Churchill, Manitoba is the "Polar Bear Capital of the World", being built in the middle of a polar bear migration route.

polar bears aren't cute

Everything I've read tells me the best time to see the bears there is in November. However, what I can't find out is whether or not that's the ONLY time to see them, or whether if I go in late March/early April, if I'll be able to see any then. It's a 36 hour train trip each way from Winnipeg which I'm passing through, so I want to be pretty certain if I go.

Links preferred, but personal experience of seeing them would be handy too.

  • where are you pssing through on your way to? Ontario may actually be "closer" to the bears in terms of travel time, and then you could go at a better time of year – Kate Gregory Feb 23 '13 at 15:07
  • @KateGregory I'm going Vancouver to east coast (ish) by train/bus, and since I'm passing through Winnipeg where the train goes from, was considering it.... – Mark Mayo Feb 23 '13 at 21:29

Observing polar bears in Churchill is kind of like going on safari - the odds of seeing the animals aren't guaranteed, so your best bet is to catch them during periods of migration. While I've never been during April, I hear because it's between mating and hibernation tour guides try not to disturb them in Wapusk.

Just so you do know, Wapusk is 2.5 hours away and only accessible by helicopter or snow buggy so you're stuck going when the tours go. Wat'chee does tours in March (which sound cool because they're also Aurora Borealis tours combined!), but I think they conclude mid-March. So I guess your decision isn't really a decision if you're there at the end of March or in April. So double check because Wapusk without a guide sounds miserable if you can even get there.

You could go snorkeling with Beluga whales in April though, Frontier (same company that does the fall polar bear tours) offers snorkeling. :-)

  • Do you have any links or tour guide companies for Wapusk/Wat'chee? First time I've heard of these, and yes I will be googling them, but it'd be nice to have references in the answer. Thanks for the idea (re belugas!). – Mark Mayo Feb 23 '13 at 21:30
  • @MarkMayo Hey Mark, added some links to help people find the guides a little faster. Wat'chee is actually a tour company that operates in the earlier part of the year and Frontier does the latter part. No problem! Be sure to tell me how the beluga snorkeling goes if you do it. Seems like it's pretty out of the way for me, but how often does one go to central Canada, right? – Stephen P. Feb 24 '13 at 0:15
  • Thanks Stephen. It's a big decision - I'll be passing Winnipeg in a few weeks and am still torn about going up north. Chance of seeing Northern Lights and Hudson Bay holds appeal though... – Mark Mayo Feb 24 '13 at 19:02
  • @MarkMayo I always look at this way, what are the odds you're going to go back? If not, why would you waste the opportunity? Especially if you're not in a rush to be somewhere :-) – Stephen P. Feb 24 '13 at 23:40

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