What an awesome day! At breakfast, carb overload (I ate Cornflakes then half of Daniel’s waffle drowned in maple syrup), we decided to get the most out of the day and signed up to a Beluga and Fort morning tour, before our booked Tundra Buggy Tour this afternoon/evening.
Soon after we were bussed out to a dock where we climbed aboard a small motor boat, which took us across the estuary to Fort Prince of Wales, where we swatted away swarms of bugs, while learning about the history of the fort. Prepared tourists had brought netting head covers. bug spray was passed around. I wasn’t too troubled – unlike the flies in Western Australia’s wheat belt these bugs weren’t landing on my face and having a crawl about. One giant fly bit me though, right through my shirt!
An hour later the boat picked us up and we floated about, in search of belugas. We’d see pods in the distance, and the driver was cautious not to get too close to the Zodiacs that were trailing the tourists in 6 mm thick wetsuits. Eventually we stopped in a good area and spent forever in awe of the pods of white and grey whales, as they swam close to the boat and breached. The belugas were graceful creatures and I soon lost my fear of getting in the water with them tomorrow and started to look forward to the idea.
The foyer of the Tundra Inn has comfy leather couches. While we waited for our Tundra Buggy Tour (the Via Train was late arriving to Churchill and was carrying most of our tour group) I half-napped on their comfy leather couches. We waited for the rest of our group to arrive – delayed on a late arrival of their train from Saskatchewan. The retiree tourists that spilled into the lounge, like platelets onto a thrombus, told and retold the story of how, “A polar bear was outside that door there this morning at 04:30!” Each time a new perspective was added: “Oh! I thought I heard something outside my window!” It created a glimmer of hope that we’d sight a polar bear on our tour. We are about to cancel and try to re-book, as Dan was wiped out and I was falling asleep. I’m glad we didn’t get the chance.
After having had lunch, and a nap (I’m so old) we were ready enough for our 6-hour Tundra Buggy Adventure. Our guide was a chatty Canadian who told endless Dad jokes and we marvelled at the beauty of the landscape, and several types of birds. We also learned a few things:
1. If you see a white rock in the distance and it lifts its head: half the time it’s a bear.
2. The trees only have branches on their South sides because of the ice crystal winds off the Hudson Bay ripping off any growth on the North sides.
3. Bunny Huggers is what hoodies are called in Saskatchewan.
4. If you drive over the tide mark you’re allowed to say you’re in Nunavut, the next province over.
We drove for a few hours, to the site of their winter lodge, but didn’t see any polar bears. It isn’t really the season for polar bear sighting, so I was resigned to waiting for another trip. We headed back along the coast. The driver let Amanda, the teenage girl who was being teased by her family for bumping her head on the windows, take the wheel for a short stretch and we stopped when she spotted a caribou! It was my turn next. As I was trying to move the oversized truck to the left of the road our guide spotted a polar bear! It was relaxed and let us inch towards it, lifting its head when the driver started the engine, then lying back down as it got bored of us slowly approaching. We were able to drive right by, everybody taking a million photos. Our day was made. But, there was more. On the drive back we saw a mother and her cub, as well as an arctic hare. Definitely an awesome day.