Hiking the Canadian tundra with polar bears #travelArchive Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Quite possibly one of the most extraordinary travel experiences on the planet, hiking amongst polar bears in the wild is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences. The far-flung hamlet of Churchill in Canada’s northern Manitoba is the self-styled Polar Bear Capital of the World. For good reason.
On the southwestern shores of Hudson Bay, this part of the bay is the end of season stepping off the ice point for polar bears who cling to the ice for as long as possible each season. Once the ice melts, so too does their food supply dwindle, as they mostly hunt seals from the ice. Once they move ashore food opportunities lessen, so that by the time autumn comes around they are mostly surviving on berries.
For wildlife enthusiasts this is the perfect time to get up close and personal with polar bears, when they are in a sort of walking hibernation. By late autumn polar bears start to congregate around the Churchill area in anticipation of the return of the ice and the rich seal hunting grounds out in the Bay.
I was fortunate to join Churchill Wild, who operate a number of remote lodges in northern Manitoba last autumn at Seal River Lodge, a 30 minute floatplane jaunt north of Churchill. Their annual September Arctic Safari co-incides with the best time to hike amongst the bears. It’s an extraordinary experience, being close enough to polar bears to watch their nostril twitch as they sniff our scent.
For the complete story which appears in the launch (May 2012) edition of International Traveller magazine click on the weblink, or view stunning images of polar bears in the autumn landscape view the gallery below. International Traveller – For Modern Explorers is created by the same clever folk who publish Australian Traveller, one of Australia’s best travel magazines.
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