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Lords of the North: Ecology of Hudson Bay's Polar Bears

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Program #6290RJ
8 Days | 7 Nights
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
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Discussion Board

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Kenneth Bergman Sep 25, 2014 at 10:39 PM

My wife and I will be on the Oct 22 - 29 program. I do a lot of photography and often use a dSLR with either a 300 mm lens or a 70-200 zoom lens. Each has a max f2.8 aperture, and I often couple them with a 1.4 teleconverter. I'm tryng to figure out whether to bring the 300 mm, since it's large and heavy and the carrying case just barely fits into the overhead compartment on a typical commercial airliner. If we'll be traveling to Churchill on a smaller commuter plane, that might be even more challenging. I've also been on programs in which the zeal and needs of serious photographers have been somewhat annoying to guides or fellow participants. On the other hand, I know I'll regret not having the big lens if the bears aren't very close to the tundra buggy. Can anyone tell me if they'd recommend a large lens and if the guides and vehicle design allow for use of long lenses in a way that won't interfere with the enjoyment of the other participants? Any advice will be welcome.

Susan Blanton Feb 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I recently enrolled in this program. Does anybody have any recommedations for gear to take along? I've been corresponding w/the folks from the "Centre" in Churchill & realize you can rent appropiate clothing, but I was wondering if fairly ordinary cold-weather clothes wouln't do, since we will be in-doors or in-vehicle most of the time? Those of you who have done this program; if you go again, what would you do, or take, that you didn't before??
Mary Kuhner Feb 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

You're correct that most of the time will be spent indoors/in vehicle; however even when you're in the tundra buggy, windows will be open and you'll be venturing onto a tail deck for better looks at the bears. You'll also be outside for an extended time when doing the sled dog ride and walking around Churchill. That said, thermal underwear, a puffy coat, warm gloves, hat, footwear and layers should do it. Keep track of temperatures in Churchill at that time as your guide and you should be comfortable.
Susan Blanton Feb 25, 2013 at 08:31 PM

For pants, I was thinking fleece over long underwear. Do you think I will need snow (insulated) pants in addition? I am enrolled in the last of October's(23-30) program.
Sandra Bennett Dec 31, 2013 at 09:22 PM

When I did Yellowstone in Winter, I talked with a salesperson at REI. She recommended a pair of rain pants+sweat pants(jeans too cold) + silk long underwear. The rain pants are for rain or snow. Yellowstone temps were @10 degrees. I was warm as toast the whole time. REI people are a great resource for travelers.

Mary Kuhner Sep 02, 2012 at 02:07 PM

Lords of the North is an excellent program. The polar bear expert, Dr. Nick Lunn, is one of the few remaining scientists who actually studies polar bears in the field. He is warm, engaging and extremely knowledgeable. Also, the CNSC staff is accommodating and the state-of-the-art green facility, itself, is another good reason to make the trip
Joyce Starkey Oct 16, 2012 at 01:59 PM

Reading your comment made me look forward to my trip even more! I'm signed up for the third trip in 2012.
Mary Kuhner Oct 16, 2012 at 02:56 PM

Have a grand time with the bears. Give my very best to Michael Goodyear, the CNSC's terrific director.

missy tenhet Feb 23, 2012 at 06:48 PM

Any input from anyone who has been there?
If you could only go once, would it be for the polar bears, snow and northern lights or go for the summer birding, kayaking with beluga whales and wildflowers in bloom?
Mary Kuhner Sep 02, 2012 at 01:50 PM

Tough call. Have enjoyed both programs. The bears waiting to go out on ice floes are numerous and magnificent but there may be little snow. Kayaking with hundreds of playful belugas was exciting. Polar bears/cubs could be seen basking on gravel beaches. The blooming tundra is colorful; lots of plant and bird diversity with interesting studies taking place through the Northern Studies Center.
saj Oct 18, 2013 at 11:32 PM

saj Oct 18, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Hi, I don't see the program offered about the kayaking with belugas. Do you know the program #? Also, do you need to be an experienced kayaker? thanks.
Mary Kuhner Jan 01, 2014 at 01:54 PM

The Belugas in the Bay program is offered directly through the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (¿). Go to the website to see their slate of 2014 offerings. Click on "Learning Vacations." You do not need to be an experienced kayaker.

Rick Rottman Jul 17, 2011 at 06:10 PM

I am hoping to get some good photography opportunities during this program. Are there any other nature photographers signed up for the first program who are interested in sharing photography opportunities?
Susan Blanton Feb 23, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Hi Rick, I am going to the last program in October but I am taking a class this spring w/a professional photographer w/an enphasis on composition just in case I get any good opportunities. I have a decent camera, but lately am using my iPhone because it is handier--& takes decent picture too. The course I am taking promises to optimize ANY camera (iPhones are mentioned specifically). I'll let you know.....
Mary Kuhner Feb 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Your class will no doubt talk about the advantages of a telephoto lens for photographing wildllife. Although bears seem large, they will look small on your iPhone even with your digital zoom. They are often fairly far from the parked vehicle.
Kenneth Bergman Sep 25, 2014 at 10:45 PM

I just was told by Routes Adventures staff that any carry-on baggage on the commuter flight cannot exceed Combined dimensions (LxWxH) is not to exceed 10in x 16in x 12in or (25cm x 40cm x 30cm) and a total weight of 20 pounds is allowed for total carry-on baggage. This would seem to preclude taking my largest lens. Has anyone on previous iterations of this program seen participants with large lenses (300-400 mm)? .

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
7 nights of accommodations
19 meals: 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners
8 Expert-led lectures
10 Field trips
2 Flights during the program


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