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Posts Tagged ‘polar bear lodge’

Hudson Bay helicopter ride a first for Churchill adventure travel specialist

by Doreen Booth, Adventure Travel Specialist, Churchill Wild

Hudson Bay Helicopter, Churchill, Manitoba

Julie, Jeff & Doreen. Ready. Set. Go! - Photo Credit: Terry Allen

This year I finally had the opportunity to join a group of our winter guests at Seal River Heritage Lodge. I was able to squeeze in on our last trip of the season – the Polar Bear Photo Safari!

I had a couple of guests, Julie and Jeff, looking to add something extra to their trip, and they had decided to charter a helicopter to the Lodge. When they found out I would be joining them on their departure, they very generously offered me the extra seat they had on their helicopter flight.

I have to admit, I’m a nervous flier, so I wasn’t sure what to say at first, but I didn’t know when an opportunity like this would come again. I accepted their offer with butterflies in my stomach and off I went!

November had come and gone quickly and before I knew it I was done organizing our winter season. My dinner presentations were complete and our final guests were on their way to the Lodge, so I headed up to Churchill for my “partial” holiday. When you’re part of the family, your work is never done.

I met up with Julie and Jeff in Churchill and we headed out to collect their winter gear before making our way to Hudson Bay Helicopters. I was feeling pretty good – a little nervous maybe – but totally excited! I didn’t want anyone to know how I was really feeling. Our pilot took our bags and gave us a rundown on the safety guidelines for the chopper, we buckled in, put on our headsets, and it was time to take flight!

The take off was surprisingly smooth. The winds were calm that day so we were in for a good 30-minute ride. We flew over the town of Churchill and headed up the coastline of Hudson Bay. It was amazing to see the sprawling tundra with a fresh coat of snow. I had forgotten how flat the land is up there.

Half way through the trip we flew over our Dymond Lake Lodge and noticed that some of the staff had ventured outside to wave to us. How nice! A short time later our pilot came on the headset and asked me where we should land at the polar bear lodge.

Doreen Booth, Adventure Travel Specialist, Churchill Wild

I wasn’t sure, so I told him to pick the best place he could find. He thought that would be right outside the front door of the Lodge! Needless to say, the staff didn’t have to bring out the luggage buggy to meet us. And the polar bears kept their distance!

A few months have gone by now and I’ve had time to think about that wonderful trip and the emotions I experienced while flying in a helicopter for the first time. I have to say it was an amazing experience and I would love to do it again.

Thanks again to my friends Julie and Jeff, for helping me check another item off my life’s to do list!

 

A hissing good Halloween Churchill Wild style

Polar bear stands at the window of Seal River Heritage Lodge.

I can seeee youuuu... Trick or Treat!

by Tara Ryan

A few good things to know:

  1. Polar bears have about 20 vocalizations – one of which is a hiss.
  2. In Churchill, Manitoba the trick or treating set are accompanied by gun-toting bear patrol enforcers.
  3. Wearing any white costumes (ghosts, brides… polar bears) is generally frowned upon (see gun toting bear patrol enforcers for rationale).
  4. Did I mention polar bears hiss when they are angry?

“Halloweening” in Churchill takes on a paramilitary edge as kids out trick or treating are shadowed by gun-wielding bear patrol officers. This is not unexpected.

Jack-O-Lantern of the North

Jack-O-Lantern of the North

Kids are used to the bear patrol presence year around but these patrols are especially heightened during the months of October and November, when the bears are starting to gather around the edges of the Bay in greater numbers awaiting the freeze up. There are other restrictions local kids must endure at this sugar-laden time of year – most importantly: “Thou shalt not dress in white; ghosts, brides and especially no polar bear costumes.”  This is polar bear central after all.

Being a polar bear guide working away from the bright lights of the ‘big city’ of Churchill (about 60 miles north)  in the remote Churchill Wild Polar Bear Lodge at Seal River, my fellow guide (Andrew MacPherson) decided to try his luck at bucking this long-standing no-white for Halloween northern tradition.

For October 31 we came as “problem bears” – me as a garbage addicted grizzly bear and Andy as a bear from the old ‘polar bear jail’ days (when they  used to dart the bears and then spray paint numbers on them to keep track of repeat offenders).  While putting the finishing touches on our costumes, we began to hear a shushing/hissing noise from outside – not unlike the air being forced out of a tire with a puncture.

Halloween-costumed hissers at Churchill Wild

Hisssssss....!

Andy was silhouetted in one of the many bedroom windows looking out over the tundra. He was stunning in his white long johns appropriately padded with pillows for a fat bottom, a white fuzzy hat with ears, and matching gloves and claws.

The fall light had dimmed the immediate surroundings outside to near black. A ghostly movement accompanied by continued agitated hissing – and a nose print on the window – finally clued us in. There was a very annoyed polar bear outside our window that was letting the ‘polar bear’ on the inside know in no uncertain terms – that his presence was not welcome.

Andy hissed back.

Only at Churchill Wild!

Four days at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge – A Guide’s Diary

Polar bear yawning with cub Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge

A yawn, a growl and a pleasant good morning to you too!

by Nolan Booth

There were three big polar bears hanging around Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge on the first day, one you could see from the Lodge. A mix of honkers and snow geese were buzzing the coast on and off all day. The numbers were low but it was still early. A mother black bear with three cubs showed up just outside the compound this afternoon while the guests were out “playing” with the white bears.

We have a small group of people for this trip and all are really getting along well with each other. Now all settled in and excited about the early bear sightings. Guest expectations were met right off the bat.

Had some good polar sighting bear sightings over the next two days and the guests got within 30 feet of a wicked black wolf. It was slower trying to travel east against a high tide and lots of water. Dinner was a little less formal than at Seal River Heritage Lodge as per guest recommendations and also the Aussies kept trying to clear the table etc. Everyone enjoyed the York Factory DVD.

Arctic wolves at Nanuk

Arctic wolves at Nanuk

The final day of the trip started off with a bang, literally! Lying in bed after the alarm went off I was woken up by a Kapow! That made me jump, and the screamer that followed it had me out the door in seconds to see one of our guides, Andy, backing off a big polar bear that had charged the fence. The bear backed off and we started getting the guests moving, but they certainly didn’t need much encouragement after that!

The big bear stayed with us, circling, hissing, and showing us how thrilled he was with Andy. He walked the entire way around from the kitchen to the runway. He then laid around for awhile before heading towards Hudson Bay to wake up another old timer for an argument followed by a morning mud bath. There was a wolf running east on the coast. All the guests spotted him, then another and another, five arctic wolves in total. Then the horseshoe jokes started.

It was a great way to end the trip!

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge season begins!

King polar bear surveys his domain.

King polar bear surveys his domain at Nanuk.

Churchill Wild has been the premier eco-outfitter in Northern Manitoba for over 40 years, but we’re always excited when polar bear watching season begins at our Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, the only tourist camp along a 100-mile stretch of Hudson Bay coastline in Northern Manitoba, Canada.

One of the most pristine wilderness areas left in the world, it hasn’t changed in thousands of years. And we promise that you won’t find a better place, anywhere in the world, for close encounters with polar bears.

Read Reviews of Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge at TripAdvisor.com

When the ice breaks up in June, the polar bears move ashore. During the summer months they socialize and prowl the shoreline, restlessly waiting for the ice to return. Many of these bears spend their summers within a few miles of our Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge. During an average season up to 400 bears pass by the Lodge.

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge arrival day!

A gorgeous day at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge!

What makes this population of polar bears so unique is the high concentration of mother bears and cubs. At Nanuk, our guests will encounter polar bears, and often these will be mothers with their offspring. Many of these bears have never seen a person before, and they have the calm demeanor of bears that have not learned to fear people.

Guests who visit Nanuk count themselves among a small group of lucky individuals who have seen these majestic animals up close, undisturbed. These are not habituated “Park bears” or hunted bears that run at the sight of humans.

“We have already been in many nature places in this world. We have seen the lions in Africa; the tigers in India; the grizzlies in Alaska; orangutans in Borneo; the penguins in the Antarctic; but one of the most beautiful places is Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge with their many polar bears. We were overwhelmed to experience so many, so close. We thank the entire staff who made these special days a wonderful experience.” – Marlies & Hartmut Thierfelder and Marlies & Siegfried Neubüser, Hamburg, Germany

Polar bears everywhere! Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, Manitoba, Canada

Polar bears everywhere!

These are pure, wild polar bears living the way they have lived since time began.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about this year’s trip to Nanuk. If you would like more information about Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge please call us at: 1.204.377.5090 or Toll Free at:1.866.846.9453. You can also e-mail us at: info@churchillwild.com.

We would love to hear from you and…

Wish you were here!

Would you like Red or White wine with your Polar Bear – watching?

Polar bear shops for wine at Banville & Jones Wine Co. to celebrate Food Day Canada 2011

Polar bear shopping at Banville & Jones Wine Co. in Winnipeg

Churchill Wild has partnered with Banville & Jones Wine Co. to celebrate Food Day Canada 2011 on July 30 with a wine pairing event at their remote Seal River Heritage Lodge on the coast of Hudson Bay.

“It’s an honor to partner with Churchill Wild for Food Day Canada,” said Jill Kwiatkoski, Assistant Buyer/Manager at Banville & Jones.

“They are using beautiful, clean, fresh food that pairs perfectly with the Canadian-themed wines. The wines for the event are produced by smaller Artisan style wine-producers from B.C. and Ontario, and are very eco-friendly, which fits perfectly with Churchill Wild’s philosophy. It’s an amazing menu with stunning Canadian wines.”

Churchill Wild participated in Food Day Canada 2010 and is proud to be back this year with partner Banville & Jones. Five different red and white wines will be served with a five-course meal prepared from the award-winning Canadian cookbook series Blueberries and Polar Bears.

“These are unique and exceptional Canadian wines,” said Rick Kemp, Director of Marketing & Communications for Churchill Wild.”We’re excited about partnering with Banville & Jones for Food Day Canada this year. It was a hit with guests who were with us last year for the Birds, Bears & Belugas adventure and we expect it to be even better this year with Banville & Jones and Jeanne’s new gourmet kitchen.”

New Polar Bear Viewing Observatory/Dining Room at Seal River Lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast near Churchill, Manitoba

Seal River Lodge

Churchill Wild, which owns and operates Canada’s premier remote polar bear lodges for viewing polar bears in their true environment, hauled materials over the Hudson Bay sea ice this spring to build the new kitchen at Seal River Heritage Lodge. A new dining room with huge picture windows overlooking Hudson Bay was built last year, and the new kitchen this year complements it perfectly, offering spectacular polar bear viewing – sometimes even while eating dinner!

You can keep up with Churchill Wild happenings through their Newsletter or even better, by socializing with them on Facebook. It’s a rare and special feeling to watch the world’s largest land carnivore up close and personal in their natural environment, and these great white bears will soon be included in the Species at Risk Act.

Banville & Jones Wine Co. was founded in 1999 by sisters, Lia Banville and Tina Jones. The Tuscan-inspired wine boutique features all the best elements of a world-class wine store, with over 3000 sku’s of wine, gifts and gourmet items from around the world. Banville & Jones is the largest private wine seller in Manitoba, and has been named among the top 50 wine retailers in Canada by Wine Access magazine.

New Dining Room and Kitchen at Seal River Lodge

New Dining Room and Kitchen at Seal River Lodge

Dedicated to wine education and the enjoyment of wine in an elegant and approachable atmosphere, Banville and Jones offers numerous in-store events including cooking classes, wine tastings and seminars and produces a magazine, a newsletter and a wine blog. They are also very active online. To learn more about Banville and Jones Wine Co. worldwide or in Winnipeg, please visit their Web site at: http://www.banvilleandjones.com or check them out on Facebook.

Food Day Canada is all about Canada – Canadian producers, chefs, restaurants and you, with local ingredients from backyards to fields to fresh clean northern waters. The largest food-related event in the country, Food Day Canada was founded by renowned culinary activist, educator, and writer Anita Stewart.

Now in its eleventh year, Food Day Canada honors establishments, restaurants an individuals who best exemplify the philosophy of “local, regional, seasonal” by presenting awards in several unique categories.

Churchill Polar Bear Yawning on Hudson Bay Coast near Seal River

Waiter... more wine please...

Numerous restaurants across Canada will be involved in the Food Day Canada celebration, and bronze, silver, and gold awards sponsored by leaders in the Canadian food industry will be presented for exemplary skill, creativity and conscientiousness.

For additional information about participating restaurants, partners, recipes, award-winners and more please visit the Food Day Canada Web site at www.FoodDay.ca

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