After two years away, travelers have finally returned to Churchill eager to explore the vast expanse of tundra in search of the King of the Arctic and were rewarded with prolific polar bear sightings. As Natural Habitat Adventures’ 2021 polar bear season comes to a successful close, we reflect on the host of thrilling wildlife our guests encountered in the field. Bears were found all along the Hudson Bay, from sparring males to charismatic sets of mothers and cubs. Guests enjoyed up-close viewings of bears feeding, nursing their young, sleeping among the willows and even playing together on frozen ponds.
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Aside from plenty of polar bears, northern wildlife abounded. Birds were out in abundance, from snowy owl, tundra swan and ptarmigan to gyrfalcon, golden plover and snow bunting galore. Foxes chased Arctic hares amid a dusting of snow and ringed seals were spotted basking on the ice. Guests who flew over the frozen tundra by helicopter into Wapusk National Park were treated to wandering polar bears and rare sightings of wolves, caribou, moose and beluga whales. Though never predictable, the shimmering aurora borealis made an appearance on some nighttime tundra excursions. Activity-filled days and a profusion of wildlife led to joyful travelers and guides reporting some of the best days they’ve experienced on the tundra.
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As one of the first companies to run polar bear adventures in Churchill, Natural Habitat Adventures has become intimately acquainted with the community and region. Operating environmentally conscious polar bear trips helps sustain Churchill’s economy while using travel as a means to raise our guests’ awareness and inspire their own conservation efforts. As the exclusive conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, we engage with initiatives that increase our understanding of polar bear behavior and the effects of diminishing sea ice on the entire ecosystem. Our travelers play an important part in the preservation of one of the planet’s most extraordinary wild animals, and the long-anticipated return of our guests has been felt across the entire community of Churchill.
In celebration of 2021’s phenomenal polar bear season, enjoy this roundup of some of our favorite photos from this polar bear season. Make sure to follow these Instagram accounts to see more incredible wildlife photography!
A mother and her two cubs pose for guide Justin Gibson.
This Nat Hab guest was so excited to snap her first selfie with a polar bear!
Nat Hab guide Eddy Savage captured this magical moment between a mother and cub.
Actress and conservationist Bo Derek joined one of our polar bear trips with her sister, photographer Kerry Perez.
Derek is a talented photographer, too!
Nat Hab guide Brad Josephs caught a sweet moment between this curious bear and our long-time Rover driver Bill McPherson.
Nothing like the thrill of locking eyes with a polar bear. Photo by Nat Hab Adventure Director Kate Willingham.
A typical view from the Tundra Lodge, our custom-designed rolling hotel placed each season in prime polar bear habitat.
Double take. A perfect reflection shot by Nat Hab guide Justin Gibson.
Frosted willow branches make for the perfect backdrop.
A sparring match photographed by Nat Hab guide Moira Le Patourel.
An expressive close-up by Nat Hab guide Lianne Thompson.
The vibrant green and yellow grasses provide a stunning background before the snow blankets the tundra. Photo by Nat Hab guide Eddy Savage.