Aurora borealis means Âï¿½dawn of the north,Âï¿½ and due to its position beneath the Van Allen belt, Churchill has one of the heaviest concentrations of aurora borealis activity in the world. Your days are filled with northern adventures such as authentic dog-sledding, igloo building and traditional northern cultural activities. Your nights offer offer potentially the best aurora activity on the planet! On this adventure, youÂï¿½ll explore the facts and native fables surrounding this miracle of nature, as well as the intriguing cultures and wildlife they illuminate.
Day 1: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Arrive in Winnipeg and transfer to the Fort Garry Hotel. Built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, the French-chateau-style hotel remains the grande dame of Winnipeg, offering first-class hospitality. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with your Expedition Leader.
Day 2: Winnipeg and Train to Churchill
In preparation for your Northern Lights encounters, this morning you attend a planetarium program focused on the science of the aurora borealis and how to best capture the magic of the lights on film. Depending on the train schedule, you board the evening Hudson Bay passenger train to Churchill around lunchtime.
Day 3: Train to Churchill
Leaving the southern prairies, you travel into the landscape of the North. Plains give way to boreal forest, the coniferous zone that circles the globe beneath the Arctic Circle and accounts for one-third of the earthÂ’s forests. Stunted spruce trees and boggy muskeg give way to frozen tundra as you approach Churchill, a frontier outpost in the middle of a vast white openness at the edge of Hudson Bay. The Â“Tundra TrainÂ” is relaxing and comfortable, and each cabin has its own bathroom. At night, you may have a preview of the Northern Lights outside your large private windows.
Days 4-6: Churchill
On arrival in Churchill, transfer to your hotel and take a brief tour of this historic settlement. The HudsonÂ’s Bay Company established a fort here in 1717 as part of its fur-trading network across the Canadian North, but native cultures had already been flourishing here against the harsh arctic climate for thousands of years. Explore their heritage on a dogsled ride in the boreal wilderness, during a visit to the Eskimo Museum, and through cultural programs featuring the arts and traditions of the Inuit and Dene peoples. Your guide introduces you to northern ecology, and if interested, thereÂ’s a chance to practice photography skills as you focus on the stark, yet alluring winter landscape. As night falls, you move into heated viewing domes to await an unparalleled experience of natureÂ’s magic: the spectacle of the aurora borealis, the legendary Northern Lights. Often, they begin as a white glow low in the sky that slowly begins to shift and undulate. Wavy patterns evolve, colors appear and change, until the lights look like shimmering curtains of green, blue, yellow or red. For centuries, the phenomenon of the Northern Lights was a mystery, inspiring a host of mythical explanations. While you know now that the aurora is caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the earthÂ’s magnetic field, more poetic stories of their origin linger, including the Hudson Bay InuitÂ’s belief that the lights are the magical display of their ancestorsÂ’ souls dancing in the sky.
Day 7: Churchill / Winnipeg
Your morning is free to wander ChurchillÂ’s main street, where several locally-owned shops offer authentic native handicrafts, from traditional mukluks to caribou hair sculptures. You will then be transfered to the airport for your return flight to Winnipeg. If your flight schedule permits, this afternoon you visit the acclaimed Manitoba Museum, renowned for its exhibits reflecting the human and natural heritage of the province, including the history of northern native cultures. This evening, gather one last time for a farewell dinner at the Fort Garry Hotel.
Day 8: Winnipeg / Home
After breakfast, you will be transfered to the airport for your return flight home.