Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Polar Bear Adventure!

This post is courtesy of guest writer, veteran traveler and Bee Kalt Travel Advisor: Carolyn Greenberg 
She fills us in on her incredible trip to see the Polar Bears in the Great White North!

Carolyn writes:
It’s been on my “bucket list” for a long time and this fall presented the opportunity to finally get to see the Polar Bears!

What an incredible experience. We traveled with Natural Habitat Adventures who truly are the “nature people”. They specialize in small group expeditions in custom–built Polar Rovers that afforded us up-close encounters with the bears.

Our trip began in Winnipeg, the capital and largest city in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Winnipeg is reached easily by two short flights from Detroit through Minneapolis. We stayed at the Fort Garry Hotel , a National Historic Site built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. A highlight of the Winnipeg tour was the Manitoba Museum, a unique museum with exhibits that explore the history of man and nature. Their showcase piece is a full sized replica of the Nonsuch, a 17th century sailing vessel that sailed the world and led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Our polar adventure began with a charter flight to the icy wild of Churchill, Manitoba. This outpost town was originally a fur-trading post on the Hudson Bay. The town has a population of under 1000 inhabitants. In the late fall, hundreds of bears congregate in the Churchill area waiting for the ice to form on the Hudson Bay so they can begin the winter seal-hunting season.

No sooner had we boarded our vans for our lodging that we had our first polar bear sighting: some bears being released from “polar bear jail”. Hungry bears that stray too close to town and cannot be frightened off are trapped and kept in “jail“ for 30 days. They are fed nothing but water to discourage them from returning. They are then sedated and airlifted by helicopter to the other side of the bay to wait until it freezes. What a spectacular sight!

For the next few days we spent the daylight hours on the arctic tundra at the edge of the bay in a heated, plush Polar Rover, searching for wildlife much as one would on an African safari. Although the vehicles can seat 35 passengers, Natural Habitat only takes 15, which means we had lots of room to roam and everyone gets a window seat. Our wildlife sightings included many polar bears, foxes, snowy owls, and ptarmigan. What a thrill to watch the young males play-fighting! The mesh outdoor observation deck was perfect for close-up viewing and photos. Great dinners and cultural presentations rounded out the days. We even had an opportunity to see the famed Northern Lights which can be quite spectacular.

Tip: Book early as space is limited and these trips are very popular. Polar Bear adventures are only offered in October and November.

To book your next adventure, contact the travel specialists at Bee Kalt Travel!
Tel: 248-288-9600 or Toll-free 1-800-284-5258
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