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An Arctic Adventure
Seeking the #adventure of a lifetime, we found it in #Churchill #Canada. Not far from the #arcticcircle, it was a myriad of cold weather activities, and the perfect place to post up and look for #polarbears. We found the bears and much more, including dozens of different types of cute animals. #nature.
There’s not a single road leading into Churchill, a tiny arctic outpost at the tip top of Manitoba, Canada. Then again, what else would you expect from the “Polar Bear Capital of the World?” I had been told that if you wanted to see arctic wildlife at its finest, including the adorable arctic fox, beluga whales, a ridiculous number of birds, fluffy snowy owls, and of course, the namesake polar bear, it’s best to head up north to charming Churchill.
What else could you expect from the “Polar Bear Capital of the World?”
Given the lack of roads in Churchill, most people start in Winnipeg, and I thought our stay there would just be a jumping off point, but we camped out at the Victoria Inn Hotel, and actually enjoyed several long days, jumping from restaurant to bar and back again to keep out of the cold.
Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre Winnipeg
Peshtigo River Whitewater Rafting
Guided Canoe & Kayak Trip on Lake Flambeau
It’s the only time I’ve ever been out at night while everyone was wearing snow boots. When it was time to make our way to Churchill, we only had two options: a 48 hour, 1,000 mile train ride north, which was absolutely not happening, or fly via Calm Air, an ironic name for a small airline offering such an exhilarating experience.
We finally arrived in Churchill to begin our fun with Frontiers North Adventures...whose Tundra Buggy Day Tour was the main reason for our time in Canada. Our group met our guide, who was energetic and very knowledgeable about the area. They kept saying how excited they were to take us into their backyards and how your first polar bear sighting is known to have a real effect on people.
Tundra Buggy Day Tours
Whistler Zipline Tours
Kayaking on the Grand River in Ontario
Back out in the cold, we climbed into the Tundra Buggy (essentially a school bus with massive wheels) and slowly pulled out over the ice. Everyone was bundled up in layers and the Buggy was heated, but I was much happier standing on the back deck and having the icy air chill my ears while we rode over the snow and ice. I’m a winter lover, so this was right up my alley. Even though the main attraction was the bears, our hawk-eyed guides spotted several other Arctic animals for us to fawn over: adorable foxes, wooly owls, hyperactive arctic hares, and even seals!
Despite being bound for the bear hot spots, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel when I saw my first polar bear. Would I be scared, knowing how powerful they are? Would I go all girly and oooh and awww over how cute they are, especially if there were cubs involved? Before I could think much further, we came to a stop on the ice. Our guide called out that a bear was coming our way. Our whole group poured out of the windows and out on the back deck and waited. All the thinking I did just didn’t prepare me for the first sighting, when I honestly stopped thinking altogether. The crowd went silent and watched this curious creature jump up (rocking the bus!) and put his huge paws seemingly inches from our faces. All I could really do was laugh, they were just so gorgeous in person. We all agreed that looking into the bear’s eyes - as cheesy as this sounds - we felt an almost human connection. Plus, it really seemed that he was just as curious about us as we were about him.
Looking into the bear's eyes ... we felt an almost human connection. Plus, it really seemed that he was just as curious about us as we were about him.
After what seemed like hours, but was really only a few minutes, the bear wandered off, I couldn’t get over the fact that this was just our first sighting! We still had the entire day left. Since we were in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, which is well known as the best place to see polar bears in the wild, I was fairly sure we’d have another opportunity to get up close and personal. Our guides were familiar with the area, and we found another bear fairly quickly. These guys didn’t seem as interested in getting to know us, so we watched from a distance. The two bears had to be siblings because all they did was pick on each other. One bear would be calmly strolling over the ice and the other would come and paw at him, they’d stand on their hind legs and take some playful swipes at each other. No one in our entire Buggy could believe our eyes, we were so enamoured watching the bears wrestle and roll around on the snow. I was glad everyone on the Buggy was willing to trade photos because I was so entranced, I put my camera down (which is a very big deal!).
After spending the entire day in Churchill, we headed back down to Winnipeg. Too fired up to sleep and struggling to describe our days spent in the Arctic, I spent a lot of time thinking about how the wilderness is always around you, miles and miles of blinding snow and crisp air. Even at night when we’d run in and out of our hotel, trying to get a Northern Lights sighting, it felt very much like the end of the world.
Even at night when we'd run in and out of our hotel, trying to get a Northern Lights sighting, it felt very much like the end of the world.
I would stare up at the stars and imagine the explorers coming out here and seeing this and just knowing they were at the edge of Earth and this was it, there wasn’t anything further to see.