Eye-to-eye with polar bears

Polar Bear Photo Tour

I have partnered with local experts in Churchill, Manitoba to offer an intimate ground-level polar bear photo tour in the polar bear capital of the world. On these tours, you will have the opportunity to photograph polar bears in a small group and at eye-level, rather than from way up high in a crowded tundra vehicle. This trip offers far more time searching for bears than typical tours in Churchill of similar length.

Photography highlights

The focus will be on polar bear photography with an amazing variety of spectacular backgrounds. Guides will also seek opportunities to photograph other sub-arctic highlights including the northern lights, arctic hare, arctic and red fox, ptarmigan, gyrfalcon, snowy owl, wolverine, caribou.

Two polar bear sparring at sunset among spruce trees near Churchill, Manitoba

Expert local guides

All guides are local experts with 15-20 years of experience guiding photographers and film crews in Churchill, with safety as a top priority. With intimate knowledge of local bears’ patterns in the area, these guides work to get to know the individual bears each season, giving you the closest and safest encounters possible. The guides operate on a trail system that covers the 25 kilometers between the Town of Churchill and the Tundra vehicle tourism area.

All guides are fully versed in Churchill history, flora and fauna, and in 15 years, they have never been “skunked” on a tour. Visitors consistently rate their experience as “one of the best in the world.” Churchill is absolutely the best place to photograph polar bears.

Group size

No more than 8 guests per tour with a 1:4 guide-to-guest ratio.

Ability-level required

This trip is designed for mid to advanced-level wildlife photographers, but anyone who is physically capable is most welcome.

Most of the travel is by 4×4 van with some travel on foot. Participants must be prepared for the possibility of extreme weather and severe cold.

2021 Tour dates

October 17-22

October 19-24

October 24-29

October 26-31

Oct 31-Nov 5

Nov 2-7

Nov 7-12

Nov 9-14

Trip itinerary & what to expect

Day 1:

After your arrival on the early flight from Winnipeg, you will drop your bags at the hotel hop into a 4X4 van and head straight to the best spots to look for polar bears.

As safety allows, your guides will strive to get you on the ground to experience the majesty of these creatures and the awe they inspire.  It will take your breath away.  Being on the ground with polar bears is simply a defining moment in your life. It is a distinctly different experience than being inside a huge tundra vehicle, with several buggies simultaneously watching one bear.

On many days, your group will have bear encounters to yourselves— setting up on the ground and letting the bears approach—using your guides’ expert knowledge of bear encounters to maximize safety and photo opportunities. 

Days 2-5

Each day starts at sunrise and you will shoot until sunset.  The ‘magic hour’ in Churchill lasts much of the day, providing some amazing light with nuances and changes that only make it more appealing as the day passes.  An average day features 2-3 bear encounters plus other wildlife encountered along the way.  

On weather days or during lunch, you will stop at the world-famous Itsanitaq Museum, get your passport ‘polar bear’ stamp, visit a Churchill cabin complete with bear defenses and explore some local historic sites.  

In the evenings, northern lights viewing is always an option and your guides will direct you to the best and safest shooting locations.  A dedicated northern lights viewing tour is available as an add-on but most guest are exhausted from a full day of polar bears!  The good news is that the aurora may come out early while you are dining in Churchill.

Day 6

Another full day of wildlife viewing and photography before the evening flight departs to Winnipeg.  Most groups are ‘beared out’ by this point so your guides may target arctic fox or stalk a snowy owl.  The last afternoon usually includes a stop to visit a ‘favourite’ bear – usually a family group that you’ve spent a lot of time with through the week – and say goodbye.

Everyone will gather for a final group dinner and share stories and images of the week… and plan our next adventures!

2020 Pricing

$5995 Canadian dollars + 5% tax

The price includes:

  • Six full days (five nights) of eye-level polar bear photography (the most days in the field of any Churchill polar bear tour on offer).
  • Experienced guide and bear guard with 4×4 vehicle
  • Premium access to the Canadian Inuit Dog Foundation (polar bear resting area)
  • Accommodations and shuttles in Churchill
  • Continental breakfast

Not included

  • Flights to/from Churchill Manitoba Canada
  • Lunch and dinner
  • Accommodations outside Churchill

Your guides can help you coordinate flights and hotels – all tours are booked so guests can maximize the Saturday discount through Calm Air International.

Bilingual French/English guides available

Add ons:

  • Extra day – $750 CDN per person
  • Helicopter tour – one hour – est. $550 CDN per person
  • Tundra Vehicle day trip (8am-4pm) – $550 CDN per person (additional day required in Churchill)
  • Afternoon dogsled tour – $95 per person
  • Single supplement $800

Deposit

  • 25% deposit ($1250 CDN) required upon booking

What to know more?

Contact Tim to learn more or to reserve your spot.

An arctic fox curled up in the snow with one eye open
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