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Polar Bears & Belugas in Churchill

Saturday, 05.08. | 13 – 16 degrees | sunny


After an overnight stay in Winnipeg, it was finally “Welcome to Churchill!” on Saturday morning. Arrived at the Polar Inn, there was a welcome champagne on the terrace. The weather was summery and it should stay that way.

During the first reconnaissance trip with two four-wheel drive vehicles, the varied landscape of Hudson Bay could be admired. It wasn't long before the first polar bears were sighted - a mother and her cub could be seen swimming some distance away. The welcome dinner was enjoyed in a cozy atmosphere at Gypsy's, which was to be a popular meeting place for eating and drinking coffee over the next few days.

The weather was perfect and we knew roughly where a polar bear mother with two cubs was, so Norbert quickly organized two armed monitors - the scientists Rocky and Andrew - who drove with us out to the rocks where we suspected the bear family. Offroad, mind you, you had to hold on a bit. What awaited us was wonderful bear watching in the glorious evening light. The mother and her cubs were totally relaxed, the little ones playing and being nursed by the mother and resting snuggled together before finally disappearing behind the rocks in the last of the fine evening light. We couldn't have wished for a nicer first evening. For the few who didn't fall asleep tired afterwards, he was even crowned by northern lights.


Sunday, August 6th – 19 | 23 degrees | sunny to hazy, rain showers in the evening


The breakfast was very short, because at 07:30 we went to the harbor and out on the Churchill River in a Zodiac. And there they were – the belugas! The curious animals swam next to, in front of and behind us very close to the boat. We were accompanied by swarms of mosquitoes, but they didn't manage to spoil our mood because the impressions were far too good for that. We could even hear the whales singing underwater through a hydrophone. A seal eyed us – with a skeptical look – from the water. At Eskimo Point we spotted three more solitary bears just relaxing on the rocks by the shore on this warm day.


After the boat tour there was only a short break and then we drove out to Bird Cove in our cars. Fred from Gypsy's was already waiting there with a picnic, which he served on the back of his pick-up truck. After a little refreshment we started a hike to the shipwreck "Ithaca", which was quite adventurous due to the many smaller and larger stones and ankle-high water. We were rewarded with great group photos in front of the shipwreck and an experience that hardly any Churchill vacationer has.


Monday, August 7th | 13 – 17 degrees | slightly cloudy


In the morning there were several options to choose from. While some went exploring and bird hunting with Paul Ratson and saw a polar bear walking across the railway tracks, the others went for a walk with Anne in the city.
We spent the afternoon in one of the famous tundra buggies, which rocked us through the summery tundra. In addition to numerous species of birds, two binocular bears and two arctic hares, we broke the caribou record on this tour by seeing 17 animals! Including two handsome males with antlers and mothers with young animals.

Churchill in August


Tuesday, August 8th | 13 – 17 degrees | sunny to slightly cloudy


After sitting in the tundra buggy for a long time yesterday, we went hiking today. We first went to Sloop Cove on the other bank of the Churchill River by Zodiac. Here, rock carvings and an abandoned trapper's hut commemorate the adventures of the Hudson Bay Company. From here we walked together with two Parks Canada Rangers to Fort Prince of Wales. Coincidentally, we caught the anniversary of the conquest by the French for our visit. An interesting insight into the history of the region. From the walls of the fortress we were able to spot two bears with the binoculars and so Norbert immediately became restless and urged us to get back in the Zodiac. His sixth "bear sense" should pay off, because only a few minutes later we were treated to a top-class spectacle. A courageous polar bear mother, traveling with her cub, attacked a male bear and drove him off the beach. You really don't see something like this every day!

In the afternoon we drove out of town again to explore and saw another polar bear. This was followed by a helicopter, in which the official "Game Wardens" were apparently trying to drive the bear away from the town. After watching the spectacle with queasy feelings for a few minutes, we turned our backs and visited the polar bear prison to learn more about how the bears are treated. No bears are currently in prison, but that would likely change by the fall. Bears that repeatedly get too close to the city are housed here for up to 30 days. A visit to the Churchill Northern Study Center rounded off the afternoon's exploration.

After an eventful day, most of the group slept soundly as the northern lights showed around midnight.


Wednesday, August 9th | 14 – 18 degrees | sunny


In the morning most of the group went on a trip to see the Wapusk Adventures sled dogs. Dave Daley gave a very detailed and emotional talk about his life with the dogs and then we drove a mile through the forest on the dog cart. It's amazing how much energy and urge to run the dogs show in the summer temperatures. The clowns during the break played the funny “Whiskey Jacks” for us, picking dog food out of your hand.

Norbert had organized a very special excursion for the afternoon. The old elevator took us very far up to the roof of the granary. From here you have a unique view of the city and the surrounding area. Then we went whale watching on a beautiful beach halfway to Cape Merry. In the evening we visited the picture presentation by Alex-de-Vries-Magnifico in the "Discover Churchill" gallery and were fascinated by his pictures of nature in all seasons.  The Northern Lights hunters were again rewarded for staying awake today.


Thursday, 10.8. | 14 – 18 degrees | sunny to slightly cloudy


We'd encountered a true Churchill character a couple of times in the last few days - Brian Ladoon. Today we visited him at Mile 5 where he keeps his Canadian Eskimo Dogs. Brian told us about his dogs and the Canadian Eskimo Dog Foundation and then gave us time to visit the dogs on our own. We then stopped at the Arctic Trading Company, where Brian's partner Penny showed us the workshop and the sewing room. If you look around here, you get the feeling that the clocks are ticking a little slower in Churchill.


In the afternoon another highlight was on the program for part of the group – a kayak tour with the belugas in the Churchill River. The curious animals come very close to the boats and sometimes even nudge them, but always carefully. What an experience!

The Northern Lights hunters were lucky again and slowly got routine in Northern Lights photography.


Friday, August 11th | 15 – 19 degrees | sunny and dusty


In the morning we visited the Eskimo Museum before part of the group went on another Zodiac tour. Today there were a lot of whales, two seals and two bears to see at Eskimo Point when the water was clear.


For the last dinner together, Anne had reserved a large table on the terrace of the Lazy Bear Café. With a wonderful view, the good food tasted even better. Then we drove out to Cape Merry, where we enjoyed the sunset with a glass of wine or beer. The night owls experienced a wonderful northern lights at night at the end.


Saturday, 12.8. about 20 degrees sunny and dusty


During the last joint excursion in the morning, our bird experts spotted a few more birds of prey, including a pretty American falcon. Driving back into town, a group of snow geese caught our attention and Anne's car got stuck in the mud when she tried to get closer. Luckily help is never far away in Churchill and so the car was ready to drive to the airport an hour later. At noon the handkerchiefs were pulled out and it was time to say goodbye. Thank you once again for an incredibly nice round and a wonderful time in Churchill, Manitoba!

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