A Polar Bear Fly-In!

A Polar Bear Fly-In!

Vacation News » North America Vacation News Edition | By Steve Winston | October 3, 2012 8:30 AM ET

If you've ever wanted to get up-close-and-personal with the most fearsome creature on Earth - which may be gone by 2050 because of Arctic warming - now's the time to do it. Adventure Life, a Missoula, MT-based company, is taking a select group of travelers on the journey of a lifetime - a Polar Bear Fly-In. But this opportunity will only last until the end of November.

First, you have to get yourself up to Winnipeg, Canada. There, you'll connect with the group leaders and guides from Adventure life. And if you think it took a long plane ride - or rides - to get to Winnipeg, that's only the first leg of your journey!

From there you fly to isolated Churchill, in far Northeastern Canada. After landing there, you'll board a charter aircraft for the 45-minute flight into the lands of Canada's Native Inuit people.

When you disembark from that flight, on the frozen tundra of the Arviat Polar Bear Cabins on Hudson Bay, you'll feel as if you're at the end of the Earth. (And you almost are.)

It won't take you long to see that the cabins are strategically placed - both for polar bear encounters and for photography. The camp sits astride "Polar Bear Alley," where the Gellini River runs into Hudson Bay. The river's three miles wide - too wide for bears to cross until it freezes. So you'll see them all over as they wait for the river to freeze (which is why you have to get here in October or November).

Once you've settled down in your cabin, you'll go out on a series of short treks in groups of 6-8, led by Inuit guides, to observe the bears and to get the scariest close-ups you've ever taken. There are no fences around the camp, so the bears wander through all the time. But not to worry. The guides live amongst these bears every day of their lives, and know their behavior intimately. You won't be in any danger.

Believe it or not, polar bears can occasionally be nonchalant about human visitors, and may not approach you when they see you. Other times they might. But, again, you'll be in safe hands. 

At night, you'll be able to witness one of nature's most spectacular light shows - the Northern Lights. Shortly after sunset each evening, the lights start to appear. And by the time you turn in, you'll have seen a kaleidoscope of vivid greens, reds, and purples splashing across the sky, along with other colors you can't even describe.

Arviat Polar Bear Cabins is actually a former polar bear hunt camp. And you'll spend the nights in a comfortable, rustic, Arctic cabin with full power and heat, surrounded by an electric fence to keep bears out. The camp is often visited by individual polar bears, as well as mothers with cubs, so you may get some "National Geographic"-type photos.

When you take the guided walking expeditions around the camp, you'll see a lot more wildlife, as well, among then arctic hares, arctic foxes, willow ptarmigan, and snowy owls.

If you're really lucky, you might get to see the local Quamirjuaq Caribou herd, which sometimes wanders close to the cabins. Or, you may be able to see them after take-off to go back to Churchill - because there are 400,000 of them.

So, if you've ever dreamed about trekking through a crusty, frozen tundra near the top of the world, and seeing polar bears up close, now's your chance. But it'll only last until the end of next month!

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