When you view the polar bears and wildlife in the Fall Polar Bear Safari Photo Album at the end of this post, and throughout our website, you might get the feeling that there are polar bears and wild things running all over the place at the Churchill Wild polar bear lodges. That might be the case occasionally, especially when the Arctic fox cycle is on the upswing at Seal River Heritage Lodge, but generally polar bears are a little more subtle when making their appearances.
Polar bears (and black bears at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge) do sometimes come right up to the fences at our lodges, and we do see them on a regular basis on walking tours and while traversing the tundra in specialized all-terrain vehicles. There are no guarantees in nature, but our remote locations in the heart of polar bear territory help us to see more bears than most. Use the reduction and satellite view features on the Google Maps locations for Seal River Heritage Lodge, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, and Dymond Lake Ecolodge to get a sense of how wild and remote these lodge locations really are.
The most thrilling aspect of Churchill Wild polar bear tours is being on the ground, face-to-face with the bears. When we spot a bear, the guides and guests may approach to within the allowed distance on foot if conditions are suitable, while also being very careful not to cause any undue stress to the bear. Guests will then take photographs, and occasionally a polar bear will walk by in very close proximity.
Sometimes guests will just put their cameras down and immerse themselves in the moment. Meeting a polar bear face-to-face at ground level for the first time carries with it a feeling you will never forget — and never want to.
The photos in our polar bear photo galleries, and in the album below, are the result of decades of experience with polar bears, but photo opportunities do seem to present themselves out of nowhere on a regular basis. Allison Francoeur, daughter of Churchill Wild co-founders and owners Mike and Jeanne Reimer, snapped the photo of the COY (Cub of the Year) at the top of this post while at Dymond Lake Ecolodge on the Great Ice Bear Adventure.
Allison reported that their were two COYs, one of which had an injured paw that made it difficult for him to keep up with Mom. He was doing his best, but the survival rate for polar bear cubs is low even under the best of circumstances, and the damaged paw was going to make it much tougher to survive the winter. The injury wasn’t immediately life threatening, but it was obvious even to a casual observer.
If Mom is a good hunter and protector, and the cub survives the winter out on the ice, we’ll definitely recognize him if he shows up at Dymond Lake Ecolodge next year. Polar bears are creatures of habit, and they will often return to favourite places while they wander the Hudson Bay coast during the summer and fall. Scarbrow, our semi-resident polar bear at Dymond Lake, made a few appearances this season, and has done so for over 10 years.
Photos in the album below were taken primarily in late October on the Fall Dual Lodge Safari at Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, the Polar Bear Photo Safaris at Seal River and Nanuk, and on the Great Ice Bear Adventure at Dymond Lake Ecolodge. Photographers include Allison Francoeur, along with Churchill Wild photo leaders Robert Postma, George Turner, Nate Luebbe and Charles Glatzer, who had his Shoot the Light clients at both Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge.
The album also includes photos by guests Chase Teron of Artica Studios, Marielena Smith of Epic 7 Travel, Rob Julien, Harry and Sreedevi Colquhoun of Grey Ghost Nature Photography, Jessica McKelson of Raw Wildlife Encounters, Mark Hunter, Eduard Planting, Steve Zalan, Matt Meintel, and artist Peter Hall.
Churchill Wild polar bear tours and safaris are the only polar bear walking tours in the world based out of permanent ecolodges located on the Hudson Bay coast. Our remote lodges are situated directly in the path of the polar bears as they wander the coastline during the summer and fall waiting for the ice to form on Hudson Bay.
Like all other polar bear tour operators that operate deep in the wilderness, we have days when we might not see a bear, and we have days when we see numerous bears, but when nature, the wildlife and the weather all come together in perfect harmony, it can be pure bliss…
Smiles and tears.