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Frontiers North Adventures' Tundra Buggy Lodge
Reviewed November 5, 2012

When you see all the investments in the Buggies and the lodges you understand the relative high price of this adventure tour to see polarbaers waiting for the food.perfect organization from the beginning of the tour by train in Winnipeg to Churchill. Bus driver and buggy driver are well prepared and know what they are doing! This is a special place at this time, because it is te route of the bears since ever to wait of the freezing of the Hudson Bay, so they can start hunting seal again.the tundra buggy is a save transport directly on the point. The cabins are fine,with the exception of the noise all night long of the water pump.
Kitchen service is very good, under the circumstances of the tiny kitchen place for the chief.
This is a trip you will long remember! What a great contact with nature without disturbing the animals.

Room Tip: Not so close to the showers/toilets, pumps are working all night long.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Puffinman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tundra12, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Frontiers North Adventures' Tundra Buggy Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 3, 2013

Hi Puffinman,

Thank you very much for your review (and I apologize for the delay in responding). I'm glad that you enjoyed your stay at the Tundra Buggy Lodge and that you enjoyed your experience with our Buggy Driver - we are incredibly lucky to have such wonderful employees and we know it!

We'll keep in mind your note about the water pumps and see what we can do to lessen the noise in those bunks. Thanks for your feedback!

Brandi
Marketing & Communications
Frontiers North Adventures

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48 - 54 of 67 reviews

Reviewed October 30, 2012

Stayed here for two nights, Oct 22-23, with a Frontiers North tour. (For full tour report, see Churchill forum post.) We wanted to stay on the tundra to take advantage of early morning and night-time viewings. Although we were early in the season, we were not disappointed. The lodge is actually a string of what I think of as stretch tundra buggies. There are two cars with bunks (sleeping 18-20), with 3 bathrooms apiece and 2 showers (one of which wasn't working when we were there).The toilets flush, and the shower rooms (which included a toilet) were clean and roomy. Hudson Bay is steps away. Getting there is a slow slog in one of the giant Tundra Buggies, as the terrain (at this time of year) is bumpy, watery, uneven, and difficult to maneuver. Our driver, Bob, was terrific. He had been doing this for 11 seasons and drove this thing like it was a Hummer. Once you are on the Tundra Buggy, your feet never touch the ground (bears, remember?). You walk across a metal deck to connect directly with the lodge. The sleeping cars were very new when we were there and smelled like cedar chests. Each bunk is cozy, with a shelf and window (and window ledge), plus a hook and reading light. The beds are comfy, and you are given one large and one small towel (which you need to hang on the hook to dry, as they are yours for the two-day stay). Suitcases go under the bunks (I recommend a soft sided suitcase or duffel bag). If you are traveling by yourself, keep in mind that there most likely will be a stranger sleeping above you. However, there are privacy curtains for each individual bunk, as well as one for the two bunks together. Be sure to bring earplugs, as there are no doors. And an eye mask, if light bothers you. The outside of the lodge is lit all night, and your private window has no shade. There is a viewing platform at the end of the last sleeping car, and metal walkways between the cars, all with high railings. The floor of the cars (and therefore, the connecting walkways) are several feet above the bears' heads. You can see them, and they can see you, but they can't get to you. And they would if they could. Mostly curiosity, but then they are hungry at this time of year. We had at least one bear (each day a different one) hanging around the lodge. They are curious and bored. They will stand up and try to climb. Very entertaining to watch. The lodge provides a hearty breakfast in the morning (7 a.m.; out on the tundra by 8 a.m.), cooked by a very talented chef and sous-chef. All dietary requirements are met. Lunch is provided when you are out exploring in a Tundra Buggy and consisted of very hearty soup and a generous deli spread. Also a sweet treat, homemade at the lodge. At night, upon returning from your tundra adventure, there is boxed wine in the lounge and hors d'oeuvres. Dinner was excellent. One night we had homemade chicken pot pie with fresh veggies and salad; the next we had arctic char (which, unlike another reviewer), we enjoyed greatly. One night we had a presentation by a researcher from Polar Bears International, with whom Frontiers North works very closely. One night there were Northern Lights, and the buggy driver told everyone to pile in (at about 9:30 p.m.), and he took us out on the tundra, away from the lights of the lodge, to watch the sky. We stayed out there for about an hour (with OK Northern Lights), bundled in parkas over our pajamas. When we got back to the lodge, the sky started to get brighter and more active. Standing out there watching the sky was super. But when I went back to my little bunk, I could look out my window and see a private performance. Everything you see on the tundra depends on weather and circumstance, but we had one perfect day. At least 50% of what we saw was before or after the hours that a normal tundra tour would have been there. Our tour was quite full, with 38 people, so we had a sense of how crowded it would be. Although with this size group, 6 people have to dine outside the main dining car, they are served first. Didn't seem to be a problem getting volunteers. Bathrooms were rarely a problem, because in total, there were 6. Showers were kept short, but you might have to wait 10 minutes. We saw lots of bears from the lodge itself, including 3 the first night. They will come right up and walk under where you are standing. The second day, the weather was crummy, and the most fun we had was watching a bear try to climb up one of the struts under the lodge. There are lots of wonderful bear photos posted for this property already, but I have included some showing the tundra without snow. Prices are lower if you go in October instead of November. You are likely to see fewer bears, without the snow-covered ground. But it turns out, the tundra is quite beautiful. Good contrast for photos against the white bears, and it shows off the blue and green colors of the bay and small lakes. We really enjoyed the visit. If budget had permitted, we would have loved to have stayed a couple more nights. But we were very pleased with accommodations, considering they have to roll them out each season. BTW, photos uploaded in random order, so the photos showing the bear climbing on the car are spread around.

Room Tip: Recommend an upper bunk if you are traveling by yourself and capable of climbing a few steps, otherw...
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Travelfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tundra12, Marketing Coordinator at Frontiers North Adventures' Tundra Buggy Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded October 31, 2012

Thanks for your review of the Tundra Buggy Lodge. We're glad that you enjoyed yourself and that you took so many wonderful pictures (an owl AND a fox? That is incredible!).

We're glad that you included so much information in your review - often travellers don't know what to expect when they visit the lodge for the first time, so this will definitely help people to understand what the lodge is all about. We're also glad that you enjoyed Elsa's cooking - she is a new addition to the team this year and has been getting rave reviews.

We hope you come back to visit Churchill again in the future!

Sincerely,
Tundra Buggy Lodge

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Reviewed March 30, 2012

The bears are wonderful! They were everywhere! We saw young males as they jawwed and sparred or simply slept in the distance and just feet from our Tundra Buggy. Our Frontiers North driver and naturalist were exceptionally knowledgeable about the tundra as well as the animals. Polar Bears Internatonal gave in-depth presentations to our group. The meals that came out of the kitchen at the lodge were amazing. A hearty breakfast & dinner were served at the lodge. Lunch, including a steaming pot of homemade soup, was eaten on the buggy each day. I was with one of the last groups to stay in the old lodge. It was a bit cramped, but it didn't hamper the sheer joy of experiencing these majectic polar giants on their tundra. The lodge is pricey, but it is worth every penny. Daytrippers from Churchill arrive about 10:30. Visitors at the Frontiers North Tundra Buggy Lodge are on the tundra at sunrise and don't return to the lodge until sunset. Opportunities for photographs are far more varied with the variety of lighting that occurs over the course of the day. I had extensively researched this trip before I traveled. What sold me on Frontiers North over Great White Bear/Natural Habitats was the fact that we had full days with the bears on the buggy. The other lodge goes out for 1/2 day explorations, returns to the lodge for lunch, and does another 1/2 day trip with the remainer of their people. I was not disappointed with my decision.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled solo
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7  Thank Patty S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tundra12, Communications & Marketing Coordinator at Frontiers North Adventures' Tundra Buggy Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 25, 2012

Thank you so much for your review of the Tundra Buggy Lodge this past March (and I apologize for the delay in responding to your review). We're glad to hear that you enjoyed your time with us and we hope to see you again in Churchill in the future!

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Reviewed December 17, 2011

I didn't realize that there are two Tundra Lodges when I booked my trip with Natural Habitat. I read the reviews for Tundra Buggy Lodge and thought I knew what to expect. However, NatHab uses the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge. I was pleasantly surprised to find small private cabins instead of a bunk with a curtain. It now sounds like Tundra Buggy Lodge may have changed to the same type of accommodation. The two lodges are in the same general area and look from the outside very much the same. A fellow traveler on the NatHab tour had stayed on both during previous trips to the tundra and said she thought the Great White Bear lodge facilities were more comfortable and the food better. We certainly had a good experience. Travelers just need to be aware of the possibility for confusion between the two lodges.

Stayed: November 2011, traveled solo
14  Thank mtroc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 25, 2011

We stayed on the lodge for the last tour of the season and were treated to a once in a lifetime experience. We were a bit apprehensive about the bunkhouses but wanted to stay where the bears are. Lucky for us, they had just installed brand new bunkhouses. They were warm and comfortable. Now there are 2 showers and 3 flush toilets per bunkhouse.

Bree, Julie and Tibor run the lodge with great care. The food was amazing, even the picnic lunches they sent us off with each day. We had warm soups each day and even had hamburgers heated on the propane buggy heater one day!

Jim our buggy driver and Richard our tour leader were first class. They took great care of us and shared their knowledge with us. It was obvious they were having as much fun as we were.

Staying at the lodge allows you more time with the bears. Going at the end of the season is great because the bears are more active in colder weather. An added bonus is the people on the buggy who are working with Polar Bears International. They were great to talk to and learn from. We were treated to a few evening presentations by these experts.

Finally, the Polar Bears. They were everywhere and almost always close to the lodge. We were lucky enough to spend many hours watching these beautiful creatures.

This trip is quite expensive but worth every penny. If you have the time and the money, do it. You will not be disappointed. It exceeded all of my expectations.

  • Stayed: November 2011
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8  Thank Gatordogs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2011

Had to meet with the organizers and rest of the people on the tour at 6.15am (horrors) for the start of our polar bear trip at the Sheraton hotel at the airport. They then took us by bus to the charter plane area, we were surprised to be boarded onto a Boeing 737 – 200, thought it would be a propeller plane or turbo-prop. There were 36 in our group who were spending the 2 nights out on the tundra in their ‘lodge’ at Polar Bear Point, but a few other groups who were staying in the town of Churchill and just going in on the Tundra in the day were on the same plane. Churchill is about 1100kms north of Winnipeg on the edge of Hudson Bay. A very ‘basic’ little outback town, somewhat bleak, icy streets and patches of old snow around. And freezing!! Thermals, and 3 layers plus jackets etc needed. Polar bears often roam into town so locals don’t lock their vehicles or houses, thus giving people a place to escape to if confronted by a bear. Bears that come into town are trapped and put in a huge holding facility called the Polar Bear jail (or more politically correctly called ‘the polar bear holding area) - it’s the only air conditioned building in Churchill. They are held until the ice has formed then released miles away. They have no human contact while there and just fed enough hay to keep them alive, we weren’t allowed to see them, just heard them thumping around in the huge shed (if they fed them fish they would keep coming back to the jail when hungry!) – Not very pleasant for the bears, but better than being shot as they were years ago. They even now have a fully enclosed rubbish dump inside a giant shed to stop the bears scavenging.
We all had lunch together then had free time in Churchill and at 4.30 were driven by bus for ½ hr to the boarding area for the ‘Tundra Buggies”. Then it was a 2 hr very rough slow trip in the buggy to the Tundra Buggy Lodge. I had expected there to be heaps of snow lying around, but they haven’t had much snow yet. Apparently the tundra never builds up much of a snow base as it is so flat and the winds so strong – there were patches of snow lying around, not much vegetation just scrubby bushes, and endless numbers of shallow lakes all over which were partly frozen. Very cold arctic wind blowing, we were grateful for the heater in the vehicle. Enjoyable though as we were on the look-out for animals. It was dark when we arrived, but the headlights picked up an arctic fox running down the road. That was a good start.
A bit of an explanation of what was involved. Firstly our vehicle around the tundra was a purpose built million dollar bus with (giant big foot) a ground clearance of 2.5 mtrs, max speed a screaming 30kph; built in large gas heater (much needed) and a pre-runner to a chemical toilet. (better described as an old thunder box) Very wide vehicle with 10 rows of double seats down each side and heaps of standing place in the middle (could have fitted in another 8 seats across). A caged viewing platform for bear viewing (or smokers) out the back. The whole area where we were had been a military firing range in the cold war days, so there were clearly defined tracks that we were not allowed to deviate off as there are still unexploded shells around, they also don’t want to mess up too much of the area with tyre tracks. We chose to spend the 2 nights out on the tundra for greater chance of seeing bears, and not having to waste time driving 2 ½ hours from Churchill and back each day, and were rewarded for this. Accommodation is best described as a dormitory style railway carriage. 2 wagons of curtained off bunk beds, 2 toilets 1 shower and 1 heater in each wagon. Then there was a lounge and another wagon for dining room, kitchen etc. That was followed by the staff quarters. So you had this train of several big foot carriages that are high enough off the ground so the bears cannot have access. It certainly wasn’t luxurious (but we were aware of this), better described as basic and adequate and it did the job. Bunks were however more comfortable than Amtrak sleepers (wider and more head room). People were all very considerate and there was no noise or partying at night, everyone was tucked up in bed by 10pm. Food wasn’t haute cuisine, but very nice, made by the 3 staff on the lodge (don’t know how they don’t get ‘cabin fever’ as they stay on the Lodge the whole time (around 2 months) and can’t even go for a walk as no one is allowed onto the ground while out there (except for urgent vehicle maintenance etc with a few armed guards for bears)
It was a very interesting group of people of various nationalities and all ages, from two sixteen year olds, one with parents and one with a grandmother (nice lady who has taken each of her grandchildren on some sort of trip!) to a very sprightly 74 year old. Unusual crowd too as all were dedicated travellers, 6 of the 36 had climbed Kilimanjaro and the 74yr old is planning to. Quite a few had also been to Rwanda to see the gorillas; so many good conversations were had sharing tables at meal times. Good group too, all worked well together and no whingers.
Headed off in the Tundra Buggy at 8 o’clock both days, had lunch on the Buggy and returned to base around 4.30. Drove all around a wide area looking for wildlife and bears, amazing vehicles could drive through water and mud and over boulders. Fun crunching through shallow (we hoped!) icy lakes when the tracks went through them. No one was allowed to stand up while the vehicle was moving, too much likelihood of falling over.
Sadly Hudson Bay hadn’t frozen over yet thanks to global warming, so there weren’t as many polar bears around as there should have been. The polar bears habitual migratory path thru Churchill and out onto the ice to catch and eat seals after 5 months of not eating is on hold as a result. We did see about nine bears right up close (not sure if we sometimes saw the same one twice!), but we also had two bonuses. Saw three very rare Arctic Foxes (our driver said he only saw 3 last year in total) one was walking on a frozen lake (beautiful reflections) he was watching something in the bushes so kept on stopping then approaching the bushes and retreating again, also ran down the road right towards the vehicle. But then we had the #1 highlight, which had our driver racing for his camera with comments like “you don’t realise how rare it is to witness this.” The even rarer cross back silver fox (looked black) chasing a snow hare – didn’t get him though (poor cute fat white bunny!). At one stage the fox jumped up onto a rock to see where his quarry had gone. Apparently that’s unheard of. Move over David Attenborough!!! Also saw other interesting birds (a snowy owl; an immature bald eagle who should have flown south weeks ago and plenty of Ptarmigan (arctic bird) snow goose, animals such as an ermine (short tailed weasel) and arctic hare who have large black dots on the back of their ears which gives the impression that they have eyes in the back of their head.
It was pretty hard to spot the bears as they were all in sleepy mode as they knew it wasn’t worth their going out to the shore to check the ice yet, they make nice little cosy ‘nests’ in the kelp on the shore line and lie there to keep warm, just see their heads popping up to see what is going on when the buggy approaches. As we approached the lodge on our return on the second afternoon there was a bear standing on its rear legs trying to get into the kitchen; he could smell the food cooking, but he realised that he wasn’t going to succeed and sulked away, (shame he had not eaten for 5 months.) They do have extremely strict rules on absolutely under no circumstance can you feed a bear as they don’t want them getting used to human food and becoming scavengers in town. Every bit of “trash” and human waste has to be trucked off the tundra back to H Q. It was colder the second night and a bit more ice had formed so bears were moving around a bit more in the early morning. When we went to board the buggy (the buggy docks right onto the ‘train’ so you don’t touch ground walking onto it) we were rewarded with a big daddy bear, only a few metres from our lodge, doing his best golden retriever impersonations of rolling on its back, legs kicking in the air, then sliding his chin and neck along the ground. Poor bear thought there must have been a seal under the frozen pond he was standing on, because he suddenly started jumping up and down on the ice, trying to smash it open as they do when they’re at a seals hole. We followed him for a while when he walked off and tried to get around in front of him but he got spooked and raced off into the distance (they’re very strict too about not upsetting the animals and getting them stressed so we couldn’t chase after him). The sun soon came out which was lovely as there was a beautiful sunrise and great reflections on the lakes. But it put the bears to sleep again and they draped themselves over the warmed up rocks to slumber and barely raised an eyebrow when we stopped. A couple did at least lumber up and move around a bit which was nice. No mothers and cubs though and no bears sparring with each other up on their hind legs.
Overall the polar bear trip was a bit disappointing in one way as they had portrayed it that there would be bears all around the Lodge and area, and maybe there are in good years, but once we got over that expectation not being fulfilled we enjoyed it as one would a safari in Africa where you have to go out and spot the animals, and saw many other animals we hadn’t expected to see. No Northern Lights sadly as it was overcast both evenings.
I would recommend it, but if you are expecting it to be like a private game park as you find in South Africa, where they put out salt licks and know where all the animals are at any one time, then forget it. However, if you are willing to go and try and find your own animals like you do in Kruger National Park, then it would be OK for you. The other thing about where we were looking for polar bears was we were confined to a relatively small area as to where we could look for them. The area backs onto a massive National Park which was a strictly no go area for us. I reckon the bears knew this and they were all hiding in there!!!!

9  Thank Bob-Carol-Pinjarra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2011

We were expecting very basic living conditions but were plesantly surprised at how well the lodge was run. Brei gave such fantastic food even for the packed lunch, its commendable. The lack of shower facilities for so many at a time is understandable but on the last night we were shifted into the new lodge.....it was fantastic. Warm beds plenty of hot water in all shower rooms and wider space. Location is perfect, you are right where the bears congregate to head back on the frozen bay. Awesome
The Polar Bear experience is the highpoint of my visit and hats off to Frontiers North Adventures, Merv, Lynda and John.

Room Tip: Simply the best
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled on business
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3  Thank rash_India
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Frontiers North Adventures' Tundra Buggy Lodge

Address: 124 Kelsey Boulevard, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Location: Canada > Manitoba > Churchill
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Specialty Lodging in Churchill
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Tundra Buggy(R) Lodge, situated in the heart of polar bear country, offers an unique, immersive experience where guests can fall asleep and wake up with polar bears right outside the window. The lodge consists of two brand new (2012) accommodation units, a lounge and cafe, and staff quarters. Viewing platforms connect each unit and allow for outdoor photography. Situated far from the lights of town, the Tundra Buggy(R) Lodge is the perfect place to view bears all day long and have optimal northern lights viewing at night (weather permitting). The lodge is also equipped with exterior field lights that enable us to continue to watch the bears even after the sun goes down! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tundra Buggy Hotel Churchill
Frontiers North Adventures' Tundra Buggy Lodge Churchill, Canada - Manitoba

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