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Churchill -Polar Bear Capital of the World

There is no road to Churchill

Churchill is called the polar bear capital of the world.  It is located on the west shore of Hudson Bay.  In the summer time the Hudson Bay is ice free so that polar bears cannot catch any seals. They go inland to seek food such as berries and small animals which cannot keep them fed.  They go hungry all summer long.  As the weather turns cold in October and November time, they anticipate the Hudson Bay to be frozen so that they can go out to hunt for seals which is their main diet.  Churchill is located at the mouth of the Churchill River because of the fresh water, this region usually get frozen earliest.  For this reason, polar bears gather here waiting for the water to freeze so that they can get out on the ice to hunt for seals.  During that period of time it is estimated that there are about 900 polar bears in the region.  This number sounds large so is the area. Sometimes, a polar bear might be attracted by the food and humans to the city of Churchill.  In the old day the bear was usually shot and killed.  Now a bear patrol is set up using fire crackers or empty shells to scare the bear away.  If that does not work, it is trapped and sent to a remote area.  An entrepreneur modified his vehicle to take visitors to watch the bears close by and yet safe. Great White Bear Tours, Inc. is a family owned and operated company incorporated in 1994.  The owners, Don and Marilyn Walkoski, began transporting small groups of photographers out onto the tundra to view the polar bear migration in the Churchill Wildlife Management area.  The tours gained popularity and Don began building larger Polar Rovers to accommodate larger groups.  Today, Great White Bear Tours, Inc. boasts a fleet of 12 custom built Polar Rovers and a mobile Tundra Lodge that is situated outside of Churchill on the tundra, http://www.greatwhitebeartours.com/.

One can go to Churchill and book his own lodging and book day tours with the local operators or join an organized tour operator such as Natural Habitat Adventures,  http://www.nathab.com/ , who would arrange all travels and provide experienced guides.

There is no road to Churchill.  One can get there only by train or airplane.  By train, it takes two days to go from Winnipeg to Churchill. The train runs two times a week and makes a stop at Thompson. It should be an interesting trip as the train goes through boreal forest and tundra.  Calm Air flies regularly from Winnipeg to Churchill.  It is pretty expensive for the two hour flight, ranging from about $600 to over $1,000 for a round trip.  Polar Bear viewing operators charter their Calm air flights.  

Churchill is not a very big town but most of the hotels are comfortable and restaurants have good food although not fancy.  The price seems reasonable.

The best time of the year for polar bear watching is between middle of October to middle of November depending on the weather condition.