Weve all seen pictures of polar bears on receding sheets of ice, but it wasnt until I flew to the western shore of Hudson Bay, in northern Manitoba, that I understood you could get so close to them you could appreciate the fearsome moistness of their snouts, the awesome sharpness of their claws and teeth, or the fact that the thousand-pound predators still look like fat, furry white blobs you want to leap on and hug.
Or that you can see them in the summer, in weather that sometimes approaches 70 degrees, against a backdrop of purple fireweed, gentian, primrose, buttercup, and cloudberries, as well as potbellied Arctic ground squirrels. Except that you might also see one of those winsome squirrels hanging limply from a polar bears teeth.
I took part in Churchill Wilds Birds, Bears, and Belugas package, held in July and August ($7,295 CAD per person, including roundtrip flights from Winnipeg), but other expeditions involving polar bears, wolves, caribou, moose, dog sledding, and northern lights are offered from September through November and in March, in Churchill Wilds five family-owned, small lodges, all in Manitobas northernmost reaches, where I never saw fewer than a half-dozen bears on any day and often many more.
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