Filled with such unique experiences, Churchill is such a unique town that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Plus, the respect that the locals have for the town and its history is abundantly clear. Here are five reasons why a visit to Churchill should be on everyone's bucket list.
1. Searching for Polar Bears: The most essential part of the Churchill experience is the abundant wildlife — you have to keep your eyes peeled at all times because there's always the chance to see wildlife no matter where you are in town. One of the biggest highlights was searching for polar bears on Lazy Bear Expedition’s Sam Hearne boat. This custom-built boat allowed us to experience one of the more remote places to view polar bears on Hudson Bay. We were warned that the polar bears can sometimes be elusive in the summer, but, sure enough, we were able to spot them in their natural Arctic Ocean habitat. Watching the mama bear care for her cubs was definitely a bucket list experience. I felt like a National Geographic photographer as I was able to observe and photograph the majestic bears in their natural habitat.
2. Chasing the Northern Lights: Churchill is extremely unique because there is the potential for over 300 days of Northern Lights viewing per year as long as the weather is clear. People travel from all over the world just to chase the lights here because of how reliable they are. The Northern Lights are such a huge part of the experience here that some lodges will even offer wake-up calls in the middle of the night if the Northern Lights are out. During our stay at Lazy Bear Lodge, another photographer and I set out to chase the lights. We had no expectations to actually see them, but when we saw them dancing in the sky with our own eyes, it was the most exhilarating experience. The lights were so bright and so vibrant that you could easily see them with your naked eye. Photographing the lights brought them to life even further.
3. Exploring the History and Diverse Landscapes of Churchill: I was endlessly fascinated by the diverse landscapes of Churchill. There were so many sites of historical significance that really brought the town to life for me. There was such a unique interplay between the natural and the man-made in Churchill. In one example, amazing rocky beaches with reflective pools were juxtaposed with the iconic shipwreck of the Ithaca. There were also countless murals scattered throughout Churchill, each of which has some sort of unique story behind it, which adds to the character of this already fascinating town. Other highlights were the Miss Piggy abandoned plane and the “Polar Bear Jail.”
4. Curious Beluga Whales: Churchill is also known for the huge numbers of beluga whales that populate its waters in July and August. I learned so much thanks to our guides from Lazy Bear Expeditions. During the summer months, these incredible creatures come to the shallow waters of the Hudson Bay at the mouth of the Churchill River (and other northern river estuaries) to feed, and give birth. It was such an amazing experience kayaking and snorkeling with these friendly and curious creatures. These graceful giants would swim right up to us and inspect us just as we were studying them. I had no idea just how many of these whales would be in the Churchill River and how much fun they would be to interact with.
5. The People of Churchill: I loved how passionate the residents of Churchill were about their town. They really care about the place and truly love it. I was blown away by the amazing hospitality, and it was clear how proud they all were to be from Churchill. The preservation of the natural habitat is very important to them as well as the wellbeing of the abundant wildlife. They were very good about educating newcomers about how important it is to respect the landscape and to ensure that the ecosystem isn't disrupted.