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Archaeology trip to Hubbart Point

by Terry Elliot, Churchill Wild Polar Bear Guide

Unearthing history at Hubbart Point.

Unearthing history at Hubbart Point.

A very interesting week!

We hosted an archaeology trip at Hubbart Point and it was awesome to learn about the history of this spectacular area. Elders from Arviat, whose ancestors actually lived there, were able to explain so much about the old structures we found.

We marked 218 specific sites, and there were still more that we continued to notice as the week went on. Summer and winter houses (now I know the difference), food caches, fox traps, wells, cooking shelters and more. During the initial digs we found tools, seal, caribou, whale and bear bones, broken cooking pots and fire pits.

The site sits at approximately 18 metres above sea level, so we determined roughly that it has been in use for the last 1500 to 1800 years. The Thule people are the direct descendants of modern Inuit and for us it was a great lesson in how they lived.

The summer is shaping up to be awesome for polar bears. We have been seeing 6 to 8 bears each day, (including six sets of mothers and cubs so far) and they are all looking fat and healthy.

And I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many belugas in the Seal River estuary!

Surrounded by polar bears, sharing a meal at Seal River Lodge

Polar bear mom and cub after seal lunch at Seal River Lodge

Mom and cub relaxing after lunch at Seal River.

by Mike Reimer

Wow! The action at Seal River Lodge is hot and heavy early this year for our great white bears just off the ice!

We’re literally “surrounded” by polar bears as we speak, just point the camera or scope at a point on the compass and you’re likely to see one or two bears. We’re not sure what caused this early concentration but we are not complaining!

Ever wondered what groups of animals are called?

Here at Seal River we have “gaggles” of geese, a “paddling” of duck, a “convocation” of eagles, a “colony” of gulls, a “husk” of Arctic Hares, and today we had a spectacular “sloth” of polar bears.

Six gorgeous bears spent the day sharing a ringed seal one of them had managed to catch. Said seal made the fatal mistake of falling asleep on a nice warm rock on lodge point while the tide was going out and forgot to leave, ending up several hundred meters from the receding water line. This is huge no-no when you are trying to survive on a coastline liberally sprinkled with hungry polar bears and you also happen to be loaded with thousands of calories of their favourite snack, seal fat!

This must have been one of those seals that didn’t belong in the gene pool, and it certainly provided hours of incredible polar bear watching for our Churchill Wild guests. The bears are satiated and fresh as they emerge from their icy Hudson Bay hunting grounds, but they’re certainly not going to pass up an easy meal.

At times there were as many as six bears, including a couple of family groups that were graciously sharing their prize. This certainly won’t be the case come fall when the new ice is forming and the last seal-meal is a distant memory. At present the bears look very well fed and in fabulous shape, so we’re looking forward to another great summer!

Shaping up to be one of our best polar bear viewing seasons yet!

Arctic Discovery Safari! Our newest adventure!

Churchill Wild is proud to announce our newest adventure, the Arctic Discovery Safari!

Nanuk Polar Bear Approach

Are you ready for this?

The Arctic Discovery Safari will profoundly re-establish your place in nature by immersing you through time in one of the planet’s untameable wilderness areas:  the Canadian Arctic.  You will be exposed to the history of the area, encounters with the beautiful beluga whales and polar bears, and your journey will conclude with five days deep in the heart of the coastal home and denning area of the majestic polar bear.

Wow what a place – amazing!” — Jules G. on TripAdvisor

From kayaking with beluga whales to walking with polar bears, your immersive experience begins in Churchill, the gateway to the historical fur trade. It is from Churchill that you will first encounter one of the many uniquely adapted mammals of the arctic ecosystem, the beluga whale.

Your Churchill visit will be completed with a gourmet dinner hosted by local resident Helen Webber in her home. Helen has a multi-generational connection with this northern community going back to the fur trade, and you will enjoy her culinary talent first hand while also taking home your meal in the form of a cookbook from her bestselling series Blueberries and Polar Bears.

From Churchill you will be transported to the remoteness of our Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, the home of our Mothers & Cubs Adventure deep in the wilds of the Hudson Bay coast where you will be humbled by face to face encounters with the undisputed lords of this area:  the mighty polar bear.

From short jaunts to get up close and personal with a pair of polar bears sparring within view of our lodge, to day trips further afield in our custom designed tundra vehicles, complete with a packed lunch and traditional arctic tea boil, there is no better way to experience the sheer vastness of the Arctic ecosystem and the habitat of the polar bears and black bears in their summer home.

Polar bears are curious creatures and it is not uncommon for them to visit our guests and saunter up to the perimeters of our secure arctic home and save you the trekking! These close encounters provide interactions with the bears that make for a rare and unforgettably unique experience.

The convergence of the boreal forest with the tidal flats of Hudson Bay surrounding Nanuk plays host to an incredible richness of wildlife and encounters with black bears and the elusive wolves are not uncommon, along with a surprising diversity of birds who seek nesting refuges in the vast areas of the Arctic.

You can also enjoy the greatest light show on earth from the comfort of the lounge or dining room, or even your bedroom! The northern skies are a perfect ballroom for the Aurora Borealis!

The Churchill Wild culinary experience provides the metaphorical icing on the cake for your life defining experiences during your stay! Your taste buds will delight, whether you are indulging in some of our appetizer specialties such as succulent bacon wrapped caribou or dining on one of our many exquisite entrees accompanied by our hand selected Canadian wines.

Should you decide that curling up by the fireplace with a good book or enjoying a hot drink and sharing stories with your fellow adventurers is what you need, our comfortable lounge area provides you with the perfect setting.

But don’t be surprised if you’re interrupted by a bear during dinner, or while you’re relaxing.

It happens.

Polar bear approaches at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Hold your lens steady…

For more information on the Arctic Discovery Safari:

Toll-Free: 1.866.UGO.WILD (846.9453)
Telephone: 1.204.878.5090
Email: info@churchillwild.com

What to wear for a date with a polar bear

Polar bear mask

by Vanessa Desorcy

Ah, the north. So beautiful, so fickle. Summer brings bugs and winter brings biting winds but, it’s all worth it when you find yourself walking at eye level with a polar bear, right? Right!

We get a lot of questions about what to bring so we’ve compiled a few key tips for staying comfy during your northern adventure:

Layer up

Repeat after me: layers, layers, layers. No matter what season you visit in, layers will be your best friend. The temperature fluctuates rapidly and often so be prepared by dressing in layers for a variety of conditions. If you’re coming in October or November, we can help you out with winter gear rentals so that you don’t have to haul your own with you.

Lather up

Bug repellant is essential in the summer, particularly in July when the bugs can be the worst. A strong dose of DEET combined with a bug jacket should do the trick to keep you comfortable and bite free.

Lighten up

You don’t need to bring a lot with you. Packing light is essential for your comfort and the comfort of other guests during your flight to the Lodge. Not to mention the fact that if you bring too much, your bag might get bumped so yeaaaaaaaah, there’s that to consider as well. The polar bears don’t care if you wear the same thing two (or three or four) days in a row and neither do we.

That’s the gist of it. If you want more details, here’s a complete list of what we recommend, broken down by month for the Type-A personalities out there!

Happy packing, adventurers!

polar bear gear

Construction begins on new bedrooms at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The Bedroom Crew - Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The Bedroom Crew – Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

We are already into the new season here at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and as always it starts with the thought that we should build something. This year we are taking on the task of building eight new bedrooms, each of which will feature an incredible view of Hudson Bay.

We opened up the Lodge at the earliest date known by anyone up here and Pat flew us in on May 28 to find six feet of snow on the runway and almost as much in the compound and surrounding areas.

This was good news for the black bear that broke into one of the old cabins because that meant he could come and go as he pleased for the next week while we did everything we could to get rid of all the snow. (Pumping all the remaining water from low spots and spreading ash from our fires on the tallest banks.)

We also spent a significant amount of time with a quad and a blade clearing the runway to be ready for the big Yellow Bird to haul in another 175,000 pounds of lumber and material for the upcoming build.

Two researchers arrived with Albert to guide them and they spent nine days chasing the endangered Knot. They had tagged 100 birds near New Jersey, USA, and they arrived here with trackers in hand along with sample jars and other detection tools.

They managed to get four confirmed hits, which was quite exciting. They also found flocks of the birds as they migrated along the coast. We have kept their tower up and are continuing to help with the ongoing research.

Other than one weathered-in day all the hauling went as planned. We pulled in 18 loads from Gillam in rain and snow and the sun finally came out for the last load. We got off to an early start the next morning, waved goodbye to the pilot and crew, and started hauling gravel to fill the concrete forms Rob had placed in the yard to the east.

Stuart and I are preparing to move some of the other cabins tomorrow to make room for the wing on the west end, matching the wing we are currently prepping for on the east. The eight new rooms, each with massive six foot windows, will be a sight for sure!

We have added a Kubota tractor to the mix this year and we’ve also added a second machine dubbed the Rhino. As of now it’s The Rhino II, or Super Sloth II according to some of our guests.

New Kubota tractor exits the big Yellow Bird.

New Kubota tractor exits the big Yellow Bird.

The ice to the north on Hudson Bay is split into two sections right now. At high tide we can see broken and scattered icebergs all over the shore and a magnificent white and blue shimmering shelf beyond a kilometer of bright blue water.

We have three black bears frequenting the Lodge on a daily basis and we have also seen moose off to the west in the creek each evening. The geese have come and gone and now the Sandhill cranes are making all kinds of racket while hanging around on their nests.

Black Bear at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

The black bears are here. Polar bears are coming!

The flocks of shorebirds are crazy at this time of near and with the scope or the binoculars you don’t have to look very hard to catch a glimpse of a nest or some bird activity.

The bunnies are rampant in and around the yard, the weasels are cleaning up on spring mice and birds, and we even watched a wolverine foraging down the coast.

Ursus maritimus has not arrived yet. I suspect the abundant sea ice has kept them out hunting for one last meal, just out of our view, but we’re expecting their appearance any day now. The bugs have just started to hatch, so I am sure the DEET will also be required about the same time as the polar bears show up.

Right now, the sun is high in a clear blue sky, the wind sock is flickering in the breeze, and there couldn’t be a better place in the world.

See you soon!