A unique safari, showcasing the varied wildlife that populates the rivers and forests of Manitoba in central Canada.
The journey begins in Winnipeg, with a drive to Riding Mountain National Park, a rich wilderness in the midst of the prairieland that covers more than 3,000 square kilometres of rolling hills and valleys. Amidst its boreal forests, vast expanses of meadows, lakes and deep gorges, moose, black bear and a (captive) herd of bison live together with elk, wolf and countless bird species.
After the serene landscape of these southern plains, you head north to Churchill, where the forests give way to rugged and barren tundra. Here you search for polar bears and the 3,000 or so beluga whales that spend summer in the Churchill River. This one-off departure takes advantage of the long hours of summer daylight, when the short flowering season of the tundra is at its colourful best.
Fly to Winnipeg and overnight
Fly to Winnipeg via Toronto. On arrival at Winnipeg International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel nearby.
Accommodation: Four Points by Sheraton, 1-night
Drive to Riding Mountain National Park
After breakfast you drive northwest out of the city to Riding Mountain National Park (255 kilometres, around three hours), arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon you will visit the Parks Canada interpretative centre for an introduction to the National Park and its flora and fauna, before taking an evening safari to spot the key species: moose, black bear and bison. This 2,978 square kilometre island of forest rises out of a sea of surrounding farmland – Manitoba’s fertile prairie. Here you can find plants and animals from three distinct ecological zones, protected from the radical changes that have occurred as the land has been developed for agricultural or residential use.
Your accommodation will be a quaint, family-run bed and breakfast located just outside the National Park.
Day and evening safaris into the park to spot moose, black bear and bison
This morning you head back into the park again for another opportunity to see moose, black bear and bison, plus the other animals of the region. After a morning safari, meet with a Parks Canada Interpreter to learn about ongoing bison conservation in the park, In the afternoon, there is free time to explore the town of Wasagaming or take a guided tour of the Parks Canada Visitor Centre. This evening there is a chance to do another safari to look for the wildlife at dusk.
Return to Winnipeg
Before breakfast, enjoy an early morning wildlife drive to look for any species you may have missed on previous days. Late morning, you drive to Winnipeg, returning to the Four Points Sheraton hotel situated close to the airport. All meals are included today.
Fly to Churchill, dog sledding excursion
Take an early morning Calm Air flight to Churchill, before embarking on a guided tour around Churchill, by bus and on foot (weather permitting) to visit sites of local and historical interest. After stopping to check-in at your hotel, enjoy lunch at a local family-run restaurant. In the afternoon you’ll meet a local dog sledding expert to hear all about this arcane art and learn its lore. After meeting the team of dogs, you’ll go for a short ride through the boreal forest. As – in theory, at least – there is no snow at this time of year, you’ll be pulled on a wheeled sled.
Beluga Whale Excursion and Tundra Buggy Adventure
This morning you board a Transport Canada approved vessel for a trip to discover the hundreds of beluga whales – number four on your Big Five list – that congregate in the mouth of the Churchill River at this time of year. The cruise includes a visit to Canada’s oldest and most northerly fort - the Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site.
After the boat tour, you head out onto the Tundra Buggy for a six hour excursion into the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. The elevated Tundra Buggy offers a warm and comfortable vantage point from which to view and photograph bears, as the vehicle meanders across the tundra. You will stop to enjoy the scenery, photograph the lush Arctic flora of the brief summer season and look for wildlife, including caribou, Arctic fox, ptarmigan and, of course, polar bear – the last on the Big Five list. At the end of the day, head back to Churchill for an evening meal and chance to relax. With luck, there will be clear skies so that we can see the northern lights.
Excursion to see Beluga Whale, fly to Winnipeg
This morning you embark on another trip to see belugas, this time on a manoeuvrable Zodiac inflatable so you can see these endearing marine mammals from right down at water level. In the afternoon, there will be free time to explore Churchill, before transferring to the airport for a return flight to Winnipeg. On arrival, check-in to your hotel close to the airport. Your accommodation tonight will be the same as previously used during your trip.
The day is free until you transfer to the airport to check in for your flight back to the UK via Toronto. Depending on your departure time, there may be time to see something of Winnipeg during the day. Note: you will have to check out of your hotel room by midday at the latest.