Polar Bears & Beluga Whales
Head north and discover the beauty and wildness of Churchill, Manitoba. This small town on the banks of the Hudson Bay is known for hosting polar bears in the fall. During summer, visitors have the opportunity to spot for polar bears along the local shores—swimming and walking around the rocks and wildflowers—before they return to the pack ice when it forms in early winter. Summertime is also when the bears share the area with more than 60,000 beluga whales—who come to feed, mate, and give birth in the shallow waters—as well as a wide variety of other wildlife. Come and see this annual exhibition that can only be found here in the Canadian north, and meet the local people who call it home. Pioneering spirits and welcoming smiles are waiting for you.
Arrive Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada / Assiniboine Park Zoo
Welcome to Canada! Join fellow travelers for a warm welcome, then step out for a special evening reception in the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s underwater viewing tunnels. Observe polar bears and seals as they swim in the crystal clear pools above you. A three-course meal with wine is served under the dancing Northern Lights, in the Aurora Borealis Theatre. Following dinner, enjoy a presentation on the magnificent polar bears.
Overnight: Hilton Winnipeg Airport Suites (R,D)
Winnipeg / Churchill / Cultural and Heritage Tour
Arrive in beautiful Churchill after a morning flight and transfer to the Lazy Bear Lodge. Enjoy a Cultural and Heritage tour where you’ll have guided site visits of the town’s waterfront area, Miss Piggy Plane Crash, Polar Bear “Jail,” and Cape Merry.
Overnight: Lazy Bear Lodge (B,L,D)
Churchill / Boat Tour / Prince of Wales Fort / Dog Mushing
Board Zodiac boats with your Orbridge Expedition Leader for a 3-hour tour of the Churchill
River/Hudson Bay area to learn more about the 60,000 beluga whales that inhabit the area. Visit the Prince of Wales Fort, built to protect the business interests of the Hudson Bay Company. After lunch, you may choose to explore the area on foot, including several galleries and shops carrying local Inuit and Aboriginal art from the Canadian arctic, or you may select to participate in one of the following optional excursions available for purchase:
A) 3-Hour Kayaking Tour: includes a single or double kayak, paddles, wet suit, life jacket, transfers, and an experienced guide. This is an intermediate-level kayaking excursion and includes limited instruction. It is not recommended for beginners.
B) 3-Hour Snorkeling Tour: includes all equipment including arctic drysuit and snorkeling gear, and all transfers.
This evening, meet an energetic team of huskies and their experienced handler. Learn about these industrious animals and the important role they play in the heritage of this remote region. Then, get ready for your own exciting dog mushing experience.
Overnight: Lazy Bear Lodge (D)
Churchill / Hudson Bay Coastal Tour
Today we explore the Hudson Bay area during a full-day water excursion aboard a custom designed wildlife viewing vessel—led by your naturalist leader and boat captain, Wally Daudrich. The shoreline of this entire area is a rich ecosystem of life—home to a diverse group of animals including polar bears, belugas, caribou, harbor and bearded seals, and more than 270 species of birds. Stop at Seal River, a favorite polar bear gathering spot.
Overnight: Lazy Bear Lodge (B,L)
Churchill / Arctic Crawler Experience / Itsanitaq Museum
Grab your camera, board your expedition vehicle, and head out onto stark yet beautiful landscapes, stopping to enjoy the scenery and search for wildlife. Your expert naturalist will provide details on the wildlife, vegetation, and ecosystem of the Arctic Tundra. After lunch, visit the well known local Itsanitaq Museum to learn more about the indigenous population and its rich history and culture. While downtown, take some free time to explore on your own.
Overnight: Lazy Bear Lodge (B,L,D)
Churchill / Winnipeg
This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Winnipeg where you will rejoin fellow travelers for a farewell reception.
Overnight: Hilton Winnipeg Airport Suites (B,L-aloft,R)
Enjoy breakfast, then bid a fond farewell to Canada and head to the airport for your flight home. (B)
ITINERARY NOTE: You are embarking on an adventure where daily activities will be determined by weather, opportunities to view wildlife, and other various elements that make up the incredibly diverse arctic summer. Guests will receive a daily itinerary while in Churchill, which will be flexible and updated frequently. The itinerary below is a general listing of activities and excursions that may happen during any part of the program.
Meet Your Trip Host
Kati is the Senior Counselor to the Vice Provost for Academic Innovation. In her role, she works with all the Vice Provost’s units (the Office of Academic Innovation, the Center for Research in Learning and Teaching, and the Duderstadt Center) in a variety of capacities that include: gathering research, drafting policies and procedures, organizing and staffing searches and review committees, staffing various other high-level committees, providing financial and procedural advice, working with internal audit, and providing context and advice to the Vice Provost.
In her spare time, Kati is a Design Manager for Hoola Jewelry, a small direct sales company that originated in Chelsea, Michigan. She also reads, quilts, loves walking her dogs, and attending UM football games. She holds a degree in Construction Management, occasionally working with her husband’s business, James Bauer Construction. She is a member of Ann Arbor Rotary and Chelsea Business Networking International. Kati is also a licensed notary.
Kati is married, has two grown sons, two daughters-in-love, and five grandchildren. She claims that nothing is better than snuggling her grandbabies, although traveling comes close.
By participating in an Alumni Association of University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.