid-August: Great for seeing bears on the greening and flowering tundra, as well as other birds and wildlife. Birds and other mammals are having their young, so there are good chances to see chicks and babies!

    October - November: This is the classic polar bear season when you are likely to see greater concentrations of bears on snowy tundra.

    What's the Temperature Like When I Want to Go? Churchill Climate Data 

    Climate data for Churchill Airport (1981−2010)
    MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
    Record high humidex 1.2 1.7 8.3 28.0 30.7 36.2 39.7 44.2 34.1 23.0 5.4 2.8 44.2
    Record high °C (°F) 1.7
    (35.1)
    1.8
    (35.2)
    9.0
    (48.2)
    28.2
    (82.8)
    28.9
    (84)
    32.2
    (90)
    34.0
    (93.2)
    36.9
    (98.4)
    29.2
    (84.6)
    20.6
    (69.1)
    7.2
    (45)
    3.0
    (37.4)
    36.9
    (98.4)
    Average high °C (°F) −21.9
    (−7.4)
    −20.2
    (−4.4)
    −13.9
    (7)
    −5.1
    (22.8)
    2.9
    (37.2)
    12.0
    (53.6)
    18.0
    (64.4)
    16.8
    (62.2)
    9.5
    (49.1)
    1.6
    (34.9)
    −9
    (16)
    −17.8
    (0)
    −2.3
    (27.9)
    Daily mean °C (°F) −26
    (−15)
    −24.5
    (−12.1)
    −18.9
    (−2)
    −9.8
    (14.4)
    −1
    (30)
    7.0
    (44.6)
    12.7
    (54.9)
    12.3
    (54.1)
    6.4
    (43.5)
    −1.2
    (29.8)
    −12.7
    (9.1)
    −21.9
    (−7.4)
    −6.5
    (20.3)
    Average low °C (°F) −30.1
    (−22.2)
    −28.8
    (−19.8)
    −23.9
    (−11)
    −14.4
    (6.1)
    −5
    (23)
    2.0
    (35.6)
    7.3
    (45.1)
    7.7
    (45.9)
    3.2
    (37.8)
    −3.9
    (25)
    −16.4
    (2.5)
    −25.9
    (−14.6)
    −10.7
    (12.7)
    Record low °C (°F) −45
    (−49)
    −45.4
    (−49.7)
    −43.9
    (−47)
    −33.3
    (−27.9)
    −25.2
    (−13.4)
    −9.4
    (15.1)
    −2.2
    (28)
    −2.2
    (28)
    −11.7
    (10.9)
    −24.5
    (−12.1)
    −36.1
    (−33)
    −41.8
    (−43.2)
    −45.4
    (−49.7)
    Record low wind chill −64.4 −62.6 −62.8 −46.9 −37.1 −12.7 −6.9 −6.2 −16.7 −35.5 −51.1 −59.1 −64.4
    Average precipitation mm (inches) 18.7
    (0.736)
    16.6
    (0.654)
    18.1
    (0.713)
    23.6
    (0.929)
    30.0
    (1.181)
    44.2
    (1.74)
    59.8
    (2.354)
    69.4
    (2.732)
    69.9
    (2.752)
    48.4
    (1.906)
    35.5
    (1.398)
    18.4
    (0.724)
    452.5
    (17.815)
    Average rainfall mm (inches) 0.0
    (0)
    0.0
    (0)
    0.4
    (0.016)
    1.1
    (0.043)
    16.1
    (0.634)
    41.0
    (1.614)
    59.8
    (2.354)
    69.3
    (2.728)
    66.0
    (2.598)
    20.9
    (0.823)
    1.3
    (0.051)
    0.1
    (0.004)
    276.0
    (10.866)
    Average snowfall cm (inches) 21.7
    (8.54)
    19.3
    (7.6)
    20.4
    (8.03)
    24.9
    (9.8)
    15.5
    (6.1)
    3.3
    (1.3)
    0.0
    (0)
    0.0
    (0)
    4.2
    (1.65)
    29.8
    (11.73)
    39.2
    (15.43)
    22.9
    (9.02)
    201.2
    (79.21)
    Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 11.9 10.2 11.0 8.9 10.2 12.0 13.9 15.4 15.9 15.7 15.5 11.9 152.6
    Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 0.09 0.05 0.45 1.4 5.1 10.7 13.9 14.9 14.5 6.5 0.91 0.24 67.5
    Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 11.9 10.3 11.1 8.3 6.7 1.5 0.0 0.06 2.6 11.6 15.6 12.3 92.1
    Mean monthly sunshine hours 79.7 117.7 177.8 198.2 197.0 243.0 281.7 225.9 112.0 58.1 55.3 53.1 1,799.5
    Percent possible sunshine 36.2 45.1 48.7 45.8 37.7 44.3 51.6 47.2 29.0 18.2 23.5 26.7 37.8
    Source: Environment Canada

     

    Where is Churchill and How do I get there?

    Churchill is is a tiny little town located on the mouth of the Churchill River, mid-way up the west coast of Hudson Bay, and some 600 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

     

     

    The only land route to Churchill is by air or train. There are no roads connecting the town with the rest of Manitoba. While most of our trips fly roundtrip to Churchill from Winnipeg, some options include the train one direction and return by air. See the Adventurer and Enthusiast Tundra Buggy trips, above, for dates with the train option.

    All trips, including our Tundra Buggy-based trips and our lodge-based trips, include round-trip transportation from Winnipeg and return. Participants are responsible for getting themselves to Winnipeg, Manitoba. United, Air Canada, American and Delta all fly into Winnipeg.

     

    Geography and History of Churchill

    Churchill lies at the mouth of the Churchill River estuary, one of the most important and historical rivers in Manitoba.

    boreal forest "Distribution Taiga" by GeForce3 - Wiki Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via CommonsTo the south and west of Churchill is the vast boreal (boreal means northern) forest, composed primarily of black and white spruce, plus some larch and birch. It is enormous and circumpolar: vast tracts lie across Canada, Alaska, Russia and Scandanavia, and is the world's largest biome. As one ventures farther north in Manitoba and towards Hudson Bay, the forest gives way to tundra. On the tundra, the tree species begin to change, comprised mainly of dwarf willows and birch, some only a few inches tall. Moss and lichens dominate much of the ground surface as do annual wildflowers in the summer.

    Churchill has been a crossroads of ethnic groups for millenia. As far as is known, Thule people, ancestors of present-day Iniut, arrived around 1000AD followed by the Dene about 500 years later. Before European contact, most of the local inhabitants were modern-day Cree and Chipewyan bands. 

    The first European to arrive was the ill-fated Jens Munk party from Denmark in 1619. They were promplty stranded and had to overwinter at what is now present-day Churchill. Only three of 64 survived the winter, most dying of scurvy. Munk was one of the survivors and he and the other two crewment sailed a small sloop back to Denmark. 

    In 1717, the Hudson's Bay Company (the world's oldest corporation) established the first permanent settlement. It's store operated until only about 20 years ago and was the main source of food and general goods available to Churchill residents.

     

    Fort Prince of Wales 2

     

    Fort Prince of Wales 3In 1731–1741, the Fort Prince of Wales was built - a massive stone structure overlooking the mouth of the river. It's now a national park and can be visited during the summer months and viewed across the river from a small satellite embattlement on the Churchill side. Most of our Tundra Buggy tours include a visit to the viewing point.

    In 1942, Fort Churchill was established at the site of the current Churchill airport, east of town. It housed up to 15,000 during and after WWII and the Cold War, when it was operated as a Strategic Air Command base, part of the Distant Early Warning, or DEW line.

    In 1929, a rail line was built across the boreal forest and muskeg from Winnipeg and a sea port was established to export grain and other commodities to Europe. It is this line that serves current travelers to Churchill on VIA Rail.

    Since then Churchill's population has dwindled to only around 800 residents. The main economy comes from health services provided to the remote northern peoples, the Port of Churchill and nowadays, tourism.

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