Saturday, June 22, 2024

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 once we flew into Winnipeg the evening 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. Good climate for polar bear excursions. This was going to be week.

Polar Bear Excursions Churchill Wild

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild

We thought we had been the cool individuals 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 many times.

We had visited Churchill as soon as in the summertime and one other time in autumn. Churchill Wild has added many polar bear excursions to their arsenal with polar bear safaris resembling their Nanuk Emergence Quest to see feminine polar bears and their new child cubs emerge from their winter dens, the Cloud Wolves of the Kaska Coast, and {the summertime} journeys to see Birds, Bears, and Belugas. See all of Churchill Wild’s Polar Bear Excursions

Polar Bears in Summer season

Summertime excursions are fairly completely different from the winter however simply as spectacular. Seeing polar bears with the inexperienced tundra panorama contrasting their white coats is a sight to behold. 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

What to Anticipate on Polar Bear Excursions

Churchill Wild has polar bear excursions going practically all yr lengthy. Visitors fly into Winnipeg Manitoba the place everybody spends at the very least one evening in a resort to choose up their gear, meet the workforce and fellow vacationers, and have an orientation concerning the journey forward. We recommend flying in an evening early to discover Winnipeg and to offer further time ought to there be any delays on the airport. It might be terrible to reach a day late and miss your flight to Churchill with the group.

Arctic Gear Supplied

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 visitors spend the evening earlier than flying out the subsequent 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 might probably simply go right down to minus 40 Celcius with the windchill. When visiting Churchill for polar bear safaris, it’s vital to layer and be ready for something.

how to dress for extreme cold weather

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

Orientation in Winnipeg

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 luggage 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 individuals loved a meal collectively whereas attending to know each other. It was a brief meal although, as flights to Churchill with Calm Air go away early within the morning. Our wake-up name was for 4 am.

Flights to Churchill, Manitoba

calm air churchill manitoba

Morning got here early, however we had 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 individuals to take discover. Our Churchill Wild escorts did all of the work for us making check-in a breeze. They had been even allowed to return by way of safety with us to ensure all of us acquired on the airplane. Now that’s service!

Calm Air is the airline that’s the gateway to the North. 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 images are allowed on the runway, however that’s okay, that is the proper time to only 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 outdoors the airport in Churchill (the picture is from our final go to)

The journey day isn’t over when you land in Churchill, there may be nonetheless yet one more 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 airplane 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 go away are put in holding whereas ready to be relocated far-off from the town. You possibly can learn all about it right here: Finest Issues to Do in Churchill Manitoba

Churchill Wild Eco Lodges – Sustainability & Accountability

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Encounters

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

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

Seal River Heritage Lodge

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild Seal River Lodge
Seal River Lodge on the Shores of Hudson Bay

Seal River Lodge has its personal airstrip, and because the lodge got here into view by way of our window, I might really feel the anticipation choose up. Will we come nose to nose with a polar bear quickly?

Our hosts and guides had 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 solution to the comfy 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 situated 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 which made it a first-rate cease for the polar bear migration to the Hudson Bay. It was remodeled right into a polar bear lodge 30 years in the past by Mike and Jeanne Reimer. Since then, Churchill Wild has develop into the main polar bear tour operator in Churchill and the one considered one of its variety that walks with polar bears.

seal river heritage lodge polar bear tours churchill

The lodges comply with a minimalist method to its 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 attenuate using vitality. Belief me, it might probably get downright sizzling in there when the solar is shining, even when it’s under zero. Water from the lodges comes from close by lakes which might be triple triple-filtered.

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

As soon as the polar bears take discover of us, they determine if they’ll 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 transferring on. Our guides by no means overstayed their welcome, irrespective of how good the picture alternatives had been.

The Reverse Zoo – Polar Bears Watching People

polar bear tours human zoo

The lodge has lovely bay home windows dealing with in all instructions. There are scopes and binoculars set as much as view polar bears within the distance, however they’re typically merely hanging across the lodge. This lodge is situated proper on a quiet cove on the Hudson Bay the place polar bears regularly enter the ice flows as soon as it freezes.

Its prime location makes it the proper spot to look at polar bears. When you didn’t wish to go away the compound, you didn’t should. One lady skipped the morning walks to easily benefit from the views by herself from the nice and cozy hearth inside. She noticed polar bears galore from the home windows.

Strolling with Polar Bears

Walking With Polar Bears Churchill wild

In contrast to different polar bear excursions in Churchill, a visit to Seal River Lodge will get you out from behind the glass of a tundra buggy and out strolling on the Tundra with polar bears. We went outdoors the gates twice each day for 2 to a few hours on every stroll. On common, we had been about 100 meters from polar bears however they typically walked nearer with curiosity and generally we had been about 20 meters from the bears.

Security Coaching for Visitors Strolling with Polar Bears

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

The strolling polar bear excursions are carried out in small teams to make sure that the guides can monitor the protection of all visitors and decrease the impression on the bears and their pure habitat. We had a bunch of 9 visitors with three guides (Boomer, Jess, and Dave) making certain our security. Earlier than embarking on any walks, visitors obtain thorough briefings on security procedures and we had been all educated about the way to behave when within the neighborhood of polar bears.

Walking single file on Polar Bear Tour in Churchill
We at all times walked in single file

Earlier than leaving the compound, our guides Boomer and Jess confirmed us the way to stroll in a single file, the way to transfer in a pinwheel, and the way to stand as soon as we stopped they usually deemed it secure. Every individual needed to line up in a “V” shoulder behind shoulder so we might spy on the bears whereas spanning the shortest distance potential. If bears see a protracted line, they might have a look at that as a risk. After we stroll single file they don’t seem to be involved.

polar bear tours canada
When stopping, we had been allowed to fan out in a V for images

We then stopped as soon as we had been inside a secure distance from the bear and may unfold out into a good diagonal line. It’s only 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 images 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 could obey your guides. After they say cameras down, there is no such thing as a hesitation, cameras should go down. After they say, to start out turning the pinwheel, you might want to comply with instructions. The actions usually are not just for our security however for the consolation of the polar bear. In the event that they don’t really feel threatened, they’ll enable guests into their area. In actual fact, 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.

Boomer made certain that everybody had good views and at all times made certain that everybody might see. They had been very acutely aware about ensuring that everybody might {photograph} and see the bears once we stopped, whereas ensuring the group and the bears had been secure.

The Polar Bear Safari

polar bear tours walking with polar bears curious female

Earlier than every stroll, 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 our conferences, all of us went to our cozy rooms to prepare.

After gearing up in our thermal layers, parkas, and hand, and foot heaters, we went into the breezeway to placed on our parkas and boots after which met outdoors within the fenced-in yard to both have a look at polar bears from the statement platforms or to open the gates and head outdoors.

Polar Bear Safari Churchill Wildlife Red Fox

The walks present unparalleled alternatives to watch polar bears within the wild. In contrast to extra widespread 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!

things to do in churchilll manitoba bird watching
Ptarmigan had been widespread to see on our walks

There may be additionally an opportunity to watch different Arctic wildlife, resembling Arctic foxes, purple foxes, arctic hares, and ptarmigan.

Is strolling with Polar Bears Secure?

Polar Bear Safety Tips

Every time we point out that we’ve walked with polar bears, individuals at all times inform us, “That’s not secure!” We used to assume that as nicely. I used to assume that folks might by no means get near polar bears. That’s till I did it. Try: Lovable Tundra Animals – The Canadian Arctic Involves Life

I might by no means exit within the wild looking for polar bears alone. It’s vital to rent skilled guides that perceive polar bears and know their conduct. Churchill Wild has established a set of security protocols and procedures to make sure the well-being of each the visitors and the polar bears. We have now at all times felt secure and cozy on our polar bear safaris and imagine me, we’ve been simply mere toes 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 determine the way to method a close-by polar bear safely

Churchill Wild employs extremely skilled and educated guides who perceive polar bear conduct and are outfitted to deal with shut encounters with wildlife. Our guides are additionally educated 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 might 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. It’s superb to see how just a little sound or motion could make a bear cease in its tracks.

Guides additionally carry noise makers, however they not often (if ever) use them as nicely.

Looking for polar bears in Churchill Manitoba
Jess research a close-by polar bear’s conduct earlier than we will stroll additional

Churchill Wild guides are expert at deciphering polar bear conduct and sustaining a respectful distance from the animals. Ought to a bear method, the guides know the way to cautiously handle the scenario and use their coaching to maintain everybody secure.

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 recent pot of espresso and a heat hearth. We usually relaxed, went by way of images, or chatted with our fellow polar bear lovers till breakfast at 8 a.m.

At 8 a.m., it was time to undergo the breezeway to the breakfast room the place we had 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 or Jess inform us the plan for the day. Whereas we’ve been consuming and having fun with espresso, the workers have been outdoors on the crow’s nest or wanting by way of the scopes to see the place the polar bears are. From their they make a plan on what course we are going to stroll that morning.

It’s then again to our rooms to get suited up, choose up our digital camera gear, and placed on our coats and boots within the cool breezeway. As soon as outdoors, all of us go away the gates collectively in a single file looking for polar bears.

Polar Bears Sightings

Viewing Platform At Churchill wild Seal River Lodge
Security inside the fenced in compound

Throughout different polar bear excursions, we spent quite a lot of time strolling and trying to find polar bears, however on this final go to to Seal River Lodge, we barely needed to go away the compound. We misplaced depend of what number of polar bear encounters we had. However I do know that we noticed at the very least half a dozen completely different polar bears throughout our safari.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Daily Routine

Many mornings noticed polar bears sitting outdoors ready for us. It’s like they had been excited to see us. Boomer stated that these polar bears are bored. They’ve been patiently ready for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay 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 look at us as nicely.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Wild FAQ's
This polar bear slept proper outdoors 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 so much to eat in addition to seaweed and grass at this level, so they’re attempting to maintain as a lot fats on their our bodies in order that they’ll get out on the ice to start out looking seals.

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Manitoba

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 look at the bizarre beings in a zoo alongside their path to the water. They honestly had been probably the most curious creatures.

polar bear tours seal river lodge, polar bear peering inside

Normally, we spent about half-hour wanting on the bears from the assorted platforms earlier than the bears misplaced curiosity and moved on. As soon as they had been safely away, we might 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 at all times spent simply lengthy sufficient that they had 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 had 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 each day on the lodge. He would stroll as much as the fence to say hiya after which lay right down to look in at us for hours on finish. He slept outdoors the bay home windows all evening to shelter from the wind and chased off smaller polar bears repeatedly.

Polar Bear Cub

We noticed the cutest mother and cub once 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 might 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 glad 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 instructed that the cub most likely 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. Nevertheless, these are wild animals, in order cute because it was, Boomer and Jess saved us a secure distance again and at any time when 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 perfect deterrent for polar bears is sound. After they hear a voice, it startles them they usually 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 previous bigger male successful out. Small polar bears would stroll by way of the world and we might 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 presumably 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 could have a wholesome respect for wildlife. They might be cute and cuddly on the skin, but when provoked, frightened, hungry, or agitated, they’ll flip wild in a heartbeat.

The Lodge Expertise

Polar bear tours churchill wild staff
Halloween at Churchill Wild – Meet the Seal River Employees

It wasn’t all enterprise and polar bears throughout our time up at Seal River Lodge. Evenings had been quite a lot of enjoyable as we exchanged tales with guides and visitors and mentioned the superb days we had. We loved 5-star meals with wine pairings after which retired to the lodge to look at shows about polar bears, and life within the Arctic or to get ideas from resident photographer and information Boomer.

polar bear tours churchill wild room

Churchill Wild really thinks of every little thing. Our rooms are stylish and cozy with en suite loos, sizzling water, and warmth with a comfortable quilt. We slept like infants. That’s till we had been awoken by one of many guides to see the northern lights.

where to see the northern lights in Canada churchill

Every evening guides maintain a lookout for northern lights and if you need them to wake you up, they’ll knock in your door. Boomer even helped individuals set their digital camera settings forward of time so they might run out and snap nice images. We have now encountered northern lights every go to to Churchill. With the potential for seeing them 300 days of the yr, everybody has an excellent likelihood. Learn extra: Finest Locations To See the Northern Lights in Canada In 2024

FAQs about Polar Bear Excursions

Polar Bear Tours Churchill Airport

Are there Polar Bears in Canada?

Sure, Canada has many polar bears. In actual fact, 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?

things to do in churchill

It is very important keep in mind that polar bears are wild and unpredictable animals, and there may be at all times a component of threat when in shut proximity to them. Nevertheless, the dangers are managed fastidiously by the safari operators to create a secure atmosphere for an unforgettable expertise.

As individuals on these safaris, we adopted all pointers offered by guides and remained conscious of our environment. We had been a part of the safari. The precedence of operators like Churchill Wild is to make sure the protection of their visitors whereas preserving the pure conduct and habitat of the polar bears. And as individuals who have walked with polar bears 3 times, we will 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 abandoning 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 right down to a tremendous artwork, balancing thrill with take care of our furry associates’ house turf. Prepared for an escape that’s a tad out of the peculiar? That is your cue to affix in and tread softly into the polar bears’ yard.

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

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