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Posts Tagged ‘Great Ice Bear Adventure’

New Zealand couple wins trip to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

by +George Williams

Photos courtesy of Bob and Lynne Croy

Churchill Wild is proud to announce that the winners of the Great Ice Bear Adventure 20th Anniversary Contest and a trip for two to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge are Bob and Lynne Croy of Wakefield, New Zealand.

Congratulations Bob and Lynne! We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Great Ice Bear Anniversary Contest winners Bob and Lynne Croy at Dymond Lake Lodge.

Great Ice Bear Anniversary Contest winners Bob and Lynne Croy at Dymond Lake Lodge.

Extensive travelers since retiring eight years ago after 31 years of operating a service station, the couple had already been on safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and South Africa before traveling to Canada for the Great Ice Bear Adventure last November with Churchill Wild.

“We had dreamed about the Great Ice Bear Adventure for so long,” said Lynne. “And it turned out to be an amazing trip.”

“We had actually sent an inquiry to Mike Reimer at Churchill Wild many years ago and we were going to go but we had some issues at the station and couldn’t make it work,” said Bob. “We kept that letter all this time and showed it to Nolan (Director of Lodge Operations at Churchill Wild) when we arrived at Dymond Lake.”

The couple turned their Great Ice Bear Adventure into a month-long Canadian vacation, beginning with a flight from New Zealand to Vancouver. They then went to Victoria for a few days before flying to Winnipeg and on to Churchill, where they boarded their flight to Dymond Lake Lodge on a cold Canadian November day.

The polar bears soon warmed them up.

First polar bear on Great Ice Bear Adventure, Dymond Lake Lodge, Manitoba, Canada.

First polar bear at Dymond Lake!

“It’s generally 25 degrees or better where we are,” said Lynne. “My husband always wears shorts, and I had never worn ski pants, but we were well prepared, even when it got to 37 below. We had our Merino Wool layers, ski pants and jackets and we were out to see a polar bear on our very first day at the Lodge.”

“It was very special to get so close to such a large animal in the wild,” continued Lynne. “We were surprised at how big they were! We spent a lot of time photographing that first polar bear. It was a wonderful experience.”

“There were quite a few white foxes about too,” said Bob. “One day, while out walking, we came upon a sleeping bear, and two Arctic foxes ran out and startled him. The bear jumped up quickly and that was quite a sight from up close! But we always felt safe when out walking. The guides were extremely professional.”

Arctic foxes getting ready to wake up a sleeping giant polar bear at Dymond Lake.

Arctic foxes getting ready to wake up a sleeping giant.

The couple and their fellow travelers on the Great Ice Bear Adventure also enjoyed a beautiful evening of aurora borealis displays while at the Lodge.

“We had a lovely mix of people with us,” said Lynne. “A fabulous group, we’re still exchanging photos and videos from the trip. And the food was amazing. We bought their Blueberries and Polar Bears Cookbook and fully intend to use it.”

And their trip wasn’t over when they flew back to Churchill from the Lodge. The Croys also spent two days on the Tundra Buggies and then added in a dogsledding adventure. “Doreen (Adventure Specialist at Churchill Wild) arranged that for us,” said Lynn. “She was very helpful and it was a lot of fun!”

Polar bears at Dymond Lake Lodge.

You know I can still see you, right?

Continuing on with adventurous nature of their trip, the Croys took the train from Churchill to Winnipeg instead of flying, and were blanketed by a fresh snowfall that made for “picture perfect scenery the whole way.” They then took the scenic train ride from Winnipeg to Jasper to Vancouver before heading home.

The Croys can now add polar bears, Arctic and red foxes to the host of wildlife they’ve been up close and personal with, a list which also includes lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, rhinos, wildebeest, zebra and more. Next on their agenda is a trip back to Tanzania this spring to see the young animals in the wild.

The Croys are planning their trip to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge for 2015, and there’s a very good chance they’ll be able to add polar bear mothers and cubs, black bears, wolves, a myriad of birds and possibly even moose and caribou to their growing list of wildlife sightings. This time they say they’d like to see the fall colours of Nova Scotia before they head up to the Lodge at Nanuk, which will have even more upgrades by the time they get there.

Polar bear leisure activities.

Polar bear leisure activities.

“We really wanted to see the mothers and cubs,” said Lynne. “But we never thought we’d get back there. When we got home my husband turned on the computer and said you’d better come and look at this. It was an email saying we won the trip to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. We were thrilled!”

“Let’s just say it got a little noisy in the house,” said Bob.

Curious black bear at Nanuck Polar Bear Lodge.

This curious black bear popped up in front of Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge last fall while we were returning from a day trip and was snapped by numerous guests. If you would like more information and photos on the Mothers & Cubs trip the Croys won, click the bear :) This photo courtesy of Robert Postma.

Who made Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and Dymond Lake Lodge a success this year? Everyone.

by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations, Churchill Wild

Polar bear Mom and cub checking out the new Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Dennis Fast photo.

Polar bear Mom and cub checking out the new Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Dennis Fast photo.

Well, once again we find ourselves in the off season, so that means sitting around the office drinking coffee and Baileys in our pajamas and telling stories.

Kidding!

Sure there is some storytelling going on, after all, you helped us create some wonderful memories once again this year! But there are more exciting projects on the horizon for next year at Churchill Wild, and that means work, enjoyable as it may be.

Some great things happened this season, especially at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. I can’t help thinking back to the seemingly endless flights, the hauling of building materials, the long hours and the extraordinary teamwork that resulted in the construction of our beautiful new viewing and dining lounge.

Morning, afternoon and evening we were treated to wildlife outside those big picture windows overlooking Hudson Bay. And what a fabulous place to dine and socialize after a day of walking with polar bears!

Lunchtime! In the new dining/viewing lounge at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.

Lunchtime! In the new dining/viewing lounge at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. Robert Postma photo.

It was all worth it.

The wolves, black bears, polar bears, moose and the crazy list of birds that followed us from June until September has my head spinning, not to mention the fascinating guest that followed us along the Hudson Bay coast, trudging through the mud and scanning the horizon for movement. Or just sitting in the willows eating berries and laughing at us like nobody was watching.

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge was a delight to be involved with this season and I look forward to many more Arctic Safaris in the seasons to come.

The Great Ice Bear Adventure at Dymond Lake started up after a short stint back home with my wife Doreen and the boys, and then I was off again, this time prepping camp for our time “playing” in the snow with polar bears and Arctic Foxes.

Our resident polar bear “Scarbrow” appeared early in the season, which shocked all of us, as we were sure he wouldn’t be back to tolerate us again. Thankfully we were wrong! Scarbrow came and went all season and posed for many fabulous photos.

Scarbrow the polar bear, Dymond Lake Lodge, Manitoba, Canada

Scarbrow was back again at Dymond Lake Lodge!

The Arctic Foxes this year at Dymond Lake were phenomenal. When Terry and I closed up camp we counted 20 plus on the lake and around the compound. There were also a couple of snowy owls and an awesome gyrfalcon that joined us in the evenings as the northern lights put on some incredible shows.

I thought I would be back to sitting around in the office for the winter, but Mike (Reimer) has already moved me off my chair and aimed me at a construction project at Nanuk that could only be rivalled by last year’s feat. So off I go again with a brain full of everything from airplanes, windows, carpenters and polar bears. It’s shaping up to be another awesome year at Churchill Wild and we have not even rung the bell for 2014 yet!

I would like to thank everyone involved at our lodges this year, whether you were a boss, staff, wife and kids, contractor, photographer, guide, culinary genius, pilot or guest. You all made this year little bit easier; the impossible possible; the hard work worth it; and certainly a lot more fun!

I look back now at what we’ve accomplished; at the lives of those we have touched; and the memories we’ve created; with humble thanks, and I can’t help but get excited about doing it all over again next year, with all of you…

and the polar bears!

Polar bear standing at Dymond Lake Lodge, Great Ice Bear Adventure.

Where did everybody go?

 

How fast can a moose run? Scarbrow knows.

by Terry Elliot, Churchill Wild Guide

Yesterday was a great day on the Great Ice Bear Adventure!

Beautiful sunny skies at sunrise, and we could hear a moose calling on the other side of the lake, so we gathered everyone up and walked across the ice.

Moose are hard to find, so my expectations were low, but when we approached the far shore we spotted a cow and calf and then a bull! We managed to catch them slicing through the trees in the video above, but they were quick!

We came back and found two arctic foxes on the bay and then spent the afternoon on the ice with our resident bear “Scarbrow”. The photographers were in heaven. The light was beautiful and Scarbrow circled around to give us every angle! We finished the day with a spectacular display of northern lights!

Don’t know how we will top that today, but it isn’t even breakfast time yet and Scarbrow is already performing at the fence for us.

We get the feeling he already knows how fast a moose can run.

Scarbrow knows how fast a moose runs.

Scarbrow knows how fast a moose can run.

Great Ice Bear Adventure: The Original Arctic Safari celebrates 20 years!

Polar Bears on the Great Ice Bear Adventure

The Original Arctic Safari

2013 is Churchill Wild’s 20th anniversary and to celebrate this milestone we are offering a chance to have Two Arctic Safaris for the price of one!

Churchill Wild’s Great Ice Bear Adventure was the first package offered back in 1993. To commemorate the creation of the Original Arctic Safari we are presenting a Special Offer to anyone booking a Great Ice Bear Adventure for the 2013 season.

Every guest who books a 2013 Great Ice Bear Adventure will be entered to win a trip for two to the new Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge (redeemable in the 2014 or 2015 season).

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge is Churchill Wild’s newest remote lodge and it is getting newer! A construction crew was dispatched to Nanuk in late June 2013, where they are spending six weeks building a new lodge which will feature a kitchen, lounge, dining area and more. In 2014 we will be building new guest quarters.

Owner Mike Reimer and the designers have taken the timber frame influence of the Seal River Heritage Lodge and created what is expected to be an Arctic oasis.

Book your Great Ice Bear Adventure, the Original Arctic Safari, and be eligible to win one Trip For Two to Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. For more information please call 1 (204) 377-5090 or Toll Free: 1 (866) UGO-WILD (846-9453) or e-mail info@churchillwild.com.

Churchill Wild – The World’s Next Great Safari

Great Ice Bear Adventure at Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge receives glowing reviews

“Seeing a polar bear on foot was unforgettable!” ~ Debra Hartsell & Michael James

Polar bear saunters in for breakfast at Dymond Lake.

Polar bear saunters in for breakfast at Dymond Lake.

The Great Ice Bear Adventure is one of the most diverse and holistic fall wildlife viewing packages offered anywhere in the world. It combines four days at Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge, where many of the Arctic’s most famous residents are seen and photographed on foot or from the Lodge, with one day in Churchill on a buggy tour. And this year, with Solar Max, we’re expecting even more spectacular northern lights viewing!

Your adventure takes place in prime polar bear viewing season in October and November at Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge. The Lodge is strategically located approximately 30 kilometers by air from Churchill, Manitoba, the Polar Bear Capital of the World, where approximately 1,200 polar bears congregate and socialize while waiting for freeze-up and their annual seal hunt.

GreatIceBearDeb540

Debbie Blunderfield is all smiles as Scarbrow snacks on tundra fare in the background.

Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge is in the heart of the natural habitat of polar bears, caribou, Arctic and red fox, Arctic hare, wolves and moose along with numerous bird species such as snowy owls, ptarmigan and gyrfalcons. And last year last year, Kim Spragg, one of our guests at Dymond Lake Lodge was lucky enough to capture some rare video of a wolverine. Thanks Kim!

So how does a typical day start on the Great Ice Bear Adventure? Well, breakfast is served at 8:00 a.m. and the first walking tour generally leaves at 9:30 a.m. unless there’s a polar bear in camp! In that case the walking tour has to wait, but no one ever seems to mind meeting a polar bear up close. And taking pictures!

“We were treated to the daily antics of “Scarbrow“, a young male polar bear, who frequented our camp and followed us along the hiking trails. Our accomplished guides were full of information and always made the group’s safety the first priority. We were also treated to what the locals referred to as the best northern lights display of the season. In short, it was a spectacular trip and we would go again in a heartbeat!” ~ Mary Giesler

Scarbrow comes in close for a better look.

Scarbrow comes in for a closer look.

If no polar bears are in camp, you’ll bundle up and head out into the snow. The walks are comfortably paced, as they are geared towards plenty of viewing and photo opportunities and are guided by our professional and knowledgeable polar bear guides, so you’ll do a lot of learning along the way as well. Obviously we cannot allow the bears to approach too closely, and your guides are expert in keeping bears at a safe distance without sacrificing exciting viewing.

 “The guides took good care of us out “in the field” when the bear sometimes got almost too close. It was a really breathtaking experience to step off the small aircraft in one moment and to be about 10 meters away from a big polar bear in the next. The team at the lodge was superb and the food was lovely. The Tundra Buggy Tour completed our stay. We saw a lot of bears on that day.” ~ Renard, Antwerp, Belgium

Polar bears do saunter by the Lodge on a regular basis, so you can often view them from the warmth and comfort of one of our lounges through the massive picture windows. This opportunity is all too welcome when a squall blows in! We have a variety of other activities to take part in as well, should the weather prevent us from exploring the outdoors, though this is rarely the case.

Polar Bear gives us the sneaky eye outside the Lodge.

Polar Bear gives us the sneaky eye outside the Lodge.

Lunches are served at the Lodge and we are generally back at the Lodge by 4:00 p.m. for hot or cold drinks and appetizers. Full course delectable dinners are served at 7:00 p.m. after which, the fireplace is almost always central. Your guide team will give informative lectures and beautiful slide presentations, as well as initiate a discussion about the activities for the following day.

“It was amazing! I had really high expectations and the experience lived up to them. All of the staff were very friendly and the logistics were well coordinated – everything went very smoothly. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and really added to our experience. I’m so glad I opted for Churchill Wild rather than the typical polar buggy tour. Seeing a polar bear on foot was unforgettable!” ~ Debra Hartsell & Michael James

Churchill Wild guests photograph polar bear on Great Ice Bear Adventure

Polar bear poses for us at Dymond Lake.

Bedtime is at your leisure. The entire Lodge area is patrolled for polar bears all night by one of our night watchmen, so be prepared to have your sleep cut short by a nocturnal visit from one of the Great Ice Bears or a dazzling display of northern lights! You’ll definitely want to get out of bed for either one of these experiences!

“One night they woke us up because the aurora borealis was showing. It was in the middle of the night and all of us would have slept right through it if one of the staff wouldn’t have been “on guard”. That was really the “cherry on the pie”. Even though it was the middle of the night and the guides have probably seen the aurora borealis a million times they accompanied us, gave explanation and helped us take pictures of this magnificent display.” ~ Renard, Antwerp, Belgium

The Great Ice Bear Adventure maximizes viewing potential by giving guests the opportunities to see polar bears from a variety of locations, whether it be on the nature trails, from the lodge’s viewing tower, or right from the lodge windows.

Early "riser" outside the window at Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge.

Early “riser” outside the window at Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge.

“We had polar bears posing for us in all kinds of situations. We brought a big lens but the bears were so close we could easily have taken many pictures with our mobile phone and they still would have been awesome. The big advantage of the lodge is that the polar bears (and many other animals) come really close and even if you are not very much into hiking you can still see them right from the comfort of the lodge.” ~ Renard, Antwerp, Belgium

A trip to Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge Lodge means guests will see polar bears like no one on a Churchill town-only package can.

“It was an absolutely awesome experience. We chose this tour operator because we liked the hiking aspect of the trip. The trip includes one tundra buggy day where you do see a lot of polar bears from the vehicle. But walking with polar bears brings your arctic safari adventure to a whole new level.” ~ Werner, Zurich, Switzerland