It was our final morning at the lodge, but don’t think that meant no polar bears for us! We went for a short walk along the coast, and found a large male (one which we had not seen before) sleeping on the ice. It was a very scenic sighting, but he was not so relaxed around people, so we gave him quite a bit of distance and let him get back to sleep. A second bear arrived at the lodge’s front door a few minutes after we returned to the lodge, so we managed a few more quick photographs before boarding the plane for the short hop back to town. It is a very pretty flight between the lodge and the town, with a few moose along the way! It is a good idea to always keep a camera ready!
What a safari! We counted 11 different polar bears in the 5 days, and spent uncountable hours in the presence of these magnificent animals! It truly is a magical safari, one that needs to be experienced to be fully understood.
It seemed as if all the female polar bears in the area came past the lodge at some point in the day. It was non-stop polar bear watching. Cameras in hand, we slowly approached a few of the lovely ladies, and spend many hours photographing them. The relaxed nature of these bears meant that we got to witness completely natural behaviour, and photograph the polar bears doing what they normally do. A nice surprise late in the day was a fly-by by a white-faced gyrfalcon. During dinner, in-between the other female bears, we saw a mother with 2 young cubs walking past the lodge. Unfortunately they didn’t stay in the lights long enough to get a photograph, but what a privilege to see such young polar bears!
Having had such good polar bear action so early on in the safari, we wanted to try something a little different, and see if we could find some of the other inhabitants of this remote region. We managed to find a couple of flocks of ptarmigans, which presented a challenge to the cameras – trying to photograph white on white is not the easiest, but with a bit of practice, we managed a few good photographs. There were hundreds of sets of tracks for all sorts of little animals, like arctic foxes, arctic hares, snowshoe hares and the little lemmings, but they chose to stay hidden. We did get a lucky break during lunch however, when a pine martin busied itself hunting lemmings outside the lodge. That was a real treat! A male polar bear appeared on the ice later in the day, so he took the attention of the cameras for a good while.
After a great start to the safari, we could not have expected the polar bears to have obliged us the way they did! We saw several polar bears throughout the day, with the 2 big males still sparring with each other at regular intervals. A couple of smaller females also made their way into the area of the lodge, and gave us some great opportunities until they got sight of the big males, and made a run for safety! Another big male polar bear came to see what the all the fuss was about, but he was in no mood to play, and let the 2 sparring males know it in no uncertain terms. The afternoon proved as productive as the morning, and the cameras got put to work! It was non-stop shooting fun, which continued after dark with the arrival of the northern lights! What an amazing day!
Having a polar bear meet you at the airstrip is a wonderful start to any safari! Literally, while we were still getting our luggage off the plane, we spotted the first polar bear of the safari. The young female bear didn’t seem to mind us at all and moved on in her never-ending search for food. The short walk to the lodge had another surprise for us; a flock of willow ptarmigans feeding in the shrubs. These snow-white birds can be tricky to find, so it was great seeing them so early in the safari. We didn’t really get a chance to unpack, because 2 male bears were spotted, and they were in a sparring mood! We grabbed the cameras and made our way out into the arctic wilds. The 2 bears were so busy with each other, that they paid us no attention at all, allowing us a really cool photo opportunity! Quite simply, a wonderful start to this awesome safari!