FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are your ecolodges located outside of Churchill?
What are the differences between your three ecolodges?
How long is the flight to each lodge?
Are you seeing fewer polar bears? Are the bears healthy?
Does every tour see polar bears, including mothers and cubs?
What do the bears eat in the summer when the ice is gone?
Is it dangerous to be out walking in polar bear country?
They sure look cute and cuddly, don’t they?
When is the best time to see the northern lights?
What are you doing as a remote lodge operator to minimize your “footprint”?
What is the weather like at your lodges?
What do I need to bring?
Are there phone and/or Internet services at the lodges?
Can I book as a single?
How much walking will I do?
How strenuous is the hiking terrain?
What is the minimum age?
Can we go walking 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?
What are the bugs like in the summer?
When does the fireweed bloom?

Why are your ecolodges located outside of Churchill?
The remoteness of our exclusive fly-in ecolodges along the Hudson Bay coastline allows for undisturbed wildlife viewing in a pristine, unique setting. No other place in the Arctic is home to a diversity of wildlife species. Terrestrial mammals include moose, black bear, grizzly bear, wolves, fox, wolverine etc. Marine mammals include beluga whales, seals, and of course, one of the world’s most accessible concentrations of polar bears. Our ecolodges are located directly in the path of these bears as they wander up and down the coast during the summer and fall.

What are the differences between your three ecolodges?
Our most northern property, Seal River Heritage Lodge, is located 60 km north of Churchill and sits right on the Bay next to an inlet where we can launch Zodiac boats for beluga whale tours. This lodge is open from July to November and is most known for its sightings of polar bears, beluga whales and smaller creatures such as Arctic and coloured fox, sik-siks and pine marten. It’s also an excellent location for birdwatching during the summer and early fall.

Dymond Lake Ecolodge sits nestled near the treeline of the Boreal forest and has a true wilderness feeling. Just 30 km north of Churchill and slightly inland from Hudson Bay, its location close to the coast and the forest lends itself to a variety of wildlife. Polar bears, moose, fox, pine marten, snowy owls, and even the elusive wolverine are known visitors to this unique destination. This lodge is open only from mid-October through mid-November.

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is our most remote lodge, 250 km southeast of Churchill. The coastline at Nanuk features long beach ridges and vast open spaces, differing from the rocky coastline near Seal River. Nanuk opens in early August and shuts down in late November. Due to its location on the edge of the Boreal forest, Nanuk is not only home to polar bears, but also black bears, moose, wolves and other forest dwellers, including myriad bird species.

How long is the flight to each lodge?
Flying time from Churchill, MB to:
Dymond Lake Ecolodge – approx. 15 minutes
Seal River Heritage Lodge – approx. 25 minutes
Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge – approx. 70 minutes

Are you seeing fewer polar bears? Are the bears healthy?
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 that the 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.

Does every tour see polar bears, including mothers and cubs?
Over the past 26 years we have had very few departures that have not seen polar bears, including mothers and cubs, but it does happen occasionally due to weather and elements of nature beyond our control. There are also times when guests may only see bears from a distance, but this is not the norm. Our ecolodges are located in the best polar bear viewing territory on the planet, directly on the Hudson Bay coast in the path of the polar bears as they wander the coastline from July through November. Additionally, our polar bear guides and systems for spotting wildlife are among the best in the world.

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What do the bears eat in the summer when the ice is gone?
The primary and favoured food of polar bears are seals caught while out on the ice, but they will scavenge for light meals during the summer months while awaiting freeze-up. These polar bear snacks might include flightless young in nests, eggs, berries, Arctic ground squirrels, fireweed, seaweed and just about anything else that is edible. Over the past 10 years we have also observed polar bears hunting beluga whales in the Seal River estuary. We believe this is a learned activity unique to the Arctic.

Is it dangerous to be out walking in polar bear country?
All 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 encounter to determine a safe viewing distance for our guests.

We use strict procedures to control wildlife interactions and to prevent undue stress on the animals. Guides may utilize one or more different deterrents (if required) to manage each polar bear encounter and ensure that the potential for conflict is minimized. Guests are provided with detailed information on the safety procedures they will be required to follow without exception throughout their Churchill Wild experience.

They sure look cute and cuddly, don’t they?
Polar bears are the fastest, most powerful carnivores on the planet and they 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 and efficient hunters. Remember HEALTHY respect! No hugs for the bears.

When is the best time to see the northern lights?
It is possible, given the right conditions, to see the northern lights in any month of the year while staying at our remote ecolodges. 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.

 

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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 the importance of adhering to the 3Rs. The parents of Churchill Wild co-owner Jeanne Reimer, Doug and Helen Webber, were among the early founders of the lodge industry in Canada, and they instilled the reduce, reuse, recycle mentality in their children. As a result, this has become a key tenet of our operations.

The drive to minimize our impact on our pristine environment is garnered from over eighty years of family living and observations in the Arctic, and this 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. We have always been one of the “greenest” lodge operators in the Canadian Arctic and we plan to keep raising the bar. See our Sustainability page for more.

What is the weather like at your lodges?
The average Churchill temperatures in Celsius are as follows:

March: High -14 Low -24
July: High 18 Low 7
August: High 16 Low 7
September: High 9 Low 3
October: High 1 Low -4
November: High -9 Low -16

The climate at our lodges is heavily influenced by Hudson Bay, and variations from the above averages are common and can happen quite suddenly. Our location on the coast lends itself well to exciting wildlife encounters but can also lead to conditions that vary greatly from day to day, and from season to season. Additionally, the weather on the coast often differs from weather in Churchill, so while conditions may be favourable for flying out of Churchill, it may be unsafe to land or take off from the lodge. The itinerary you receive after booking is a good indicator of how things will go, but transfers and activities may differ if unfavourable weather requires our flexibility.

What do I need to bring?

Our ecolodges are in remote locations and a long way from the nearest shopping centre. It is very important that you pack carefully and make sure you’ve packed essential items and/or required medications in your carry-on bag.  As outlined above, 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 these lists, please click the links below.

What to Bring Checklist – Summer
What to bring Checklist – Winter

Are there phone and/or Internet services at the lodges?
We 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.

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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 much walking will I do?
The amount of walking done each day is based on where the wildlife is or is predicted to be. Some days you’ll walk a few kilometres during each of your morning and afternoon excursions. Sometimes the wildlife may be right outside the lodge compound and you’ll be able to enjoy an encounter without going far at all. On average, expect to walk 5-10 km/day. There is always the option to stay back at the lodge and watch for wildlife from the comfort of our cozy lounge.

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, 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 the minimum age for participants is eight years. Please realize that these are remote lodges where they will be expected to remain indoors when the group is not on outings. Your child must always be supervised (by you). Considerations for children under our minimum age are made on an individual basis. Please enquire about our rates for children.

Can we go walking on our own?
No. You are in polar bear country and any excursions, whether they be two metres or two kilometres, will always require an escort for your safety. Our guides are well trained in providing protection for our guests. Each lodge has a fenced-in compound that allows guests to go outside on their own or in a group to view and photograph nearby wildlife.

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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?
Items not included in the package price are taxes, gratuities, outerwear rental (optional), 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. Our restrictions require the length x height x width to be less than 55 inches. These restrictions also limit luggage to 70 lbs. altogether, including one checked bag not exceeding 50 lbs. and one or two carry-on bags not exceeding 20 lbs. If you need to downsize your luggage the hotel in Winnipeg will hold excess items until your return stay.

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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.

When does the fireweed bloom?
The best time of the year to photograph fireweed is generally the last week of July and the first week of August. Note that the large fields of fireweed seen in some of our photos are not accessible by foot during our daily hikes and that excursions to this area are not part of our regular itinerary.