As a nature lover, I place seeing polar bears in the wild at the top of my “must see” list. But even though the magnificent Ursus maritimus – 2.6 metres (8.5 feet) tall and weighing about 500 kg (1,100 lbs) – lures me to northern Manitoba, exploring this magnificent tundra from Lazy Bear Lodge & Wilderness Expedition is what will draw me back again and again.
No doubt, the polar bears still get first mention to friends back home, but I’m just as psyched about paddling through the South Knife River Headwaters, kayaking Dicken’s Creek and Lofthouse Lake among moose, black bear and wolves. There just aren’t many large mammal bonanzas that rival this region anywhere in the world.
Snorkeling among pretty fishes in the tropics is certainly a decent way to spend the afternoon, but swimming among the 60,000 beluga whales that migrate off the Manitoba coast in Hudson Bay? I mean, c’mon, talk about your morning wake up call.
Peeking at polar bears from eye level while cruising the aptly named Seal River in a jet boat also clears my head. These great predators always look huge, but spied from ground level, well this requires another set of adjectives altogether.
One great virtue of spending so much time outdoors is heading inside Lazy Bear Lodge to warm up by the “Scandinavian Hearth,” a chimney designed to circulate the fire’s heat. Log lodges are pretty common in the north, but the rough-hewn style of timber here brings the wilderness aesthetic inside. I especially like the ceiling beams, each log so unique I swear I hear whispers coming from the knots, twists and gnarls.
The café menu also brings the wild indoors by offering sirloin of muskox rouladen, caribou pepper steak, as well as Greenland Arctic char, Hudson Bay speckled trout and cod within season. I’ve eaten plenty of bison, but dining on muskox adds to my foodie bragging rights.
A visit to Churchill should provide an opportunity to go deep, to follow the path of 18th-century explorer Sam Hearne and his Dene guide, Matonabee into pristine boreal forests, to experience the exhilaration and challenge of travel upon one of our planet’s last frontiers. There are a plenty of ways to see polar bears in northern Manitoba, but Lazy Bear Lodge and Wilderness Expedition shows me the majesty of the north’s natural world through a very different lens.
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