Our trip to Churchill Manitoba this past August, was something that should have happened years ago. But I am super happy we finally indulged.
My wife, Lydia planned the trip to happen in the summer of 2021. The tail end of Covid got in the way and we had to reschedule for this year. Bless her heart that she did, for what transpired this year would not have been possible without her desire to experience Churchill.
We flew up to Churchill on Calm Air in late August. We were greeted by a cordial fellow who had worked all his life for Parks Canada, in Churchill, and now drove the bus from the Airport to town dropping people off for the Polar Inn. Our home for the next 4 days. After a quick ride to town, we were greeted by Aubrey (sp?) at the Polar Inn. A sweet and friendly young lady, she handled the sudden influx of clients with grace and aplomb, making sure everyone was welcomed with a warm smile and answers to all their questions.
Our rooms were perfect for our stay. Everything a modern hotel room might offer, including warm showers, fluffy pillows and great mattresses. For breakfast, we quickly found out, that there was a communal kitchen that we could use to make our own breakfast. On the menu, were freshly made waffles care of an automatic waffle maker (the best!), cereal, coffee or tea, toast with an assortment of toppings. We used this kitchen area for our lunches and a place to play Canasta later in the evenings with our children. Wonderful spot, for things that you might want to do at a dinner table with your family AND for meeting total strangers from around the world.
The tourist highlight of the trip for us, were the Beluga Whales. Oh my word. From the moment we launched our kayaks into the water, it seemed like we were immediately surrounded by these white marvels. For the next 2-3 hrs, we would paddle, and be smiling, giggling, taking pictures, shouting out the next sighting or enjoying a little nudge from the white whales when they came right up to our water crafts. Never touching, as we were informed that a simple touch, could transfer harmful bacteria or viruses to the whales. The whales were just as curious as we were, as to was this in their water in these plastic boats. It was an experience that only those that have donned a life jacket, slipped into that plastic kayak and ventured into the Churchill river can ever attest to. It goes without saying of course, that we never felt in any sort of danger, especially with 2 Zodiacs buzzing around the periphery of the 20 or so kayaks in the water, ensuring that everyone was accounted for and having the time of their lives.
Our next tour was of the tundra in an aptly named vehicle called the Tundra Buggy. These vehicles were literally small houses riding on giant tractor tires. We traversed the terrain east of town, in search of the elusive polar bear. Elusive only as most of these animals were still hibernating in dens over the summer, waiting for the water to freeze over. And we were not disappointed. The driver found a mother and her cub and gave us all the time in the world for taking pictures, selfies etc. Very informative gentleman.
The final tour was with Kenny, the shotgun toting driver of a mini-bus. The shotgun, as Kenny informed us, was NOT for our safety. It was for the bear’s (you have to be in the bus and listen to Kenny to understand that logic). He informed us about the scope of the US Military involvement in Churchill after the 2nd WW. And took us to places that we would have never ventured to, like the abandoned radar station and “Miss Piggy” at the far edge of town. We were disappointed that we were leaving town, as he described areas that he would have taken us to, but weren’t part of the official tour.
It was a wonderful experience. We are SO delighted we ventured that far north. And look forward to doing it again in the near future.