This trip was booked over a year in advance because the places on the tour fill up fast. My dear old friend, Judy, got me interested in doing this and we had an absolutely wonderful time. My usual research turned up Natural Habitat Adventures and their Tundra Lodge Adventure'. We booked this for the final week of the bear season — November, 2010 — when I figured more bears would be around waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze over so they could hunt seals–a wise idea, we found out. The tour started with an overnight at the Fort Garry Hotel, and a day in Winnipeg, Manitoba, followed by a charter flight to Churchill, Manitoba. We stayed outside of town in the Tundra Lodge, a ‘train’ of mobile home-type structures that’s rolled out to the tundra at the start of bear season and rolled back to town at the end. While not luxurious, the Lodge was warm, comfortable, and the food was good. Each of the group had a single bedroom about the size of a double bed (!) with either an upper or lower bunk and a tiny window to look out of while one's head rested on the pillow; four bathrooms with showers were shared by the group. A kitchen, dining room, and lounge completed the accomodations — spartan but adequate. At the end of the 'train' was an open porch with an expanded metal floor under which the bears could come and sniff at our boots. But best of all, the bears hung out at the Lodge because they smelled food there—US! Thus the bear viewing exceeded our wildest dreams. The tour package included one night in Winnipeg both before and after the tundra experience and a morning in Churchill during which I took a dog sledding excursion. Each day we went out in a ‘Tundra Buggy’– a big, hulking, ponderous vehicle purpose-built for moving about the tundra – looking for bears and other wildlife; except for a few well-camouflaged ptarmigans, the local wildlife was hiding.

  I would recommend this company and this way of interacting with the bears without reservation. Judy and I will be talking about this for a long time.

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Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba Province, Canada
Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba Province, Canada
The Capital Building of Winnipeg
The Capital Building of Winnipeg
Union Station,1908-1911, the railway hub of central Canada
Union Station,1908-1911, the railway hub of central Canada
An attractive old church
An attractive old church
Fort Garry Hotel, built 1913 in French 'chateau' style by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
Fort Garry Hotel, built 1913 in French 'chateau' style by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
The Assiniboine River at its meeting with the Red River
The Assiniboine River at its meeting with the Red River
The Forks National Historic Site, a recreation, shopping, and dining complex
The Forks National Historic Site, a recreation, shopping, and dining complex
Star spotter sculpture at The Forks
Star spotter sculpture at The Forks
Our puddle jumper into Churchill
Our puddle jumper into Churchill
With about 900 residents, the town is not exactly a hotbed of activity
With about 900 residents, the town is not exactly a hotbed of activity
A tundra buggy takes us from town onto the frozen tundra
A tundra buggy takes us from town onto the frozen tundra
Tundra Lodge, a 'train' of trailers located near the shores of Hudson Bay—our home for 5 days
Tundra Lodge, a 'train' of trailers located near the shores of Hudson Bay—our home for 5 days
The dining room, with fresh-cooked meals three times a day
The dining room, with fresh-cooked meals three times a day
Lectures on safety and the environment
Lectures on safety and the environment
Each single bedroom was about the size of a closet, but sufficient
Each single bedroom was about the size of a closet, but sufficient
The rear balcony provided unimpeded views of visiting polar bears
The rear balcony provided unimpeded views of visiting polar bears
Judy'n'me, kept warm by our Antarctic parkas and many layers underneath
Judy'n'me, kept warm by our Antarctic parkas and many layers underneath
Only scrubby trees and low vegetation grows on the tundra
Only scrubby trees and low vegetation grows on the tundra
The frozen shores of Hudson Bay
The frozen shores of Hudson Bay
The polar bears come here to wait for the surface to freeze...
The polar bears come here to wait for the surface to freeze...
...and then they spend all winter on the ice hunting seals.
...and then they spend all winter on the ice hunting seals.
Bleak, but awesome
Bleak, but awesome
Our first views of bears in the distance
Our first views of bears in the distance
They get closer...
They get closer...
...and closer...
...and closer...
...and closer. Zoom lenses help.
...and closer. Zoom lenses help.
A trio of young bears socialize
A trio of young bears socialize
They enjoy harmless tussles in the snow
They enjoy harmless tussles in the snow
They're practicing for dominance in mating season
They're practicing for dominance in mating season
Good place for a nap
Good place for a nap
Ya just wanna get down there and pet them
Ya just wanna get down there and pet them
Mama bear with this year's set of twins
Mama bear with this year's set of twins
The twins also enjoy playing in the snow
The twins also enjoy playing in the snow
Mama keeps a watchful eye on her cubs
Mama keeps a watchful eye on her cubs
A roll in the snow
A roll in the snow
Mama bear and COY (Cub Of the Year)
Mama bear and COY (Cub Of the Year)
They're curious but the cub stays behind Mama
They're curious but the cub stays behind Mama
The bears had no fear of the Tundra Buggies
The bears had no fear of the Tundra Buggies
The huge tires are too big for the bears to climb on or puncture
The huge tires are too big for the bears to climb on or puncture
Who's staring at who?
Who's staring at who?
We were not allowed to feed them
We were not allowed to feed them
They are truly magnificent creatures
They are truly magnificent creatures
Three bears just hangin' out
Three bears just hangin' out
Who couldn't love that face?
Who couldn't love that face?
A bear stands up at my window
A bear stands up at my window
A COY grabs a little sip
A COY grabs a little sip
Curled up for the night like a little puppy dog
Curled up for the night like a little puppy dog
Yep. There's a bear under that pile of snow
Yep. There's a bear under that pile of snow
Lonesome bear walking
Lonesome bear walking
Mama and cub
Mama and cub
A bear at my feet
A bear at my feet
Can you see the ptarmigans?
Can you see the ptarmigans?
Perfectly white ptarmigan
Perfectly white ptarmigan
Making friends with the sled dogs
Making friends with the sled dogs
This one looks like my malamute, Kanji
This one looks like my malamute, Kanji
Off we go!
Off we go!
Across a frozen pond
Across a frozen pond
Only my nose is sticking out of all the bundling
Only my nose is sticking out of all the bundling
Columnar sunset over the tundra
Columnar sunset over the tundra

60 PHOTOS

CLICK on the first photo to start a Slideshow

10 Nov 2010....Chicago O'Hare  ORD — Winnipeg, Manitoba  YWG

10 – 13 Nov.....Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

13 Nov.............Churchill, Manitoba

13 – 17 Nov.....Tundra Lodge

17 Nov.............Winnipeg, Manitoba

18 Nov.............Winnipeg  YWG — Chicago O'Hare  ORD