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Posts Tagged ‘polar bear viewing’

New Arctic Safari adventure features Walks with Polar Bears, Caribou Migration Fly-Overs and more…

Arctic Safari

Churchill Wild is proud to announce their most ambitious adventure to date: the Arctic Safari!

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.

The Arctic Safari will explore vast areas of Canada’s last remaining wilderness, from the Arctic “Serengeti” the great tundra plains known as The Barren Lands, through “The Land of Little Sticks” and finally down to the rugged Hudson Bay coastline, home of the Great White Bears.

Walking with polar bears

In the land of the polar bears

The adventure begins in the frontier town of Churchill, Manitoba, Can ada – the Polar Bear Capital of the World – where guests will spend their first night and have time to take in the town sites, shops, historical points of interest, and hopefully snap a few shots.

The next morning guests will board the great Canadian bush plane, the deHaviland Beaver, and wing their way north-west to the finest Arctic Eco-Lodge on the planet, the remote Seal River Heritage Lodge – Churchill Wild’s polar bear viewing Lodge on the Hudson Bay coast.

Upon arrival, guests will meet their hosts, check into their private rooms, prep their camera gear and receive an orientation from the guides before heading out on to the tundra for one of Churchill Wild’s signature polar bear walks!

Caribou on tundra

Caribou surveys his arctic domain

Up close, personal and safe.

During their stay at the remote polar bear lodge, guests will participate in a full-day fly-out to witness the fall caribou migrations on the northern border between Nunavut and Manitoba, from the air and on the ground. 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.

At Schmock Lake, where the Caribou experience originates, there is excellent hiking terrain consisting of high ground, climbing hills and rock ridges. The ground is untouched and there are only caribou trails.

Arctic Wolf

Big wolf relaxing

“What makes this opportunity possible for Churchill Wild guests is the ‘on the ground’ nature of our adventures”, said Reimer. “We walk with polar bears. Our eye-level experiences with these magnificent creatures have become a Churchill Wild trademark.”

Seal River Heritage Lodge is already home to Churchill Wild’s popular Birds, Bears & Belugas and Polar Bear Photo Safari adventures. The Lodge features a 1400 square foot dining room overlooking Hudson Bay, private bedrooms with ensuite washrooms, Internet connectivity and all the comforts of home.

Churchill Wild offers the only fly-in eco-lodge based polar bear experiences in the world.

polar bear on arctic tundra

Polar bear at sunrise on the tundra

Their season runs from mid-July to mid November with limited space available for adventure packages. In addition to Seal River Heritage Lodge, Churchill Wild also operates Dymond Lake Eco-Lodge on the west coast of Hudson Bay, and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, which is located approximately 30 kilometers east of York Factory on the southern tip of Wapusk National Park.

For more information on the new Arctic Safari and other adventures please visit ChurchillWild.com, call 1 (204) 377-5090 or e-mail info@churchillwild.com.

Walking with polar bears… in the summer? Perhaps our guests say it best! What’s on your bucket list?

Polar bear in fireweed sticking tongue out

Why is this polar bear sticking his tongue out? Photo Credit: Michael Poliza

Our Birds, Bears & Belugas summer polar bear trip has become a hot ticket item among bucket-listers, especially at the trade shows we’ve been attending. That’s understandable. After all, where else in the world can you actually walk on the tundra with polar bears?

Our remote location north of Churchill, Manitoba on the coast of Hudson Bay is part of a vast coastal polar bear waiting room,  where the bears dream away the summer while they wait for the sea ice (their personal hunting ground) to return. Bears saunter by our Seal River Lodge on a daily basis, providing fabulous polar bear viewing, photography and video opportunities. They often come right up to the lodge windows and the front door! The scent of the gourmet meals at Seal River Lodge is probably part of the reason they visit so consistently, but we don’t feed them.

And if the polar bears are not in our back yard, peering in the lodge windows or lazing around the front door, we’re out on the tundra looking for them. And we do find them!

Beluga Whales on Hudson Bay - Michael Poliza Photo

Beluga Whales on Hudson Bay - Photo Credit: Michael Poliza

We’ve got beluga whales here too, and as weather permits we’re out on Hudson Bay in the Zodiaks jumping into the water and snorkeling with these ghostly white creatures. The polar bears, like the people, are interested in the belugas too (though for slightly different reasons) and we’ve actually seen them hunting beluga whales from the coastal rocks.

This isn’t polar bear watching from a buggy, this is on the ground viewing up close and personal. With gourmet meals in a remote fly-in polar bear lodge that would be considered luxurious by arctic standards. You have to be a bit of an adventurer to enjoy it, but that’s precisely why Birds, Bears & Belugas is making it on to so many bucket lists.

Perhaps our guests tell it best…

Recent Testimonials

Polar bear observing hikers

Who is that in the background? Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

We had outstanding up-close-and-personal access to polar bears and belugas that we would never have dreamed possible. We felt we were visitors in the bears’ home (rather than being at a zoo where humans are in control), yet we always felt safe. — Kerrie

There is NOTHING like walking amongst the top predator of North America that makes you acutely alive! The appreciation for every nuance of a glance or shuffle increased my awareness 100-fold. And to swim with belugas too??? Incredible, and unbelievable! Magic is an overused word, but it was indeed magic. I am so thankful I got to experience it all! — Leslie

Hosts Mike & Jeanne Reimer and their top-notch crew hosted us like family, feasted us like royalty and sent us home shaking our heads and still wondering, “was that for real?”  There is simply no wildlife viewing experience that tops this in North American, and probably in the world.  Just how close do you get?  While filming a bear that came up to greet me through their lodge’s observation fence, I smelt his hot breath.  And while hiking the tundra, our guides often determined that it was safe for us to get within a 100 feet of them. — Paul Schurke, Great Northern Adventure Blog

More from TripAdvisor.com

Polar bear saunters by hikers at Seal River Lodge

Polar bear saunters by hikers at Seal River Lodge. Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

My family and I have recently returned from Canada and we had an amazing six days at The Seal River Heritage Lodge. It is a remote lodge which you reach by float plane from Churchill. We saw lots of polar bears and had an amazing experience swimming with beluga whales in the Hudson Bay – a once in a lifetime experience. The lodge was very comfortable and had great views out onto the Hudson Bay and the food was superb. The guides were amazingly knowledgeable about the local wildlife and were so welcoming with our 2 children aged 11 and 12. Our daughter made a plaster cast of wolf prints, which she was able to bring home. Great experience would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.  If you go, say hello to the belugas and polar bears for me. — Mrs. M. Smith

The reason I chose Churchill Wild over all other Churchill tours was the fact you go out hiking in bear country… Unbelievable! — Irish Captain

I am a wildlife photographer and have traveled to all seven continents pursuing great photographs of earth’s most amazing creatures. Polar bears were right at the top of my “amazing creature” list, of course, so finding the right venue to photograph them was of major importance. It’s important to note that I am somewhat tough to please regarding photographic opportunities. So, where do I go and how do I get close to the bears with unobstructed views in a safe environment? Polar bears do have a reputation, you know. OK, there are the tundra buggies out of Churchill. Do I want to spend all day in a crowded vehicle and then photograph bears from 12 ft. above them? Then, what about Norway? Do I want to attempt to view the bears from a long distance aboard a ship around Spitzbergen with the possibility of not even seeing a bear? For me, the clear answer to these questions was a resounding “no”. — Larry G. Kinney

A big thank you to Dennis Fast and Michael Poliza for many of the photos in the above gallery!

For help in taking Birds, Bears & Belugas summer polar bear watching off your bucket list, call Churchill Wild Toll Free at  1.866.UGO.WILD (846-9453) or 1.204.377.5090. You can also e-mail us at info@churchillwild.com.

Churchill Wild’s remote polar bear lodges featured in Financial Post as one of Canada’s elite adventure vacation destinations

Polar bear in fireweed at Seal River Lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast near Churchill

Polar bear in fireweed - Photo Credit: Dennis Fast

Churchill Wild’s remote polar bear ecolodges on the Hudson Bay Coast were featured in the Financial Post as “the” cool adventure vacation spots for viewing polar bears, swimming with beluga whales and enjoying culinary delights! The article, entitled, At their leisure,  also talks about where people are spending their money on holidays and includes vacation ideas from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

Below are a few excerpts of what the Financial Post had to say about Churchill Wild.

“Roughing it in style is the vacation trend du jour. At the Seal River Heritage eco-lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast, Manitoba’s happy few explore the depths of nature by day in one of the planet’s most rugged environments. Then it’s nice nights with gourmet fare and proper drinks in a chic wilderness outpost.”

“It takes time – and money – to get there. After a flight to Churchill, it’s a 30-minute transfer by Turbo beaver float plane to the 12-room hand-made lodge completely lost in the tundra. Remote yes, but animal-wise, this is where the action is. Stalk polar bears near the Seal River estuary or swim or snorkel with the belugas, then come back to the lodge to embark on a culinary adventure.”

“The gourmet fare prepared by Helen Webber, matriarch of the foodie family who own the lodge, makes the 100-mile diet seem so south of the 49th parallel. Almond-crusted lake trout, slow-roasted barbeque caribou sandwiches and cranberry cake with warm butter sauce, are examples of her dinners sourced from within walking distance. Guests have been so impressed with the food that they insisted Ms. Webber do a cookbook. Her Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbook was the first of what would become a series and a Canadian bestseller.”

Read full article…

Churchill Wild polar bear tours featured in The Dallas Morning News

Polar bear outside Seal River Lodge on Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba

Polar bear outside new dining room at Seal River Lodge

Below is an excerpt from a story which originally appeared in the July 28, 2010 issue of The Dallas Morning News. It was written by Glen Petrie, a freelance writer from Canada.

Guests mingle with polar bears at Seal River Heritage Lodge in Canada

CHURCHILL, Manitoba – I see my first polar bear from a distance of 300 feet – straight down. Close-up views of polar bears in the wild are common at the Seal River Heritage Lodge in Churchill, Manitoba.

We’re flying so low that every willow branch on the marshy shores of Hudson Bay is clearly visible, and Nelson the pilot is excitedly pointing. “There!”

He rolls the turbo Beaver into a sudden 30-degree bank and the sky is replaced by a blur of passing bush. Strapped into the co-pilot’s seat, I struggle against gravity to follow his jabbing finger. We’re spiraling to earth; I search for the bear but my eyes keep darting back to the altimeter. In the back, I glimpse ashen passengers with their arms braced against the fuselage.

The bear zips past – a ball of white like arctic cotton grass – and is gone. Nelson changes course, and my stomach pulls in the opposite direction, the horizon rolling to a crazy new angle. Nelson is pointing past my nose. “There, there! See him?” The bear looks up.

This kind of impromptu sightseeing goes on for the entire 30-minute flight from Churchill, serving up six polar bears and two moose, until a lonely wooden lodge appears on the rocky shore. There are two buildings, one with solar panels. There is a scar that turns out to be a dirt airstrip.

Seal River Heritage Lodge is a fly-in outpost amid one of the world’s major polar bear populations, run by husband- and-wife team Mike and Jeanne Reimer as part of their tour company, Churchill Wild. Unlike the well-known tundra tours on the outskirts of town that use supersize buses on giant wheels, in which even sticking your arm outside is forbidden, Seal River gives animal lovers the chance to walk among wild polar bears in their native habitat.

But there are rules… Read the full story at The Dallas Morning News

Spectacular new polar bear watching observatory/dining room on Hudson Bay Coast offers picture window polar bear viewing

Polar Bear Viewing Observatory Dining Room on Hudson Bay

New polar bear viewing observatory/dining room on Hudson Bay Coast near Seal River and Churchill

Churchill Wild has a spectacular new dining observatory at their Seal River Polar Bear Eco-Lodge on the Hudson Bay coast.

The new dining room has become so popular with guests viewing polar bears from its 12 huge picture windows that the staff has had to shoo them out just so they can have a moment to clean up after dinner! Polar bear watching from this gorgeous timber frame structure – the first of its kind in Arctic Canada – has had the kudos flying and the cameras snapbuzzing.

The dining observatory project was in the planning/discussing/daydreaming stage for a couple of years before material was finally ordered in the spring of 2009. The huge white pine beams were all cut from second-growth sustainable forest in Northern Ontario, the closest source we could find to minimize our transportation impact. The bulk of the materials were purchased from a local supplier in Churchill, continuing Churchill Wild’s commitment to supporting the northern communities in which we live and operate from.

In January 2010 the project materials, tools and supplies were collected and shipped via train to Churchill. In March a team of intrepid explorer types headed into Seal River to get the Cat Train going, which in itself is quite an undertaking in -30 to -40 degrees Celsius!

A Cat Train consists of a Caterpillar Bulldozer, in this case a 1962 D6, pulling one or more sleighs loaded with building materials over the sea ice of Hudson Bay. Books could be written about winter freighting in the Canadian Arctic, and certainly this year’s adventures would have been fodder for another chapter. Stuart and Yvan and crew hauled in nearly 60,000 kilos of lumber, windows, roofing, cement etc. in 2 trips averaging 30 hours of travel per run – one way. Good thing we take the guests in by air, 20 minutes!

Polar bear in grass outside new dining room at Seal River Lodge on Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba

Polar bear supervising construction of dining room

June was “hit the ground running” time and the construction crew of Len, Yvan, Real, Riley, Ryan, Kyle, and George did so in a big way. Thank goodness Elaine was there working her magic in the kitchen to keep all the hard working guys fed.

Construction started on June 5 and by the end of the first day the boys had half the old dining room torn off the east end of the lodge. Many long days followed and exactly 30 days later the crew had completed the new dining room and kitchen area, put a beautiful new roof over the entire lodge, renovated a bedroom, installed new electrical and plumbing systems and replaced the bear proof fence!!

Owners Mike and Jeanne Reimer are still overwhelmed at what these guys put together in those 30 days.

Thank You Team Seal 2010!