Photo credit: Luna sin estrellas
Manitoba is one of Canada's best-kept secrets. Most travellers have heard about the internationally-acclaimed ski resorts of British Columbia and the rugged Atlantic coastline of Nova Scotia, but few have ventured into the heart of the Great White North -- Manitoba. Bordered by the Hudson Bay, home to some of the country's most fascinating wildlife, and littered with charming cities and small towns, Manitoba is a place that will help you recognize the true heart of Canada.
Discover just how wild this province can be by experiencing these four things you can only do in Manitoba.
Free-Dive with Beluga Whales
The Hudson Bay is home to some of the world's most majestic Arctic creatures. As the ice packs break apart in the summer months, more than 50,000 beluga whales move into Hudson Bay waters to breed, feed and socialize. A number of Churchill-based tour companies, including Big Fish Expeditions and Churchill Wild, will take you on free-diving expeditions into the frigid waters to swim among the world's largest population of beluga whales.
Those who aren't as eager to jump into the iceberg-studded waters can hop aboard a zodiac or kayak to admire the sea creatures from above the water's surface. The whales gather off the coast of Churchill between the months of June and October, making whale-watching a summer and early fall activity.
See the Northern Lights from the Aurora Domes
Photo credit: Emmanuel Milou
Churchill, Manitoba, has been named one of the top three places on the planet to see the Northern Lights. There's arguably no better place on earth to spend a winter night staring at the sky than in the warmth and comfort of an Aurora Dome. These unique Churchill-based plexiglass domes provide front row seating to nature's most spectacular light show. The Northern Lights are most visible from late November to late March when the winter skies are clear and eerily dark.
Sip a Beer with Bison
Just 16 kilometres south of the capital city of Winnipeg, visitors will find 258 hectares of picture-perfect prairie land at FortWhyte Alive. Visitors are welcome to roam as free as the bison that call the land home. Summer months are ideal for sailing on the lakes while winter offers kilometre after kilometre of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails. Nothing rounds out a long day of paddling, hiking or birdwatching better than a locally-brewed beer on the patio of the Buffalo Stone Cafe -- where buffalo and other wildlife sightings are common.
Watch Polar Bears in the Wild
Photo credit: Emma
Churchill is one of few places in the world where polar bears can be seen in the wild just minutes from the homes of the city's residents. It's no wonder that thousands of travellers from around the world come to see the "Lords of the Arctic" every fall. The best times to view polar bears on the tundra is during October and November, but the burly white bears have been seen during all seasons. A recent study stated that there are roughly 1,000 polar bears in the western regions of the Hudson Bay, and a number of Churchill-based companies will help you admire the creatures safely and respectfully.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: