Sign Up for our Newsletter!
1-866-UGO-WILD (846-9453)
Guest Posts

Mother Daughter time at North Knife Lake Lodge

Guest Post by Nina Williams

The stress melted away as soon as we stepped off the plane and began the walk up the sandy path to beautiful North Knife Lake Lodge. My daughter Arielle and I had been here before, so we knew what to expect, and we were so looking forward to it.

Smiles all around for another Northern Pike!

Smiles all around for another Northern Pike!

We were heartily greeted by lodge owners Doug and Helen Webber, settled into our room and had a quick bite to eat before heading out for a gorgeous afternoon of fishing. On the first day my husband George was in the boat with us. We kicked him out of the boat after that. It wasn’t a mean thing, but there was another pro guide available for George, and besides, Arielle and I wanted to fish together. Our guide, Ryan, was perfect for us. We’re not elite fisherman, but we have our share of Master Angler Awards and we can hold our own. And, well…

It was such a great feeling to get back out on to North Knife Lake, a spectacularly pristine 30-mile long body of water deep in the wilderness 200 miles north of Thompson, Manitoba.

The thing I enjoyed most about the trip was giving our daughter Arielle the chance to do things that few children her age ever get to experience. Being on a float plane, exploring the wilderness, catching fish – and lots of them – in a lake with water so pure a clean you can drink from it. Many of Arielle’s friends take holidays, but not like this — far from civilization, in a true wilderness, yet with all the comforts of home, including a family-type atmosphere, which is something we especially enjoy. You just can’t help but rejuvenate and revitalize, it comes naturally with the surroundings.

Arielle learned how to cast on this trip, how to pick a target and land her lure on it. She didn’t really like trolling, so Ryan would let the boat drift along the shore and she would try to hit spots along the banks, underneath branches, over sandbars, just off rocky ledges. By the end of the trip she was quite the caster! And of course she loved catching the fish too!

The water was so clear you could see the fish swimming up to the boat. We caught a lot of fish everyday and I added another Master Angler Lake Trout to my collection. It’s all catch and release, except for the fish we kept for shore lunches that included delicious Baked Lake Trout, Sweet and Sour Pike and Fish Tacos.

Arielle loves to take pictures of anything and everything outdoors and she had a field day on this trip with photos of fish, bugs, flowers and even a bald eagle. She also especially enjoyed watching Head Guide Kent Michie and his hunting dogs do fetching exercises on the lake.

A few of the guests went swimming on the shore lunches, but we weren’t quite as brave. We swam in the lake near the lodge and Arielle and fellow guest Elliot, who was about the same age, even went tubing on one sunny afternoon. The water near the lodge was beautiful. It’s difficult to describe just how much of a stress reliever swimming in a lake in the middle of nowhere can be. Let’s just say it works!

Being at North Knife Lake Lodge is a complete change from everyday life. What we really like about it is the fact that we don’t have to do anything. There’s no everyday planning, no meetings to attend, no appointments to keep. We just show up to a wonderful breakfast at 7:30, walk down to the dock, get into the boat with our guide and off we go out on to the lake for what is always a fabulous day of fishing. After that we return to the lodge for cocktails and appetizers and a gourmet meal prepared by Helen Webber, who also happens to be the co-author of the Blueberries & Polar Bears Cookbook Series. We own all of the books in the series, and they are the best cookbooks we’ve ever owned.

Helen used many of the recipes from the cookbooks, but also tried some new creations that were equally as scrumptious. Her imaginative dishes were greatly appreciated by all the guests, including Gemini Incorporated founder Jim Weinel and his board members, who were also at the lodge when we were there.

The Gemini board members take a fishing trip every year and they have been to exclusive lodges all over the world. They said the food at North Knife Lake Lodge tied for first place with a lodge in Mexico and another in B.C.  We wholeheartedly agree! A fascinating group of very intelligent individuals with diversified backgrounds and impeccable manners, we really enjoyed the company of the Gemini board.

The people we have met at North Knife Lake Lodge over the years have always been exceptional, and that includes owners, guests and staff. The family-run lodge is comfortable, like home. We always feel so welcome. A sincere thank you to the Webber family for yet another fabulous fishing vacation at North Knife Lake Lodge! Stress free, first class…

and a great place to bond with my daughter.

 

Northern Lights: Sky Pirouettes of the Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights at Churchill Wild's Polar Bear Lodge

Northern Lights at Churchill Wild's Polar Bear Lodge

Guest Post by Tess Pajaron

You may have heard the phenomenon referred to as the Northern Lights, but whatever you want to call it, the Aurora Borealis is an amazing sight that every traveler should experience.

This natural light show will take your breath away, putting to shame any laser show you might see at a rock concert. The most common color you will see is a yellow-green glow, but reds and blues may also be scattered about the night sky in all different shapes and forms that you will never forget.

What causes Aurora Borealis to occur? A constant stream of electrically charged particles called the “solar wind” that travel to the earth from the sun. When these particles reach the earth’s atmosphere, they smash into atoms and release energy. This energy is what causes the brilliant light show known as Aurora Borealis.

Where Should You Go to Get the Best View of the Aurora Borealis?

The Aurora Borealis is called the Northern Lights because it happens near the North Pole. It’s is a good idea to try and get as far north as possible. In North America, Canada is a perfect place to get a great view of this amazing event. Plan a trip for between September and November, the best months to view the Aurora Borealis in all its natural beauty.

Once in Canada, the key to seeing this stunning phenomenon is to get yourself as far away from any urban areas as possible. The man-made lights of the city block your ability to see the full display of natural light that the Aurora Borealis gives off. Getting away from this urban “light pollution” can be the difference between seeing just a glimpse of the Northern Lights, and getting the full experience of this one-of-a-kind natural light show.

Where Should You Stay When You Travel to See the Aurora Borealis?

As you now know, staying in the city is not a great idea if you want to experience the Northern Lights. However, there are some amazing lodges in the Canadian wilderness that are perfect for viewing the Aurora Borealis.

You might want to check out Churchill Wild, a company that offers an incredible wilderness experience complete with your choice of a few different lodges. Fly in to one of their remote locations for their trademark polar bear safaris and stay right in the middle of the wild. Their Seal River Heritage Lodge, Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge, and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge are all perfect viewing spots along the Hudson Bay.

While at the lodges, there are many other things to see and do in addition to viewing the Aurora Borealis. And you don’t even have to rough it. Their lodges are full of creature comforts, offering gourmet meals and comfortable private rooms.

Your safari with Churchill Wild starts with a commercial flight from Winnipeg to Churchill. The breathtaking charter journey to the lodges will give you a bird’s eye view of the vast land you are about to explore. But don’t worry, the flight is low enough that you can see all of the amazing animals you will be flying over.

Once at the lodge, there will be many daytime activities to choose from. Churchill Wild specializes in polar bear viewing, which is definitely something that anyone who takes a trip to the Canadian wilderness should check out.

Tess Pajaron

Tess Pajaron

Walking and hiking tours through the surrounding areas are also provided. Then at night, you will have a front row seat to the awe-inspiring natural spectacle of the Aurora Borealis!

Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind OpenColleges. She has traveled to many different countries and loves to discover new and exciting places.

Polar bear looking for Cranberry Cake. With Butter Sauce.

Polar bear looking for Cranberry Cake at Seal River Heritage Lodge. JulieThompson Photo

Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce. Just one piece. Please...

This cool polar bear photo was taken by Julie Thompson at Seal River Heritage Lodge and it was attracting all kinds of attention on the Churchill Wild Facebook Page. It was suggested that the bear smelled the Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce, a Lodge favorite from our Blueberries and Polar Bears Cookbooks. Hmm… well… it is delicious! The bear obviously knew that :)

Here’s what Julie had to say:

I tell people I walked amongst the polar bears just to see the looks on their faces.  Some can’t believe it’s possible.  They’ve never heard of such a thing.

“How close were you to one of the greatest predators on earth?” is usually a question which follows.

“Pretty close” I say, as they peruse our photo book with awestruck faces.

Standing outside of the lodge, we cautiously watched our resident bear approach.  He was an inquisitive one, determined to enter into our “home away from home.”

I think he enjoyed the attention and our company.  Always peeking into windows and pacing around the compound looking for a quick entry.  He was affectionately known as Snuggleputz.  The previous group staying at the lodge named him.  While there was much discussion surrounding renaming him, Snuggleputz is the only name which sticks in my mind.

This bear gave us fantastic photo opportunities throughout our stay.  With expert wildlife photographer, Dennis Fast, leading our group, we were always learning, whether it be out on a tundra trek or during one of his early evening fireside chats.  We met fantastic people from around the globe who shared in our love of photography, we ate great food and were welcomed into the lodge as if we were part of the family.

Perhaps Snuggleputz sensed this warmth, the fun and friendliness of the lodge and he just wanted a glimpse of it for himself.  If only someone would hear his knock.

Polar Bear Photo Safari guests perform role reversal, show me around London!

Clare and Andy Coleman

by Doreen Booth, Churchill Wild Adventure Specialist

This past November, I was at our Seal River Heritage Lodge for the last departure of the Polar Bear Photo Safari.  While at the Lodge, I had the opportunity to visit with Clare and Andy Coleman, two guests who were up for their second trip with us. I knew they lived near London, England, so when I told them I might have a trip to London coming up, they told me to contact them should the trip go ahead.

It is a rare opportunity that I get to visit with our guests in their home country, so I jumped at the opportunity to meet up with Clare and Andy for a visit. This was primarily a work trip (of course) but, due to timing, I found myself with a free weekend.

Clare and Andy live outside of London and had not had the opportunity to be “tourists” in London for many years so they were excited to take me around to see the sights. My only requests were to get as many pictures as I could of all the sights I had been driving by all week, and to see a musical.

We met up Saturday morning and our first stop was the very long line for Wicked tickets (yes, my musical wish come true!)  From there, we found “Big Bus Tours” and purchased a hop-on hop-off two day pass. This became our mode of transportation for the weekend!

The London Eye

The London Eye

Our first stop was the Tower of London – “Built to strike fear and submission into the unruly citizens of London.”  There were many people who lost their heads in this tower over the years for their unruly behavior. In the White Tower we saw the armor of Henry VIII, the beautiful 11th-century Chapel of St John the Evangelist, and the Crown Jewels.

The Tower of London was also used to house exotic animals. These animals were given as royal gifts and animals were kept at the Royal Menagerie for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. There were many stone sculptures around the Tower showing the different types of exotic animals including a polar bear that was gift from the King of Norway. We spent almost five hours exploring.

Our evening was comprised of a cruise on the River Thames, more sightseeing on the Big Bus Tour, a dinner of fish and chips at a small pub in the theatre district, and Wicked the musical. I have to admit I now have a different opinion of the Wicked Witch.

Sunday brought an open sky and wonderful sunlight! We headed straight for the London Eye, as it was the perfect day to see the sights from high above. After driving around the city all week it was great to see the city from a different vantage point.

Doreen Booth Churchill Wild. All smiles in London, England.

I'm all smiles in London :)

Afterwards, we walked past Big Ben to get some close-up pictures and then we headed over to Westminster Abbey. It was neat to see the buildings in person and remember them from when the royal wedding took place.

Next, we headed over to Buckingham Palace for more photo opportunities and then to the Queen’s Gallery to view an exhibit titled The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton & Antarctic Photography.

After viewing the wonderful display of pictures we headed to a restaurant for lunch before parting ways. There was still work for me to do before Monday.

It was wonderful to meet up with my friends in London.  I appreciate the time they took to show me around the city and keep me company.  I learned a lot, laughed a lot, and will remember my trip to London for many years to come.

Thank you to Andy and Clare for being great “tour leaders” on my trip!

Wow,  talk about role reversal!

 

Polar bears prove “fridge photographer” wrong at Seal River

Big polar bear near Churchill Wild's Seal River Heritage Lodge, Hudson Bay, Manitoba.

One. Big. Polar Bear. Photo Credit: Carol Moffatt.

Special to Churchill Wild
by +George Williams

Carol Moffatt describes herself as a “fridge photographer”.

Churchill Wild begs to differ.

The 47-year-old Reeve at the Municipality of Algonguin Highlands downplayed the fact that she took some fabulous shots of polar bears, landscapes and northern lights while attending our Polar Bear Photo Safari last October at Seal River Heritage Lodge.

“I don’t take photographs to sell them,” said Moffatt. “I’m a self-taught amateur photographer with a background in journalism. If someone wanted to offer me money for a photograph I might sell one, but really, if I have a nice photo, I put it on the fridge for a month.”

Moffatt has taken more than a few marvelous photos during adventures that have taken her from backpacking in the Australian outback, to Africa, to visiting the 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland as well as Peru, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Alaska,  Yukon and the Southwestern United States. You can view a selection of her photos on her Web site at http://cmoff.smugmug.com/

“The Yukon was magical,” said Moffatt, “but the Churchill Wild trip was the most interesting of all in terms of remoteness.  Part of the adventure was just in getting there. The whole trip was very well organized and I’d never flown in a Twin Otter before.”

Moffatt was part of group of 14 photographers and spouses involved in a trip led by professional photographer Mike Beedell.

Photographers walking with polar bears at Churchill Wild.

Walking with polar bears. Photo Credit: Carol Moffatt.

“There were photographers of every talent level in our group,” said Moffatt. “Everyone was very  helpful. We were all united in a shared cause and it just worked.”

“We went on hikes across the tundra and saw polar bears every day, but breakfast was always a special experience. You just never knew what might be on the other side when the (polar bear protective) shutters were opened up in the morning. The bears come right up to the lodge. And an arctic fox appeared several times!”

“The food was phenomenal,” said Moffatt, impressed by being able to see desserts for later in the day being made fresh every morning in the new kitchen while they were enjoying breakfast. “And the Reimer family made fabulous hosts – ever present but never in your face.”

But what about the walking with the polar bears?

“Our guides, Andy and Tara, would scout out the polar bears in the area ahead of time and walk us out into a position where we could photograph them,” said Moffatt. “They were quite attuned to our needs as photographers. And you could definitely tell they knew the bears, the landscapes – and photographers in general. They would move us to the left and right, back and forth and they could sense when we needed something different. And it wasn’t all polar bears, there was always something different to photograph while we were wandering along — interesting landscapes, lingonberries and other plants, the shifting ice and how the sun reflected on it…”

Two items related to polar bears stood out on the trip for Moffatt. On one occasion when a polar bear got particularly close to an employee hauling water with the ATV, and another when a large male bear chased a female and her cub away from the fenced compound at the Lodge.

Polar bear bites fence at Seal River Heritage Lodge.

These teeth are real. Photo Credit: Carol Moffatt.

“It was on the final day of our trip,” said Moffatt. “A mother and her cub were just outside the compound when she sensed the presence of the big male and took off at high speed out on to the (Hudson) Bay to protect her cub. You can tell when they’re bigger than usual, and this was very large male. We also got some good close shots of the bears through the fence, but we were always very careful to keep everything out of their reach — cameras, scarves, loose clothing.”

“I’m told that Polar bears are the deadliest land animals on the planet. One of the guides said these bears can pull an 800-pound seal out of the water in one swoop. We’re the zoo animals up there with us on the inside of the compound and the animals on the outside looking at us. But I wanted a real adventure and I sure got one. The tundra buggies just wouldn’t have worked for me. The whole trip was a delight.”

She has a fridge full of photographs to prove it.