Belugas in the Bay

Where thousands of whales congregate
the Charismatic White Whale

Up close in Churchill

Upcoming Learning Vacations

Six days I 20 spots I $2709 in 2022 I $2849 in 2023
This year
July 14 to 19, 2022
next year
July 11 to 16, 2023

Also consider: Wild planet

Six days I 16 spots I $2889 to $3039 CDN

Includes the best of our Belugas in the Bay Learning Vacation with some additional hikes.

Witness the thrilling sights (and sounds) as the largest population of belugas in the world makes the Churchill area their summer home.

Thousands of individuals migrate to the Churchill River estuary every year to feed, give birth, and moult, and with multiple awe-inspiring opportunities to watch them, you’ll have a hard time keeping track of how many you’ve spotted.

Playful and curious, belugas are known to approach visitors, giving you an unbelievably intimate encounter in their natural habitat.

On top of whale watching excursions by boat, kayak, and on shore, you’ll be busy with loads of authentic experiences with a focus on local history, culture, and the natural world, including a tour of the Prince of Wales Fort and a guided hike through the boreal forest.

Your expert instructor will offer insights and observations during each outing, and he’ll be presenting engaging beluga lectures every night, providing you with an even deeper understanding and appreciation of these captivating creatures.

Sample Itinerary

Orientation
Get settled into your room then meet your wonderful instructor, and review your learning vacation schedule. 

Green Building Tour
Take a compelling journey through the history of the Churchill Northern Studies Centre and its environmentally friendly 27,000 sq. ft. LEED-certified research station.

Prince of Wales Fort Tour
Explore the 250-year-old building and get your first opportunity to see belugas on this boating adventure, complete with a chance to listen to their calls with a hydrophone.

Kayak Adventure
Spend the afternoon in the Churchill River estuary with only a kayak separating you from the curious whales.

Cape Merry Tour
A beautiful walk along a boardwalk takes you to a lone cannon and a crumbling wall, both of which evidence of its role in the history of the area.

Twin Lakes hike
Explore the boreal forest and keep an eye (and an ear) out for local birds.

Tidal Flats walk
Head to Bird Cove for an interpretive low tide walk and the chance to see local birds.

Estuary Tour
Marvel at the pods of up to 3,500 belugas from a zodiac boat at the mouth of the Churchill River.

Ramsay Trail Hike
Soak in the subarctic on a guided walk through the tundra forest.

Churchill and Area Tour
Visit the Itsanitaq Museum, where we will listen to an interpretive tour and explore various Inuit carving and artefacts. At the Parks Canada Visitor Centre we will hae an interpretive tour and further discussion about Churchill’s history.

Cultural talk with elder

Current Research presentation
Hear all about the critical research being done at the CNSC and the impacts it will have.

Farewell
We’ll transport you back to the train station or airport and make sure you’re set up with our photo sharing app so you can keep in touch with your new contacts.

Meet your instructor

Pierre Richard

Pierre Richard is a long-time naturalist and marine mammal researcher. He is the author of Marine Mammals of Nunavut and co-author of two French language books on whales and other mammals of eastern Canada and the Arctic.
 
Working as an Arctic Marine Mammal Biologist and Research Scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for 30 years, Pierre focused on the population biology of belugas and narwhals of the Canadian Arctic, developing recommendations for the sustainable use and conservation of their populations.
 
Since 2005, Pierre has also been involved in adventure tourism in the Arctic, including Churchill, and in Quebec and Costa Rica, as a marine mammal and bird guide.  Pierre has led the Belugas in the Bay Learning Vacations of the Churchill Northern Studies Center since 2012.  

Why choose a Learning Vacation?

Notable experts

Your group's guide will be with you for the duration of your visit, providing insight and information every step of the way. Plus, your guide will provide engaging, in-depth lectures every evening, allowing you to develop a genuine connection to the subject.

Northern Appreciation

Each Learning Vacation features a mix of scientific, cultural, and true-to-Churchill activities, ensuring that your visit is fun, educational, and authentic. You will hear unique perspectives from members of the Churchill community as they share their skills and knowledge with you.

Convenience & Affordability

At the Centre, we provide all essential services, including high quality meals, housekeeping, gear rentals, and transportation within the town. Plus, our communal accommodations help keep costs competitive. Once you book your Learning Vacation, the only other thing to do is arrange your travel to Churchill — and we can help.

Exclusive location

The Centre is located inside the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, about 23 kilometres outside of town. From the safety of our outdoor viewing platform, you'll get some truly wild views of local species, like migratory birds and a variety of terrestrial mammals. And before bed, don't forget to keep your eyes on the sky from the warmth of our indoor Aurora dome.

contribution to research

Your participation will also have a major impact on subarctic research, since you'll be helping to provide scientists with an affordable, accessible location to continue their valuable work. As an independent, registered non-profit research station, the CNSC invests all revenue into its mission to understand and sustain the north.

at the Centre

Your Learning Vacation includes accommodations, on-site meals, tours, activities, lectures, and travel within Churchill.

Guest rooms accommodate four people in bunk beds, with individual closet space, a small writing desk, bedside shelves, and individual reading lamps. We provide all linens, including bed sheets, comforters, and towels. Separate female and male washrooms have toilets, sinks, and private showers.

The building is equipped with top-of-the-line wireless internet.  Local calls can be made from the Weston Family Welcome Lounge.  Please note that cellular coverage is unreliable at the CNSC.

Your financial contribution has a major impact. Not only does it cover the costs of running the Learning Vacation, but it also allows us to provide researchers an affordable, accessible location to continue their valuable work.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Belugas in the Bay

Fees for Belugas in the Bay are $2,709 CDN in 2022 and $2,849 CDN in 2023. This covers accommodations, on-site meals, tours, activities, and lectures, and travel within Churchill.

A non-refundable deposit is due upon booking.

For monthly payment options, please contact our finance department.

Your financial contribution has a major impact. Not only does it cover the costs of running the Learning Vacation, but it also allows us to provide researchers an affordable, accessible location ( board, lab space, equipment, access to the north) to continue their valuable work.

Plus, each guest will receive CNSC membership for one year, ensuring you can stay up-to-date on all our activities. 

At time of booking, a 20% of the total trip fee is due immediately. This deposit is non-refundable, except in cases of trip cancellation due to low registration numbers (see Refund Policy).

Payments for Learning Vacation bookings are due 60 days before the start of the trip. Bookings made within 60 days of the Learning Vacation will need to be paid in full.

Click here to see the full Learning Vacation Payment and Cancellation policy.

In the event that you need to cancel or reschedule your trip for personal reasons, your deposit will not be refunded. If you cancel 120 days or more before the Learning Vacation, you will receive your full payment, less the deposit.

If you cancel 119 to 60 days before the start of the Learning Vacation, you will receive 50 per cent of your payment.

Payments for trips cancelled 59 days or less before the scheduled start date will not be refunded.

Click here to see the full Learning Vacation Payment and Cancellation policy.

-survey, membership, apply to be a volunteer now that you know us!

Churchill is accessible only by train and airplane. ViaRail and Calm Air offer regular return service from Winnipeg to Churchill. We are happy to help you figure out schedules if you need it.

Once you arrive in town, we will pick you up and get you settled in at the Centre.

You will be assigned a room within the CNSC for the duration of your stay.

Guest rooms accommodate up to four people in bunk beds, with individual closet space, a small writing desk, bedside shelves, and individual reading lamps. We provide all linens, including bed sheets, comforters, and towels.

Separate female and male washrooms have low flow toilets, sinks, and private showers. Washing machines are available every evening.

The building is equipped with top-of-the-line wireless internet. Local calls can be made from the Weston Family Welcome Lounge. Please note that cellular coverage is unreliable at the CNSC.

The Centre has a small gift shop which carries postcards, stamps, books, CNSC brand clothing, locally made jams and jellies, and other souvenirs.

Yes! Once you book, we will send you a Welcome Package that includes a packing list for each season. And if you need anything while you’re here, we have a selection of gear available to rent.

You can also see our General Information and packing list.

We will do our best to accommodate you, provided you give us ample notice of your needs.

All Learning Vacations

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Immerse yourself in the magnificence of the Northern Lights.
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Spring's Wings

June

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Enjoy bird watching opportunities in Canada's subarctic.
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Belugas in the Bay

July & August

Belugas in the Bay

Six days

Get up close and personal with hundreds of belugas.
MORE INFO

Lords of the Arcitc

October & November

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Winter Skies

February & March

Winter Skies

Six days

Immerse yourself in the magnificence of the Northern Lights.
MORE INFO

Spring's Wings

June

Spring's Wings

Five days

Enjoy unique bird watching opportunities in Canada's subarctic.
MORE INFO

Belugas in the Bay

July & August

Belugas in the Bay

Six days

Get up close and personal with hundreds of belugas.
MORE INFO

Lords of the Arcitc

October & November

Lords of the Arctic

Six days

View polar bears in their natural habitat along the Hudson Bay.
MORE INFO