Bear Encounters in Manitoba

There are some remote places in the Canadian Province of Manitoba. Places that have a small population of humans generally have a large population of wildlife, and the outreaches of Manitoba prove that point perfectly.

Take polar bears, for instance. Most visitors to Churchill, Manitoba spot polar bears from giant tundra vehicles during the bears’ fall migration to the Hudson Bay ice packs. While that short season runs October through November, when you can see from 20 to 30 per day! In anitoba there are other ways to interact with bears too.

At Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, on the southern tip of Wapusk National Park, it’s the guests who are caged, protected behind an eight-foot high Buffalo Fence that surrounds the camp to keep visitors secure from bears. All-terrain vehicles negotiate 35 kilometres of established trails. From July through September bears with cubs may be spotted, and bears, fresh from the now-broken ice packs, browse stretches of sedge grass. But the cool thing here is heading out on to the mudflats and up and down the ancient beach ridges until you find some bears, which are usually snoozing.

From there, guests get off the ATVs and stalk closer and closer until you can hear the polar bears snort the bugs off their nose. Run by Churchill Wild, these trips offer an adrenalin rush simply via the nature of the bear approach in a stunning landscape of mudflats and beach ridges, completely different from Churchill.

In July and August, Paul Ratson’s Nature 1st Tours, takes visitors walking along the Churchill ocean coastline along the Hudson Bay, into the boreal forest or on the mudflats out to a grounded ship, or on longer heli-hikes to Knights Hill to view three-thousand-year-old aboriginal tent rings and kayak rests. Fragile Arctic flowers carpet the tundra, beluga whales surface in the mouth of the Churchill River and you usually see a polar bear or two out here.

Adventurers can nod off in cosy beds at temporary mobile “lodges”. Two of these, the Frontiers North Tundra Buggy Lodge and the Great White Bear Tundra Lodge are located near the shore of Hudson Bay where it is possible to see bears snoozing outside on the snow. These temporary lodges, which are set up every October and November, resemble tundra trains that have been built on platforms. They are outfitted complete with bunk-bed-style sleeper cars and lounge and dining cars. During the day, guests can catch bears in the best light as they spar and snooze. At night, humans tuck into their bunks and peek out their windows to watch bears, or stay up late to watch Northern Lights stream across the sky.

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