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Published: October 17th 2017
Well we managed to get ourselves out of New York yet again and flew on Saturday to Montreal and on to Winnipeg to start our Polar bear trip. The company we booked with covered everything from hotel room to chartered flight to the actual polar bear experience on Tundra buggies.
When we arrived into Winnipeg we asked the woman at the hotel courtesy coach desk where we should catch the coach to the Four Points hotel. She said that we could wait outside for 10 minutes or we could walk out the door cross the road, go through the airport car park and turn right….as the hotel was right across the street. So like a really bad impersonation of “the Castle” we walked our luggage on the trolley across the road to our hotel….Ah serenity!!! And a great view out of our window of all the aircraft we could want..
We had the usual meet and greet that evening and got to meet the other 30 people who were booked on to the trip. At the end when the girl asked if there were any questions we got the distinct impression that a village somewhere was missing their idiots!!!
I mean you can only tell a person so many times what time to put out their luggage and what time breakfast is in the morning…it was a really great moment when there were no more questions that's for sure.
We headed out the door the next morning at 7am and across the road to the airport for our chartered flight to Churchill Manitoba.
Churchill has a population of 899 people and is really set up around the tourist industry. It is close to the artic circle and is on the banks of the Hudson Bay.
In November the Hudson Bay ices over for the winter which allows the polar bears to head out onto to the ice to hunt seals which is their main meal. So as we found out there are always polar bears in the area awaiting this time of year. From about May onwards (when the ice breaks up) the bears just sit around conserving their energy and await November to arrive. So from about October and into late November they are a little more active and the polar bear trips start.
When we arrived into Churchill we were taken straight to
the area where the Tundra buggies leave from and loaded into the buggy. The buggies are specially made to fit 38 people and travel extremely slowly as the roads which they travel on are old Army roads built in the 50s which are not maintained at all.
Whilst Polar bears are the main reason to head to Churchill there are other critters around which are just as exciting to see. The hardest ones to see are usually arctic foxes, arctic Owls and Artic hares and the polar bears are pretty much a sure thing…..however for those of you who have done any wildlife viewing you will know….There is no such thing as a sure thing!!!
We started out Cruising slowly along the roads and immediately the others 36 people on the buggy thought this would be a great opportunity to meet and greet the people sitting next to or alongside them so started to talk and make new friends…..”I’m sorry but aren't we on a wildlife trip?????!!!” Look for the “££€€**%”!!!wildlife and stop talking.. anyway once I yelled “Fox” they suddenly discovered that maybe they have to work for this and the animals don't just parade past like
Anyway our first animal was an arctic fox whose coat had changed for the season to brilliant white and really blended in to the surroundings. So while we were always on the lookout for the bears the other animals are cool too. Our driver,Marc, said that the chance of finding a polar bear is not guaranteed so keep your eyes open. Suddenly he started to accelerate and he said look ahead everyone. There in a bed of kelp was a large male polar bear and no more that fifty metres ahead of him was another laying again in a bed of kelp. We stopped and it was decided to have lunch beside the bears so we sat there in the buggy whilst one idiot stood outside on the deck photographing the bears for an hour and a quarter in the minus 3 degrees temperature…What an idiot!!! (My face almost froze off) my theory is that you can eat later but it is not every day you get to sit and watch polar bears so eat later! After a while we headed away in search of more wildlife but saw no more bears that day but a few
different birds and so called it a day at 4.30 just as it started snowing.
When we arrived into town the snow was falling quite steadily and made for a rather cold afternoon/evening so we hit the sack fairly early with great expectations for the next day which was the second of our two days in Churchill…why only two days?? Because the bank Manger would have a hernia if we had to finance more than two days. Anyway the next morning the snow had stopped and so we set sail in the buggy at 8am and straight away we saw a bear way in the distance but for the rest of the day we struck out with any more bears but saw another arctic fox and a silver fox followed by an arctic hare and an snowy owl and also ptarmigan ( arctic chicken) not the best day for bears but an amazing day for other animals.
We caught a chartered flight that evening back to Winnipeg having had a fantastic time viewing polar bear and other animals. A few of the people on the trip were a bit buzzed out about the lack of polar bears but
both Steph and I were extremely grateful for what we saw. Usually people have extremely high expectations when doing wildlife viewing but when you remind them that this is not a zoo and the animals are not on tap and that they were lucky to see what they saw.
So we arrived back into Winnipeg and this morning we loaded up the baggage trolley and walked the bags back to the airport at 4.30am for our early morning flight to Calgary where we rented a car and are now in Banff hoping the weather lasts so we can head north tomorrow to Jasper and eventually pop out into Edmonton on Friday where we have a flight booked to Vancouver.
So until later.. we are still travelling well!
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