Churchill Wild celebrates a wilderness very few know: the Arctic tundra. What seems like an endless frozen expanse is actually a thriving and complex ecosystem, the site of two great wildlife migrations (belugas and caribou), and the theater of the magnificent aurora borealis. This is a place where you can watch polar bears roaming against an unexpected backdrop of dazzling magenta, as fireweed carpets the tundra in summer. You can get close enough to beluga whales to see their smiles—and then they’ll get closer, responding to your sounds and studying you with little inhibition. You can fly over a vast landscape to the heart of the caribou migration for a rare view of this annual exodus.
To offer guests a rare and up-close encounter with the Arctic tundra, Churchill Wild built Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge on the shores of the Hudson Bay. Each offers a distinct experience, and guests can choose an adventure package that includes one or both. Seal River is located near an estuary where belugas arrive in the thousands in the summer months. Open from July until November, the lodge emphasizes walking safaris, migration viewing, and, in summer, outings by boat on the bay. Nanuk is located near polar bear denning areas on the southern side of the bay and, from August to November, guests can encounter abundant wildlife on walks or on excursions by “rhino”—a low-impact open-air safari vehicle. After exhilarating days exploring all the boreal majesty, these lodges are your cozy retreat, where fantastic meals are served with an expansive view, the guides regale you with their thoughtful insights and their wilderness tales, and the service is so warm and friendly you’ll feel absolutely at home on the remote Arctic tundra.
When the owners of Churchill Wild, Mike and Jeanne Reimer, drew up plans for these lodges, they sought locations that capitalized on all the magic of the Arctic. They were well suited for the task: Jeanne’s family owned a hunting and fishing lodge in Manitoba, and she and Mike had both lived many decades in the Canadian Arctic. The lodges they built, comfortable, cozy outposts on the shores of the Hudson Bay, invite you into one of the greatest wildernesses on the planet, where polar bears forage, belugas teem by the thousands to calve, and caribou tramp across the tundra on their annual migration.
Churchill Wild is one of the only adventure companies in the world that prefers to approach the Arctic tundra on foot. The experience is intimate and thrilling, and it inspires a deep appreciation for the complexity and the richness of this northern wilderness. You'll be one of the lucky few to observe these powerful creatures from ground level, learning from your guide how to watch safely and pick up cues from the bears' body language.
Guests who reserve their space through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World are treated to an exclusive excursion. In the summer and early fall, go foraging for seasonal berries with the lodge chefs and then join them in the kitchen to cook up a delectable dessert. For late fall visits, go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the lodge and its operations with Churchill Wild the lodge manager, and learn about the innovative sustainability practices that keep these properties operating autonomously.
Both lodges feature:
Sustainability is a both a driving principle and a necessity for Churchill Wild. Any notion of a “grid” is miles away from here, and Churchill Wild has eagerly embraced this autonomy. The lodges were built using mostly local lumber and recycled materials, and solar power supplies most energy. Food waste is composted, and all non-recyclable trash is flown to Churchill to be disposed of properly. Churchill Wild emphasizes leaving a light footprint in the most literal way: instead of using enclosed tundra vehicles, guests walk with the wildlife on most outings at Seal River Heritage Lodge, and at Nanuk, low-impact open-air vehicles called rhinos—specially designed for this terrain—are employed for outings.
In addition, the lodge works closely with Oceans North Canada, an Arctic conservation nonprofit led by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The lodge frequently serves as a base for researchers working on projects as diverse as tagging and monitoring belugas, surveying birds, and excavating nearby ancient Inuit sites.
Churchill Wild owners Mike and Jeanne Reimer were elected to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows in 2015
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