Notices

In Search Of... Polar Bears

Reply

Sep 23rd, 2012, 08:30 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
In Search Of... Polar Bears

As a kid growing up in the Caribbean I had an unusual pet, a polar bear. Now as an adult I want to discover a little more about my childhood friend's ancestry, more than I can read about in a book or see in a zoo.

I am headed to Churchill, Manitoba in Canada. Here's my plan and I welcome your suggestions and input.

My plan so far is to fly into Winnipeg and drive up to Thompson then fly or take the train from there. In my opinion the train from Winnipeg takes too long and only runs on certain days. Surprisingly it is just as expensive or more so than flying unless you want to sit in a seat for about two days.

I imagine the drive to Thompson (8-9 hours) would be scenic and catching the train from there would be a more "bearable" ride and less expensive. Right now CalmAir is offering a $300RT price from Thompson to Churchill.

Is the first week of October good to visit Churchill for bear sightings?
What are some recommended affordable hotels or lodges?
How many days would you spend in Churchill?

For your input and suggestions, I will reward you by giving you a good tip on how to catch a polar bear
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 2nd, 2012, 11:31 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
No way... our parallel paths continue, DMBTraveler!

I'm heading to Churchill in a couple weeks, doing a short tundra buggy trip.

I think it's still too early in the season, but I'm told that once the bay freezes up, the bears are gone, so it's better to be too early than too late.
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 3rd, 2012, 07:17 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
SPT,

Cool

I have a one day tour booked with Great White Bear Tours next week.

From all the tours that are sold out in November, I guess that might be the best time to go. However, you never know with wild life.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 4th, 2012, 04:10 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
Have a great time! And please warm up (or rather chill-out) the bears for me!

I'll be with Tundra Buggy Adventures, so we can compare notes afterwards.

Hope for cooler temperatures...
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 4th, 2012, 07:24 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,341
I was in Churchill twice. The first time I was by myself. The second time I took my wife. Both trips were on the train all the way from Winnipeg. I didn't have the money to go out in a tundra buggy or a helicopter.
Both times I/we only stayed for 12 hours and returned on the train. I saw my polar bear the cheap way. We shared a taxi with a Japanese tourist. We each paid the cabbie $20CDN to go out of town to see a polar bear. We saw one laying down on the other side of a narrow channel. There were a few sled dogs tied out on our side of the channel.
As I recall it was the third week of October and the temp was in the mid 30's with an occasional snow flurry.
If the skies are clear, you might get a chance to see the Northern Lights if you get up between 1 and 4 AM.
There is a small museum in town that you should not miss.
I do remember seeing a stuffed narwhale (sic).
tomfuller is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 4th, 2012, 09:31 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 8,124
And keep your arms inside the buggy while taking photos!
muskoka is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2012, 09:37 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
SPT,

Just checked weather forecast for next week. In 30's with chance of snow on Tues

Will look for your trip report.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2012, 09:42 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
Tomfuller,

Love your sense of adventure

Looked at the train but too long from Winnipeg and expensive for a sleeper car.

Wish you had posted before I laid out the non-refundable cash for the buggy ride.. may have saved a few bucks and had a cool story to tell like yours.

Suppose to be clear on Mon so I'll be up at 1 am

Thanks for the tips!
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2012, 09:44 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
muskoka,

Guess no "Nice polar bear, here polar, polar".. Meow
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 5th, 2012, 09:53 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 5
Later in October is better, but you should still be okay. The drive from Winnipeg to Thompson can be brutal if you are not used to Canadian distances. Do not plan to do it in 1 day.

A list of accommodations in Churchill
http://www.coolplaces.ca/index.pl/Churchill
CoolPlaces is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2012, 09:14 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
Coolplaces

Thanks for info. Even with more than a day is the drive Winnipeg to Thompson worthwhile?

I don't mind the drive as long as it is scenic and there are interesting things to see or do along the way.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2012, 09:17 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
Coolplaces,

Have bookmarked your link, thanks
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2012, 11:33 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 173
If you are planning on driving from Winnipeg to Thompson, please plan your overnight and your gas consumption very carefully. In Aug., we found only one gas station at the junction of 6 & 60 and there was no place to stay from Ashern and The Pas cutoff. Just to be safe, top your tank in Ashern -- and don't plan on finding a rest stop with running water.

As for interesting things to do/see along that stretch -- how fond are you of forests, marshes and lakes?


--Annie
anniemackie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 6th, 2012, 11:43 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
anniemackie,

Thanks for the info. I was thinking about making the drive to Thompson/The Pas then catch the train or fly from there to Churchill.

I am fond of the outdoors but it does not seem like the drive north is anything special.

Although if I venture off into the forest maybe I could solve one of life's mysteries.

Eh, I think that tree did make a sound ...
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 9th, 2012, 12:22 AM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
How to catch a polar bear

Since I have made it to Churchill using the helpful information some of you have provided. I think being here requires a separate trip posting of it's own. However, I will do my part as promised to reward you for your help by sharing with you how to catch a polar bear.

To catch a polar bear is a very simple process that requires just two items, an ice saw along with a can of green peas. Finding a spot on a solid piece of ice, cut a circular hole in it a little bigger than the size of the polar bear you want to catch.

Break up the cut out ice and while it is floating away, line the circle around the hole with the green peas. Find a hiding spot and be patient. The green peas will eventually attract a polar bear.

When it arrives and starts to eat the peas, quickly but quietly run up from behind and kick it in the ice hole
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 9th, 2012, 11:39 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
Churchill Polar Bear Tips-N-Things

Most visitors come to Churchill, The Polar Bear Capital of The World, during bear season in organized tours anywhere from one day to multi-day stays. These trips can cost anywhere from $2-7,000.00. However, there are a few independent travelers that might find the following information useful.

The cheapest way to Churchill is by train from Winnipeg about $400 RT in a non-sleeping car. A journey that takes about 44 hours and is only available certain days of the week. An alternate to save time is to drive or fly to Thompson and take the train from there. If you do drive to Thompson, I am told it is better to park at the City Hall lot which is relatively cheap and has 24 hr security.

Some airfare bargains can be found if you plan to travel early or late in the season. Otherwise, a charter package is probably a better deal.

In Churchill, I recommend the following:

HOTEL: Polar Inn & Suites.

I paid $100 per night including free continental breakfast and wi-fi. Very quite hotel with an at home feeling to it. Has a gift shop and they also operate a tour company. From what I saw all hotels are basically in the same area and all seem to be the typical small town hotels.

RESTAURANTS: Gypsy's & Tundra Dining Room & Bar.

When a restaurant has a "sinful" bakery, is often crowded and comes highly recommend by locals not much more needs to be said. Gypsy's is located across the street from the Great White Bear Tour company.

Across the street from and owned by the Tundra Inn. This is the place if you want to sample local fare like Elk meatloaf ($23) or a Bison burger, lean and delicious for $15 especially with a $3 Standard Lager (labeling looks like Budweiser but taste much better).

POLAR BEAR TOUR COMPANY: Great White Bear Tour for CAD$ 400 per day.

I will almost guarantee you that you will not be disappointed. Friendly staff and no doubt better equipment than the competition. Although tundra buggies can hold about 36 passengers, they carry a maximum of 18 plus a tour guide on group tours.

Although we had only 7 passengers on our tour, we came across other buggies that we could tell were much more crowded. While this might be good for business it might not necessarily be good for the customers.

From airline type seating for ride comfort, to huge slanted windshields and a rear observation platform with see through flooring, I think you cannot go wrong in choosing Great White Bear Tour company.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 10th, 2012, 05:46 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
Only 7 passengers on your tundra buggy?!? That's fantastic... You, sir, are a very lucky man!

(Just saw a forecast where the temps are supposed to peak several degrees above normal exactly on the days I'm there. And rain. I'm debating whether to pack my usual Wet Coast clothing instead of the down parka...)
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 10th, 2012, 07:58 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
SPT,

IMO, You don't need to pack too much heavy winter gear at least I am told not until Feb.

Inside the buggy was warm and when we did go out back most of us did it without a jacket.

Putting together some pictures and video to finish up my trip report where I'll share a little more about my experiences in Churchill.

BTW.. The 7th person in the buggy was an employee along just for the ride. Will be interesting to read about your buggy experience.

Come rain, sleet or snow... I know you are going to have fun
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 12th, 2012, 09:33 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
Thanks for the weather tips! Looking forward to the trip, and also to your trip report!
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 10:31 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,009
SPT,

Before heading up I checked "The Weather Channel" and their forecast was 64% wrong

However, as you can imagine the weather in Churchill can change by the minute especially this time of the year.

My real weather disappointment came with missing the best part of the Northern Lights show. I am told you can arrange to be woken up at some hotels if you don't want to miss them.

Have a "Great Time" on your trip
DMBTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:11 AM.