Sleep Among Polar Bears

Churchill Wild’s three rustic-luxurious ecolodges are located within a rich wildlife corridor near Churchill, Manitoba, the Polar Bear Capital of the World. The blending of three distinct ecosystems (Hudson Bay Lowlands, taiga/boreal, tundra), and a coastal climate creates an ideal environment for polar bears and other iconic wildlife such as beluga whales, black bears, wolves, moose, fox, seabirds, migratory birds, and more.

Hudson Bay

The Bay is the dominant influence on the weather on and around it. “The Cold Ocean” makes the lands that border it resemble High Arctic regions so much further north. Hudson Bay is shallow – less than 600 feet deep at any point, and currents and wind action constantly break the ice cover, making almost the entire Bay excellent habitat for ringed, harbour and bearded seals, and for the polar bears that depend on them. Several bird species live their entire lives on or near the Bay, such as the Hudson Bay eider duck that lives all winter in the shore leads in the ice, diving for mussels for food.

Hudson Bay Lowlands

The coast of Hudson Bay – from the shore leads in the ice just offshore to the taiga forest inland – is the area teeming with wildlife that borders the taiga – the northern coniferous boreal forest, and the expansive treeless tundra further north. This unique ecotone – where three broad ecosystems meet – brings together an amazing number and diversity of species. Plants and animals associated with Southern biomes meet species from Arctic and marine habitats.

While this line has always separated ecological areas, it also separated people. The Dene and Cree were people of the forest for the most part, while the Inuit lived on the northern coast and tundra.

Creatures like the snowshoe hare, the lynx, the red squirrel, the martin, the fisher, moose, black bears, warblers, woodpeckers, and a variety of others venture to the forest’s edge but rarely beyond it. Others such as the Arctic hare, Arctic fox, barren land grizzly, ptarmigan and snowy owl make the tundra their home. A few, like the caribou, spend their summers on the tundra and winter in the taiga, and marine mammals such as the seal, beluga and bowhead whales, and of course the polar bear are tied to the water and ice of Hudson Bay.

The Taiga

aka “Land of Little Sticks”

The taiga or boreal forest exists as a nearly continuous belt of coniferous trees across North America and Eurasia. Overlying formerly glaciated areas and areas of patchy permafrost on both continents, the forest is a mosaic of successional and subclimax plant communities sensitive to varying environmental conditions. Taiga is the Russian word for this forest, which covers so much of that country and is, for the same reasons, appropriate for North American use as well.

The Tundra

In contrast to the taiga, the tundra is wide open and spacious. It comes from the Finnish word tunturia meaning “the treeless plains” and is the coldest of the biomes. It also receives low amounts of precipitation, making the tundra similar to a desert in many ways. Vegetation in the tundra has adapted to the cold and the short growing season (on average 50 – 60 days). Mosses, sedges, and lichens are common, while trees are few and concentrated near waterways.

The trees that do manage to grow stay close to the ground, so they are insulated by snow during the cold and windy winters. Many animals make the tundra home year-round such as the Arctic fox, Arctic hare, and Sik Siks (Arctic ground squirrels) and even some bumblebees that hibernate all winter. Migratory species such as waterfowl, shorebirds and caribou avoid the most severe conditions of winter but return to enjoy the flush of productivity of the summer. Each year, at the end of the very short growing season, they move southward into the boreal forest or beyond but return to the tundra to breed.

Our lodges are equipped with all the comforts of home and accommodate just 16 guests at any one time allowing for an intimate experience and the luxury of personalized service.

A polar bear meandering past the lodge, a storm rolling in, a dreamy sunset, or the first glimmers of the ethereal northern lights — you won’t miss anything thanks to the thoughtful design of our eco retreats.