Swimming with Beluga Whales was an experience that featured very near to the top of our Bucket List. Having the privilege to get in the water and swim alongside these beautiful and curious creatures is an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our life. The Beluga whale is an arctic cetacean and is one of only two Monodontidae, along with the Narwhal. The beluga are an extremely inquisitive animal and will regularly swim right up to you to get a better look. They send out a series of rapid clicks, then by analysing the sounds which rebound off you, they can determine the distance, size, shape and even the internal structure of the objects within the beam of their click sound.
While there are a few places in the world you can swim with Beluga, we think that the best spot is Churchill, Manitoba. Every year in summer approximately 3000 Beluga Whales make the annual migration to the estuary of the Churchill river. It is here that, equipped with a very thick wetsuit and snorkel, you can get in the water with them. For those who don’t fancy the near freezing water, the topside viewing and kayaking trips are also pretty special.
Churchill also has the benefit of being one of the best places in the world to come face to face with a polar bear. While the peak seasons for the whales and bears don’t overlap perfectly, if you head to Churchill in early August you will have a pretty good chance of seeing some bears. We were fortunate enough to see 15 polar bears on our trip with Andy Murch from Big Fish Expeditions. Andy’s 7 day trip to Churchill focuses on swimming with the whales but also gives you great opportunity to see bears from the boat and the final day Tundra Buggy tour.