Churchill Wild’s Premier Polar Bear Excursions – Face to Face with Arctic Giants

It was our third journey to Churchill, Manitoba – The Polar Bear Capital of the World. It was late October after we flew into Winnipeg the night time earlier than setting off on a polar bear safari to our distant lodge on Hudson Bay. The final time we visited Seal River Lodge with Churchill Wild, it was freezing, this time round, it was a balmy zero levels Celcius (32F) in Winnipeg. The climate outlook for Churchill was round minus 10 levels. Excellent climate for polar bear excursions. This was going to be an excellent week.

Polar Bear Excursions Churchill Wild

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild

We thought we have been the cool folks taking our third journey to see the polar bears with Churchill Wild. That’s till we met one other couple from Switzerland who had been 9 occasions a person from China who was visiting for the sixth time. Polar Bear excursions are addictive. When you’ve seen a polar bear within the wild, the expertise stays with you and also you wish to return repeatedly.

Polar Bears in Summer time

We had visited Churchill as soon as in the summertime and one other time within the winter. Churchill Wild has added many polar bear excursions to their arsenal with polar bear safaris reminiscent of their den emergence tour to see feminine polar bears and their new child cubs, the cloud wolves of Katai, and {the summertime} journeys to see birds, bears, and belugas. See all of Churchill Wild’s Polar Bear Tours

Summertime excursions are fairly completely different from the winter. Seeing polar bears with the inexperienced tundra panorama contrasting their white coats is a sight to behold. We took our summertime tour with Churchill Wild at Nanuk Lodge which was simply as spectacular. You possibly can learn all about that have in these articles: Strolling with Polar Bears – The Biggest Arctic Safari / Learn extra: Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Churchill

Arctic Gear Offered

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Clothing

After touchdown in Winnipeg on our flight from Toronto, we picked up our baggage and walked throughout the road to The Grand Winnipeg Airport Lodge the place Churchill Wild safari friends spend the night time earlier than flying out the following morning.

Everybody who books a polar bear tour with Churchill Wild is given a parka, snow pants, and winter boots to assist courageous the Northern Canadian chilly. Climate might be unpredictable and it may well simply go all the way down to minus 40 Celcius with the windchill. When visiting Churchill for polar bear safaris, it’s necessary to layer and be ready for something.

how to dress for extreme cold weather

Be certain that to pack, mittens, balaclava, hats, heat socks, and thermal layers of merino wool. We additionally packed hand warmers and toe warmers that are a lifesaver. We now have a whole submit about layering for chilly climate and you’ll watch our video from the final time we have been in Churchill with -45 diploma climate. Learn our full article: 5 Winter Layering Tricks to Costume for Excessive Chilly Climate

Orientation

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Prep

We went as much as the highest flooring of the Grand Winnipeg Airport Lodge for our becoming, grabbed our gear, and spent the remainder of the afternoon repacking and organizing our baggage for the Biggest Arctic Safari you’ll ever have.

After a fast orientation about what to anticipate on a polar bear journey to Seal River Lodge, our group of 9 folks loved a meal collectively whereas attending to know each other. It was a brief meal although, as flights to Churchill with Calm Air depart early within the morning, so we awoke at 4 am.

Flights to Churchill

calm air churchill manitoba

Morning got here early, however we have been so excited we didn’t really feel drained. All of us walked as a bunch to the airport wrapped in our matching parkas inflicting quite a lot of folks to take discover. Our Churchill Wild escorts did all of the work for us making test in a breeze. They have been even allowed to come back via safety with us to verify all of us received on the aircraft. Now that’s service!

Calm Air is the airline that’s the gateway to the North. It’s an thrilling flight as you meet fellow photographers and wildlife views who’re heading up for their very own polar bear safari. Everyone seems to be dressed of their layers or in Churchill Wild’s Case, our purple parkas with cameras in hand.

The flight to Churchill from Winnipeg is 2 1/2 hours and it’s the coolest expertise. Everybody walks out onto the runway the place our flight attendants greet us whereas sporting Canada Goose parkas. No pictures are allowed on the runway, however that’s okay, that is the right time to simply benefit from the expertise. We’re heading to the Nice White North.

Arrival in Churchill

Polar Bear Jail in Churchill Manitoba
The Polar Bear Holding Facility is simply exterior the airport in Churchill (the photograph is from our final go to)

The journey day isn’t over when you land in Churchill, there’s nonetheless yet another flight to go. We gathered our baggage from the belt and placed on our snow pants and heat climate gear to get right into a small twin-engine aircraft that took every Churchill Wild group to their respective lodges.

We took a brief tour whereas we waited for our flight to the polar bear holding facility close by. That is the place polar bears who’ve wandered too near city and gained’t depart are put in holding whereas ready to be relocated distant from town. You possibly can learn all about it right here: Finest Issues to Do in Churchill Manitoba

Eco Lodges of Churchill Wild – Sustainability and Accountability

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Encounters

Churchill Wild has three lodges on Hudson Bay – Dymond Lake Lodge, Nanuk Lodge, and our lodging for the following 5 days, Seal River Heritage Heritage Lodge.

The flight is about 20 minutes to cowl the 60 km journey north from Churchill. It was a gorgeous scenic flight the place we noticed the icy shores of Hudson Bay and a few moose working on the land beneath.

Seal River Heritage Lodge

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Seal River Lodge

Seal River Lodge has its personal airstrip, and because the lodge got here into view via our window, I may really feel the anticipation decide up. Will we come head to head with a polar bear quickly?

Our hosts and guides have been ready by the airstrip with the final group of polar bear watchers and as we disembarked, they bid farewell. It was then on to the ATVs to make our technique to the comfortable lodge for an introduction, some sizzling espresso, and low and behold our first polar bear sighting.

Seal River Lodge outside of Churchill to view Polar Bears

This heritage lodge is a luxurious eco-lodge positioned on the shores of Hudson Bay. At excessive tide, the waters come proper as much as the property. The quiet cove was as soon as a goose looking lodge and a beluga whale analysis station. It was reworked right into a polar bear lodge 30 years in the past by Mike and Jeanne Reimer. Since then, Churchill Wild has grow to be the main polar bear tour operator and the one one in every of its sort that walks with polar bears.

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The lodges observe a minimalist method to luxurious safaris. Electrical energy is solar-powered and every lodge was constructed utilizing native and recycled lumber with a design to permit as a lot daylight as potential to reduce the usage of vitality. Belief me, it may well get downright sizzling in there when the solar is shining, even when it’s beneath zero. Water from the lodges comes from close by lakes which are triple triple-filtered.

Most significantly, most of Churchill Wild’s polar bear excursions are carried out on foot to reduce our use of motorized automobiles. The lodges are positioned in prime wildlife hangouts, so we don’t need to go far to see wildlife. By strolling as much as see polar bears, we barely affect their on a regular basis lives.

As soon as the polar bears take discover of us, they resolve if they are going to enable our group to remain or not. If they’re okay, we get to face and watch them for just a little bit earlier than shifting on. Our guides by no means overstayed their welcome, regardless of how good the photograph alternatives have been.

The Reverse Zoo – Polar Bears Watch the People

The lodge has stunning bay home windows dealing with in all instructions and it didn’t take lengthy till we have been wanting via the scopes and binoculars to see a polar bear. I used to be already thrilled, however little did I do know what lay forward. This polar bear within the distance was only the start.

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Strolling with Polar Bears

Walking With Polar Bears Churchill wild

Not like different polar bear excursions in Churchill, a visit to Seal River Lodge will get you out from behind the glass and out strolling on the Tundra with polar bears.

polar bear tours walking with polar bears curious female

The walks present unparalleled alternatives to watch polar bears within the wild. Not like extra frequent tundra car excursions round Churchill, strolling offers you a extra intimate and ground-level perspective. You would possibly see bears roaming the shoreline, foraging, and even play-fighting. We noticed all of them! There may be additionally an opportunity to watch different Arctic wildlife, reminiscent of Arctic foxes, purple foxes, arctic hares, and ptarmigan.

Polar Bear Safari Churchill Wildlife Red Fox

As soon as all of us settled within the lodge, we had a gathering to debate the principles of strolling with polar bears and what to anticipate as soon as we emerged from behind the excessive fences.

After gearing up in our thermal layers, parkas, hand, and ft heaters, we met exterior within the fenced-in yard to apply strolling with polar bars.

Is strolling with Polar Bears Secure?

Polar Bear Safety Tips

At any time when we point out that we’ve walked with polar bears, folks all the time inform us, “That’s not secure!” We used to suppose that as nicely. I used to suppose that individuals may by no means get near polar bears. That’s till I did it. Try: Lovely Tundra Animals – The Canadian Arctic Involves Life

I’d by no means exit within the wild searching for polar bears alone. It’s necessary to rent skilled guides that perceive polar bears and know their habits. Churchill Wild has established a set of security protocols and procedures to make sure the well-being of each the friends and the polar bears. We now have all the time felt secure and cozy on our polar bear safaris and imagine me, we’ve got been simply mere ft away from polar bears within the wild with out a barrier.

Skilled Guides at Churchill Wild

Churchill Wild Polar Bear Guides
Our polar bear guides resolve the right way to method a close-by polar bear safely

Churchill Wild employs extremely skilled and skilled guides who perceive polar bear habits and are outfitted to deal with shut encounters with wildlife. Our guides are additionally skilled in emergency response and carry security tools always.

We had the utmost confidence in our guides. They carry rifles however have by no means used them. As Boomer stated, “It could be irresponsible for us to exit into the wilderness with out a rifle.” However a rifle is the final resort. The deterrents that guides use first are voice and sound like banging rocks collectively after which physique language like stepping towards the bear. Guides additionally carry noise makers, however they hardly ever (if ever) use them as nicely.

Looking for polar bears in Churchill Manitoba
Jess research a close-by polar bear’s habits earlier than we are able to stroll additional

Guides are expert at decoding polar bear habits and sustaining a respectful distance from the animals. Ought to a bear method, the guides know the right way to cautiously handle the state of affairs and use their coaching to maintain everybody secure. B

Security Coaching for Company Strolling with Polar Bears

Churchill Wild Polar Bear Tour Safety
Our group travels in single file to maintain a small profile

The excursions are carried out in small teams to make sure that the guides can monitor the protection of all friends and decrease the affect on the bears and their pure habitat. We had a bunch of 9 friends with three guides guaranteeing our security. Earlier than embarking on any walks, friends obtain thorough briefings on security procedures and are educated about the right way to behave when within the neighborhood of polar bears.

Walking single file on Polar Bear Tour in Churchill

Our guides Boomer and Jess confirmed us the right way to stroll in a single file, the right way to transfer in a pinwheel, and the right way to stand as soon as we stopped and so they deemed it secure. Every individual needed to line up in a “V” shoulder behind shoulder so we may spy on the bears whereas spanning the shortest distance potential. If bears see an extended line, they may take a look at that as a risk. After we stroll single file they don’t seem to be involved.

And after we cease, we cease fastidiously in a diagonal line. It is just after the bear has seen us, feels comfy with us and lets us stick round that we’re allowed to fan out in a line to take our photographs and movies. It’s a well-organized and confirmed system that has allowed Churchill Wild to run these excursions for many years with out incident.

Guides talking about Polar Bear Safety in Churchill
Our information Boomer prepares us for an approaching polar bear

However you will need to obey your guides. After they say cameras down, there isn’t any hesitation, cameras should go down. After they say, to start out turning the pinwheel, that you must observe instructions. The actions are usually not just for our security however for the consolation of the polar bear. In the event that they don’t really feel threatened, they are going to enable guests into their area. The truth is, I believe they like the corporate.

We spent 5 days strolling with polar bears twice a day. And every encounter was extra magical than the final.

A Day within the Life at Seal River Lodge with Churchill Wild Polar Bear Safaris

What it is like on a Churchill wild Polar Bear Safari

The day at Seal River Heritage Lodge begins at 7:00 am with a contemporary pot of espresso and a heat fireplace. We usually relaxed, went via photographs, or chatted with our fellow polar bear fans till breakfast at 8 a.m.

At 8 a.m., it was time to undergo the breezeway to the breakfast room the place we have been fed a hearty meal every morning. The chef can accommodate all dietary wants from vegetarian to gluten-free.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Food
Gluten-Free Pasta

After breakfast, our guides Boomer and Jess inform us the plan for the day. Whereas we’ve been consuming and having fun with espresso, the workers have been exterior on the crow’s nest or wanting via the scopes to see the place the polar bears are.

It’s then again to our rooms to get suited up, decide up our digicam gear, and placed on our coats and boots within the cool breezeway.

As soon as exterior, all of us depart the gates collectively in a single file searching for polar bears.

Polar Bears Sightings

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Daily Routine

Throughout different polar bear excursions, we spent plenty of time strolling and looking for polar bears, however on this final go to to Seal River Lodge, we barely needed to depart the compound.

Viewing Platform At Churchill wild Seal River Lodge

Many mornings noticed polar bears sitting exterior ready for us. It’s like they have been excited to see us. Boomer stated that these polar bears are bored. They’ve been ready for the ice to soften and we’re their leisure. As an alternative of going out the gates, we walked to the viewing platforms to see the bears go about their day. And more often than not, they determined to observe us as nicely.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild FAQ's
This polar bear slept proper exterior the fence watching us

Seal River Lodge is located on Hudson Bay straight on the trail that polar bears take to exit onto the ice movement. Within the months of October and November, bears are patiently ready for the ice to freeze, whereas conserving their vitality. There isn’t rather a lot to eat apart from seaweed and grass at this level, so they’re attempting to maintain as a lot fats on their our bodies in order that they will get out on the ice to start out looking seals.

With the lodge being proper on the shore, we noticed bears strolling across the fence and peering inside, sleeping in entrance of our bay home windows, and sitting down to observe the bizarre beings in a zoo alongside their path to the water. They really have been essentially the most curious creatures.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Manitoba

Often, we spent about half-hour wanting on the bears from the varied platforms earlier than the bears misplaced curiosity and moved on. As soon as they have been safely away, we may open the gates and begin our stroll.

Polar Bear Encounters Canada’s Finest Journey

We by no means spent too lengthy with one bear. We all the time spent simply lengthy sufficient that they have been okay with us watching, however we by no means wore out our welcome. The primary concern for the Churchill Wild guides is to be sure that the bears are comfy and stress-free. As soon as they began strolling towards us for a more in-depth look or in the event that they confirmed any indicators of curiosity in what we have been doing, our group moved on and left the bear to go about its enterprise rummaging for seaweed or grass to graze upon.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Encounter

Throughout our 5 days (4 nights) at Seal River Heritage Lodge, we misplaced depend of what number of polar bear encounters we had between the 5 or 6 completely different polar bears we noticed. There was a giant male polar bear that frolicked day-after-day on the lodge. He would stroll as much as the fence to say good day after which lay all the way down to look in at us for hours on finish. He slept exterior the bay home windows all night time to shelter from the wind and chased off smaller polar bears often.

Polar Bear Cub

We noticed the cutest mother and cub after we took the ATVs out to cross the lake. This was really our most magical afternoon. The day earlier than our guides noticed the mother and cub within the distance, however we didn’t make it on the market to see them. The subsequent morning, they determined to load us onto carts and take us shut so we may stroll out onto the lake for a greater view.

The cub was thrilled to see us and it appeared as if it needed to play. It saved selecting up a rock and dropping it prefer it needed us to play fetch. The mother appeared pleased to have the ability to relaxation whereas the cub was preoccupied with us. Mother saved one eye on her treasured cub whereas laying down for a relaxation because the cub chewed on branches, performed with rocks, and saved taking a look at us.

Polar Bear Mom and Cub

Boomer urged that the cub in all probability had a sibling that didn’t make it since most polar bears give beginning to 2 cubs. It’s intuition is to play, so it checked out us as a play companion. Nonetheless, these are wild animals, in order cute because it was, Boomer and Jess saved us a secure distance again and each time the cub got here too shut, they’d say “Hey Bear.”

Polar bears reside in silence with little or no noise aside from wind. So the most effective deterrent for polar bears is sound. After they hear a voice, it startles them and so they again away. As Boomer and Jess defined to us, our voices and actions are our greatest deterrents.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Female Encounter

It’s really a magical expertise to be allowed to see into the lives of polar bears. We watched polar bears posture for place on the bay with the outdated bigger male successful out. Small polar bears would stroll via the realm and we’d see their demeanor immediately change the second they sensed the bigger male.

We watched some polar bears attempt to take a stand and method the bigger male whereas others cowered away. We noticed some have a standoff slowly chasing one after which switching positions whereas the opposite chased them again. We noticed mother and cub crossing the ice and we noticed a younger bear attempting to determine the way it was probably going to outlive the winter.

Polar Bear Standing Male

It was a glimpse into the animal world that few ever get to see and it was a privilege. We got here away with a deeper understanding and respect for polar bears. Like many animals, they’re curious, harmless, and exquisite. However you will need to have a wholesome respect for wildlife. They might be cute and cuddly on the skin, but when provoked, frightened, hungry, or agitated, they will flip wild in a heartbeat.

FAQs about Polar Bear Excursions

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Airport

Are there Polar Bears in Canada?

Sure, Canada has many polar bears. The truth is, Canada is house to two-thirds of the estimated polar bear inhabitants which is round 23,000 polar bears.

Is it harmful to stroll with Polar Bears?

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It is very important keep in mind that polar bears are wild and unpredictable animals, and there’s all the time a component of danger when in shut proximity to them. Nonetheless, the dangers are managed fastidiously by the safari operators to create a secure atmosphere for an unforgettable expertise.

As members on these safaris, we adopted all pointers supplied by guides and remained conscious of our environment. We have been a part of the safari. The precedence of operators like Churchill Wild is to make sure the protection of their friends whereas preserving the pure habits and habitat of the polar bears. And as individuals who have walked with polar bears 3 times, we are able to attest, they do care deeply concerning the well-being of polar bears.

Polar Bear Excursions in A Nutshell

Wrapping up your days at Seal River Lodge appears like forsaking a chunk of your wild coronary heart. This isn’t your common journey; it’s a polar bear strolling safari that invitations you into the world of those noble giants at a tempo that allows you to soak all of it in. Churchill Wild has this entire journey all the way down to a effective artwork, balancing thrill with take care of our furry pals’ house turf. Prepared for an escape that’s a tad out of the unusual? That is your cue to hitch in and tread softly into the polar bears’ yard.

E-book your subsequent polar bear safari with Churchill Wild. Select from one in every of their many wildlife tours here. Polar Bear excursions begin at $13,295 CAD per individual. Roughly $9,600 USD or €9,000.

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