It has been our dream to visit the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba for years. Long before we travelled for a living, we wanted to visit the Canadian North. I remember Christmas 2002, we thought we’d book a ticket to Hudson Bay to see what the Canadian Arctic was like. When we began to look at prices, we realized that this trip was out of our reach so we booked a trip to Mexico instead. But we never lost our yearning to go there one day. It’s been Dave’s dream to take polar bear photos for years. Whenever anyone asked us what we still wanted to see and do in our travels, we always replied “To see the polar bears in Churchill.” So when Churchill Wild and Manitoba tourism invited us to the Hudson Bay this summer, we didn’t hesitate when we replied.
Walking with Polar Bears
A Polar Bear Safari is Canada’s answer to an African Safari, and an Arctic Expedition with Churchill Wild is like no other. With other companies, you hop in a tundra vehicle and stay behind windows and glass as you watch polar bears from the safety of inside the vehicle. Our expedition at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, brought us outside on open air vehicles called Rhinos. We searched for polar bears along the coast. It was the perfect time of year to search for mothers with their cubs and our trip didn’t disappoint. Our guide Albert spotted polar bears off on the horizon, and once we arrived at a safe distance in the rhinos, we all hopped out of the trucks and continued to walk closer to see these magnificent creatures up close and in their natural habitat. We had to walk cautiously and in single file, but soon the bears became comfortable with our presence and merely looked in our direction every once in a while to see what we were doing.
Our polar bear guides at Churchill Wild read the animal’s behaviour and demeanor. They are professionals that know if it’s safe to approach a polar bear on foot. We followed our guide Andy and listened to his directions. “Stay in single file, walk slowly and stay quiet.” Following his expertise allowed us to stop within 50 meters (150 feet) of them letting us take incredible polar bear photos. Seeing the polar bear’s white coat contrast with the layers and colours of the summertime Hudson Bay Coast made for striking photographs. We look forward to going back one day in winter, but we’re happy our first experience with polar bears happened in the summer.
Check out: Greenland Revisited, The Incredible Arctic
For more information on Polar Bear photo safaris and expeditions, visit Churchill Wild for details.