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Topic: Churchill, Polar Bears< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 20 2011, 11:35 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Am planning this trip for a year from now with my mom - looking for recommendations on tour groups and itineraries. I think we are at the low end of the budget spectrum as these are pretty pricey - about $3000 is what I'm looking to spend. (for 3-4 days...gulp!)

From what I've read, the train ride doesn't sound very exciting - is it worth a one-way ride at least or will the flight be better?

The itinerary I like right now has two buggy days and only one night in Churchill - is it worth another $500 or so to stay another night/day in Churchill to do anything other than look at bears?

We are planning a road trip from Illinois to Winnipeg, so we will be spending time on the road as well.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 20 2011, 12:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As luck would have it, my wife and I are driving to Winnipeg Nov 1, for that very trip.  It would be tough to do Churchill for $3000 per person.  When they include airfare, lodging, guide, meals and a spot on the vehicle, it just adds up.  Maybe there are discounts for last minute travelers to fill up a trip?  We used Natural Habitat, which wasn't the cheapest, but the one my wife wanted to use.  As far as your itinerary, my opinion is if you are traveling that far, you might as well do it as much as possible, till it bores you.  Our trip has 2 full days and one afternoon in the buggy.  We then leave in the afternoon the 4th day.  Hopefully the pics will be as spectacular as I have imagined, and it will be sunny with the Northern Lights at night.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 20 2011, 2:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Awesome - I hope you have a great trip - please come back and let me know your thoughts!  

Natural Habitats appears to be the best (and most expensive!) - I found one trip with Tundra Buggy/Frontiers north that was $2400 - with two buggy days but only one night in Churchill - I'm not sure if there's much else to see and I think two buggy days are enough, so we'll see.  Looking forward to seeing your pictures :)


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 28 2011, 5:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Firedancer @ Oct. 20 2011, 11:35 am)
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From what I've read, the train ride doesn't sound very exciting - is it worth a one-way ride at least or will the flight be better?
.

Whatever you do ... DON'T TAKE THE TRAIN! It's an absolute disaster in the making. From Winnipeg, you can honestly expect to be stuck on that train 36 hours. My wife & I took it from Thompson, and even then we were travelling for 24 hours. Ridiculous. We ended up cancelling the train back, and paying a lot more to fly back to Thompson. Don't believe the VIA rail proproganda ... it's an excruciatingly bad experience - especially if you have a relatively shorter trip planned in Churchill itself.

Spend as much time as you can afford ... don't skimp on this! I'd book the extra day because the bears are just so cool - and each day is different. Our last day there on our trip we were lucky to see two polar bears eat a caribou!

Don't bother looking for anything else to do up in Churchill ... for the money you spend to get there, and the money you spend once you're there ... just concentrate on the bears. Polar bears blew me away ... and I'm used to photographying grizzlies and black bears a lot.

I have some polar bear photos on my website from our trip to Churchill in 2007, just click on the website link below (they're buried in the "All Things Wild" gallery.

Have fun!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 28 2011, 5:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Forgot to mention one thing ...

When you're on the buggies, dress up extremely warm ... and then hang out on the back deck area whenever the buggy is stopped to look at a bear.

Most people will be stuck inside b/c they are too cold - and their views will be compromised greatly. On the deck area, you will be able to work angles and get much better photos. But man, that Hudson Bay wind is cold - so make sure you have good boots, gloves, and head gear. Wear lots of layers!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 29 2011, 11:43 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the tips, Pete!  Your pictures are phenomenal!!!  Do you recall what kind of zoom you used on the polar bear shots?  Wondering if my 300mm will get me some decent shots or if I need to start saving for a bigger lens too!

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 29 2011, 10:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Firedancer @ Oct. 29 2011, 11:43 am)
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Wondering if my 300mm will get me some decent shots or if I need to start saving for a bigger lens too!

For the Churchill trip, I brought every lens I owned at the time ... 24-105mm, 70-200mm, 300mm, 500mm, plus the 1.4x and 2x extenders. I'm a bit of a gear hound. :D

The 300mm and 500mm saw almost all the action.

If you shoot Nikon ... any chance you can rent a 200-400mm f/4 (and rent the 1.4x or 1.7x extender also)?

If you shoot Canon ... maybe think about renting a 500mm to supplement your 300mm.

Don't forget to bring a tripod or monopod if you're thinking of having these big guns along. The backdecks of the buggies can accomodate 2 or 3 tripods comfortably, and it helps tremendously with the quality of photos.

If you want to go in with the plan of handholding your camera only ... then maybe the Nikon 80-400 or the Canon 100-400mm. The longer focal length is definitely something you will want at times. That said, maybe just use the 1.4x extender with your 300mm (and the 2.0x if you have the f/2.8 300mm).


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2011, 7:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

BC, great pics, my only beef is, why are we just now seeing these pics?  They are awesome.  We leave in 2 days, can't wait.  I am also grateful for the tips.  I have a Nikon 80-400 VR lens with tripod, and my wife will use a new Coolpix P500 with 32X zoom and HD movie capabilities.  I also bring a waterproof point & shoot, just in case.  I hope our pics turn out close to the quality of yours.  I will post whatever I have when I return.  Thanks again.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2011, 10:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One more thing BC, how did you deal with condensation on the camera?
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2011, 1:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I know they are Brown Bears but did you look at McNeil River in Alaska? rocky Mountain High went back there this past summer and had hundreds of jaw dropping photos when I visited him here in Colorado last week.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2011, 1:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(double cabin @ Oct. 30 2011, 1:05 pm)
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I know they are Brown Bears but did you look at McNeil River in Alaska? rocky Mountain High went back there this past summer and had hundreds of jaw dropping photos when I visited him here in Colorado last week.

Yes!  That's also on my list for a future vacation - I actually applied and was wait-listed two years ago and later got a call that they had a cancellation, but unfortunately, by then I had already planned another vacation in it's place.  I was super bummed!

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2011, 2:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(bumknees @ Oct. 30 2011, 10:09 am)
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One more thing BC, how did you deal with condensation on the camera?

I didn't find this to be a huge problem ... but I tried to make sure my camera was covered up whenever I brought it inside. Basically try to keep the bus heat off it as much as possible.

This is probably getting posted after you have already left. Sorry, haven't had time to check in here the past couple of days.


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