Manitoba and the outdoors go together like maple syrup on waffles. This province in central Canada – stretching from the Northern Arctic tundra to southern prairies – is an enormously under-the-radar destination. Its ecologically diverse landscape provides opportunity for adventure around every pine tree, with natural thrills, animal sightings, and physical challenges presenting the perfect itinerary for every type of traveller.
Although picking the absolute best outdoor adventures in a province so spoilt for choice is an impossible task, we’ve attempted to list our top four outdoor adventures in Manitoba. However, we’re always happy to keep exploring the spot in search of more adventure… in the name of research of course.
Manitoba is home to over 100,000 lakes and waterways covering nearly 16 percent of its surface area, so you know what that means…plenty of opportunity to cast off and kick back with a cold one. While you’re almost guaranteed to reel one in at any body of water you choose, enthusiastic anglers can also opt for bucket list-worthy fly-in fishing adventures in the more remote parts of the province (not to be confused with fly-fishing). These can range from DIY experiences in secluded cabins or fully-catered tours in luxury lodges – either way, you’re in with a chance to bag a trophy-size catch and fishing fame amongst your travel mates. Head here to find the best adventure to suit your needs.
One of the best ways to experience Manitoba’s impressive terrain is to lace up some hiking boots and get off the beaten track (while sticking strictly to the trail, mind you). From prairies to rocky cliffs – the province has a diverse range of hikes to suit every preference. But if you’re up for a real challenge, tackle the 22 kilometre, overnight hike connecting Pisew Falls to Kwasitchewan Falls in Northern Manitoba. The trail follows the Grass River – a famous 1700s fur trading route – as it winds through rugged wilderness. You’ll need a bit of hiking experience, good physical fitness and proper gear but the experience (and scenery) is well worth the extra effort.
Make like Bear Grylls and become one with your natural surroundings by setting up camp in one of Manitoba’s many incredible parks. Options range from sandy beaches to boreal forests, but one of the best spots to pitch a tent is in the renowned Riding Mountain National Park. Just under three hours out of Winnipeg, the vast park not only offers a diverse range of landscapes to explore, but also a huge range of activities to keep you busy until it’s time to roll out the sleeping bag. These include over 400 kilometres of hiking trails, mountain biking tracks, and canoeing and fishing in one of their many lakes. And camping isn’t solely reserved for summer months – in fact you can impress your better half with a spot of ‘glamping’ in winter with an oTENTik canvas A-frame cabin, complete with electric heat and wood burning stove.
4. Wildlife spotting
Manitoba is home to some of the greatest wildlife encounters you can have in Canada. Possibly even the world. Particularly in the town of Churchill up north by the southwest shore of Hudson Bay, known as the ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World’. Churchill is one of the few human settlements where you can witness polar bears in the wilderness, all year round. Each October and November, these incredible creatures pass through the area, heading to their winter hunting grounds on the frozen bay after a summer spent inland, making these prime bear viewing months. One of the best ways to see the bears is daily tundra vehicle outings from ‘tundra lodges’ – accommodations that are parked in the wilderness as a home base to eat, sleep and view the roaming wildlife. From these lodges you’ll get the opportunity to spot arctic foxes, wolves, moose and other Arctic wildlife. Another once-in-a-lifetime experience to add to the to-do list? Spotting beluga whales on a specialised boat tour. Once the ice breaks up come summer, you can get acquainted with thousands of these unique animals (as well as a polar bear or two) in their natural habitat as they migrate through the waters of Hudson Bay.