Everything you need to know about polar bear holidays

It's summer in the far Arctic north and your eyes detect movement. White on white, as your eyes adjust to your icy surroundings revealing the magnificent King of the Arctic. Alternatively you could be watching from the warmth of your lodge as a curious bear peaks directly at you through huge picture windows amongst thousands of bright pink fireweed flowers. Your first time polar bear watching in the wild is sure to be truly magical.


Polar bear holidays in the bear's wild, natural habitat, vary greatly depending on where you are based. You can stay on the tundra in Churchill living amongst them as they wait for the 'Big Freeze', cruise round Svalbard as they trek the surrounding landscapes, stay in a homely lodge, or track them on foot on the floe edges of high Canada.


In Churchill, the best time to see polar bears is between October and November when the polar bears wait for the ‘Big Freeze’ to set in order to cross frozen lake in search of their favourite food: seals. You can also travel in the summer months to places such as Seal River Heritage Lodge, Baffin Island, as the ice floe melts back and the bears scour the coast for prey. If you wish to travel to Svalbard the best time to see polar bears is between May and September when the ice melts enough for the waters to be navigable by boat. We operate private small ship charters at this time to offer intimate wildlife experiences.


There is something addictive about seeing polar bears in their wild environment, perhaps their size and power contrasting the delicacy of their environment, or the varied wildlife you can spot on the way.

expert view: will bolsover

My first sighting of the King of the Arctic was in a blizzard on the shores of Hudson Bay. Two gentle giants curled up in a snow drift waiting for the storm to pass. Next morning it was bright sunshine and I got my first proper sighting of the largest land carnivore in the world... 

from a distance, fluffy and playful, but up close and personal not to be messed with!

The polar bear

Polar bears are key figures in the cultural and spiritual lives of the indigenous Arctic people; known in Greenland as ‘Tornassuk - the master of helping spirits’ and ‘Nanuk’ to the Inuits, the Sami refuse to speak its name for fear of offending it, choosing rather to call it ‘God’s Dog’ or the ‘Old Man in the Fur Cloak’.


Related to the extinct Irish brown bear, they are thought to have split between 400,000 and 2 million years ago, adapting to a narrower niche in the Arctic. As the world’s largest land carnivore polar bears have adapted remarkably well to their icy Arctic environment where temperatures can plunge down to -45 degrees; their characteristic silhouette of a long neck and narrow Roman nose assisting them in seizing prey from holes. Skin is black with a layer of fat beneath it measuring up to 4.5 inches in thickness and paws are up to 12 inches across, distributing their immense weight over thinning ice and acting as paddles and rudders whilst swimming.


Polar bears are extremely intelligent; having adapted behaviour for catching seals and smashing open ice blocks to remove frozen fish. They have even been observed piling up plastic piping just to knock it down later for the fun of it.


Contrary to popular belief polar bears have never been seen covering their nose whilst stalking prey.

Our favourite polar bear holidays

We are proud to offer safaris in every polar bear destination worldwide: Svalbard, Arctic Canada, Russia and Greenland.

Why book with us

We are destination specialists

Our team of specialists have extensive on-the-ground knowledge and have all lived, guided or explored in great detail the destinations that they sell. They will design your journey around you, at the right place at the right time.

We are wildlife specialists

As a leading specialist operator we have excellent partnerships with naturalists and conservationists. We know our wildlife and do what we can to preserve its natural habitat.

We really care about our destinations

At Natural World Safaris we frequently monitor the social, economic and environmental impact of our travel operations to ensure we are at the forefront of a sustainable and ethical tourism industry. 

Want to know more about tracking bears in the wild?

Our bear safari experts know everything there is to know about seeing bears in the wild. Get in touch to find out more and start designing your journey.

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