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Adventure Tours   >   North America Adventure Tours   >  Canadian Polar Bear Experience

Canadian Polar Bear Experience Adventure Tour

North America

  • Canada

Imagine watching polar bears in the wild alongside a naturalist expert from Polar Bears International, one of the world's leading organizations dedicated to protecting these amazing animals. The opportunity is yours on this six-day adventure in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Arctic. Sit down to a picnic on the tundra and opt to go dogsledding through the region's breathtaking landscapes on a one-of-a-kind wildlife adventure.


About our Transportation  

For this trip we use 15-passenger vans for up to 12 people plus the CEO/Driver. For groups of 8 and more travellers, we also use a trailer to carry luggage. These durable vehicles allow us to drive on most types of roads in North America.

Each van has a front passenger seat and 4 benches that will accommodate 3 people each with mandatory seat belts to keep us secure and safe. No standing is permitted in these vehicles.

This is not a physically demanding journey, but with limited space in the van, long drive days can be difficult. Please take note of the travel times and distances in the above itinerary. There is air conditioning to cool things down on warm days to keep everyone more comfortable. Despite some of the long days, most travellers feel that the diversity of the North American landscape, culture, and wildlife are all well worth the experience!


Optional Activities  

Churchill
- Churchill helicopter Tour (550CAD per person)
- Dog Sledding Adventure (100-115CAD per person)


Safety and Security  

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.


Group Leader Description  

This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager and leader, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.

We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.


My Own Room  

Please note that if you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops


Joining Hotel  

For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.


Joining Instructions  

An arrival transfer is not included but our joining hotel is located at the Winnipeg airport, and can be reached by foot.

Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other then your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.

Your CEO will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time and your transfer times back to the airport the next day. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.


Solo Travellers  

We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.


Packing List  

Cold Weather:
• Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
• Scarf
• Warm gloves
• Warm hat
• Warm layers

Documents:
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)

Essentials:
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Footwear
• Hat
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Moneybelt
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Shirts/t-shirts
• Sleepwear
• Small travel towel
• Sunglasses
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket

Health & Safety:
• Face masks (required)
• Hand sanitizer (required)
• Pen (Please bring your own pen for filling out documents.)
• Rubber gloves

Warm Weather:
• Sandals/flip-flops
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
• Swimwear

Note: Specific cold-weather gear is available to rent for this trip. To reserve gear, click here and fill out the applicable form.


Money Exchange  

There are no banks in the community for exchanging money or travelers cheques, so you should bring sufficient Canadian dollars with you (EUR and US cash should be exchanged in Winnipeg). There are a few ATM's in town but it is best not to rely on them. Master card and Visa are accepted in most retail outlets in the community but certain services like carvers and artists will only accept Canadian cash.


Feedback  

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at [email protected] and we will send it on to you.


Trip Specific Safety  

It's unwise to wander the back streets of Churchill late at night as bears occasionally enter the town. All vehicles and houses are usually left unlocked, so if you do meet an animal, then take cover immediately in a calm and orderly fashion.
Don't be tempted to feed the bears, as it's punishable by an instant fine and it's also extremely dangerous.


Planeterra Foundation - the non-profit partner of G Adventures  

Planeterra International Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. Planeterra connects underserved local communities to the benefits of tourism by developing and supporting small community-owned businesses. These businesses support Indigenous people, empower women, grant youth access to employment opportunities, and protect the environment. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating their projects into G Adventures' itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra's largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs, so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.

G Adventures Dollar-a-day Program - Make Every Day Count - Turn your travel into impact with Planeterra Foundation.

Did you know? Most communities around the world do not benefit from tourism. Give back to the places you visit on your travels by creating opportunities for local people to earn an income, and protect the environment.

Make every day count by donating $1/day for the length of your trip, and join us in empowering the communities you will visit when you travel. 100% of your donation goes directly to Planeterra projects.


Arrival Complications  

We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.


Health  

Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that quite often we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings in this dossier for trip specific information. For travelers over 70 years a completed Medical Form is required. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveler from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.


Newsletter  

Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from G Adventures, subscribe at www.gadventures.com/newsletters/

Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation - Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.


Minimum Age  

You must be 18 to travel unaccompanied on a G Adventures tour. For minors travelling with a guardian over 21 years old, the minimum age is 12.


Emergency Contact  

Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call the G Adventures Local Representative. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.


EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS?


G Adventures Local Representative (Las Vegas) ?
From outside the USA: 1-412-423-8143
From within the USA: 412-423-8143


If you are unable for any reason to contact our local representative, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.


Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999


Itinerary Disclaimer  

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.


Group Size Notes  

Max 25


Emergency Fund  

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!


Meals Included  

5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners


Local Flights  

Local flights from Winnipeg to Churchill and return are included.


About Accommodation  

Accommodation in Churchill is at the Tundra Inn. While not fancy, the hotel is comfortable, with some amenities and located in the middle of town. This hotel features 31 spacious rooms with double or queen size beds; private bath and shower; cable television; phones; internet connection; coffee maker, hair dryers and in house laundry facilities. A kitchenette is also available just off the lobby.
**Accommodation is subject to change without notice to a similar hotel.


What to Take  

You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible.

For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.

We recommend using a backpack for your convenience, or a medium-sized suitcase if you prefer. Heavy luggage is not recommended for the health of the CEO, who will take a lead in loading the storage trailer. Due to space in the trailer, we will not be able to accommodate more than one piece of main luggage per person. A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential to carry your personal gear for the day, as access to luggage between destinations will be limited. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.

It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings, as well as a light jacket.


Meals  

Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility.

Please note that due to its remote location in Northern Canada, food is quite expensive in Churchill. You can expect to pay $20 - $30 CAD for a main course. There are a few restaurants and a pub in the Town of Churchill, all within walking distance of your hotel. Normal Canadian fare is offered as well as local specialties, such as caribou, Arctic Charr and bison.


Accommodation  

Hotels (5 nts)


Spending Money  

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.


Tipping  

It is customary in North America to tip service providers such as waiters, bartenders and taxi drivers, at approximately 18-20%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip any local guides used. Recommendations for tipping local guides would range from $2-8 USD per activity depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.


Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $5-10 USD per person, per day can be used as a guide. If your CEO(s) exceeded your expectations, feel free to tip more.


Dossier Disclaimer  

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.


Important Notes  

STAYING WARM
You will require warm gear for this trip, including a winter parka, snow pants, and boots. For more information about how to best prepare for your upcoming adventure you can view this "What to Wear" Video: here

For your convenience, we have partnered with Frontiers North who are proud to offer outstanding Canada Goose parkas and snow pants, as well as Baffin winter boots through a Gear Rental Program. Available items, sizing charts and reservations can be found by visiting here. Please select tour code G15 at checkout.

Gear items will be available for pick up on October 23 between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Four Points by Sheraton, Winnipeg Airport in Room 216. All rental items must be returned to the same location immediately upon returning back to the hotel.


WATER BOTTLE
Instead of using disposable plastic water bottles on our Tundra Buggies, we encourage our travellers to bring their own reusable, sealable water bottle or travel mug that can be filled with clean drinking water or coffee on board.



MEDICAL CONDITIONS AND DIETARY RESTRICTIONS
This tour will be visiting very remote locations for extended periods of time. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that you inform us of any pre-existing medical conditions or dietary needs well in advance. Please rest assured that the information provided through our Good to Go system is 100% confidential. You can also speak with our Sales team to ensure that we're best prepared to accommodate you on tour.

WEATHER
Polar bear season runs from beginning of Oct to mid November. You can expect snow, but that is not always a given. Temperatures are generally around the freezing point in October, but can dip as low as -20°C/-10°F towards mid November. Be prepared with extra layers and a very good windbreaker to protect you from the VERY harsh tundra winds.

LEGAL DRINKING AGE
Please note that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and in Canada, 19 (with Alberta and Quebec at 18). Drinking laws in both countries are strictly enforced.

While this should not stop those under legal drinking age from booking a tour, it is important to note that if a traveller is under-age there are certain optional nighttime activities that they may not legally be able to participate in. When trying to book the right trip, we recommend that travellers under legal drinking age take this into consideration when booking.


A Couple of Rules  

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of people in the sex trade is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they utilize the services of paid sex workers, in any capacity.


Travel Insurance  

Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.


International Flights  

Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.


What's Included  

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Polar Bear Conservation Event, Churchill
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Parks Canada Experience, Churchill
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Far-North Local Life Talk, Churchill
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Polar Bear Drive, Churchill. Churchill historical tour. Itsanitaq Inuit Museum visit. Northern lights viewing (weather dependent). Tundra Buggy polar bear excursions (2 days). Internal flights. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


Highlights  

Take part in a historical tour of Manitoba Conservation's polar bear holding facility, visit the Itsanitaq Inuit Museum, witness the northern lights, experience a full day of polar bear-viewing by Tundra Buggy, enjoy a picnic on the tundra


Transport  

Plane, private vehicle, Tundra Buggy, walking.


Visas and Entry Requirements  

All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation.

As of March 15, 2016, all travellers to Canada will have to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) from the Government of Canada. The ETA must be requested prior to departure for Canada through the following link:
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp

The authorization has a fee of $7 CAD per person and it is your responsibility to apply for the ETA prior to departure.

This policy does not apply to US citizens or nationalities that require a visa for Canada.

Day 1 Winnipeg

Arrive at any time. Meet your CEO for a welcome dinner and group meeting.

Our joining hotel is located at the Winnipeg airport as we have an early start the next day.

Day 2 Winnipeg/Churchill

Catch an early morning flight to Churchill. Upon arrival, enjoy a town and area historical tour including Cape Merry, the Port of Churchill, and Manitoba Conservation's Polar Bear Holding Facility. After, visit the renowned Itsanitaq Inuit Museum which features one of the best collections of Inuit art and artifacts. Later in the evening, set out on a drive through the remote landscape to view the Northern lights (weather dependent).

Churchill is a small, northern community with a lot of character; big-chain hotels or gourmet restaurants won't be found here. Visitors will, however, find warm down-home hospitality and clean, comfortable hotels with all the amenities. Staying in town allows you to walk to and from different venues, spend some time on your own, and, perhaps, meet some of the locals.

Churchill is located along the treeline of the northern edge of the boreal forest, and attracts arctic and boreal species of wildlife, birds, and plants. Commonly seen species include arctic and red foxes, arctic hare, caribou, gyrfalcons, snowy owls, ptarmigan, and, in the summer (June-Aug), beluga whales.

It's unwise to wander the streets of Churchill at night as bears occasionally enter the town. Local vehicles and houses are usually left unlocked, so if you do meet an animal, then take cover immediately in a calm and orderly fashion. Polar bears are predators and should never be approached on foot. Don't be tempted to feed the bears, it is punishable by an instant fine and it's also extremely dangerous.

Day 3 Churchill

Set out on a full day excursion to enjoy polar bear viewing by Tundra Buggy with a local/expert guide. Take in the majestic arctic landscape while searching for polar bears, arctic fox, and ptarmigan. Enjoy a full picnic lunch on the tundra. This evening, join representatives from Polar Bears International (PBI) for a private cocktail reception. PBI is the world's leading polar bear conservation group - dedicated to saving polar bears by saving their habitat. Their focus is on research, education, and stewardship.

Polar bears begin to swim ashore in mid-July. In October they begin to gather in numbers along the coast, waiting for pack ice to form over the Hudson Bay, at which point the bears disappear in search of seals. Churchill's ‘bear season' begins in early October and lasts until early November.

Known as the “Lords of the Arctic,” these spectacular animals are massive with the average male polar bear growing to more than 600kg (1,320 lbs) and standing 3.05m (10 ft). While large, they are surprisingly quick and have great agility. The bears have a highly acute sense of smell and are skilled hunters - able to pick up a scent from more than 30km (19 mi) away. They can even detect the presence of seals under 3 ft (.9m) of snow and ice. Polar bears have no natural enemies and no fear of other animals (including humans).

Day 4 Churchill

Enjoy a free morning to visit some of the local shops or opt to take a dog sledding excursion or helicopter flight. After lunch, visit the Parks Canada Interpretive Centre for an educational presentation about the National Park Service and its history in the Churchill area. This evening, enjoy an informal talk with a local from Churchill who will talk about what life is like living in a far north, remote Canadian town.

The helicopter and dog sledding optionals are weather/condition dependent and may be switched to other days for availability.

Day 5 Churchill/Winnipeg

Enjoy a second excursion in the tundra in search of polar bears and northern wildlife. We are joined by a species expert from Polar Bears International who will share their expertise on polar bears and their habitat. In the evening, fly back to Winnipeg for our final night.

Day 6 Winnipeg

Depart at any time.

Details

Duration: 6 Days

Travel Style: National Geographic Journeys

Service Level: Upgraded

Physical Grading: 2 - Light

Trip Type: Small Group



Call Us: 01 2311889



TRAVEL AWARE - STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY ABROAD

The Department of Foreign Affairs has up-to-date advice for Irish citizens on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more security, local laws, health, passport and visa information see https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/ and follow dfatravelwise