To write these blogs I will go through my travel logs that I sent to my husband during the trips. It is hard to remember everything that happened :).
This is the beginning of the trip. I might have to split the blogs in three since my logs are pretty long. Here we go…. buckle your seat belts….. haha.
My trip started by landing in Winnipeg, MB, Canada and spending the first night there. Wednesday, the next morning I met with the rest of the group going to see the polar bears and we went across the street to the airport to take a small plane (with space for about 30 people) to Churchill. The trip there took about two hours.
We landed in Churchill through fog, clouds, and snow. Got off the plane and it was so cold, around 20 Farenheight but with the wind, it felt more like in the 10s.
The ground was super slippery not sure how the pilot landed but I am glad he did.
The airport was very small and they only had a few small planes. We were told we had to wait before we could leave due to bad weather in Churchill and at the polar bear cabins.
I have to say Winnipeg is not a gorgeous city but wonderful in comparison to Churchill.
I was so excited to see polar bears that this time I was not too worried about small planes just concerned about the weather conditions lol
A man in a van met us at the airport and helped us with luggage. He said they didn’t know how long it would take to fly out of there so he was in charge or driving us around and showing us the town.
There was not a lot of snow on the ground but there was plenty of frost on the trees and ice.
Churchill has a couple of small motels, a couple of cafes and some condos. A small hospital and an old train station.
Looking around town from the van we noticed dogs tied up with a chain to their tiny dog houses in the cold, cold weather. We asked the driver what was a deal with the poor dogs. He said the guy uses the dogs to attract bears!!! OMG!!! He charges people to see polar bears…. Just awful. Dogs many times get killed by the polar bears since they can’t run away. All of us in the van…. animal lovers, were extremely upset about it.
We were all glad the driver received a call from the airport saying we were able to take off.
He said the last group was stuck in Churchill for two days due to weather.
After they defrosted the plane and loaded our bags we were ready to get in.
We sat down and we had to wear headsets like when you fly in a helicopter. The plane looked pretty old but I had no other way to get to the polar bears.
The pilot was a very funny guy and very knowledgeable which is a good thing.
We had to fly very low so the plane wouldn’t freeze and we fell like a rock. That was the exact description we got from the pilot.
As we took off which it didn’t take too much effort. Underneath, we could see only arctic tundra. First just a bit frozen and then we saw the gorgeous Hudson Bay starting to freeze.
We were also able to see some moose but not much else.
After about 40 minutes he said “ok, get ready, we will try to land but it might take a couple of tries”. I looked down and I all I could see was the very precarious cabins and no runway….
He had to land on a “grassy” and extremely short area. We were so glad when he did it on his first try and again effortless.
We were greeted by two men from the Arctic Kingdom and two natives. All four of them would be our guides for the next few days.
It was snowing, super windy and very very cold. But, we had finally arrived! I was thinking where are the bears!!!!????? Come on man!
We went inside one of the cabins and it was the kitchen and the living room. It smelled so good from something they were cooking.
So we are in the middle of nowhere, and a chef is cooking banana bread!!! No wonder it smelled so good!!
Walking in a looked very cozy and they had a big stove that kept the place warm.
They had hot coffee, hot cocoa and whatever else you wanted to drink or snack on.
They also had comfy couches and a big table for all of us to sit and eat.
The tour guides explained to us how the only thing protecting us from the bears was a little-electrified tape that would shock the bears and scare them away. The two Inuit guides with guns and all their knowledge about Polar Bears would also be our protection.
Again I was thinking where are the BEARS???!!!
We were told if we saw a bear not to run or we would become prey, not to wave the arms or make sudden movements.
All of a sudden one of our guides let us know that he just spotted a bear through the window!!!
I was soooo excited. I was ready to take off running out the door to see the bear face to face. The guide said…. stop, get dressed, it’s really cold outside and do not run!! I couldn’t wait to go outside and take a picture…. but I was so excited I forgot how to take a picture and what lens to use nevermind all the other technical details.
As we quietly went outside the cabin, there it was this gorgeous huge Polar bear digging thru frozen kelp looking for something to eat while waiting for the Hudson Bay to freeze.
What a beautiful animal!!
As I was taking pictures he would look at us but kept on looking for food. During my trip to Africa, I learned to put my camera down at some point and actually enjoy the moment. I just had to do it to take a look at this beautiful animal for the first time. I
I could not believe I was there standing feet away from a polar bear. It was a very emotional moment. I think we all got teary eyed.
After a while, he started to walk away. At that moment I decided I needed a picture with the Polar Bear behind me.
We went back inside the cabin and we were told to keep out equipment out of the main cabin because it would fog up and then freeze outside. Not a good thing when you want to use your camera in a rush.
We were all so excited with our first encounter!!! We were all just smiling!
We had dinner and talked about ourselves and watch a video about polar bears and safety. How to recognize the different faces etc.
Dinner was delicious. We had mash potatoes with a roasted chicken to die for and wine!! Dessert was hot apple crisp with ice cream!!! Yes, in the middle of no where ha!
Next, we got to see where we were going to sleep! Our beds were thin plywood with a thin mattress on top of it. The walls of the sleeping cabins were also made out of plywood.
This place was used by bear hunters that’s why the cabins are so primitive and in a perfect location. The cabins’ lights work with generators. There were two people per cabin.
Light works with generators
We were armed with a walkie talkie and a horn 🙂 The room was cold but it had a gas stove which was nice. I was very lucky to share my cabin with our chef. She is very nice and was very excited to bunk with me since most of the times she gets to share the cabins with guys. What a first day!!! I couldn’t wait for the next day!!