Take A Trip To This Canadian Coastline For Incredible Views Of Wildlife

To the untrained eye, the Arctic tundra of northern Manitoba may appear quiet and desolate. But look a little closer and you'll find a region teeming with wildlife. Wapusk National Park is home to 38 mammal species, 200 types of birds, and one of the largest polar bear denning areas in the world. While the park itself is closed to the public, the nearby town of Churchill sees plenty of polar bear activity along the Hudson Bay. Each year, 900 to 1,000 polar bears gather at the shore waiting for the sea ice to return so they can hunt seals.

The best time to see these aptly named Lords of the Arctic is from October to November, though you can spot them ambling along the shoreline anytime between July and the winter freeze. For safety reasons, it's best to view polar bears with a guided tour on a tundra buggy, as guides have specialized training and equipment to keep everyone safe.

Polar bears and wildlife tours

To catch a glimpse of polar bears in their native habitat, there are several tour operators available in Churchill, starting at around $140 for a half day and $262 for a full day. For all-inclusive multiple-day tours that include airfare, lodging, and meals, you can expect to pay somewhere between $4,480 and $7,383. Then, of course, there's a chance to photograph those adorable cubs as they emerge from their dens in late winter and early spring. For these dedicated spring photography packages, you're looking at around $12,242, though all prices are subject to change.

The great thing about getting out in the wild on a polar bears tour is that you'll have the opportunity to spot more incredible wildlife in the area, like arctic foxes, snowy owls, caribou, moose, and wolves. Depending on the time of year, some tours end the adventure with a night view of the aurora borealis. To round out your polar bear education, explore the interpretive centers at the Polar Bears International House and Churchill Northern Studies Center.

Beluga whale tours

There are more wildlife viewing opportunities just offshore. Beyond polar bears and other land-dwellers, Churchill is also considered the beluga whale capital of the world. In spring, a staggering 60,000 beluga whales visit Hudson Bay to socialize and breed, granting visitors an unparalleled view of these curious, playful creatures up close and personal. From June to September, about 3,000 expectant mothers head upstream into the shallow waters of the Churchill River, the perfect place to give birth to their calves and feed on capelins and trout.

There's a handful of tour operators to take you out onto the Hudson Bay, ranging from $100 for a two-hour Zodiac boat tour to $550 for a two-day tour, with options to add on kayaking and aqua-gliding. On some guided tours, the captain may use a hydrophone (a device that captures underwater sounds) so you can hear the beluga whales "singing." Known as the canaries of the sea, beluga whales are a vocal species, communicating with a series of whistles, chirps, and clicks. Between the beluga whales and Canada's Big Five — polar bears, grizzly bears, moose, wolves, and bison — Churchill is an amazing wildlife destination to add to your bucket list.