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Frequently Asked Questions

Select a question from the list below:

Why the location for the lodge(s)?
Where are all the skinny polar bears we have been reading about?
Does every tour see bears?
What do the bears eat in the summer when the ice is gone?
Isn’t it dangerous to be out walking in polar bear habitat?
They sure look cute and cuddly don’t they?
When is the best time to see Northern Lights – the Aurora Borealis?
Should we buy Carbon offsets?
What are you doing as a remote lodge operator to minimize your “footprint”?
What are the average temperatures for your tours?
What do I need to bring?
Is there a phone or internet that we can use?
Can I book as a single?
How strenuous is the hiking terrain?
What is the minimum age?
How long is the flight to the lodge?
Can we go off on our own?
Can we book our own transportation to Churchill?
Can you help with additional nights in Churchill? Or pre and post tour hotels in Winnipeg?
Are there any other items not included in your tour price?
Are there restrictions on luggage?

Summer

What are the bugs like in the summer?
What is “swimming” with Belugas? And what kinds of boats are used?
Is snorkel gear provided?
When does the fireweed bloom?

Why the location for the lodge(s)?
All Lodges are located on the coast and it is this shoreline which is known as a wildlife corridor or as we say “where the action is”! Essentially it is the epicenter of a flora and fauna transition zone from boreal forests, to Arctic tundra – culminating in the Arctic Ocean’s Hudson’s Bay. No other place in the Arctic is home to such an incredibly rich diversity of wildlife species. Terrestrial mammals include moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, wolves, fox, wolverine etc. Marine mammals include thousands of beluga whales, seals and of course the largest concentration of polar bears in the world.  The remoteness of our exclusive fly-in lodges ensures undisturbed wildlife in a pristine unique setting.

Where are all the skinny polar bears we have been reading about?
Our family has been in the wildlife business on the Hudson Bay coast for over 80 years. During this time our observations would suggest that the polar bear population is static and it may even be growing. From all outward appearances the polar bears are healthy and thriving.

Some wildlife biologists say that their studies show polar bears are in trouble, losing weight, having fewer cubs, and generally under stress due to climate change. This has not been our experience in the areas we operate in, and we are optimistic that future generations will be able to continue to enjoy the exceptional wildlife experience that the Hudson Bay polar bear population provides.

We are deeply committed to minimizing the footprint that our presence represents to the unique bear habitat we operate in. Our policies and procedures are focused on avoiding all disruptive impact that our presence might have on the bears and our guides are highly trained and committed to this level of sensitivity.

Does every tour see bears, including mothers and cubs?
In the 20 years that we have been offering eco tours, every group of guests we have hosted has seen bears. While wildlife patterns are never entirely predictable, our lodges are located in the best areas in the world to experience polar bears in their natural habitat.

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is located in prime polar bear denning habitat and thus represents the best chance of observing mother and cubs up close. There are no guarantees, but the chances of seeing a mother and cub are very good. Our other lodges also frequently witness mothers and cubs, but sightings are more common at Nanuk than they are at any other accessible area.

What do the bears eat in the summer when the ice is gone?
Their primary food source is seal caught out on the ice but they will scavenge whatever they can during the summer months waiting for freeze-up. This includes flightless young on nests, eggs, berries, Arctic ground squirrels, Fireweed plants, seaweed and just about anything else edible. We have lately observed them actively hunting beluga from shore near the lodge which we believe is a learned activity unique to the Arctic.

Isn’t it dangerous to be out walking in polar bear habitat?
All of our guides have extensive experience working with polar bears in their natural habitat, and they are experts in interpreting polar bear body language. In general, polar bears are cautious creatures, but they are also among the fastest, most powerful carnivores on the planet, and our guides are constantly assessing each situation to determine a safe viewing distance for our guests.  We use strict procedures to control wildlife interactions and to diffuse potential conflict situations that might arise. Guides may utilize several different deterrents as required to control each polar bear encounter and to ensure that the potential for conflict is minimized. Guests are provided with detailed information on the safety procedures that they will be required to follow without exception throughout their Churchill Wild experience.

They sure look cute and cuddly don’t they?
They are the fastest, most powerful carnivores on the planet and like to eat meat, which you happen to be made of. Don’t let their chubby, furry, waddling gait fool you for a second, they are very capable efficient hunters. Remember HEALTHY respect! No hugs for the bears.

When is the best time to see Northern Lights?
It is possible, given the right conditions, to see the Northern Lights in any month of the year while staying at our wilderness lodges. Maximum darkness is preferred, so generally long, cold, clear winter nights are best, but excellent viewing possibilities do present themselves from July through May. Though the optimal viewing season is generally from January to March, it’s a lot more fun working with cameras in the warmer months at 10°C instead of -40°C, and the Northern Lights can be equally spectacular on a good night.

Should we buy Carbon offsets?
We do not endorse the purchase of carbon credits/offsets for several reasons. Offset purchasing can be a real conscience appeaser and distract a concerned person from making real and lasting changes to their lifestyle both at home and in their communities. Furthermore, there are still unanswered questions as to the value and integrity of carbon offset purchasing. We would rather see our communities making a much stronger effort to practice the timeless 3 R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Spend your time and resources changing your immediate surroundings for the better and travel with confidence knowing you have done your part to improve the health of our planet.

What are you doing as a remote lodge operator to minimize your “footprint”?
One thing we have discovered about living and working in a remote Arctic/sub-Arctic environment is that a person very quickly places the mantra of the 3R’s at the very core of all their activities. More than 30 years ago long before it was hip to be “green”, two of the early founders of the lodge industry in Canada, Doug & Helen Webber, were implementing reducing, reusing, recycling as standard operating procedure. Doug and Helen are Churchill Wild owner Jeanne Reimer’s parents.

This of course is an economic benefit as inefficiencies of any kind are greatly amplified when operating long distances from supply centers. They were the first major lodges to convert to solar power, fly out all trash to recycle, compost for local garden etc. The greatest drive though to minimize any impact on our pristine environment is garnered from over eighty years of family living and observations in the Arctic which has had a huge impact on how we operate. When your home is a wilderness paradise you make every effort to keep it that way so we have always been the “greenest” lodge in the Canadian Arctic and hope to keep raising the bar!

What are the average temperatures for your tours?
The average Churchill temperatures in Celsius are as follows:

July: High 17  Low 6
August:   High 17 Low 6
October: High 1 Low -7
November: High -11 Low -18

The climate at our lodges is heavily influenced by Hudson Bay, and variations from the above averages are common. They can also occur quickly and with some intensity! Our packing lists have been selected to ensure that you are well equipped to handle any unexpected weather changes you might experience during your visit.

What do I need to bring?
All of our lodges are in remote locations and a long way from the nearest shopping centre! It is very important that you pack carefully, and in particular, make sure that you have any required medications packed in your carry-on bag.  The climate along the Hudson Bay coast can be highly variable and weather can change from one hour to the next. It is recommended that you dress in layers so that you can adjust your comfort during your excursions from the Lodge as required. We have prepared a detailed list of items that should be considered during your packing. To download this list, please click this link. What to Bring Checklist – Churchill Wild

Is there a phone or internet that we can use?
Yes, you don’t have to be completely out of touch (unless you want to be).  We do have a satellite phone at the lodge which can be used for emergencies.  We also have satellite Internet that you can access anytime, although the service has a limited bandwidth and is not suitable for large volume transmissions.

Can I book as a single?
Our rates are based on two people occupying a room, but private rooms are available at additional cost.  Alternatively, if you are willing to share accommodations, we will arrange for a same-gender roommate accordingly.

How strenuous is the hiking terrain?
Great grandparents and great grandchildren alike have roamed these paths. The ground is rocky/spongy tundra or snow. Your hikes are on level ground so there are no steep hills or mountains to climb. A good pair of hiking boots or supportive winter boots will greatly enhance your ability to move along the trails. Some hikes occur on the tidal flats and there are areas where the footing can be muddy, or where you will be using our rubber boots (provided) to wade through shallow tides. During the October and November adventures, there is frequently some amount of snow cover. This will require you to walk through packed snow, but also offers you the chance of occasionally trailblazing if you volunteer for the front of the line!

What is the minimum age?
Due to the physical nature of our safaris we suggest that children be a minimum of 8 years old. Please realize that this is a remote Lodge where they will be expected to remain indoors when the group is not on outings. Your child must be supervised (by you) at all times. Considerations for children under our minimum age are made on an individual basis. Please inquire about our rates for children.

How long is the flight to the lodge?
Flying time from Churchill, MB to Dymond Lake Lodge is 15 minutes and Churchill, MB to Seal River Heritage Lodge is 30 mins. Flying time from Gillam, MB to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is 60 minutes. It’s a great start to your adventure! It’s quite likely that, depending on the season, you’ll count your first polar bear, beluga pod, caribou or wolf on your flight. 

Can we go off on our own?
No. You are in polar bear country and any excursions, whether two meters or two km, will require an escort at all times for your safety. Our guides are well trained in providing protection for our guests. We do have a fenced in compound at each of our lodges that allows guests to go outside on their own or in a group to view and photograph wildlife walking by the Lodge.

Can we book our own transportation to Churchill?
You can book your own transportation to Churchill if you have air travel points or if you wish to travel on Canada’s VIA Rail service. If you’d like to explore that option, simply discuss it with our adventure specialist so that we can ensure that your travel arrangements work with Lodge schedules.

Can you help with additional nights in Churchill? Or pre and post tour hotels in Winnipeg?
Yes, we can help with booking hotels in Winnipeg or Churchill for your pre and post tour stays.

Are there any other items not included in your tour price?
We do our best to make our inclusions as comprehensive as possible to simplify our guests planning decisions, so most of the travel and excursion requirements are provided, with a few exceptions where individual preferences and needs are at play. Sample Items not included would be some of your meals while in Churchill, gratuities, outerwear rental if required, and travel insurance.

Are there restrictions on luggage?
Pack light! Please pack your gear in a soft-sided duffel bag to ensure that all guest luggage will fit into the smaller aircraft utilized exclusively for the flight into our remote lodges. Airline restrictions require the length x height x width to be less than 62 inches. These restrictions also limit luggage to 70 lbs. altogether, including one checked bag not exceeding 50 lbs. and a carry-on bag not exceeding 20 lbs. If you need to downsize your luggage we do offer a secure location in Churchill for any excess items. Excess luggage can also be stored by your Winnipeg hotel until your return.

Summer

What are the bugs like in the summer?
Depending on wind strength and direction, the mosquitoes and black flies can be bothersome in the summer months.  While we plan our activities to minimize exposure to bugs, we recommend a combination of bug spray, bug jacket, light long pants and long-sleeved shirts if you are traveling to Churchill in the summer season.

What is “swimming” with Belugas? And what kinds of boats are used?
The boats that we use at the Lodge are zodiacs, which are very durable and optimally suited for our ocean excursions. We will take you out to see the beautiful white whales and give you the opportunity to swim with them. You will get into the water and you will be gently pulled behind the boat at a very slow speed. Beluga whales are highly intelligent and curious creatures, and we have found that this method best encourages the belugas to swim alongside to check you out. Belugas are very auditory and will respond to your singing and humming, even through your snorkel tube.

Is snorkel gear provided?
Yes, we do provide dry suits for snorkeling in the colder waters near Seal River Lodge (for our Birds, Bears & Beluga adventure), and wet suits for snorkeling in the warmer waters of the Churchill River estuary (for our Arctic Discovery safari). Snorkels and masks are provided.

When does the fireweed bloom?
The beautiful fireweed makes a great back drop for your photos! The best time of the year to photograph fireweed is generally the last week of July and the first week of August.