Many have seen polar bears confined within the synthetic surroundings of a zoo, however solely a lucky few have had the exhilarating expertise of witnessing these fascinating and majestic creatures up shut of their pure habitat. Every fall, the small grain port of Churchill, Manitoba on the west coast of Canada’s Hudson Bay turns into a gathering level for wildlife viewers, nature fanatics, photographers, and adventurers from world wide who come to look at one of many nice thrills of nature, the polar bears of Churchill. Churchill, the place the roughly 1000 residents are outnumbered by an estimated 1200 polar bears, is located close to the southern restrict of the place they can stay yr spherical and is among the most accessible locations for one to look at polar bears within the wild, making Churchill the perfect place on earth to view polar bears of their pure habitat.
After the spring thaw, the Hudson Bay bear inhabitants roams the tundra, consuming little however berries, grass, and sea weed throughout the summer time months. In the autumn, whereas pregnant females transfer to denning areas, non pregnant feminine and male polar bears congregate round Churchill ready for the waters of Hudson Bay to freeze.
The freeze permits the polar bears emigrate over the ice packs in path to their winter seal-hunting grounds. Seals are the principle meals supply for polar bears. According to Steve Donino, Field Director for Natural Habitat Tours, “It’s unimaginable for bears to hunt free-swimming seals, and Churchill is among the first locations ice types on the bay.” Donino, who has been main polar bear excursions to Churchill for Natural Habitat Tours for 10 years, is an expert wildlife photographer who ceaselessly works with scientists world wide documenting their analysis and has served as an ecotourism improvement advisor for the Inuit neighborhood of Coral Harbor within the Northwest Territories in addition to an teacher to the National Audubon Ecology Camps in Maine.
Usually polar bears are solitary creatures, however round Churchill throughout October and November one can see giant numbers of them, which is why Churchill is named the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” According to Donino, at this time of yr vacationers can count on to see wherever from 2 to 50 polar bears on the tundra surrounding Churchill. “Although Churchill has a big inhabitants, there isn’t any assure as to what number of bears we’ll see [on a tour]. On common we’ll see 12 or so bears, however its wildlife so it is unpredictable.”
Travelers observe the polar bears of Churchill from the protection and luxury of a tundra car, generally known as a “tundra buggy.” Through the home windows of a tundra buggy, vacationers have the unimaginable alternative to see younger males play struggle in preparation for future competitors for mates, mom bears discover the panorama with their cubs at their sides, and solitary adults lumber throughout the tundra. Often tundra autos are surrounded by curious polar bears nibbling at the tires or standing on their hind legs to look in on vacationers. It is actually a singular and extraordinary wildlife expertise. The bears reply to the tundra bugs in one in every of 3 ways: they both fully ignore them, they strategy and examine them, or they merely go away as a result of they do not need to be bothered. But the bears are extraordinarily curious creatures in keeping with Donino. “It’s the perfect expertise when the bears come take a look at the vacationers.”
Natural Habitat Tours gives a number of journeys to view the polar bears of Churchill. According to Donino, what makes Natural Habitat Tours distinctive is the standard of their guides.
“We have the perfect guides on the planet. Our guides have a really sturdy dedication to ecotourism and to giving folks the perfect expertise that they’ll have.” Natural Habitat Tours, a long-time Supporting Member of The International Ecotourism Society, has made the observe of excessive ecotourism requirements an integral a part of its mission and has been featured in lots of publications as one of many choose, accountable nature tour operators. Donino instructed Ecotravel.com “Ecotourism is evolutionary. We look at a lodge or facility and see what’s being executed, if there’s want for enchancment, after which we attempt to encourage and facilitate that enchancment. Clients assume that we’re doing one thing optimistic , that we’re doing it for the advantage of the native folks and never harming the surroundings.”
Putting their philosophy into motion, Natural Habitat Tours has assisted the world’s prime polar bear scientists from the Churchill Northern Studies Center and the University of Saskatchewan in performing important analysis and is at present within the course of of creating a scholarship fund for polar bear analysis at the University of Saskatchewan. Natural Habitat Tours can also be working with tundra buggy operators to create a guide on the ethics and requirements of polar bear viewing for guides who drive tundra buggies. For Donino, the results of efforts resembling these is among the most satisfying facets of being concerned with Natural Habitat Adventure’s excursions. “I take plenty of satisfaction in having this optimistic impact. That, to me, is ecotourism – having a optimistic impact.”
Natural Habitat Tours gives polar bear viewing not solely by way of tundra car however by helicopter as nicely. On such a heli-journey the traveler can also see Arctic fox, caribou and different wildlife as nicely. Travelers are additionally provided the prospect to crawl inside an unoccupied polar bear den, a really once-in-a-lifetime alternative!
For an awfully intimate expertise, vacationers with Natural Habitat Tours can keep at the regionally owned and operated “Mothers & Cubs Lodge” positioned throughout the Churchill River from city, which gives an unique getaway the place moms and cubs are inclined to congregate. The lodge is encaged in bars, like a shark cage, with a porch space across the lodge and walks on prime the place vacationers can view the bears. Bears look within the home windows and are available as much as the bars across the lodge to look at at guests. The lodge, constructed within the early 1900’s and as soon as a neighborhood buying and selling submit which attracted native Inuit, Cree and Chipawa Indians, implements environmentally pleasant practices resembling self-composting bogs, water conservation, and cautious waste disposal.