10 June 2014 by David Ward
Stretching from the US border to the beautiful, wildlife-rich shores of Hudson Bay, the province of Manitoba - a vast central expanse of prairieland and arctic tundra measuring just under 650,000 square kilometres - is a year-round destination in the truest sense. Here you'll find some of Canada's most spectacular natural attractions and breathtaking wildlife encounters, from dazzling displays of the Northern Lights and the chance to get up-close and personal with polar bears during winter, to swimming with beluga whales and hiking and biking Manitoba's rugged back-country in summer.
Here we take a look at some of Manitoba's must-do highlights and let you know what to expect from a holiday in this rugged, wild, and immensely beautiful Canadian province.
Summer in Manitoba
Swim with Belugas
Travel to Manitoba during the months of July and August, when the weather is at its warmest and the tundra is alive with flora and fauna, and you'll be able to enjoy one of the most unique wildlife experiences anywhere on earth as you don a dry suit, snorkel and mask and take to the water for a once-in-a-lifetime swim alongside dozens of friendly beluga whales. And for those who don't fancy getting wet, there's still the chance to enjoy watching these incredible mammals from the comfort of the boat.
Find our more about our Birds, bears and Belugas 8-day escorted tour
Go in search of polar bears
While we're used to seeing images of polar bears against a winter backdrop of snow and ice, viewing these majestic creatures during the warm summer months is equally rewarding. Watch them play amongst the bright flowers and verdant grasslands of Hudson Bay as they hunt belugas, waiting for the winter ice to return so they can return to their winter hunting grounds.
Take a walk on the wild side
Manitoba is blessed with an abundance of walking trails, from gentle lakeshore strolls to more rigorous hikes through the rocky sub-arctic tundra. Explore the beautiful rolling hills of Turtle Mountain Provincial Park; trek the trails of picturesque Whiteshell where you'll discover rushing rivers, crystal clear lakes and secluded sandy beaches; or take a walk on the wild side with a hike along the shores of Hudson Bay in search of polar bears, caribou, beluga whales and an incredible array of birdlife.
Winter in Manitoba
Enjoy a unique Tundra Buggy tour
There are very few places on earth where you can guarantee sightings of the world's largest bear in its natural environment, but the small town of Churchill on Manitoba's Hudson Bay coast is certainly one of them. During the months of October and November the polar bears move back from the wide expanses of the open tundra to their seal-hunting territories on the Hudson Bay as it begins to freeze over, passing by Churchill on their annual migratory trail. A stay in Churchill usually includes a trip to fascinating Eskimo Museum and a visit to the Polar Bear Jail, where bears that persistently stray into the town in search of food are temporarily held under lock and key, before you venture out onto the tundra aboard specially designed Tundra Buggies, in search of the bears themselves.
Experience a Tundra Buggy tour on our Polar Bears of Churchill tailor-made tour
See the Northern Lights
During the very depths of winter, from January to March, the northern region of Manitoba becomes one of the best places on the planet to view the ethereal beauty of the aurora borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights. Once again the best trips depart from the town of Churchill, reached by plane from Winnipeg, and once again they make use of those indispensible Tundra Buggies, whose rugged design and formidable off-road capabilities make it possible to venture into the darkest depths of the Canadian Arctic, far away from artificial light and affording the very best views of this celestial spectacular.
See the Northern Lights in Manitoba on our 8-day tailor-made journey
Take a husky tour
Inbetween searching for polar bears and hunting the Northern Lights, wintertime in Manitoba offers a myriad of opportunities for snow-related fun. Dog sledding, which is ingrained in culture and tradition of the local Inuit people, is one of the best ways, and most fun to experience the scale and beauty of the Manitoba wilderness and as far as adventures go, tearing across the tundra in the company of your very own team of huskies takes some beating. Further thrills can be found on a snowmobile safari, as you travel along some of the 12,000 kilometres of groomed snowmobile trails, hurtling at full throttle across wide-open prairie, through picturesque snow-covered forests and across vast, frozen lakes.
Other winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and ice fishing, all of which can be booked in advance.