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“Unique experience - you can't get any closer!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Seal River Heritage Lodge

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Seal River Heritage Lodge
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P.O. Box 79 | Kleefeld, Seal River, Manitoba R0A 0V0, Canada   |  
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Valkenswaard, The Netherlands
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Unique experience - you can't get any closer!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2011

First let me get one thing straight, if you are in doubt whether this is worth the money, YES it is!

Me and my boyfriend were looking into seeing the polar bears, and what better place is there then the Churchill area. By doing some research on the internet we were in a dilemma whether to go on a tundra buggy or to spend more money and do the Churchill Wild tour. We decided to do the latter and we’re so glad we did!
We saw 2 bears on their back paws, wresting, we saw polar bears rolling in the snow and even doing a head roll, we saw snow foxes annoying the bears and trying to eat everything they could find. And the best of all, in our bedroom we had a polar bear trying to eat his way in. We opened the window and could feel and hear him breathing. At one point he stood on his 2 back legs and put his front paws on our window!! That alone was worth the whole trip.

Some further information:
- You go hiking twice a day and will get really close to the bears. One bear had been visiting the compound for some weeks so they knew they could ‘trust’ him and let him pass by at only 5 meters or so. At first we weren’t sure whether our 400mm zoomlens would get us close enough, but they got so close we often had to switch to our 200 mm lens!
- The good thing is that you can take photos from a low point of view, so that the bears look as huge as they really are
- The bears are curious and will try to open the door of the lodge, this happened multiple times so we could take photos from the inside of the lodge and also from a distance towards the lodge. One bear also just lay down next to the fence!
- We had Dennis Fast (noted wildlife photographer) accompanying us while hiking. This was fantastic, he would help you out with your camera settings and would give photo-presentations during the evening. Try to go on the trip when he’s there!
- You will get the most delicious lunches and dinners, we loved it so much that we bought one of their cookbooks. Before dinner they serve appetizers and wine, which were just as good. The dining area is great, it has large windows which gives you the opportunity to still check out the wildlife while eating.
- The staff is incredible! Everybody wants to take your experience to the max. It’s one big family and even in the short period you are there, it feels like home.
- Because of the bad weather we had to wait for the airplane to take us to the lodge. Garry, a very friendly and knowledgeable fellow, took us on a tour through Churchill to kill some time and invited us over for some soup and muffins.

Some tips:
- Do not rent gear, but buy it. If you rent you will be on the last plane out to the lodge. If you decide, like us, to also do the dogsledding you will also be on the first plane back to Churchill which will mean you will lose time with the bears
- You can get a polar bear stamp in your passport in Churchill. Ask Garry!
- Ask for a room not facing the compound. You never know if a polar bear wants to pay you a visit
- Book one of the dates latest in the season to maximize snow. This is also important if you want to go dogsledding. If we would have gone earlier we wouldn’t have had enough snow to take the sled and should have gone by cart.
- Temperatures can drop quickly, but even at – 15 C we didn’t need our heatpacks. Make sure you layer your clothes!

So, all in all a fantastic experience that you wouldn’t want to miss!

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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76 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (19)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
UK
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2011

The word ” unique” is often used to describe travel experiences and all too often you are left disappointed as the reality often fails to live up to your expectations. Mike and Jeanie Reimer and the whole team at Seal River deliver an exceptional experience that allows you to observe Polar Bears up close and at eye level whilst staying in a lodge so comfortable that it is easy to forget just how remote this part of the world is.

We have just returned from their Polar Bear Photo Safari, which consisted of a daily program of morning and afternoon walks into the tundra with expert guides to the view and photograph the wildlife. Whilst the bears are the star attraction there was plenty of other wildlife to view including Artic Foxes, Snowy Owls, Ptarmigan. The walks were punctuated with meal times offering gourmet food of outstanding quality and variety. Each day was unique and ended with the hope of being called in the night to say the Northern Lights were performing.

If you did not want to walk on each trip the lodge offered a comfortable home from home to sit and relax. Viewing from the lodge is just as awesome as the walking, either from the large windows or from the fenced area behind the lodge as the wildlife passes by or comes right up to the fence to satisfy their curious nature. Words or pictures cannot really describe the thrill of being just feet away from a Polar Bear in its natural surroundings looking into its eyes, seeing its breath and only being separated from it by a wire fence.

Seal River Heritage Lodge, the Reimer family, staff and the bears are truly awesome and this has to be the only place to go to see Polar Bears.

Room Tip: They are all good rooms each with their own advantages. Those that face into the compound allow you...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Estero, Florida
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

I recently spent a week in the Seal River Lodge. My purpose was to photograph polar bears from a ground level perspective. It always amazes me when I travel to a remote place and have a five star experience. The lodge has done an excellent job of providing a comfortable environment, outstanding food and service and an outdoor wildlife experience. We were able to view polar bears and a several other wild things every day. There are fenced viewing areas so you can be outside but safe. The bears come right up to the fence. It is quite an experience to be a foot away from these magnificent animals, even though there is a fence. And then two times a day you take a hike into the tundra with very experienced guides. I felt safe the entire time.

Room Tip: This is a remote lodge. All the rooms are comfortable and similar. You don't spend much time i...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nottingham, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

Had the most amazing time of my life at the lodge, people were very friendly and helpful, food was lush, Polar Bears were the stars, every part of this trip was wonderful.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ashburn, Virginia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2011

Excellent way to see the Arctic. Staff and owners are great. Food is outstanding. Scenery can not be beat. Everyone associated with the lodge cares about making sure you have an enjoyable stay.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wynantskill, New York
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2011

My wife and I just returned from one of the most amazing trips we have been on. We had been wanting to view polar bears for some time, but were not sure that "Tundra Buggies" were the way we wanted to experience them.
Then we discovered Churchill Wild.
We decided to go on the Photo Safari because we wanted the most photo opportunities. My wife was a bit nervous as she shoots with a long zoom point and shoot, and was afraid she would feel intimidated by all the large zoom SLR's. We were assured by the staff we spoke to that that would not be the case, and they were right.
As for the lodge, it is remote but has all of the ammenities you need for this type of trip. The rooms were perfect size to spread out clothers and gear and the beds werevery comfortable. We were even able to watch the Northern Lights from our room window.
The food is nothing short of spectacular, with old family recipes made daily, along with homemade breads. If it weren't for the hiking, I am sure I would have gained 5-10 pounds.
Jeanne and Mike Reimer are the most hospitable of hosts, and they have a support staff (including many family members) who work flawlessly behind the scenes and in the kitchen.
Our guides were Andy and Tara, and they were knowledgeable, friendly and always had our safety as their priority. They could always read the group as well as the bears and made this a incredible viewing experience. We also met many like minded individuals and made many friends during our stay. The evening and meal-time conversations were always enlightening. Everyone, I am sure, came home with more knowledge than they arrived with.
As for the wildlife, we were able to see polar bears, ermine, arctic fox and more from inside the lodge, the fenced in compound, as well as on our twice daily hikes and came home with extraordinary photos.
Thank you Jeanne and Mike for making Churchill Wild the amazing place it is!

Room Tip: Ask for a room facing the compound if you do not want to go out at night to view the Northern Lights...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hudson Bay, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2011

In 1995, my wife Valerie and I canoed the Zambezi from Mana Pools to Mozambique. It changed me. I moved inexorably from writing fiction to writing about wildlife, a move that has rewarded me in every way you can imagine. Above all, it provided the excuse to see wildlife I never dreamed I would ever see, from Australian desert to the boreal forests of British Colombia, from the Sea of Cortez to the end of the road in far northern Maine. Yet in all that space and time nothing has ever had the impact of Africa - till now.
I went to Hudson Bay specifically for Polar Bears and Beluga Whales and I had more than a little anxiety about finding either; or rather, that I would not find them in a useful way. I write for a nationally distributed public radio program, with no travel or expense budget, and as a result every minute in the field has to count. In the 5 days I would be at Churchill Wild I was not at all convinced that I would even see a polar bear, or at least, not close enough to matter I carry both sound and camera gear and a lot of it. If the animals I am after are too far away the material is useless. And though I value my photographs for themselves, the main purpose of the camera is as a notebook for my writing - which makes it doubly important.
Suffice it say, I had nothing to worry about.
The plane, a DeHavalland Beaver out of Churchill is an adventure in itself. Fitted with large cargo-carrying pontoons, full up with gear and passengers, Ursula - our pilot - drives that buggy with what can only be described as finesse. She points the wing starboard, then port, giving what is for virtually all of us our first view of beluga whales, aligned in family groups, lazing and swimming in the comparatively warm waters of the mouth of the Churchill River, and then 50 KM northwest of there, the Seal River Estuary - our destination. The whales shine pure white against the water's arctic blue. On the way, one solitary polar bear, a huge male, looks up at us from a small sandbar. What he's doing there, exactly, is hard to say and I hope as we level out again that this first bear is the first and not the last one. Immediately on landing, reality sends all those worries packing.
The place is crawling with bears. Or rather, lumbering. Bears do indeed lumber. They swing and sway like elephants when they walk, consuming as little energy as possible, efficient in every sense. At the lodge they come touching close, and with such frequency the guides, Terry and Andy, know some of them by name. They have, these bears, a certain placidity. They do not grimace or hate stare like grizzlies. Nor do they ignore you. Rather, you have a sense of recognition and contact with an intelligence of some dimension. You suspect it at a distance, and feel certain when that intelligence is looking at you, without any fear, from only a few yards away.
If there is anything especially dangerous here it is that intelligent placidity; with nothing to fear - "top predator" takes on unique meaning at the top of the planet - why would they be upset or angry, with us? The desire to get closer (to a point that would surely be too close) is almost irresistible for both parties. Both humans and bears share a depth of curiosity that can lead a bear to lunch, and a human into trouble. Lucky for us, Terry and Andy and the staff of Churchill WIld know this, and they set wise limits. They have between them many a tale to tell about their encounters with polar bears, all worth hearing first hand. I won't be the spoiler.
As to the photographs, never thought I'd get shots like these. Just the bears walking by would have been enough. We were out on foot a number of times, and saw a sow with her cub, bears swimming, bears on rocks and in grasses and slumbering surrounded by the magenta flowers of fireweed in bloom. And then, there was the dead whale. A beluga had washed into One Bear Point and for almost the entire week polar bears came to feed. They were much more interested in the free eats than the low-fat diet one of us would have offered and as a result, we were able to get in quite close. The photographs (one of which I share here) tell the rest. Notwithstanding their bulging bellies, you always have the feeling there is room for one more morse. It supplies that immediacy which is the very definition of an Adventure.
As to the whales, most were luckier than their confrere. We went out in pontoon boats twice and both times there were belugas all around us. In the water, if you vocalize, the whales respond. One took my hand in his mouth, with great gentleness. Such extraordinary proximity must be experienced to be understood. They polled straight up in front of me, or swam alongside rolling to go eye to eye for a better look. Again, that sense of Contact, both a knowing and a mystery.
There is not room here to tell you everything I experienced. I've posted a good part of that and more photos to my blog at www.MarkSethLender.com.
I can say without reservation that Churchill Wild gifted me with one of the great wildlife experiences of my life. In these times when the arctic is under assault, it is more important than ever for you to visit. With first-hand experience you cannot help but become a de facto advocate for this precious place.

Room Tip: All the rooms I saw were great. Big tile bathroom in every room, plenty of hot water - which is nic...
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Seal River Heritage Lodge

Address: P.O. Box 79 | Kleefeld, Seal River, Manitoba R0A 0V0, Canada
Phone Number:
Location: Canada > Manitoba > Seal River
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Seal River
Number of rooms: 8
Also Known As:
Churchill Wild - Seal River Heritage Hotel Churchill

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