Being Beluga

Thawed beauty. But still, beware the summer cold.

May 1, 2000
Outside Magazine

Churchill during bear season can seem as crowded as New Orleans during Mardi Gras (just don't sleep in a doorway). The rest of the year the vibe is much calmer, but it's still essential to book lodging and activities early. July and August are the only months you don't need to pack serious winter garb; even then, days can be cool and nights near freezing.
GETTING THERE: Other than by freighter or dogsled, the only way to Churchill is by plane or train. Canadian Airlines (800-426-7000) flies to Churchill from Winnipeg, with round-trip fares starting at $425. The train ride from Winnipeg is 36 hours each way on Via Rail (888-842-7245); fares start at $189 round-trip.

ACCOMMODATIONS: The Churchill Chamber of Commerce (888-389-2327) can connect you with the town's handful of utilitarian hotels—I stayed at the clean, friendly Polar Inn ($69, double occupancy; 204-675-8878)—and B&Bs (starting at $58, double occupancy).
OUTFITTERS: Sea North Tours (204-675-2195) runs beluga-spying snorkeling trips for $112 per hour. It's BYO wetsuit: One Stop Diving in Winnipeg (204-257-2822) rents toasty seven-millimeter titanium-lined suits with hoods, gloves, and booties for $80 per week. Paul Ratson's Adventure Walking Tours (204-675-2147) offers tundra treks (starting at $36 for a half day). Churchill-based Hudson Bay Helicopters (204-675-8823) does drop-offs and pickups in Wapusk National Park (no park fee, contact warden prior to your arrival; 204-675-8863) for $575 per hour for groups of up to four.

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