If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the polar bear capital of the world, seeing beluga whales in their natural habitat, bird-watching for hours on end, or experiencing the northern lights first-hand, there’s actually just one place you need to go - and it’s right here in Canada! This small Manitoba town is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” and here’s what you need to know about visiting.
The town of Churchill in Manitoba is a nature-lovers paradise, and the small northern community is recognized worldwide for its abundance of incredible wildlife.
With everything from polar bears, beluga whales and narwhals, to foxes, moose and wolves, it’s one of Canada’s most magical destinations for animal lovers.
Also recognized as one of the world’s best places to see the northern lights, Churchill is a bucket-list destination for anyone looking to get out of their comfort zone.
The town is not accessible by road, and the only way to travel to Churchill is by a two-day, 1,700km train ride or a 3-hour flight.
If this doesn't excite the adventurers among you, the town also made National Geographic's "Places of a Lifetime" list, which celebrates some of the world's most life-changing destinations.
"Nowhere else in the world can you have interactions with beluga whales that you can have here in Churchill," says Michael Goodyear, former director of the Churchill Northern Studies Centre.
A local tour guide added, "The sheer wealth of wildlife [in Churchill] is overwhelming. The term 'bucket list' is used a lot here."
It's not surprising that Churchill is popular with bucket list explorers. With some of the world's best opportunities to spot whales, polar bears and the northern lights, you can cross off several of your biggest bucket-list experiences in just one trip.
Luckily for Canadians, this natural paradise is pretty close to home. Located on the west shore of Hudson Bay, roughly 110 kilometres (68 miles) from the Manitoba–Nunavut border, Churchill is far above most Canadian populated areas.
There are no roads leading to Churchill, meaning that driving up to this part of the Great White North is not actually an option. You can drive as far north as Thompson and then catch a flight or the train to Churchill from there.
The most adventurous option is to take the train all the way from Winnipeg, which is a 2-day journey that can cost as little as $400-$500 roundtrip.
While viewing Churchill's wildlife is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
Northern Lights tours can cost up to $5,000; polar bear and beluga tours can even cost double that.
That said, there are cheaper options. If you dig around tour groups and plan your trip within the right season, there are better deals to be had for your dream trip.
Earlier this month, Kate Upton paid a visit to Churchill, to attend the opening of the new Polar Bears International House.
To celebrate the start of Polar Bear Month, Upton spent some time in the polar bear capital of the world, and she seems to have had a pretty incredible experience.
With the world's "polar bear capital" so close to home, Churchill should definitely be on every Canadian nature-lovers bucket list for 2020!