Some days are pure magic. All the elements align to create the perfect day on the tundra. Saturday was like that. The air was crisp, cold and clean. The skies were clear. And the polar bears were both plentiful and active. It was a day that had even the tour guides excited.
Our Tundra Buggy experience started with a bang. A couple of curious bears had come right into the staging area while the guides were trying to load all the Buggys. While they seem to move slowly and nonchalantly, this was nothing to take lightly. When they want to, polar bears can cover quite a distance in just a matter of seconds. So we waited while they were encouraged to move back to a safe distance and then set out. Not more than a minute or two out of the yard, we had our next encounter — which set the tone for the entire day.
We were blessed with sightings of over 30 bears that day and even saw one bear actually swimming in the water. This is rare for this time of year as the bears are still conserving their energy and fat stores while waiting for the ice to freeze and the opportunity to hunt. We saw two bears sparring — or play-fighting — in the distance but missed seeing the action up close. Fortunately we have one more day out on the tundra and hope to see some more of this socializing behavior.
The thing is, though — the bears shouldn’t still be here. With the changing weather patterns, the ice is forming later and later. The fact that both the river and the Bay remain unfrozen is serious as it means the long fast for the bears continues. So while it was a treat to be able to see so many polar bears, it would be much better for them if they had already headed out onto the ice.
The end of our first day on the tundra was truly the icing on the top. We were treated to a magnificent sunset that escorted us all the way back to base. We haven’t seen the Northern Lights, but these colors were spectacular, turning the sky into an amazing artist’s pallette and tinging the snow and ice with pastels.
This has definitely been a trip to remember. The people of Churchill have been wonderful and the folks from Frontiers North Adventures (aka the Tundra Buggy team) absolutely outstanding. I believe Buchachon has enjoyed it every bit as much as I have.
So the only question is — what do we do for our next photo contest????