OUR BLOG

Feb 5, 2024

2024 Aurora Tours Newsletter

Greetings everyone,

Our 2024 season is officially underway after running our first successful Aurora Call List and Wildlife and Sightseeing tours of the year. We’re also excited to welcome our first Four Day Northern Lights Weekend Getaway packaged guests at the end of the week! It’s not too late to book a last minute trip so we wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone how spectacular northern lights viewing in Churchill is by recapping last season.

Image 1 © Alex de Vries, Image 2 © Drew Hamilton, Image 3 © Alex de Vries

February and March proved once again that Churchill is one of the best places on earth to view the aurora borealis with aurora sightings 51 out of 59 nights last season. This could be the reason we didn’t have the energy to send out a newsletter at the end of the season recapping some of the highlights.

Images © Alex de Vries

We were fortunate again to be joined by Mike Gere and his long exposure wizardry while also welcoming Dave Allcorn and his quick wit and dry sense of humour to the team. Together with Drew Hamilton and Alex de Vries you won’t find a team of more experienced Aurora chasers in the sub arctic.

Image 1 © Mike Gere, Image 2 © Mike Gere, Image 3 © Drew Hamilton

While the aurora often kept us up late at night, it didn’t slow us down from planning activities during the day. Our groups thoroughly enjoyed mushing and learning about Metis culture with Dave Daley from Wapusk Adventures, going for wildlife and sightseeing drives and hiking to the Ithaka shipwreck and Fort Prince of Wales when weather permit.

Image 1 © Drew Hamilton, Image 2 © Drew Hamilton, Image 3 © Alex de Vries

The 2024 aurora season is shaping up to be another good one. As we reach the peak of the sun’s 11 year solar cycle, we’re expecting an increase in solar activity often resulting in spectacular aurora showings. Cold temperatures and a frozen Hudson Bay lead to many clear nights that Churchill is typically known for during that time of the year. If chasing the aurora has long been on your bucket list you may want to move it to the front burner and join us in 2024!

December 20, 2023

End of Bear Season 2023 Newsletter

Greetings from the team at Discover Churchill,

As we wrap up operations for 2023 we would like to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who made the journey to Churchill for this year’s polar bear season. While there is still lots of open water seen from town there hasn’t been a bear sighted for 10 days or so. Hopefully that means they are all out catching seals and making up for lost time. 

Image 1 © Kristi Odom, Image 2 © Adam Robinson, Image 3 © Alex de Vries, Image 4 © John Beck

Bear season this year brought familiar faces, both human and ursine, back to Churchill. Joining returning guides, Tomas Taylor and James Wells, long-time Churchill resident Dave Allcorn joined the team rounding out what we feel is the best crew we’ve seen. We feel lucky to have assembled a crew that can operate at such a high level in terms of both ethical wildlife standards and knowledge of bear behaviour.

Image 1 © Jazz Dudeman, Image 2 © Alex de Vries, Image 3 © April Stampe, Image 4 © Rob Litchefeld

This year was a good reminder that it isn’t just the bears that can put on a show in Churchill. October brought some of the best wolf encounters we’ve ever had and in November the birders in our group barely survived encounters with snowy owls, purple sandpipers, and willow ptarmigan. On top of that, 2023 will be remembered as a great year for foxes photo ops (both red and arctic). Just goes to show you never know what will turn up when you go out the front door.

Image 1 © Tomas Taylor, Image 2 © Alex de Vries, Image 3 © Mirela Ofearth, Image 4 © April Stampe

October and November aren’t the best time to see northern lights but that didn’t stop lady aurora from putting on a few shows during the season that were a nice added bonus for people hoping to have a bunch more photos to edit after a trip to Churchill.

Image 1 © Hazel Sharples, Image 2 © FairOaks Foto, Image 3 © Drew Hamilton, Image 4 © James Wells

Polar bear season 2024 will be here before you know it and we have some new twists to offer folks. In addition to staying at Bear’s Den 1 & 2 we will also have reserved rooms at Inukshuk Rooms, a new B&B operated by Dave Allcorn and Celine Mathieu. This will make us much more versatile in accommodating guests. Also, we have added 9 day departures to our calendar that include 5 full days of bear viewing.

December 13, 2021

End of Bear Season Newsletter

Friends,

As we conclude the emotional roller coaster that is polar bear season in Churchill we are happy to report that as of early December the vast majority of bears are out on the ice. The last few days there have been a couple of bears poking around but now there is enough ice that they should be gone soon.  

The season started in early October with relatively mild temperatures allowing for some quality polar bear experiences on the fall tundra without all the cumbersome winter gear. The lack of snow and ice early in the season provided some unique photographic opportunities that help tell the story of climate change and polar bears. Each year it’s becoming tougher to predict when the first snowfall will stick and when the ice formation is solid enough for the bears to begin their migration. The images below show that snow and ice aren’t needed to produce spectacular photos of polar bears.

Image 1 © Henrik Nilsson, Image 2 © Henrik Nilsson, Image 3 © Brooke Bartleson, Image 4 © Brooke Bartleson

Despite some excellent bear encounters there was a real danger that the aurora would steal the show with some epic performances in the early season. October/November isn’t usually known for its aurora viewing, but milder temperatures delayed the cooling off of the Bay which normally generates the cloud cover associated with polar bear season. We don’t publicly advertise aurora viewing during polar bear season because the odds of seeing the northern lights in October/November are relatively low, but you can always count on us to monitor the skies and take you to some of our favourite spots to view and photograph the aurora should they be visible. 

Image 1 © Jon Kuiper, Image 2 © Jenny Wong, Image 3 © Harry Skeggs, Image 4 © Andy Y. Wang

Besides the polar bears this year will go down as the year the snowy owls returned to Churchill. After a few years absence we had many good looks at snowy owls as well as a good number of silver fox sightings. We also had a record number of arctic hare sightings but as a testament to their camouflage they disappeared when the snows came. Speaking of camouflage, arctic foxes are just as tough to spot when the snow has fallen. The arctic fox population comes in cycles, but there’s no doubt the red fox has been invading the arctic fox’s territory resulting in fewer numbers. One day in particular stood out as the day everyone got a shot of a very agreeable arctic fox. 

Image 1 © Drew Hamilton, Image 2 © Darren McTee, Image 3 © Max Block, Image 4 © Arthur Lefo

For most of polar bear season temperatures were fairly mild right up until they weren’t.  When the cold finally hit the Bay froze relatively quickly. Our last tour was on November 23rd watching bears test the ice. Within a couple days the ice was blown off shore taking the most of the bears with it. 

Image 1 © Alex DeVries, Image 2 © Drew Hamilton

With the bears out on the ice catching seals we start looking towards the skies for our next adventure. Join us this February or March for our northern lights packages.