|Several of our tour group took a helicopter ride to look at bears. Diane and Florence are boarding here, and Emily is waiting for the pilot to seat her up front. This trio took a late afternoon flight that saved them the bus ride back to town. Others took an early flight from in town and were picked up by our tundra buggy in an area away from all the bears.|
|Lunch in the buggy was sandwiches with a large choice of ingredients. Sodas. bottled water, and hot water for instant coffee, tea, and hot chocolate was provided during the day. However, the buggy had to be parked when the food or hot beverages were out. Also, a stopped buggy was necessary any time everyone was not seated. The buggies rock and roll way too much to move around safely. At the start of the tour, we all had to sign an agreement that we would obey the directions of our driver, Bob|
|When bears are nearby, the buggy stops and everyone stands to get a better look and pictures through the top half of the windows that open. Notice that everyone is wearing a heavy coat. We had very good weather. The temperature was 26 to 33 deg F most of the time, and there was little wind. It can be much worse, with high winds being common. Our first two buggy days were partly cloudy, and heavy overcast on the last.|
|You can go to a zoo to see polar bears, but you have to go somewhere in the far North
to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. These pictures are brighter green
than what I saw, and there should be more blue. The exposure was 10 seconds at f5.6, with
400 speed Fuji print film. The lights were very dynamic. At first, there would be large
faint areas glowing dimly bluegreen. Somewhere in the dim glowing area, there would be a
brightening and bending appearance. The sharper the apparent bend, the brighter the glow.
The bright region would move and then fade back to dark. During the 10 second exposure,
the brightest area would change noticeably in both brightness and location. I would use a
2 second exposure with 800 speed film if I had another opportunity to take a picture of
These pictures were made about 11 PM the second night we were in Churchill. It was overcast the first night. The third night, some glowing activity was present about 8 PM. I got my video camera and went back out with the intention of getting movies of the lights. Clouds! No more glowing sky, and no visible stars either the rest of our trip. We were fortunate to have one good night to see the lights in action.
Unlike all other places we have visited, Churchill is the one place that we could not drive to. There is no road to Churchill from southern Canada. You can travel to Churchill by plane, train, or boat if Hudson Bay is not frozen. There are roads in and around town, but the town is so small that walking is appropriate from the hotel to any other place in town. When walking, use care because you are sharing the roadsides with ATVs ridden by many of the local population.
There are several different ways to get a polar bear tour. There are two companies in Churchill with tundra buggies. We were on a Tundra Buggy Company buggy that was used for the Travelwild Expeditions tour. The Tundra Buggy Company also conducts tours for other tour agencies, and also have tours in their own name. A competitor, the Great White Bear Company, also has buggies and tours. An internet search will lead to several travel agencies that either make tour arrangements for you, or conduct tours with their own people as guides. Our tour included three days in a buggy with a naturalist guide who was very knowledgeable about the arctic, and the plants and animals that we saw. Other tours are are from one to 5 days in a buggy. Our travel was by air from and to Winnipeg. An overnight stay at the Radison Suites Hotel in Winnipeg, both before and after the flights, was part of the tour. Other tours may include a train ride. I read of one polar bear tour that was all in one day; an early charter flight from Winnipeg, bus to the buggy, the tour, and then a bus back to the airport and a return flight to Winnipeg. This is the only way that I am aware of that a tour can be arranged less than about a year in advance. I am told that hotel rooms are booked at least a year in advance.
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