Canada, the Northern Lights and Majestic Wildlife
Discover a wealth of native wildlife in one of Canada's most secluded regions. From the thrill of husky mushing and the chance to witness the Aurora Borealis, to intimate encounters with one of the most majestic creatures on the planet, the polar bear, this tour will provide you with new experiences, each more unique than the last.
Your tour begins with a daytime flight firstly to the Canadian capital of Toronto, where we transfer to Winnipeg on an internal flight. On arrival we check in to our hotel for a one night stay before enjoying a welcome dinner.
This morning we set off on an introductory tour of Winnipeg, the 'Gateway to the West'. The city was named by its native aboriginal population and has a rich, multicultural history that is evident in the Forks area of the city - a local meeting area - and in downtown Winnipeg. The city also boasts a thriving French Quarter, home to a large Franco-Manitoban community and St Bonniface cathedral. After a delicious lunch at a local restaurant in the French Quarter, we return to the airport for our onward flight to the northern Manitoban town of Churchill, famously known as the 'Polar Bear Capital of the World'. We travel by coach to our home for the next three nights, the Lazy Bear Lodge - a cosy Eco-retreat made from over 1000 handcrafted logs. We are greeted with a warming welcome dinner as we settle into our winter wonderland surroundings.
Polar bears live largely within the Arctic Circle having evolved perfectly for moving across snow, ice, and open water in order to hunt the seals which make up most of their diet. Unfortunately these elusive animals are now officially classed as a vulnerable species due to poaching and more recently, the shrinking of Arctic ice. Today we embark on the first of our expeditions to experience these fascinating and beautiful creatures to see how they have adapted to survive in such harsh conditions.
The best way to safely get up close and personal with the majestic polar bear is aboard an Arctic Crawler tundra vehicle. These buggies are specially designed to traverse the difficult terrain, and during our time here, we enjoy two full day excursions out onto the expansive snow-covered countryside to see these magnificent beasts in their natural habitat, accompanied by a local wildlife expert. A hot and hearty meal is included out on the tundra, along with drinks and snacks.
We begin today with a guided tour, exploring this cultural city's bayside skyline and nomadic history. Having become a 'stopping-off point' during the annual polar bear migration to the coast, the town has come up with an ingenious method for handling any stray bears that might wander into populated areas looking for food - polar bear jail. Here the bears are held in a humane, secure facility overnight until they can be airlifted and safely released back into the wild to continue with their journey to the sea.
This evening we embark on a thrilling adventure across the surrounding frozen landscape, travelling on one of the most unique forms of transport in the world - husky dog sled, a fabulous way to experience your first outing onto the Canadian tundra. Thought to have been developed in Mongolia around 30,000 years ago, sledding is still practiced widely in countries such as Canada, Greenland and Russia, as it is one of the only ways for members of rural communities to get around during the intense cold of an Arctic winter. Your dog sled guide will introduce you to the intelligent, playful and energetic huskies that will be leading you on your adventure during this unmissable winter holiday experience.
We may also see the Aurora Borealis as our remote surroundings give us the best opportunity to see these indescribable nighttime illuminations, weather permitting. The Aurora have long been the subject of local myths and legends wherever they have been sighted and, in this region of Canada, the indigenous people believed them to be the dancing spirits of departed loved ones and animals, such as deer, seals, salmon and beluga whales.
With another day out on the tundra, as well as more polar bears, we will also have the chance to spot other animals that call this wilderness home, including Arctic foxes, hares and snowy owls. There will be many photo opportunities as we visit these nature hot spots, with the tundra buggies having large windows that open up for intimate encounters. Our on-board guides are extremely knowledgeable about the areas most popular with polar bears and use their years of experience to help ensure as many sightings as possible. We are also provided with lunch as well as warming drinks throughout.
This evening we make our way to Churchill's railway station to board our overnight sleeper service, VIA Rail service, for the three-day trip back to Winnipeg.
After breakfast this morning, we stop in Thompson, whose history dates back to 6000 BC. Here you can stretch your legs, perhaps walking a part of the town's 'Spirit Way', - a two-kilometre pathway with 16 points of interest that highlight Thompson's art, heritage, culture, industry, geology, and scenery. This afternoon, sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery as we continue our journey through the snowy northern Canadian landscapes. As we travel further south, the scenery changes to the well-tended farms of southern Manitoba from icy forests of larch and birch forest.
After another relaxing day aboard our train, we arrive into Winnipeg late this afternoon for a final night in our hotel.
This morning you are at leisure in Winnipeg. Boasting more than 1,100 restaurants and cafés, there are plenty of charming places to relax and watch the world go by. Alternatively, for those looking to make the most of their time in the 'Cultural Cradle of Canada', why not make a visit to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, or spend some time exploring Canada's National Museum of Human Rights? This afternoon we transfer to the airport for our late evening flight back to London via Toronto, arriving mid-morning on Day 9.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Canada, the Northern Lights and Majestic Wildlife