Churchill is a small town in Canada. It is located along Hudson Bay, near the border between the provinces of Manitoba and Nunavut. Winters here are cold and harsh and the community used to make a living from the fur trade. These days, however, it's a prime ecotourism destination.
For most visitors, the main reason to come to Churchill is to see polar bears. In the fall, these bears converge on the peninsula on which the town is located. They wait here for Hudson Bay's waters to freeze over, which will create their favorite hunting ground. Tour agents offer bear-sighting trips in special vehicles for traversing the ice during this time.
The best time to go see the beautiful white bears is in October or in early November. This is when most of the animals come to the peninsula to wait for the bay to freeze over. Later in winter they go onto the ice to hunt and you'll have to travel further to see them. However, you can even spot some bears in the warmer months, even though this is best done by boat or helicopter. Choose your helicopter pilot carefully because you don't want the animals to be stressed.
When you visit during bear season, it's important to keep some safety tips in mind. Polar bears are very dangerous animals and they won't hesitate to attack and kill you. This is why you should never leave the vehicle during your tour and why you should never walk outside of town without a guide. Don't feed the animals either.
There are other great reasons to visit too. In summer, beluga whales move into the estuary of the Churchill River to have their calves. It's a good season for kayaking and hiking. There is a huge variety of birds in the area too, making it a paradise for bird-watchers. In mid-winter the main attraction is the Northern Lights, which are more visible on clear, dark nights.
You cannot drive to Churchill because there's no road that leads to this remote town. Traveling by boat is unfeasible too because of the ice in the bay during the cooler months. However, this doesn't mean it's difficult to get here. There are daily flights from either Thompson or Winnipeg. Another option is to take the train from either city and enjoy the Manitoba scenery along the way.
There are several tour operators in Churchill. Some offer Northern Lights, beluga whale or kayak tours too but most will be able to take you to see the polar bears. It's important to do some background research on the agency to see that it is environmentally responsible and ethical before you book a trip with them. You can find information and reviews online and many tour operators offer online bookings too. During high season it's a good idea to book in advance.
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