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.
- 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!
- Also Known As:
- Churchill Wild - Seal River Heritage Hotel Churchill