Bear Witness with me. Polar Bear Tours. Churchill Manitoba 2022.


For my entire life I have loved the polar bear, king of the world, beautiful and powerful.  This creature has always captivated my mind bringing me to Churchill, Manitoba for my first trip in 1999.  Cameras in hand we drove out onto the tundra in search for this animal.  I will never forget the first time I saw a polar bear in the wild, despite there being very little snow this magnificent creature blended into his surroundings and was hard to spot.  Once I had a good eye on him I couldn’t believe how stealthily he walked across the rugged landscape.  I clinched my camera, my spine tingled and I was full of emotion as I was finally bearing witness to one of the natures most magnificent creatures.  The closer he got to us the more intense my emotions became, with each step that he got closer things became more quiet, I could not believe that such a large animal could walk over such terrain without making a single sound.  As he walked past us along the shores of the Hudson’s Bay my jaw simply dropped and I stood in complete amazement of what I had just witnessed in Canada’s north, wild and untamed.  

This trip and experience was something that I swore that I would repeat as much as possible.  Since 1999 I have travelled back to Churchill in search of my beloved polar bears many many times, logging countless hours exploring the rocky shoreline around Churchill.  

webselection Johnny Hayward photo
Photo copyright of Johnny Hayward photo and Jonathan Hayward

This fall I am extending an invitation to all of you to come and explore the Polar Bear Capital of the World with me and my friend Zac on one of four 6 day / 5 night eye level polar bear photography tours.  

Tour Dates:

Oct 23-28, 2022

Oct 28- Nov 2, 2022

Nov 2-7, 2022

Nov 7-12, 2022


The tour departs from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.  Guests can travel by air from Winnipeg on Calm Air (which can be booked by aeroplan points if you book early enough) or take the train from Thompson, Mb. to Churchill which is a cool experience.   We can help you to make the travel arrangement of your choice!

Tour Leader: Johnny Hayward

Group Size: 3 in total per day with one full size crew cab pickup truck

Price: $5,895 + 5% tax per person (Canadian dollars)

Price includes: Guiding, accommodation, most meals

Accommodation: Single

Location: Churchill, Manitoba

Fitness Level: Easy


This tour is all about polar bears. You’ll view and photograph polar bears walking along the shoreline, testing the sea ice, cubs playing with one another, and if we are lucky adults wrestling and sparring with another. There are endless photography possibilities, including every pose and portrait you can imagine.

Seeing polar bears in the wild is special. But photographing wild polar bears on foot is an experience unlike any other.

From mid-October to mid-November, polar bears congregate near Churchill to test the newly formed sea ice. It’s been months since they’ve consumed a seal, their primary source of food, and they are eager for to disperse out onto the sea ice as it’s solid. Unlike most other popular bear populations, these bears are tolerant of human activity, which allows for close encounters and amazing photographic opportunities.

web FINAL jan The Kiss
Photo copyright of Johnny Hayward photo and Jonathan Hayward

Trip Details:

Our typical day starts shortly before sunrise, when you will be picked up in a full size crew cab pickup from your Bed and Breakfast.  Next, it’s time to find some polar bears. All day, with the exception of a quick lunch break, we are in polar bear photography mode.

We rely on expert guides to get us in the best possible positions. Often times, this means leaving a good position to go to a better one. When we do find a polar bear, we are usually able to get out of the vehicle and photograph polar bears while on foot. This gives us many more compositional options and some times we’ll even get right down to ground level to create a more intimate perspective.

Our polar bear viewing ends at sunset, usually around 5pm.  After a group dinner, we will head back to our hotel. If it’s a clear sky, chances are good that we will see the aurora, and if so, we will head back out around 10pm to photograph the Northern Lights.

Johnny Polar bear

Your Guides:

Johnny Hayward

Johnny is a wildlife photographer and a Canadian national photojournalist with more than 28 years of experience. As a photographer and a certified guide his approach to wildlife photography is similar to how he covers major news or sporting events—waiting and watching for the subtle moments that tell the story behind the story. Johnny has travelled to the farthest reaches of North America to reveal the humanity in nature, and the nature of our humanity. His aim is simply to bear witness and bring you nature’s most captivating stories as they unfold. Johnny has become familiar with the polar bears of Churchill having had his first trip in 1999 with several visits through the years logging a lot of travel time in the polar bear capital of the world.


Day 1

Arrive in Churchill

Our tour starts midday when the Calm Air flight from Winnipeg arrives. For the guests arriving by plane, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your room at the Bluesky Bed & Sled. After a quick check in, we will head out in the afternoon to search for polar bears until sunset. 



For each of the next four days, we will have an early breakfast and then we will search for polar bears all day until sunset. When it is safe to do so, we will be able to get out of our vehicle to photograph polar bears. At night, we will be monitoring the aurora and if conditions present themselves we will go out to photograph the incredible Northern Lights.


Tour Ends

We will have one last morning to search for polar bears. Your tour will end around midday to coincide with the return flight to Winnipeg.

Drop me a line at johnny@bearwitnessphoto.com to book your 2022 Polar Bear tour.

J Hayward

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