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 Riding Mountain NP

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Landlocked in the middle of the continent, the prairie province of Manitoba stretches from the US border in the south, to the shores of Hudson Bay and the Northwest Territories in the north. Famous for its seemingly endless fields of wheat, Manitoba also boasts very varied natural habitat and equally varied wildlife, encompassing everything from the Black Bear and Grey Wolf in the south, to the Polar Bear and Arctic Fox in the North.

You don't need to travel far outside of the provincial capital Winnipeg to find excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Just north of the city lies Oak Hammock Marsh, an expansive wetland habitat which is a popular staging post for a dazzling array of migratory birds. To the west is Riding Mountain National Park, a true wilderness retreat of birch and aspen, fescue meadow, lakes, streams, and beaver ponds. Here you will find a veritable who's who of Canadian mammals including the Black Bear, Grey Wolf, Bison, Moose, Elk, Whitetail Deer, Beaver, and Muskrat . Birds are well represented too, not least the Northern Harrier.

Far to the north, on the western shores of Hudson Bay, is Churchill, the self styled "Polar Bear Capital of the World". Here far above the tree line, the surrounding barrenlands and sub-arctic tundra are home to the largest, and most southerly population of Polar Bears in Canada. The months of October and November sees the largest gathering of polar bears anywhere in the world descend on Churchill as they gather in unprecedented numbers to await the first sea ice to form in Hudson Bay so that they can head offshore to spend the winter hunting seals out on the ice floes. A fleet of specially designed, large wheeled vehicles known as Tundra Buggies take visitors out onto the tundra to view the great white bears as they muster close to the shoreline. The opportunity to observe interaction between these normally solitary animals is unique to Churchill, and you are unlikely to witness the spectacle of two 1,000 pound males play fighting anywhere else. Churchill doesn't begin and end with Polar Bears though, possessing as it does an extensive cast of characters including the Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, Snowy Owl, and Willow Ptarmigan.

The Churchill polar bears come back ashore when the ice breaks-up again, usually in June, but tend to keep a low profile during summer as they try to conserve their energy and live off their winter fat reserves. Though sporadic bear sightings continue throughout the summer months, the thousands of Beluga Whales that come to calf in the warm, shallow freshwater of the Churchill River are the big draw in July and August when the focus shifts to waterborne wildlife activities. Polar Bears are sometimes seen on whale watching excursions as they swim from one side of the Churchill River to the other, and in recent years a number of adult males have been regularly sighted in the vicinity of a remote wilderness lodge, 20 minutes north of Churchill by floatplane, sometimes pursuing a unique and rarely seen feeding strategy involving ambushing Beluga Whales as they enter the shallow waters at the mouth of a nearby river. Churchill in spring and summer is also a birders paradise particularly in migration season, with exciting raptors like the Gyrfalcon, and rarities like the Ross' Gull, a visitor from Siberia. The area is also of great historical and cultural interest having been at the forefront of a number of pivotal periods in Canada's history, and been home to no less than 3 disparate aboriginal groups at the time of first European contact.

As with all our itineraries, a Bear Trails trip to Manitoba is tailor made, and can be combined with visits to the other destinations that appear on this website. It can, for example, be combined with a visit to British Columbia in order to see all 3 native bear species. You decide where you want to go and what you want to see and do. We do the rest.

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 Churchill Summer

Churchill Autumn

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