Inuit Sled Dog International
Copyright ISDI, 1997, 2012, 2016
Preserving the pure Inuit dog

Polar Bears galore!
Paul Schurke

Is this for REAL? My wife Sue & I kept asking each other while romping with polar bears on Hudson Bay. A dozen of us took part in Wintergreen's pioneering venture with Churchill Wild at their lovely Seal River Heritage Lodge in northern Manitoba to hike the Arctic Ocean shore amongst polar bears waiting for the sea ice (their winter habitat) to form. These 1,000-pound, 8-foot bruins pass the time snoozing, rolling in the snow, poking through driftwood and (incredibly fun to watch!) sparring with each other just like boxing circus bears. The town of Churchill is indeed the world's bear capital and each fall thousands of tourists enjoy the antics of the bears through the windows of all-terrain buses called tundra buggies.

Churchill Wild Lodge is unique among northern outfitters in that their lodges are far removed from the hub-bub of town and their superb guides take you out trekking on the tundra to get up close and personal with Arctic wildlife. Bears are the star attraction but arctic foxes, ptarmigan, gyre falcons, lemmings, snowy owls, snow geese, arctic wolves and caribou make occasional guest appearances.

Hosts Mike & Jeanne Reimer and their top-notch crew hosted us like family, feasted us like royalty and sent us home shaking our heads and still wondering, "Was that for real?" There is simply no wildlife viewing experience that tops this in North American, and probably in the world. Just how close do you get? While filming a bear that came up to greet me through their lodge's obervation fence, I smelt his hot breath. And while hiking the tundra, our guides often determined that it was safe for us to get within a 100 feet of them.

Our favorite encounter: Two young male bears were passing time wrestling and pummelling when an older grizzled bear came plodding down the shore. His route took him right past the younger ones. He snorted a greeting and they paid deference, almost bowing as he passed. He plopped down in snowbank nearby to snooze and they moved on to find another place to wrestle.

Plans are in the works for a return visit next fall. Let us know pronto if you're interested (first come-first serve!) and we'll alert you to details as soon as they're available. Or join us for our April dogsled trip along Hudson Bay's Polar Bear National Park, or for any of our December through March dogsledding vacations or dogsled camping adventures at Wintergreen Lodge:

Photos Mark Montgomery
Sorry, I do not have the author of these photos.