2013 © Copyright Debbie King. All rights reserved.
How many people can say, in all honesty, that they've seen
a real, live polar bear in the wild? Having seen penguins on
our trip to the Antarctic in 2006, we wanted to go to the
opposite end of the earth to see the King of the Arctic, the
Nothing can prepare you for seeing one of these magnificent,
majestic animals face to face. It is a breathtaking experience.
They appear so white and furry and cuddly... yet they are the
largest and most ferocious of the land carnivores.
Click on each picture to open a larger image in its own
We stayed at the Lazy Bear Lodge in Churchill,
Manitoba, on the edge of the subarctic tundra. Here I
am pictured with Wally Daudrich, owner of the Lazy
Bear, driver and polar bear ranger.
Carrying the gun was a precaution against the very real
risk of meeting a polar bear! Even though Churchill is
well below the arctic circle at 58° 46' north, its proximity
to the Hudson Bay and the prevailing winds coming
down from the North Pole guarantee very cold
temperatures in autumn and winter. We were there in
October 2011, but the temperature was never above
zero degrees Celsius.
This female polar bear had been swimming in the
Hudson Bay before emerging from behind some rocks,
sniffing the air and making her way towards our tundra
buggy. It was a mesmerising sight; brings a real lump
to the throat.
The Churchill subarctic tundra is permanently frozen all
year round; polar bears get stranded in the
spring/summer when the ice in the Hudson Bay thaws.
They then gather in late autumn (mid-October to mid-
November) waiting for the Hudson Bay to freeze over
again, so they can get across to their hunting ground to
hunt ringed seals.
This photo was taken with my Nokia phone, leaning out
of the window of our tundra vehicle. She was looking
straight at me before standing up on her hind legs - an
immense sight! The females are about 8' tall on their
hind legs and males are much bigger at over 10' tall.
See my gallery for more breathtaking photos. You’ve
got to see them to believe them!
This polar bear is poised ready to jump up at the side
of our vehicle. Over a three day period, we spotted
nine polar bears and four arctic foxes. Most of the
animals were too far away to get a good photograph,
but we were immensely lucky to see two of the bears
really closely, as these photos testify.
You can read the full story of our polar bear
adventures, including husky dog sledding, in my blog.