Mostly because it is so far… and this is what makes it so very special. The town of Churchill is remote…you cannot get here by road. Everyone and everything are either flown in or comes by train…a long two-days from Winnipeg. Seal River Heritage Lodge, Churchill Wild’s original resort, is 60 km north of town. A further 15-minute flight. It is the only way to get here. It is also the only way to get everything else here too, think fuel, food, staff. This is seriously remote.
And seriously wonderful. Only a few hundred people are lucky enough to get this far. What a treat when you do. Churchill Wild pioneered the walking Polar Bear Safari. The goal is to experience the Polar Bears on their turf with no impact, either positive or negative. Safari Canadian style.
Top top quality….the guides, the equipment, the food, the lodge. All a wow. But this does not come cheap.
I’ve come in late July hoping to see my own trinity. Bears, belugas and northern lights. The bears are pretty lazy this time of year. The feeding frenzy on seal pups is over, mothers are teaching the cubs; all are waiting for the ice. It’s traditionally a period of walking hibernation.
But Polar Bears are nothing if not adaptive. In the past 10-15 years they have been documented hunting the belugas, which are definitely not an endangered species. At least not in Hudson’s Bay. Out on a zodiac we saw hundreds…jumping, playing, leading their calves and oh so curious about us. They hang out in this part of the bay for 6-10 weeks.
Day one, we are fitted with rubber boots and told the rules. To keep us safe, but mostly to protect the bears. Then out we go. Often on foot but also ATVs with trailers and zodiacs. It depends on the bears. And the belugas.
These guides know their stuff…a new guide at Churchill Wild is already an old guide somewhere else. They are trained in everything wilderness you can imagine… gun safety (yes, they carry them, they have yet to need one), boat safety, basic mechanics, emergency medical and biology. But nothing compares to what they learn on the ground. The stories they share, the knowledge in their heads. Excursions are fun & informative. Every evening, a talk. Better than any university lecture. Magic.
Nature is not predictable, and neither is Churchill Wild. Each trip is different. As is every day. The only guarantee is you will not see anyone who is not staying or working at the lodge. It is too far for tourists from town.
Breakfast wrap of scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage is a taste of heaven, especially when you are on the water watching bears. We shared the coast with 16 bears devouring a beluga. You will not lose weight on this vacation. Meals are served family style. Most vegetables come from a sister company called Prairie Wild…grown south of Winnipeg, organic, picked right before they head to the lodge. And boy are they tasty! The cookie jar is available from dawn to dusk…pure crack.
As for the northern lights….well late July is a bit early for them…long days, light nights. But I got a 2 am knock on my door…”come outside”. And there they were. Bright green streaks across the sky. iPhone can’t capture them, but they are imprinted in my mind forever.
It may be expensive, but the experience is priceless.