POLAR BEARS, KILLER WHALES AND GOOD WEATHER. THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF.
When we arrived in Canada, we told our group of travellers that we needed to take control of the weather. We know, right. It was a big ask.
But our 19-day trip was all about wildlife and scenery, so good weather was crucial, and we all needed to focus on it, so the wildlife would follow… well… it worked.
Our first stop was a tiny boardwalk community, too small to be a town, surrounded by pristine waters thriving with wildlife.
We were told the whale watching had been good, but that day it became exceptional.
100 KILLER WHALES, A STRAY HUMPBACK, AND ‘BEARELY’ BELIEVABLE SIGHTINGS…
As soon as we left the harbour and entered the Johnstone Strait, the killer whales arrived, with over 100 joining us for the afternoon. They were relaxed, playful and very entertaining.
Dolphins, bald eagles and even a humpback joined our party and we were quite literally surrounded. It was a wonderful entrée for what was to come.
Having been thrilled by the whales, we then focused on bears, and the famous Knight Inlet, a well-known playground for them. Faye asked for black bears, and they greeted us along the way, preparing us for what was to come. Glendale Cove is a playground for grizzlies, and they certainly played for us, with 14 mums and cubs happily strolling and feasting on the shore line.
INTO… AND ONTO THE ICE
After being delighted by black and brown bears, the white ones were now our focus.
Our charter flight to Resolute, way up in Canada’s High Arctic had a polar bear on its tail, and with our excellent efforts so far, we were quietly confident.
Arriving at the barren landing strip, we were quickly aware that this was somewhere quite extreme, and needing to cruise through icebergs to reach our ship reinforced our sense of remoteness.
We settled into our ‘floating lodge’ and became informed and entertained with expert presentations about all we were hoping to see and experience.
NEVER MIND THE BIRDS…
The 200m high soaring cliffs of Port Leopold were our first excursion, and the 200,000 nesting birds gave us a loud and enthusiastic welcome.
This is an unforgiving world: chicks are kicked out of the nests and must learn to fly on the way down, or they’ll crash to the rocky shore below, to be met by the predatory birds waiting for the slow learners.
“HUNTING” POLAR BEARS
We heard the word ‘Ursus’ come over the radio, and years of Latin studies quickly rushed back. A polar bear had been spotted and we were on the hunt to get closer.
We wondered if bears ate birds, and soon after the universe delivered a resounding, “Yes”. Watching it stalk, capture and devour the bird was a delight and yet another taste of what was to come.
Calls of “Polar bear”, or in true Aussie style, “Bundy Bear” were heard quite often, with our count reaching 21, all healthy, too. One was very curious, forcing an early return from a shore excursion, and giving us a new story to tell, about the time a polar bear stalked us.
THE ATTENBOROUGH MOMENT
Relaxing after lunch one day we heard a ‘bear call’, that will stay with us forever.
On a small ice floe, a mother and two cubs were feasting on a narwhal. They were so relaxed and focused they didn’t mind us dropping by. The captain slowed the ship, and we hung out with them for an hour as they ate, groomed, suckled and finally rested. This was more than a photo opp, it was an invitation into their world, no fear, no barriers and no time limits.
It was an Attenborough documentary, although we weren’t watching it, we were part of it.
This is the reason and the reward for travel.
SETTING OUR SIGHTS HIGHER…
After leaving the High Arctic, we aimed even higher, almost to the heavens above, as we set our sights on seeing the Northern Lights.
We had delivered on weather, whales and bears of all colours, but we desperately wanted everyone to experience the lights.
Heading to Yellowknife, the weather seemed to abandon us as the clouds closed in. We renewed our focus, and with the best guide, we searched dark highways for clear skies, and of course we found them.
AND THEN THE SKIES DANCED, AND WE DID TOO
We pulled into a clearing and immediately the first ray of light appeared.
Barb asked if this was all that happened, but this was merely the start.
As the beam grew in brightness it extended across the whole sky and surrounded us from above.
Our guide said something good was building, but it was much better than good. The beam seemed to burst open and vertical rays, draped like curtains, swayed across the entire sky, with pinks, reds and purples joining the greens and yellows.
There were cries of delight and wonder, spontaneous hugs, and one very happy, relieved and delighted tour leader.
We are set to do this all again, and would love you to join us.
Just remember we’ll expect you to bring the weather with you.