One of the most exciting times of the year in the Arctic is when polar bear cubs start to come out...
Icons of the Arctic, polar bears are the most popular animals that travellers are looking to see in the Arctic. When it comes to polar bears, one of the top inquiries we receive is how to see polar bear cubs in the Arctic.
Weighing in at just 10 – 15 kg (22 – 33 lb) when they emerge from their dens, playful polar bear cubs are some of the cutest baby animals in the world. It’s no surprise that every polar bear cub sighting melts the hearts of even the most seasoned Arctic traveller.
When is the best time to see polar bear cubs?
Pregnant polar bears build maternity dens in fall and winter, and polar bear cubs are typically born in December. Twins are the most common, but mother polar bears may also give birth to one or three cubs. At birth, newborns are 30-35 cm long (12-14 in) and weigh about half a kg (1 lb). The new family will remain in the den until March or early April. Cubs will stay with their mother for 2 ½ to 3 years, learning how to hunt and survive, before venturing off on their own.
The best time to see newborn polar bear cubs is in March and April, as they are exploring their new world. You can also see older cubs throughout the year. October and November are incredible times to see yearling cubs (around 10 months – 2 years old) up-close, from ground level on remote Arctic tundra.
How to see polar bear cubs
In denning habitats
One of the most popular places to see newborn polar bear cubs is in one of the largest polar bear denning habitats, Wapusk National Park. Our Polar Bear Mother & Newborn Cubs safari offers unprecedented access to the park, for incredible chances to see polar bear cubs as they emerge from their dens for the first time.
This denning habitat is below the treeline, near Churchill, Manitoba. Many of the most popular polar bear cub photography are captured here, featuring snowy scenery with sparse trees and shrubs.
Find highlights from this trip in 2018 here.
In the High Arctic
While the most common polar bear cub photos are captured below the treeline, there are also destinations above the Arctic Circle offering amazing opportunities to see polar bear cubs in the High Arctic. This includes Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, where we visit on Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin. In late March to mid-April, polar bears and cubs are leaving their dens in the mountains and heading down onto the sea ice. Here, you can see them roaming the ice and climbing soaring icebergs, among spectacular scenery.
This allows for stunning, unique polar bear cub photography. Many guests on our Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin safari have even won photography awards for photos captured in this area. Find highlights from this trip in 2018 here.
Check out this polar bear cub footage captured near Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut by our Expedition Leader Dave Briggs:
On remote tundra
For those interested in seeing polar bear cubs in autumn, when they are a little bit older (and still as playful!), western Hudson Bay is an ideal location. You can see them in October and November on Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari and Private Polar Bear Migration Safari.
Located in Nunavut, just north of Churchill, Manitoba, these trips are situated in an area deemed “polar bear alley”, on the west coast of Hudson Bay. At this time of year, polar bears roam the tundra as they wait for freeze up. You can get chances to see yearling polar bear cubs up-close, from safely behind the electric fence that surrounds the cabin complex.
Check out this video of polar bear cubs seen on Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari:
Want to see polar bear cubs in the Arctic?
Here are the top trips to view polar bear cubs:
Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin – departures in March & April
Polar Bear Mother & Newborn Cubs – departures in March
Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari – departures in October & November
Private Polar Bear Migration Safari – departures in October & November
Plan your polar bear cub trip
Our Arctic Travel Advisors are thrilled to let you know how to see polar bear cubs. Whether you already know which destination and time of year you’d like to travel, or want help choosing, contact us today to get started.
For those that prefer to travel privately, we can also craft a custom tour to view polar bear cubs. Contact us to start planning.
By: Mat Whitelaw