No one planning a visit to Manitoba needs to be told to see the polar bears in Churchill, fish for Northern pike or take in a performance of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
But did you know that you can snorkel with beluga whales, paddle white water on surging rivers, ride an ice tractor over a frozen lake, quaff dark ale with Manitobans or stroll along sugar-sand beaches on one of the largest lakes in the world?
So now you know. And there’s a lot more in Manitoba that attracts visitors from across Canada and indeed the world.
Manitoba in the Coming Years
While there is plenty to do right now, Manitoba will knock your socks off by 2014. Architecturally profound, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will cast an imposing presence at the Forks National Historic Site in downtown Winnipeg. Journey to Churchill, along with one of its major components – the International Polar Bear Conservation Center – is part of a $31-million commitment made by the province last year. Journey to Churchill, scheduled to open in October 2013, will be the flagship component of the redeveloped Assiniboine Park Zoo. It will offer guests the chance to experience motorized tundra vehicles rides to see polar bears and other Arctic wildlife, just like in Churchill, Manitoba. As well, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Center will be completed, featuring the largest collection of Inuit art in the world. Also in 2013, the new James Armstrong Richardson International Airport will be operating.
Manitoba is maximum Canada, excelling at incredible outdoor experiences. Manitobans delight visitors with friendliness and unabashed good nature and are easy to meet. Manitoba’s diverse terrain, wildlife and people make it special for the range of experiences that that diversity offers.
Winnipeg is your Gateway
An impressive slate of festivals showcases Manitoba’s diversity and community spirit. The capital city of Winnipeg offers visitors lively, cosmopolitan surroundings and a proud, multicultural identity reflected in hundreds of restaurants, unique neighborhoods such as the Corydon Avenue strip, great shopping and world-class cultural attractions and performing arts.
Beyond the capital, Manitoba’s diverse habitats—sub-Arctic tundra, broad plains, forests and park lands—spawn superb wildlife viewing year-round. You can view polar bears, snorkel or kayak with beluga whales or gaze up at unearthly northern lights on Manitoba’s Hudson Bay coastline. During spring and fall migrations, birding is spectacular in choice spots. September is prime elk and moose viewing.
Beluga Whale Watching
In July and August, thousands of 900-lb. beluga whales come to feed near Hudson Bay. Watch and listen to these highly vocal whales from a 32-passenger boat. For an adventurous experience, kayak or snorkel with the whales. Jump right in and wait for the whales to swim under you, just beyond reach, which to most is, quite simply, an unbelievable experience.
Polar Bear Safaris
Churchill, Manitoba, a two-and-a-half hour flight north of Winnipeg, is known around the world as polar bear central. Venture out over the tundra in specially designed vehicles to safely view these magnificent bears. Photographers and wildlife enthusiasts so inclined can even eat, sleep and rise right out on the capes, in the midst of the glorious bears, as hundreds of polar bears roam the coastline every October and November awaiting the freeze of the Hudson Bay.
Whether enthusiasts choose to stay in a resort, lodge or camp in their own recreational vehicle or tent, there is always a provincial park nearby. You can camp along lakes with long, powdery sand beaches on Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba, Manitoba’s larger lakes,. Revel in ancient granite at Whiteshell and Nopiming provincial parks, lush with boreal forest and clear, blue lakes. Duck Mountain and Riding Mountain National Park are special for their wildlife viewing opportunities and rolling parkland, boreal forest terrain.
Also, traditional wilderness adventures can be designed around the heritage and traditions of Aboriginal people, whose roots are in Northern Manitoba. Witness the amazing colours of a powwow, or experience a sweat lodge with an Aboriginal interpreter. Some canoe operators offer trips along the Bloodvein River, which feature Indian (Aboriginal or First Nations) rock art and an Aboriginal guide to interpret First Nations culture in Manitoba.
For a remote camping experience in northern Manitoba, Kwasitchewan Falls Campsite can be reached via an 11-km hiking trail which skirts the Grass River from Pisew Falls north to Kwasitchewan Falls – Manitoba’s highest waterfall at 14.2 metres. At Pisew Falls, the Grass River suddenly drops 13 metres, changes direction and jets noisily down a gorge. And it is here that a trail starts, tracing this key waterway of the “Upper Track,” a late 1700s fur trade route. Local aboriginals travelled the river for thousands of years and showed Hudson Bay traders how to follow the Grass to reach the Saskatchewan River and the interior of Western Canada.
Fisherfolks can stay at road-accessible lodges in Manitoba, or a fly-in fishing lodge, and then experience a floatplane flight on one of more than 100,000 lakes. You will be the envy of anglers the world over. Northern pike the size of your leg give you a memorable fight. Walleye fishing is great in the fall in Manitoba.
Recognized as a birder’s paradise, Manitoba attracts two-thirds of Canada’s more than 500 species of birds. In fall, the birds fly south in remarkable flocks in the hundreds of thousands over lakes, marshes and forests. North American birding hot spot Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre and Delta Marsh offer great viewing, as does Riding Mountain National Park, home to more than 260 bird species, including the great grey owl. Birders fly to Churchill for stellar sub-arctic birding.
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