Northern Lights & Arctic Cultures

Churchill Land-Based Trips
18 Passengers

In the same land that hosts the brief, brilliant summer of beluga whales and the polar bears of autumn comes an amazing phenomenon that illumines the dark winter skies. The ethereal northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, meaning “north wind of the dawn,” brighten the night sky in a mystical display of color. Churchill, Manitoba has one of the heaviest concentrations of auroral activity on Earth, making it an ideal destination for a northern lights tour. View the lights from varied heated vantage points including our custom-built Aurora Pod®, offering 360-degree views of the night sky through its glass top and sides. On this exciting Arctic adventure, our days are filled with distinctly northern activities such as dog sledding, and our nights with the potential for the best aurora viewing on the planet.

• Experience the northern lights in warmth and comfort from our innovative Aurora Pod® with glass ceiling and sides, and from inside heated circular Aurora Domes
• Learn all about the phenomenon of the aurora borealis—plus the natural history and features of the Arctic tundra environs—from our naturalist expedition leader
• Discover local lifestyles and traditions of northern indigenous peoples on an array of winter activities in and around Churchill, including an authentic dog sled ride

Brief Itnerary

Day 1 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Day 2 Fly to Churchill—Town Tour & Aurora Viewing
Days 3 to 5 Aurora Viewing & Winter Adventures in Churchill
Day 6 Churchill / Winnipeg
Day 6 Winnipeg / Depart

Day 1 — Winnipeg, Manitoba

Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the distinguished Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in the style of a French chateau, it remains the grande dame of Winnipeg hospitality. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your expedition leader and fellow travelers.

Day 2 — Fly to Churchill—Town Tour & Aurora Viewing

Board our flight to Churchill this morning. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel and take a brief tour of this historic settlement that was originally a Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post established in 1689. As night falls, we head out in hopes of a first chance to see the spectacle of the aurora borealis. The display often begins as a pale glow low in the northern sky that slowly begins to shift and undulate. Wavy patterns evolve, colors appear and change, until the lights look like shimmering curtains of green. Sometimes other colors appear, too: yellow, red or even purple. For centuries, the phenomenon of the northern lights was a mystery, inspiring a host of mythical explanations. While we know now the aurora is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field, more poetic stories of their origin linger, including the Hudson Bay Inuit’s belief that the lights are the mystical display of their ancestors’ souls dancing in the sky.

Days 3 to 5 — Aurora Viewing & Winter Adventures in Churchill

On these dark, frigid nights in the Canadian North, we place you in prime locations away from Churchill's lights, where views of the aurora are best. Yet we don't stand outside in the cold while we wait for the lights to appear: each evening includes a vantage point on the night sky where we can witness the phenomenon in warmth and comfort. Our custom-designed Aurora Pod® features 360-degree views of the sky, courtesy of its exclusive geometric glass construction including clear half-walls and a glass ceiling. We'll also look for the lights from Plexiglass Aurora Domes. Relax on the sofas below, climb the ladder to the upper level for an unimpeded circular view, or head outside for a totally clear vista of the shimmering skies. As we marvel at the sky, there will be ample opportunities to capture those coveted glowing photos with tips from our expedition leader.

While our nights are devoted to watching the aurora, daylight excursions focus on the austere beauty of our tundra environs. We'll learn the art of igloo building during a mittens-on experience, all the while keeping an eye out for hardy northern wildlife such as Arctic hare and Arctic fox, artfully camouflaged by their winter-white fur coats. The town of Churchill offers delightful encounters with historic buildings, interesting local people and roving sled dogs. Though the Hudson’s Bay Company established a fort here in 1717 as part of its fur-trading network across the Canadian North, indigenous cultures had already been flourishing in the harsh climate for thousands of years. We explore their heritage on a dog sled ride through the boreal forest, during a visit to the Itsanitaq Museum, and via cultural programs featuring the arts and traditions of the Inuit, Dene and Metis peoples.

Day 6 — Churchill / Winnipeg

The morning is free to wander Churchill’s main street, where several locally owned shops sell authentic local handicrafts, from traditional mukluks to sculptures made of caribou hair. We then transfer to the airport for our return flight to Winnipeg, gathering one last time for a farewell dinner this evening.

Day 7 — Winnipeg / Depart

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home.

* Itinerary may be subject to change