By: Liz Carino
The Canadian Arctic is home to approximately 60 per cent of the world’s polar bear population. And while Churchill, Manitoba is popular viewing location, some of the best places to see this Arctic icon are away from crowds, on land and on ice – throughout the spectacular territory of Nunavut!
A polar bear for every season
You don’t have to wait until October and November for sightings – you can get the chance to see polar bears in the Canadian Arctic from March to November.
There are many options for polar bear tours in the Canadian Arctic. Here are some things to consider when planning your adventure:
What time of year do you want to travel?
The Arctic is always evolving. Depending on the time of year you visit, the Arctic offers a variety of experiences and weather:
More adventurous travellers may enjoy the unique polar bear and Northern Lights viewing opportunities in March and April, despite the extreme cold.
Other travellers may prefer the more mild weather during the Arctic spring, in May and June. At this time of year, temperatures range between -3 and 10°C (26 – 50°F) but can feel much warmer because of the 24-hour sun. This time of year is also great for those that want to experience the classic spring floe edge, where Arctic marine mammals (including polar bears and narwhal) tend to congregate.
Those that prefer even warmer weather may want to visit during July and August when temperatures can reach as high as 20°C (70°F)! You’ll get the chance to experience the midnight sun at this time of year as well.
While temperatures get colder and days start to get shorter in October and November, you can get the chance to see the Northern Lights if conditions are right.
Learn more about how to choose the right season for you to travel to the Arctic here.
How long do you have to travel?
Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit, is just a 3-hour flight from Ottawa – making Arctic travel more accessible than ever before. For many people, this means less time travelling to the destination and more time enjoying the North. Still, the Arctic experiences unpredictable weather conditions. When planning your trip it’s a good idea to consider how many days you have available for adventure, and adding “buffer” time at the end of your trip to account for unplanned delays.
Have a few extra days for viewing polar bears? Check out some of our 8 or 9-day trips like Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari or Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage.
Want an even longer stay and explore further in the far North? You can always build your own custom itinerary by contacting us.
How do you want to explore?
The right adventure for you will also depend on how you want to experience polar bears.
Are you a photographer looking for unique photography of polar bears (and possibly cubs) on icebergs?
You may want to head to a rarely-explored region of the High Arctic in early spring. Travel across the sea ice by snowmobile and qamutik (traditional Inuit sled) in search of award-winning photography opportunities on Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari.
Looking for rare footage of newborn polar bear cubs and their mothers?
To get the chance to see them emerging for their dens for the first time, check out Polar Bear Mother and Newborn Cubs Safari.
Do you want to view and photograph polar bears up-close from ground-level while safely behind an unobtrusive electric fence?
Perhaps you also prefer to stay in a simple, but comfortable, cabin instead of a mobile safari camp? Then Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari is the trip for you!
Are you also interested in the chance to see Arctic whales?
If you’re looking for not just polar bears, but wildlife encounters including narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales, Great Migrations of the Northwest Passage or Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari are great options.
Want to discover the Arctic by boat?
You can get the chance to see polar bears and other Arctic wildlife on the shores and ice, and swimming amongst icebergs, in the summer months on Kings of the Arctic and Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island.
What activity level are you looking for?
On many of our polar bear tours you can choose to make your experience as active or relaxing as you want. That said, some of our trips may be a better fit for you depending on the activity level you prefer.
Some travellers embark on our trips looking for a more passive, relaxing experience with incredible landscapes and wildlife sightings. If that’s what you’re interested in, you may enjoy relaxing at the floe edge on Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari or taking in the peace of the Arctic tundra on Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari.
Others travel to the far North looking for a more action-packed adventure. If this sounds more your speed, you may enjoy the thrill of soaring across the sea ice by snowmobile and qamutik on Spring Polar Bears and Icebergs Photo Safari, exploring the Arctic waters by boat on Kings of the Arctic or hiking mountains on Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin.
Are you travelling with family?
Whether you’re a solo adventurer, photographer or family, there’s a polar bear trip for you! All of our Arctic experiences are great for individuals or groups. For families with children, we suggest picking a summer adventure. During July and August, temperatures are more comfortable and activities including hiking, boating, fishing and picking fresh summer berries, tend to be a hit with kids. Plus, the days are longer which means more time for fun and polar bear sightings!
Need help planning your polar bear adventure?
Contact us to speak with an Arctic Travel Advisor – they are always happy to help!
Want to build your own adventure?
We can bring your Arctic dreams to life with a private journey. Contact us to start planning your custom itinerary.