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Posts Tagged ‘arctic safari’

Arctic Safari draws high praise for Churchill Wild from award-winning photographer

Peaceful polar bear in Northern Manitoba. Charles Glatzer photo.

A good day to be a polar bear in Northern Manitoba. Photo Credit: Charles Glatzer

World-renowned professional photographer Charles (Chas) Glatzer was among the first group to experience our sold-out Arctic Safari in 2011 and he had glowing praise for Churchill Wild.

Just wanted to say thanks again for a fabulous trip. As in past years, the staff and service was impeccable, the lodge inviting, and meticulous. And, the meals WOW! I just hope CalmAir does not start weighing guests on the return flight.

Your family’s warm heart and good nature make all who visit Churchill Wild feel like you have invited us into your home. Your family values obviously carry over to your business, as both are equally beautiful and a pleasure to be around.

Our guides Andy and Tara, both highly skilled professionals, always put our safety first. We often got close, but at no time did anyone ever feel the least bit threatened, surely a testament to their years of experience and incredible knowledge. Rest assured I will be back again with more groups for years to come.
– Charles (Chas) Glatzer

Thank you Charles!

Charles Glatzer - Shoot the Light

Glatzer has won over 40 prestigious photography awards during his 28 years in the field and his images appear worldwide in publications that include National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Discover Diving, Smithsonian, Professional Photographer, Birder’s World, Birding, Nature Photographer, EOS, Digital PhotoPro, Travel & Leisure, Computer Life, Boy’s Life, The Atlas of Endangered Species, Environmental Science (Third Edition), Speech for Effective Communication and more.

One of the most respected, knowledgeable, and sought after wildlife photographic instructors/speakers in the world, Glatzer also owns Shoot the Light and hosts Instructional Photographic Workshops throughout the United States and abroad. His images are recognized internationally for their lighting, composition and attention to detail and his diverse photo background provides workshop participants and seminar attendees with an unparalleled resource. Read more…

A small sample of the photos Glatzer took on his Arctic Safari follow below. For more photos or to learn more about his photography workshops please visit Shoot the Light and the Shoot the Light Blog.

 

 

 

 

The Legend of the Enchanted White Caribou

White bears, white whales and white… caribou?

Churchill Wild Staff got an unexpected treat – aside from the great caribou numbers along the Northern Manitoba/Nunavut border, in the Schmok Lake area they spotted a rare white caribou!

rare white caribou

a rare white caribou

According to our Inuit staff & friends, the white caribou is an “enchanted caribou”, NOT something to be hunted, and they are apparently quite rare.

The legend goes something like this:

It seems that a long time ago, people had the power to turn into animals, and animals could turn into people. It was a time of magic – people had only to say what they wanted for it to come true.

There was young woman named Tyya who wandered far from home in search of driftwood, bones and caribou antlers. A thick fog rolled in and she became lost.  She was rescued by Etasack, a young caribou hunter, who brought her to his home.

The next day before he left to go hunting, he warned Tyya not to let anyone enter the tent. But she was tricked by an evil shaman who turned her into a white caribou.

Etasack was very sad when he found her gone, but the sprit of his grandmother, another powerful shaman, gave him the magic means to break the spell.

The next day, the young man headed out to the tundra. He sought out the white caribou in the herd, recited the magic spell and returned Tyya to her human form.

Since then Inuit hunters have been kind to the white caribou, as it might be an enchanted person.

Another legend of the people of the north says the white caribou are shape-shifters, and can change between human and animal form. Many native hunters would leave them alone for this reason.

There is also a children’s book written in the 1980′s by Canadian author Elizabeth Cleaver called “The Enchanted Caribou“, which is often acted out with shadow puppets.

enchanted white caribou

The Enchanted Caribou by Elizabeth Cleaver

Incredible Northern Lights at Seal River Heritage Lodge for Churchill Wild’s Arctic Safari

World renowned professional photographer Charles Glatzer is at Seal River Heritage Lodge right now sampling Churchill Wild’s first ever Arctic Safari. Charles circulated this picture to some friends, as well as Churchill Wild staff & guests:

Charles Glatzer's Northern Lights at Seal River Heritage Lodge (click to enlarge)

You can see more of Charles’ incredible work on his website and blog.

The Arctic Safari is Churchill Wild’s most ambitious adventure. When it was announced last May it immediately sold out!

Fashioned after a traditional African safari, Churchill Wild owner Mike Reimer saw an opportunity to offer Churchill Wild’s own version of “The Big Five” in the arctic. Set against the visually stunning fall colors of early September, the Arctic Safari promises to be an all encompassing encounter with endless photo opportunities and arctic wildlife experiences.

A small window in early September provides the perfect apex to see the widest variety of wildlife and brilliant displays of Aurora Borealis. The Arctic Safari takes you over 20,000 square kilometers of the wildest regions in the Arctic; providing the potential of seeing wolves, caribou, moose, three species of bears (polar, black and grizzly), beluga whales, arctic and colored fox, wolverine, beaver, pine marten and arctic birds.

To find out more about the Arctic Safari or other polar bear watching tours offered by Churchill Wild check out the website. Every adventure offered by Churchill Wild includes the one-of-a-kind access of walking with polar bears, on the ground, up close & personal (and safe).

Magazine editor Katie Nanton details trip to see Churchill polar bears at Seal River Heritage Lodge

Polar bear relaxing on rocks at Seal River Heritage Lodge

Polar bear relaxing on rocks at Seal River Heritage Lodge – Photo Credit: Robert Postma

Katie Nanton, an assistant editor with NUVO Magazine, was at Seal River Heritage Lodge for the Birds, Bears and Belugas Adventure last summer.

A seasoned adventure traveler, writer and editor with world-wide safari experience, Katie wrote a story about her Churchill Wild experience for NUVO entitled A Canadian Safari – Churchill, Manitoba: the polar bear capital of the world, which appeared in their Spring 2011 Issue. Below are a few excerpts from Katie’s Story with a link to the original story. Enjoy!

First polar bear

I see the first bear in the distance. A big, beautiful Ursus maritimus. Adrenaline kicks in and the quiet chatter halts, followed soon after by the clicking of camera shutters and zooming of lenses. Our guides remind us to be silent – although this bear is familiar with the presence of people by now, we don’t want to disturb or frighten it – and we take a few steps forward until I’m standing about 10 metres away from this larger-than-life beauty. I eye the guns slung over our guides’ shoulders: loaded, and a necessary precaution, they are very rarely used, and only to scare off an approaching bear. Nothing stands between us and this wild animal but a short distance and a few rocks; polar bears are capable of running up to 40 kilometres an hour.

A  fight in the morning

One foggy morning, I awaken to an early morning knock on my bedroom door and a commotion outside. A night watchman stands  guard over the lodge each night, eyes peeled for curious bears and Northern Lights. I’m expecting flashes of green and blue aurora borealis, but out of the main-room window is a more unexpected early morning sight: far in the rocky distance, two bears are stretched up on their hind legs, standing at least eight feet tall, their furry arms in the air like boxers, jabbing, dodging, and blocking each other, paws flailing. Their show of strength is spellbinding. I want to get closer. I walk with my guide until we come within about 15 metres…

Full Story: A Canadian Safari – Churchill, Manitoba: the polar bear capital of the world

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About NUVO Magazine

NUVO Magazine LogoInspired by quality, NUVO is a lifestyle magazine for the Canadian sophisticate. It is our mandate to create an editorial environment that is stimulating, evocative, entertaining and informative, and relevant to both the amateur and the connoisseur.  The NUVO reader is the inquisitive, culturally aware, well-travelled urbanite who appreciates a blend of insight and entertainment. We share the NUVO reader’s discerning taste in travel, food and wine, film and TV, fashion, art, architecture, design, business, automobiles and music.  NUVO features the finest in writing, photography, illustration, design and production. Our commitment to quality is essential to being a leader in the magazine industry. It is thus our assiduous intention to craft a magazine that is quite simply unlike any other.

Arctic Safari: The Qamanirjuaq Caribou Herd

Four caribou on tundra ridge in Northern Manitoba, Canada

Caribou family outing. Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

by Rick Kemp

With the launch of the Churchill Wild Arctic Safari we are excited to be featuring something we have wanted to give our guests for over a decade – a fly out to witness a stunning caribou migration and a chance to experience Canadian arctic wildlife at its finest, all while immersed in a kaleidoscope of fabulous fall colors!

Churchill Wild’s polar bear tours will never be the same!

Polar bears are always the marquee stars of any Churchill Wild adventure but equal billing for the Arctic Safari can surely go to the caribou of the Qamanirjuaq herd. The Qamanirjuaq caribou herd (ka-min-YOO-ree-ak) is estimated to be between 300,000 to 400,000 strong, and Churchill Wild has located the perfect spot on the migration route to witness this stunning spectacle.

The Qamanirjuaq continues to have strong numbers, despite population declines in other major caribou herds in Canada’s North. The total area used by the herd during their migration spans more than 500,000 square kilometers north to south along the Hudson Bay’s west coast. The winter range primarily consists of forested lands in northern Manitoba and tundra in Manitoba and Nunavut.

In Inuit mythology Tekkeitsertok is the master of caribou, one of the most important gods in the pantheon. Many Dene and Inuit historically depended on caribou for food, clothing and shelter; so much so that the Inuit of the area were given the name “Caribou Eskimo” by early European explorers.

The Inuit survived by hunting and trapping in family groups while living in what is now Nunavut and Northern Manitoba. Although apprehensive for many generations, they began trading regularly with the Europeans in the early 1900s and by the late 1950s were moving into communities. They were encouraged by government to do this so their children could attend school and have access to medical care.

Today, the Qamanirjuaq caribou continue to be very important in maintaining the culture and traditional lifestyles of Dene, Métis, and Inuit across the north by providing food, materials for traditional clothing, special tools & shelter.

Tupik at Dymond Lake Lodge

Tupik at Dymond Lake Lodge

One of the shelters that was traditionally constructed is called a “tupik”. Last fall an Inuit couple named Peter and Mary graciously visited to teach our guests about their culture and their way of life during the Great Ice Bear Adventure at Dymond Lake Ecolodge. Peter and Mary built the tupik to show us what they would live in while traveling and hunting during the summer months in the north. The tupik is constructed of about 20 caribou hides and long skinny timbers.

An Inuit legend about the origin of caribou goes like this:

Once upon a time there were no caribou on the earth. But then there was a man who wished for caribou, and he cut a great hole deep into the ground, and up through this hole came caribou, many caribou.  The caribou came pouring out, till the earth was almost covered with them.  And when the man thought there were caribou enough for mankind, he closed up the hole again. Thus the caribou came up on earth.

The numbers of caribou seem to be inconsistent but plentiful. Distribution and migration of 10 adult female Qamanirjuaq caribou have been monitored since 1993 using radio-collars and tracked by satellites. The results of this study have provided insight to the herd’s recent distribution and movement patterns.

While Churchill Wild goes to great lengths to preserve the natural habitat we encounter, there are some external threats that are concerning. Hydro transmission lines, roads to communities in northern Manitoba, mineral exploration and mines are all issues local groups have voiced concern with. These activities continue to spread to the calving and post-calving areas.  Hydro-electric development could affect movement of the herd during spring and fall migration as they may need to make detours if traditional water crossing sites are impassable due to water level changes from hydro dams.

As a way of addressing these and other concerns the Beverly & Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (BQCMB) was established in 1982 to coordinate management of the herds.  The Board’s responsibility is to make recommendations to government and conduct projects for conservation and management of the caribou herds and their habitat.

There are times when a caribou is in the vicinity of one of our lodges and guests are always amazed with their grace. To see one as part of a herd is fascinating and a spectacle we are excited to present as part of our Polar Bear Arctic Safari.

But caribou and polar bears? Together? Polar bears are often said to be the world’s largest land predators and our experienced guides (Andy & Terry) keep the guests safe. What about the caribou?

While there have been very few documented cases of the two species interacting, some observations indicate that polar bears will stalk and chase caribou, but you would not likely witness it during your adventure with Churchill Wild.

Fall colors in the arctic

Spectacular fall colors in the Arctic. Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

Churchill Wild’s polar bear guides have been reporting an increasing number of polar bear sightings on the caribou range, with bears spotted as far as 150 kilometres from the coast in recent years.

Last summer a polar bear found its way as far south as Shamattawa, Manitoba – about 400 kilometres away from the Hudson Bay coast. These instances are extremely rare but the phenomenon could explain the “grolar” or “pizzly” bears (which we will pretty much guarantee you will NOT see!)

Churchill Wild’s Arctic Safari is easily our most ambitious adventure to date and the timing is essential. A small window in early September provides the perfect apex to see the widest variety of wildlife and brilliant displays of the Aurora Borealis.

The Arctic Safari takes you over 20,000 square kilometres of the wildest regions in the Arctic; providing the potential “Big Five” (and then some) of wolves, caribou, moose, three species of bears (polar, black and grizzly), belugas, arctic and colored fox, wolverine, beaver, pine marten, arctic birds and of course, spectacular Northern Lights.

For more information about the Arctic Safari or any of our Arctic Adventure Travel Experiences, please call our office, sign up for our newsletter or e-mail us at info@churchillwild.com. We would love to hear from you!