Spectacular polar bear viewing, fabulous guests and a beautiful new dining room make for wondrous summer on Hudson Bay Coast
Unbelievable, wow, incredible, spectacular, best ever, life changing, beyond expectations, and the list goes on – we can never quite identify the right superlative to describe this past season at Churchill Wild!
Once again the guest book is full of great comments and wondrous praises heaped upon our hard working staff and the awesome Churchill Wild polar bear experience they provide. Thank you to all our new found friends, who traveled from all corners of the globe this year, for making the time and financial commitment to join us on the Hudson Bay coast.
It’s difficult to look back over the crazy exciting busyness of this summer season and identify the highlights – there were so many! One of the most important accomplishments was the completion of the new dining room, with its huge viewing windows looking out over the Bay, a new roof, a new tower access, new decks, and new staff quarters.
I get tired just thinking about all the work that had to be done to see that beautiful building standing there. Yvan and
crew pulled off another miracle, from planning the project last season, to ordering and shipping materials by train to Churchill in January, then spending two weeks in March dragging freight over the frozen sea to the Lodge and finally back in June with the construction crew to build like madmen so we could be ready for first guests in July. Wow! And now we start the whole process all over again – Jeanne has “assured” all of us that she is getting her new kitchen next year.
Our summer Birds, Bears, and Belugas adventure might well have been called Bears, Bears, and Bears as we enjoyed some of the finest summer polar bear action on the planet. Seal River has always been a mecca for polar bears coming off the ice in July, but this year was nothing short of incredible.
One afternoon aerial tour spotted over 100 bears within 30 kilometers of Seal River, numbers which were certainly confirmed by the daily bear action at the Lodge. And the whales continue to enthrall intrepid snorkelers with their charming attention to the strange creatures invading their watery domain. Interactive singing opportunities brought out the creative in everyone. And although it was difficult to tell which whale “whisperer” had the best tune, it was fairly obvious that our whale friends enjoy listening to a well gurgled tune.
This past year Churchill Wild also completed the purchase and expansion of the Canada’s newest and most exciting polar bear destination, the Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge located near Cape Tatnum. Cape Tatnum is home to the greatest concentration of summer polar bears on earth and is also near the site of a recently discovered polar bear denning area, not to mention fantastic wolf viewing, countless moose, and a bird migration beyond number. This will undoubtedly become the finest wild polar bear adventure in our ever-expanding stable of great polar bear trips, on par with the great African wildlife safaris of years gone by. Please plan to join us!
Churchill Wild can now guarantee world class polar bear viewing and ground level polar bear photo opportunities at its remote ecolodges from July through to the end of the traditional November season – another world first.
A big heartfelt thanks to all our wonderful guests for making Seal River Lodge a fabulous place to be this summer! We couldn’t have done it without you. Now it’s time for the Great Ice Bear Tour and the Polar Bear Photo Safari.
We hope you can join us again someday soon!
– Mike & Jeanne Reimer & Family
Not one to sit on the sidelines and simply observe, Margo was the first one in the water to swim and snorkel with the beluga whales. She also showed no fear of the polar bears (or the birds) while hiking over the tundra birdwatching and bear watching. Below follow a few short excerpts from her article: The Arctic warmth of Hudson Bay’s belugas, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times Travel Section.
“I am beluga bait. Bobbing at the end of a rope tied around my feet, I am being slowly towed in the wake of a Zodiac, a small, inflatable boat, through the icy waters of Hudson Bay. Clad in a partly inflated rubber dry suit, I look like a Michelin Tire Man who has sprouted a snorkel as I peer into the murky brown, tannin-stained cocktail of salt and freshwater. I have come all the way to far northern Manitoba, Canada, to snorkel with beluga whales that, if they do appear out of the gloom, will likely scare the daylights out of me. As my heart races…” Read full article in the Los Angeles Times Travel Section article
“The water teems with whales, and a steady stream of polar bears meanders past. In fall, it’s a bear traffic jam, and with longer nights, it’s a great time to see shimmering sheets of red and green northern lights. Here on the tundra, it’s people who live in an enclosure…” Read full article in the L.A. Times Travel Section article
“The birders on our trip — from Britain and Switzerland — spot eider ducks, a snowy owl and tall sandhill cranes emitting a strange musical rattle as they strut near the stone remains of an ancient Inuit campsite. In this corner of the world, you don’t walk outside without a weapon…” Read full article in the L.A. Times Travel Section article
“Just another day at Seal River,” said Mike Reimer, looking out over the tidal flats of Hudson Bay. “Seven big white polar bears hanging around.”
Two big bears sleeping 20 yards away from the compound, three in the North Bay, and two wandering around on the rocks south of the Seal River Lodge.
This is what our guests spent the early afternoon viewing from the windows and the compound of the Lodge. Running back and forth from window to window, going out into the compound to see which bear was at the fence for his close up – it was almost like you could hear the mega pixels being used in the cameras.
After about an hour of this we decided it was time to go for a hike. Only one problem – there were seven big polar bears about, and one had decided to take his afternoon nap 15 feet from the door of the Lodge, right on the road.
“We’re trapped by Bears!” is all that Andy could say walking back into the lodge shaking his head. “I don’t think this guy is going anywhere soon.”
Luckily, time could be spent in the compound, where two large male bears had made their way up to the fence. After another hour the guides decided that they had had enough, and that no polar bear, no matter what the size, was going to hold up the program any longer.
The guests were assembled and we made our way out of the compound. The two fearless guides led the way. The resting polar bear raised his head, decided that the group of eager photographers heading his way was enough…
And off he went!
by Doreen Booth
It was an early start on my first day of the tour and I would come to learn that there were many more sunrise beginnings during my northern adventure! As I am new to the company (not new to the family) I was going to the lodge to see what we are all about. No matter how many stories I heard, nothing prepared me for the experience I was going to have!
The day of my departure to the lodge was extremely windy, and not that I like to admit this, but I am not the best “flier”. Our friendly pilot, Nelson, knows this all too well and let me have the co-pilot’s seat on the way out to the lodge. When we landed, the departing guests advised us to watch out for the bear on the trail. WOW, our first bear already? We were able to snap a few photos of him napping on the trail before he awoke to his audience and went to look for a private room.
After a delicious lunch and our visitor’s briefing, we headed out on our fist hike braving those still strong winds and walking at a slight angle in order to stay standing up! We saw four more bears and hadn’t even gone very far. We made sure to get back to the lodge in time for appetizers and drinks. What a great way to wind down in the lounge with a fire going in the woodstove, large picture windows facing the bay, and a glass of wine! I like it here already.
The following days were a blur! We were up at 7 a.m. for coffee and enjoyed the view out the large lounge windows. All you saw was water, rocks and oh yes POLAR BEARS! There was a spotting scope for everyone to use and we were always on the lookout. We could see the bears coming from miles away and it was truly amazing to watch them swim to shore as they can move extremely quickly through the water.
After breakfast we would get ready for our first hike of the day! There were some (me for example) that didn’t go out for a hike and would stay at the lodge to enjoy some peace and quiet. Little did we know that there wouldn’t be much peace. There were bears sauntering around the lodge, sik-siks (ground squirrels) posing for you, bears galore to watch and we even got to go Cloudberry picking! Jeanne had an itch to make fresh cloudberry jam so off we went to pick.
The bears sure had us busy at the lodge during our stay. We had a bear playing with Mike’s boat in the middle of the night (we heard the bear bangers go off), we even had a bear peaking through someone’s window and I am not sure who was more scared the bear or Ida! A few of us were whale watching. We all made our way down to the boats and we were all very excited in anticipation of the Belugas we were going to see.
It was a quick trip to the river and once we arrived you could see these magnificent whales swimming all around. They very quickly came up to the boat to see what we were all about. They would turn over onto their backs and look up at you through the water. It was just amazing!! The next step was to get our first “swimmer” into the water.
Robert was in a dry suit with a snorkel and mask. He was so ecstatic that I think he would have just jumped straight in to see the whales. He was given directions to put his feet into the loop and we would start up the boat. The rest of us were amazed that he was willing to get into the water with these large animals. Turns out I am a big chicken – I just couldn’t get in. We started the boat and started to pull Robert behind us slowly. Our guide Andy told us to just watch – well wouldn’t you know it but whales were coming from all over to check out Robert in the water. They were only a few feet in front, beside and under him!
It is difficult to express what an amazing experience we had. I can give you as much information as you need prior to coming to the lodge but nothing really prepares you for what you are about to experience and enjoy!
This week we took a break from fishing to do some polar bear watching from one of our Churchill Wild lodges on the Hudson Bay coast. The bears were most cooperative, arriving in large numbers and primping and preening and sometimes sparring just outside our enormous picture windows. On this particular afternoon, the fireplace was lit, the lodge was cozy, a delicious lunch had been enjoyed by all and frankly we’d seen so many bears we decided that a little siesta was in order.
Well, it was about that time that a couple of young polar bears chose to make their break. One polar bear was inside the airplane manning the throttle (sorry you can’t see him) while the other hand-bombed the prop (Doug Webber had wisely taken the keys for a nap as well.)
Doug’s granddaughter Allison (thank goodness teenagers never nap – they’re afraid to miss something), upon spotting the attempted hijacking, alerted her grandfather, who shook the sleep from his brain, headed outdoors and told the bears to pack their bags and get out of town – or at least to the end of the runway – and to not come back until they were ready to apologize.
Upon returning after dark that evening, the polar bear family confessed to having eaten the Barbeque that went missing in the fall and were thus given their choice of five days of counseling or five days of hard labor at the Polar Bear Jail in Churchill.
Dr. Phil, are you available?