“Don't worry about your rudders, just get in the water.” Our guide Tress, from Sea North tours, was worried we wouldn't have enough time kayaking with Beluga Whales in Churchill, Manitoba. I'm glad he rushed us, because this is an adventure you don't want to miss!
Kayaking with Beluga Whales
We arrived late and had a short window before we had to fly back to Winnipeg, so our group quickly adjusted our foot pegs, frantically pulled the skirt over our cockpits and instantly paddled out to the bay to see what if we could catch a glimpse of the belugas swimming in the bay.
You see, flights in Northern Canadaare unpredictable. We had just flown in from Nanuk Lodge where we spent the last few days walking with polar bears. With weather delays messing up our schedule, we arrived back in Churchill late in the afternoon. We had a kayaking excursion booked to see the beluga whales that migrate by the thousands through the area at this time of year. But time was quickly running out. Tress was patient and easy going, (as he said, his name is weird, just like he is) but you could tell he wanted to get us on the water to have as much time as possible with these magical creatures.
We suited up as quickly as possible wondering how cold we'd be in the boats. Should we wear layers? Is the water cold? We were pretty far north, perhaps we'd get a chill sitting in the cool Arctic waters. It turned out to be a stellar day and we were toasty warm in our kayaks. My hands were even comfortable when I dipped my GoPro into the bay for a closer look at the belugas, and the water was calm and smooth as glass. Balmy weather, mixed with sunshine and zero mosquitoes made for the perfect afternoon for a kayak adventure.
There is something about wildlife encounters that makes people happy. You cannot paddle through pods of belugas without having a huge grin on their faces. You could hear other paddlers laughing and gasping with delight when a beluga whale surfaced right beside their kayak and we followed suit whenever they were near us too. We have played with sea lions, snorkelled with dolphins and swam with whale sharks, and each time, the feeling is the same. The word that often comes to mind is glee. Watching beluga whales play in the water, bump our boats to scratch their noses and bite at our cameras to say hello was something we'll never forget.
Note: This excursion is perfect for inexperienced kayakers as you don't go far from the shore and there is a zodiac watching your every move should anything happen.
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Enjoy our video: Kayaking with Belugas
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Dave the Beluga Whale Whisperer
It always amazes me when we swim or or paddle in the ocean how the marine life is attracted to Dave. Kayaking with Beluga Whales was no different. These cutie pies absolutely loved Dave. Every time I looked his way, he was surrounded by white humps sticking out of the water. They'd chase his boat as he paddled backwards and they'd keep him surrounded at all times. It's like they sensed him and swam directly towards his boat. I would watch them come towards a group of kayakers and have Dave's boat targeted surfacing right beside him. It was amazing to watch. I often call him the dolphin whisperer or the shark whisperer. Well, today he was the Beluga Whale whisperer.
The kayaking tour lasts 2-hours, but we only had about an hour and a half due to our late plane flight. I could have spent much more time with the whales. We just started to figure out their rhythm. These guys are fast and they skirted around our cameras a lot. Just when we felt we understood where and when to catch a photo or video of them, our time came to an end. But it's ok. Having the privilege of seeing them even for a short time was a dream.
We had an amazing time, and it gives us a reason to go back again. We hear that you can snorkel with Beluga Whales. That would be another incredible adventure.
Details: Kayaking with beluga whales in Churchill was courtesy of Sea North Tours. Thanks to Travel Manitoba Tourism for setting it up and to Churchill Wild for inviting us to Manitoba to discover the wildlife of their amazing province. Cost is $130 per person.