Canadian Arctic: On the Water with Belugas

JULY 26 – AUGUST 3, 2014


• Panoramic train journey across Canada’s prairie, boreal forest and tundra in summer
• Zodiac trips among beluga whales in the Churchill River
• Wildlife such as caribou, snowy owls, arctic foxes and possibly polar bears
• Prince of Wales Fort, established in 1619

Staff host

Dr. BillBill Van Bonn, DVM, and Shedd’s vice president of animal health, has cared for marine mammals in aquariums and zoos as well as at field research sites around the world. He has more than 25 years of clinical veterinary experience, including as senior director of animal care at Shedd from 2004 to 2009 and as director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, until his return to Shedd in 2013. He has overseen the medical needs of Cruz, Shedd’s blind sea lion, since the pup was found stranded on a Santa Cruz beach in 2012. Dr. Bill’s knowledge of marine mammals informs his sense of wonder and an enthusiasm for these creatures that is contagious.

Important information about this trip 
In the summer, Churchill comes to life with a carpet of wildflowers on the tundra, caribou migration and abundant birdlife. Perhaps most impressive is the migration of some 3,000 beluga whales into the Seal and Churchill Rivers, where we can observe them — often within arm’s length. We may also have chances to view mother polar bears and their cubs, as they remain in the area all summer. Be aware that at times black flies or mosquitoes may be present. Because we arrange our activities to avoid them as much as possible, they generally are not a problem. Train timetables are unconfirmed until shortly before each departure. Changes to train schedules may affect our itinerary on days 2 to 4.

Getting there and home 
Please arrive in Winnipeg in time for the 7 p.m. welcome dinner on July 26. You may depart at any time on Aug. 3. Our partners at Natural Habitat Adventures can book your reservations; they are familiar with this program and can arrange the most efficient travel.

Due to the nature of our explorations, itineraries are guidelines and will change in order to maximize wildlife and natural encounters. Variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur.


Fort Garry HotelJuly 26 and Aug. 2: Fort Garry Hotel, the grande dame of Winnipeg's hotels
July 27-28: The Hudson Bay passenger train, with private toilet and sink in each cabin
July 28-Aug. 1: One of Churchill’s small but comfortable hotels in the center of town


Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Group Size

14 guests


• Round-trip transportation between Winnipeg and Churchill (train and plane)
• Accommodations
• All meals (except those taken aboard the train)
• Services of Natural Habitat Adventure expedition leaders and assistants
• Services of Shedd guide Dr. Bill Van Bonn
• Most gratuities, airport transfers, permits and entrance fees, all taxes.
• One complimentary sponsor-level Shedd Aquarium membership per household

Not included

• Airfare to and from Winnipeg, Manitoba
• Meals aboard the train
• Alcoholic beverages
• Some gratuities
• Optional activities
• Items of a personal nature
• Optional travel insurance

Physical requirements

• Short walks (1 to 2 miles; longer ones are optional)
• Most required walks do not exceed ½ mile.

Price per person

$4,795 double occupancy
(excludes airfare to Winnipeg)

Optional activities

• Snorkel or sea kayak among dozens of beluga whales (dependent on weather and tides)
• Can be booked during the trip at an additional cost


Cheryl Mell

Other travel opportunities

See where else you can explore with Shedd Adventures!


I am thrilled to share this Shedd Adventure with you among the magnificent white whales - and much more wildlife - along the north Manitoba's coast.

- Dr. Bill Van Bonn


It was a wonderful adventure that I'll never forget.

- Adventurer 2013


...fantastic to have Ken Ramirez (trip leader in 2013) to share his knowledge by providing thoughtful and expansive responses to a multitude of questions on the whales plus informal chats on his experiences with dog training, fire-fighting and so much else. I had an amazing trip and have been recommending to friends and family and people sitting beside me on the airplane.

- Adventurer 2013