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Polar Bear Photography

Special Exclusive Polar Bear Photo Expedition 2014 — Maximum 6 spots available October 25 to November 2

Be the first to experience one of the greatest wildlife photo opportunities on the planet. Polar bears, polar bears, polar bears!

We live near Nanuk Polar bear Lodge.

We live near Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.

Endless ground-level photo opportunities within easy walking distance of our new Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge near Cape Tatnum on Hudson Bay.

So far numbers of bears on site in September are incredible, giving every indication that we could well be into our most successful season to date, and confirming that the Lodge is indeed situated in the heart of the best polar bear viewing on earth.

This expedition is geared towards the adventurous intrepid photographer willing to spend hours in the field up close and personal with our Great Ice Bears. Non-stop serious bear encounters will definitely result in a need for supplementary hard drive storage space!

It can’t hurt that wolf sightings and northern lights are a very real possibility as well, perfect for filling out this ultimate polar bear safari.

All inclusive from Winnipeg, Manitoba with five full days of the Arctic’s most exclusive polar bear viewing opportunities, excellent food, and the Hudson Bay’s finest remote accommodations.

At $11,395 CAD, don’t delay booking on this very limited release opportunity. The previous excursion sold out in a week!

Come experience the Cape Tatnum polar bears like no one else can.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call Toll Free:  1 (866) 846-9453 (UGO-WILD) or 1 (204) 878-5090 or email us at info@churchillwild.com.

Go ahead. Take my picture.

Go ahead. Take my picture.

Award-winning National Geographic photographer Jad Davenport to lead first Polar Bear Photo Safari

Polar bears sparring near Seal River Heritage Lodge.

Polar bears sparring near Seal River Heritage Lodge. Bill Lyne photo.

Jad Davenport

Jad Davenport

Churchill Wild is proud to announce that Jad Davenport, an award-winning author, photographer and filmmaker represented by National Geographic Creative, will lead our first Polar Bear Photo Safari of the season at Seal River Heritage Lodge from October 21-27.

Jad specializes in wilderness photography and is one of the pioneers in the field of digital photography. He shot the first digital cover and inside story for National Geographic Adventure magazine in 2004 and his stories, photos, video shorts and blog posts have appeared in leading publications that include Smithsonian, Popular Photography, Sierra, Audubon, Outside, Men’s Journal, Sunset, ISLANDSCoastal Living and The New York Times among others.

A multiple winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award and Canada’s Northern Lights Award for travel writing and photography, Jad is a former documentary photographer and filmmaker who covered a dozen wars from Bosnia to Iraq. He is a member of The Explorers Club, and has worked in over 150 countries and on all continents.

Jad has photographed extensively in polar regions, with assignments that have included Greenland, Svalbard, Nunavut, Alaska, Siberia, the Russian Far East, Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia. This makes him a perfect fit for the Polar Bear Photo Safari, which takes place in the HEART of polar bear country during prime polar bear season from October 21 to November 20, when the polar bears congregate in large numbers along the coast of Hudson Bay waiting for the Bay to freeze so they can begin their annual seal hunt.

The Polar Bear Photo Safari provides discerning photographers with ground level photo opportunities for Arctic wildlife including polar bears, caribou and Arctic fox, on a backdrop of stunning sea and landscapes. The pristine and remote wilderness location of Seal River Heritage Lodge on the Hudson Bay shoreline is ideal for photographing polar bears on ice and snow. Additionally, there are an exceptional number of clear nights for northern lights photography.

Photographs that truly reflect the beauty of the wildlife and their surroundings…

are taken here.

Polar bear paws while Arctic foxes scamper.

Polar bear paws while Arctic foxes scamper. Lydia Attinger photo.

 

For more information about Jad Davenport please visit: www.JadDavenport.com

You flew in from where? Unexpected guest arrives at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

Rhino and guests meet polar bear at Nanuk.

Rhino and guests meet polar bear at Nanuk. Charles Glatzer photo.

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Saturday August 30, 2 p.m. Allison Reimer and I are doing our rounds, checking on guest quarters, cleaning and tweaking the common areas at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, when out of the blue we hear engines in the air.

A little white and teal plane circles the Lodge a few times, lines up with our strip, and comes in from the west, rolling to a stop just metres from the front gate. Keeping in mind we are 120 nautical miles from civilization and the closest inhabitants at this time of year may be at a lodge 50 miles to the east of us, seeing a plane on this remote piece of the Hudson Bay coast is not a very common occurrence.

Our new guest is the lone occupant and pilot of the Husky Aviat A1B, and goes by the name of Thorsten. Turns out he’s a pilot for a large German airline flying 747s at 30,000 feet, and this little Husky is his way of getting away from it all.

Thorsten is a lot like the rest of us out here when it comes to his love of wildlife and the urge to get away from it all. I invite him to join us for the night, but there are a few small matters to be taken care of before that can happen.

His plane needs to be protected from not only the winds, but also from the 800 pound polar bear that has decided to hang around on the runway eating berries and smiling for our guests’ clicking shutters.

Thorsten gets to tying down the plane I gather some bear boards, and we set up an electric fence perimeter. We have a great evening with the guests, and an after-dinner slide show from one of our leaders and an unbelievable Northern lights show later in the evening. The next morning, after everyone is filled up with coffee and a delectable breakfast, they head out east on the lookout for more of the big white bears.

Northern lights at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Charles Glatzer photo.

Northern lights at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Charles Glatzer photo.

Thorsten offers to take Chas up for a few aerial photos of the Lodge, more difficult than you might think though, in the little two-seater plane. After we get Chas belted in we pile in multiple cameras and a few more lenses for good measure. Up they go, windows and doors wide open and the breeze blasting through Chas’s hair. An hour and a half later they return and the photos are astounding.

They tracked down our Rhino’s full of guests and took some great shots with bears and guests. They also found a multitude of other wildlife spread over approximately 30 miles of coastline east of the Lodge. Churchill Wild now has great aerial shots of wolves, a lone Caribou, and numerous bears just doing their thing. The guys even managed to find some moose on the creek just west of the Lodge.

Thorsten also did numerous low level fly-bys of our property, and we now have a number of great shots of the new Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and compound.

With most of the day gone and a weather front moving, we decided to keep Thorsten for one more night. He had started the day out at Reindeer Lake, stopped in Gillam, and was headed for Pickle Lake, Ontario, with his final destination being Vermont, USA, but after we burned all his fuel he decided to head to Gillam the next morning to refuel and take a more direct route to Pickle Lake.

Thank you Thorsten, for the stories you shared, and for photographs we will always cherish.

New Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge guest wings, from the air.

New Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge guest wings, from the air.

 

Polar bear fight on Hudson Bay puts kink in plans at Seal River Lodge (in a good way!)

Polar bear pounces on rivals in Hudson Bay.

Polar bear pounces on rivals in Hudson Bay.

by Andy MacPherson, Polar Bear Guide

The winds blowing from the northeast put a small kink in our planned activities for the morning, but three restless polar bears stirring on One Bear Point certainly provided enough distraction to keep everyone’s mind off the weather.

And the change of plans paid off in photo opportunities!

After breakfast I went out to see if our neighbours had begun to move, but I was too late. They had already ventured 100 meters into the water and were fully engaged in a three-way brouhaha! We spread the word to the guests that departure time was moved up and all came surging out of the Lodge to watch the melee from ringside seats. Front row!

The bears were already swinging for the cheap seats and leaping off the turnbuckles as we settled in for the show. Sucker punches were definitely part of the action and an ongoing hushed commentary could be heard from the guests.

Mork, a resident bear, was chewing on Bob’s neck, while Nanu Nanu circled looking for a weakness before submarining and emerging to pounce and dunk whichever rival was within his reach. The show and the combatants never seemed to slow down.  Moving back and forth in front of us in the water, the bears used every tactical advantage the terrain provided, especially boulders. To climb on, hide behind and leap from.

Amazing!

Ouch! Just kidding. Love bite.

Ouch!!! Just kidding. Love bite.

What were we going to do for an encore? How about a Beluga trip?

Low and behold the wind dropped and the sea calmed as we finished our lunch. The decision was made to try a dropping-tide Beluga trip on the spur of the moment, and everyone rushed to catch the high water before it was too late to launch the Zodiacs. The weather and whales cooperated and everyone was excited to have another opportunity to commune with the whales, both from the surface and in the water.

We ended the perfect day with a glass of wine before bed, and the promise of Northern Lights still to come.

Fingers crossed.

A perfect day  for polar bears.

A perfect day for polar bears…

Award-winning photographer and author Dennis Fast to lead November 2014 Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River

Award-winning photographer/author Dennis Fast to lead 2014 Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River

Dennis Fast will lead 2014 Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River.

Award-winning photographer and author Dennis Fast will once again lead a Polar Bear Photo Safari at Seal River Heritage Lodge this year, from November 10-16.

The Polar Bear Photo Safari takes place during prime polar bear season, when the bears congregate in large numbers on the Hudson Bay coast waiting for the Bay to freeze so they can begin their annual seal hunt. The Polar Bear Photo Safari attracts professional and amateur photographers from around the world, primarily due to its rare ground-level access to polar bears and the resulting specialized photo opportunities.

Churchill Wild’s chief photographer for over 20 years, Fast is one of Canada’s best known photographers. His images have appeared in numerous calendars and books, including Wapusk: White Bear of the North, which showcases stunning images of polar bears and their Hudson Bay environs, and addresses the threats to the bears’ traditional migration patterns and their existence in the Churchill area.

Fast’s images also appear in his most recent book, Princess: A Special Polar Bear which tells the story of a mother polar bear who teaches her cubs about life in the Arctic regions of Canada. Designed to be read aloud and to connect children with the excitement of the outdoors, Princess details the relationship between Princess and her cubs, Braveheart and Wimpy, and touches on many of the same challenges and issues parents and children face every day in their own families.

Polar bears sparring near Seal River Heritage Lodge. Dennis fast photo

Polar bears sparring near Seal River Heritage Lodge.

Calendars that have featured Fast’s photos include those published by National Geographic, National Wildlife Federation, Inner Reflections, Manitoba Autopac (including an exclusive polar bear calendar in 2010), Parks & Wilderness Society, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and many more. Thirty-five of Fast’s best polar bear photos are also on display in the new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (IPBCC) in Winnipeg.

Fast’s expertise and experience photographing in extreme northern conditions have put him among the select photographers in the world with a talent for capturing the light and magical qualities of the north. He’s traveled extensively across Canada, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Greenland, Iceland and the United States in pursuit of the perfect shot, but the polar bears of Hudson Bay will always be one of his favourite subjects.

“Polar Bears are among the most magnificent predators on earth and have fascinated me since childhood,” said Fast in an earlier interview with book publisher Heartland Associates. “I never dreamed that someday I would actually walk in the land of Wapusk (Cree for white bear). I still remember in vivid detail my first sighting of a wild polar bear and the feeling of awe it inspired with its beauty and latent power. Since then, I have had many polar bear encounters, ­ from mothers and young cubs coming out of their dens, to adult males wrestling for supremacy.”

“When you’re on the ground and a polar bear gets close to you, the shot is that much more intimate,” said Fast. “You can’t get these types of shots from above, from a vehicle. You have to be there, on the ground. At the Lodge you can get them either by hiking over the tundra or through the specialized fence that surrounds the Lodge.”

Polar bears wrestling eye-to-eye on the sea ice at Seal River. Dennis Fast photo.

Eye-to-eye on the sea ice.

The beauty of the Seal River Heritage Lodge location is that polar bears have to walk by the point of land that juts out into Hudson Bay where the Lodge is situated, 60 km north of Churchill and nine km north of the Seal River. Polar bears are naturally curious. They smell the cooking at the Lodge and they’re also interested in the activity.

It’s not unusual to have polar bears meander right up to the front door of Seal River Heritage Lodge, and at various times of the year bears will spend days lying around the Lodge enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of humans. It’s a unique environment where humans can meet polar bears in their natural home amidst spectacular scenery.

Using a super wide angle lenses you can not only get unobstructed shots of the bears up close, but also of the landscape in the background. The wide buffalo fence keeps the bears out while still allowing for exceptional photos. Smaller zooms can go right through for really intimate shots.

And it’s not just about polar bears. Last year there was a herd of caribou at the Lodge and three years ago there were over 3,000 caribou in the area, although the actual number of caribou around the Lodge at any given time depends on weather patterns. Arctic foxes have been known to come right into the compound and just about take food out of your hands. There are also arctic hares, and in 2009 photographers were lucky enough to catch a White Gyrfalcon. Additionally, the unique combination of location and weather at the Lodge can  result in phenomenal northern lights viewing.

“Through guiding photo tours and staying at the Lodge I’ve met some fascinating people,” said Fast. “From professional photographers and photojournalists at elite publications like National Geographic and the L.A. Times, to some of the world’s wealthiest people, I’ve traded stories with some very interesting and enjoyable company. I’ve met people from Japan, Mexico, China, Russia, Germany and the USA at the Lodge. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Polar bears relaxing north of Churchill at Seal River Heritage Lodge after sparring. Dennis Fast photo.

After the battle…

“The facilities at the Lodge are excellent. The food is superb, prepared from the family’s award-winning cookbook series Blueberries and Polar Bears, and the trips are all-inclusive. That’s important.

“Expenses can add up on a trip to Churchill when you take into account airfare, hotels, hot meals, day tours etc. So the cost of staying at the Lodge is actually quite reasonable when you consider it’s an all-inclusive adventure vacation and you’re actually staying in the wild, experiencing the polar bear’s natural environment. Yet you still have all the comforts of home along with outstanding meals and great company.”

And of course, a chance to meet polar bears, eye-to-eye.