POLAR BEAR TOURS: Several tour operators conduct trips to see the polar bears of Churchill mid-October to early autumn. The Victor Emanuel Nature Tour ran about $3,500 a person, not including airfare to Winnipeg, but covering all other costs; www.ventbird.com or 800-328-8368. Many other companies and organizations, including National Geographic, also sponsor bear tours. You can find listings, as well as other information on polar bears, at www.polarbearsinternational.org.

TIPS: You'll need warm clothes, including long underwear, waterproof boots. Make sure your socks are very warm. In Churchill there are a couple of small hotels, and a handful of restaurants. The Eskimo Museum is well worth a visit, as is the polar bear "jail," where bears that wander into town are isolated before being moved back into the wild. The day we arrived one had to be sedated and taken out of town. During the week, there are often scientific or cultural lectures in town.