I hate the cold, especially when it’s bone-chilling, below freezing, high wind chill cold. There are only a few reasons why I would endure it and polar bear watching with Churchill Nature Tours is at the top of that list. I spent the last two days watching polar bears from the comfort of a tundra vehicle in Churchill, Manitoba. Only when the action was really good would I stand outside at the back of the tundra vehicle to get a great shot. Seeing gigantic polar bears roam, play and fight was worth every second of putting on layer after layer of clothes only to still feel the chill. Sometimes adventures are so unbelievable that I would endure any temperature to have the experience.
My favorite moment during the tundra vehicle trip was my first bear sighting. We were driving in the tundra vehicle and snow started covering the ground with a beautiful white fluff that was picturesque. As I watched the large white flakes flutter through the sky, I noticed a polar bears slowly moving through the bushes. I felt like I was part of a Coke commercial. He made his way down the street and he looked serious. He got closer and closer but the falling snow and the stark white background helped him blend in to his surroundings. Sometimes when I blinked, I had to wait for my eyes to adjust to see him again. The realization of how great a predictor he is was overwhelming. Last week, I went cage diving with great white sharks. I wasn’t even out of the cage and I was nervous. To a shark, from below, a surfer or a swimmer might get attacked because he or she looks like a really big fish. Polar bears don’t make that mistake, but they’ll eat you anyway. This one was within ten feet from me yet I was safe in the tundra vehicle. How many people get to see a polar bear in its natural environment without fearing for their life? I stood outside of the vehicle in the freezing temperatures with the snow blowing in my face but I was mesmerized. The cold and snow faded away. All I could see was the beautiful bear.
Another highlight of the tundra vehicle adventure was watching two male polar bears play fighting in the snow. They were like two little kids. One bear was laying down in the snow resting. The other bear approached him and started nudging his neck. They played like that for a few minutes and it reminded me of the Disney movie, Frozen when Anna wants to play with Elsa and she asks her to build a snowman. The two bears finally start pushing each other and throwing some punches. It’s easy to see that they are not trying to hurt each other but their power was undeniable. When they wanted to stop, one bear simply laid down in the snow and the other backed off and laid close to him. I don’t know if they communicate with each other verbally but their body language is strong.
I don’t think I’ll ever like the cold temperatures but the natural beauty and wildlife in Churchill, Manitoba took my breath away in a good way. I enjoyed the heat in the tundra vehicle and learned to “bear” the cold when moments were too spectacular to stay in side.