Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Friday, December 02, 2005

Polar Bear Adventure Day 4: Bring On The Bears!

Tundra buggies on their way to find bears

Wednesday morning, November 2, we got up bright and early and boarded a bus to take us to the tundra buggies. There were 19 people in our tour group, and we were assigned to our own tundra buggy.

The tundra buggy seats 40 people, has a gas heater/stove and a bathroom inside, and the base of the vehicle is 15 feet off the ground.

Our driver was taking bets to predict what time it would be when we saw our first bear. It turned out we saw our first bear around 10:45 am, waaay off in the distance.

Three male bears, tidal flats and the Hudson Bay in the background

We drive for another 15 minutes, and were rewarded with several bears, much closer to us.

Polar bear with the tundra lodge in the background

There was a large mostly frozen area of ice where most of the bears hung out all day. The tundra lodge is parked out on the tundra for the duration of the bear season, some who go to Churchill choose to stay in the tundra lodge, which has bathrooms, showers, a kitchen, dining room, and bunks for up to 40 people at a time.

We stayed in the area near the tundra lodge for several hours. There was more than enough for us to watch right there.

A beautiful and immaculately clean young female approached us closely

Our female bear friend found a dead bird to eat

We watched the bears for hours. Out on the ice, four male bears sparred with other.

The bears are just like kids playing

They would spar with each other for hours at a time

Reminds me of Steven and Sean

Shortly after lunch, Dennis Compayre, author of the Buggy Blog and operator of the Polar Bear Cam, the source of the live photos that used to be displayed at the top of Steven's web page, showed up in his buggy to take Steven and Sean for a ride.

Dennis Compayre with Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

He drove them around to see the bears and got them to stick their heads out the top of the buggy for a live photo that showed up on the polar bear cam (the photo at the top of the web page).

Steven at the wheel of the Polar Bear Cam buggy

He even let Steven and Sean drive the buggy, although I heard that Sean gave it a little too much gas when it was his turn.

This guy was hot and decided to cool down on the ice

Polar bears have black skin, their fur isn't white, it's clear but it has a property that causes it to scatter light, making them appear white

Polar bears are vicious carnivores, the most carnivorous of all the bears, but they don't look like it when they're sleeping

Later in the day, some of the bears took naps, maybe tired after all that sparring.

Steven concentrating hard on keeping the tundra buggy on the road.

Eventually it was time to head back. It takes about an hour to drive from where they keep the tundra buggies to where the polar bears are. They drive on existing dirt roads, formerly used by the military.

Sean at the wheel

Our driver most kindly let Steven and Sean drive the buggy back. Actually, they weren't bad at offroad driving.

I had to go through over 250 photos to put together this day's story, there's much more, but this is the Reader's Digest version. Suffice it to say we had a wonderful time, this trip was pure magic from beginning to end. We are ever so grateful to all the folks that helped make it happen for us.

To be continued...

- Kathleen


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