IWA Travel Blog


Walking with the Polar Bears at Nanuk Lodge

Polar Bear Nanuk Lodge 2013 7I arrived at Nanuk Lodge, also known as Mothers and Cubs Lodge, a couple of weeks ago with no expectations about seeing polar bears or other wildlife.  Personally, I feel having no expectations is the best way to approach any wildlife wilderness experience, because it can only get better from there.

As we flew into Nanuk Lodge on our  British Islander bush plane at a fairly low altitude, we spotted thousands of migrating Canada geese, Brandts and snow geese, lots of small migratory birds, small flocks of eagles and swans all going south for the winter. The birds were striking against the tundra as it was just starting to turn the vibrant shades of yellows, reds, and crimsons that everyone knows as fall.

Polar bear viewing at Nanuk Lodge 2013

At Nanuk, the “zoo visitors” are just outside the lodge!

Keeping our eyes on the look out for bears, as we were about to land, we spotted two large polar bears near the lodge outside the fence line.   A very large polar bear was up against the fence waiting for us and the other was a ways off near the water’s edge. Sightings only got better from there.  We had time for an excursion after dropping our bags in our cabins so we hopped onto the tundra carts and off we went to see a mom with her cute cub. The interaction was sweet, with the cub staying so close to the mom and snuggling up next to her.

Nanuk Lodge is located in Manitoba, Canada on the southwest shore of Hudson Bay.  The lodge is accessible only by bush plane from the small town of Gilliam and takes about an hour to get there.   Nanuk Lodge is being renovated for next season with new rooms off the main dining lodge and common space.  It is all quite comfortable now but will be even better next season. Guests share the common area with big overstuffed leather couches, a wood burner to cozy up to, internet connection to the outside world (amazing, given the remoteness) and great conversation with the local guides. The lodge itself is surrounded by fencing to keep the bears out and the people in.  We are in the zoo and the bears are coming by to see what we are doing.  Each day we leave the “compound” for day excursions onto the tundra. This entire area is known to be a good denning region for female polar bears so we often see moms with cubs nearby.

Bull moose at Nanuk Lodge 2013Each day offered something new as we ventured out from the compound for our excursions to the tundra, crossing rivers and going along the shore.  IWA Offers More Ways to See Polar Bears than Anyone!See all of our Polar Bear ToursOn the second day, away from the lodge, the group spotted a 15 point bull moose and his cow in the fall foliage which made for some stunning photos. Later that evening, we were treated to the aurora borealis dancing around. The stars were bright and the colors were nice; it was quiet, no ambient light from any city–we were at one with nature and the wilderness.

Black bears came near the compound on one side while the polar bears were on the opposite side.  The black bears would wander near the polar bears and all it took was one look from the polar bears to get the black bears to run off.

As I mentioned, go in with no expectations and enjoy the moments you are offered by Mother Nature.  Our memorable moments were migrating birds, polar bears alone and with cubs, black bears, moose, a black wolf  — and a skunk — along with the tundra in its beautiful fall colors. If I had expectations, I might have expected more moms and cubs or wolves but each sighting was incredibly new, exciting and humbling.  I personally had no idea that we would see moose, or wolves — black no less — and I certainly had no idea there were black bears in the region. Then there was the cute little skunk (from a long distance)!

Find out more about going to Nanuk Lodge.

See all of our polar bear tours

Read more blog posts about polar bears

Susie Green and polar bear at Nanuk Lodge 2013

IWA Director of Sales Susie Green and her newest friend at Nanuk Lodge

Northern Lights at Nanuk Lodge 2013

Northern lights, or aurora borealis, can be seen from the lodge on clear nights

Polar bear mother and cub at Nanuk Lodge 2013

Polar bear mothers and cubs are common sights at Nanuk

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