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Story and photos courtesy of Ian Johnson Safaris and Photography

I spent five incredible days at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge in November in unseasonably warm weather, but that certainly didn’t stop the polar bears — big polar bears — from gathering around the Lodge.

It seemed crazy that there was virtually no snow and ice. Maybe El Niño and La Niña were conspiring to provide an exceptionally late winter, but regardless, we were constantly surrounded by huge mature polar bears! At one stage we had 12 big bears, each around 800 pounds, lined up and relaxing in front of the Lodge.


We were not only treated to many bears, but were also privileged to see timber wolves around the lodge for four of the five nights, with a pack of four black and six tawny wolves spending two nights sleeping around the Lodge. The wolves were also extremely active, howling and communicating to the rest of their pack.

On one of our daily adventures we discovered the wolves had killed a moose, which was now half frozen in one of the nearby rivers. Creeping as close as possible we managed to get some photos of the wolves feeding on the moose in the icy river. One of my dream photos happened early one morning when one of the black wolves stopped and posed, giving me enough time for one sharp shot.


The highlight of my stay was undoubtedly a magical photographic moment which happened by pure chance. We had been following one of the largest polar bears walking from the ocean back to the tree line when a snowy owl took flight and flew right in front of the posing polar bear!


Another wow wilderness moment frozen (not quite) in time, at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge!

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