Adorable Tundra Animals – The Canadian Arctic comes to life
Tundra of the Canadian Arctic is fascinating. How do species thrive in extreme conditions that reach temperatures of minus 50 degrees?
We were fortunate enough to travel to the Arctic a few times, and we also had the privilege of visiting some very special wildlife sanctuaries to get up close and personal with tundra animals, which are often hard to reach and difficult to see ,
We were privileged to see bears twice in Hudson Bay with Churchill Wild. Once in the summer at Nanuk Lodge and once in the winter at Seal River Lodge.
But there is much more to see than just polar bears, the Arctic lives on animals that roam around.
If you can not visit Churchill, Manitoba is a visit to the Parc Omega at Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours in Quebec. The animals we have not seen in the tundra live in a sanctuary north of Montreal.
On our recent trips to the north, we have really come to know the animals of the Arctic tundra and see them frolicking in their natural habitat.
It was our second Polar Bear safari with Churchill Wild. Our first trip took us to the Hudson Bay coast in the summer, where we saw mothers and boys relaxing in mild weather.
During our daily walks around the Seal River Lodge, the Arctic landscape was full of life.
Arctic foxes played in the frozen bay and walked around the cabin as if it were their own private headquarters.
Arctic hares were hanging from the airstrip of the plane, and surprisingly, ravens bloomed at -40 degree weather, which we experienced.
Attending an Arctic expedition or polar bear safari is as exciting as an African safari, but there is so much more to prepare for.
How to dress for an arctic safari
Getting it right is a must. Fortunately, Churchill Wild offers winter equipment weather for those who do not want to drop $ 1500 in an Arctic parka for a one-off excursion.
They rent a parka, snow pants and winter boots. Everything has to be rated up to 50!
Make sure you bring hand and toe warmers and make sure they are on top of each other.
Read our layering tips to learn how to pack up for a trip to the tundra in winter.
A balaclava is a must and goggles keep your face warmer than sunglasses.
Hudson Bay had frozen over earlier this year, and there was no sign of life at a legendary place called the Polar Bear Highway except for a lonely bear that moved away from us in the distance.
That's fine, polar bears have suffered from climate change over the years and due to the early frost they were able to get up early to start hunting.
When we talked to the polar bear experts at the Assiniboine Zoo in Manitoba, they told us the thaw was a good thing.
This means that they probably would not get orphaned polar bear cubs because the bears in the tundra were healthy and hunting this year.
For us, that meant we had missed polar bear traffic by two weeks, but for others, they meant they saw more than expected.
An Arctic Safari is not just about polar bears.
The Arctic tundra is full of life. It's amazing how animals can survive extreme conditions. They adapt to strong cold and thrive in balmy summers.
We hope you enjoy this photo essay about tundra from the Canadian Arctic.
We saw a lot of Ptarmigan during our walks with Churchill Wild. When the wildlife was scarce, our guides took us to the bushes where the herd hung.
We came very close to these members of the grouse family, which had issued their white winter plumage.
Interestingly, these beauties are brown in the summer to mix with the tundra.
Parc Omega Quebec
As we explored Ottawa in the winter, we made a detour to the Parc Omega in Quebec. It is just a 50-minute drive from Ottawa or 30 minutes from Montreal.
We were greeted by our nature conservation leader Serge Lussier.
He has worked with the gorillas in Rwanda, Pandas in China, and has countless references in wildlife management and zoo management, including as the current director of the Canadian Association of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums.
Right now he's back in Quebec and works as a consultant for Parc Omega. We had the honor of having him as our guide for the day.
What has done us so much at the Parc Omega at Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours is how he has recreated the Arctic landscape.
Serge helped shape the habitat in the park. He said he would not bring an Arctic animal to Parc Omega if they did not have the habitat.
The mountain goats we saw were new to the park. They stood on a high rocky hill and looked like home. Since mountain goats usually live at high altitude, this is a great alternative to live their days.
We wanted to see Caribou from the Arctic for years. We saw the Woodland Caribou on the shale islands of Lake Superior in Ontario, but after three trips to the Arctic we did not have much luck with Caribou.
We saw one on the Dempster Highway, but when we visited the north of Manitoba, the rest of the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, we did not see them.
The Parc Omega has a caribou herd that we can comfortably watch from our truck.
Caribou is known in Europe as a reindeer and is native to Northern Canada, Northern Europe and Siberia.
In Churchill, National Geographic had a team in our lodge filming the polar fox. They are fast creatures that walk around, and it was difficult for us to capture a shot.
Especially since NatGeo had brought the market to the best place to see it!
So, when we visited Parc Omega, we were thrilled to see a wealth of Arctic foxes on a hill.
We were lucky enough to be traveling early in the morning when they were most active because when Dave and I later went back alone, they had fallen asleep somewhere deep for the afternoon.
We saw an Arctic Wolf for the first time. We have seen wolves, but we have never seen the beautiful coats of the Arctic Wolf.
The coats are white throughout the year so they can mix with the snow and feed on caribou and snow hares.
When we visited Hershel Island in the Yukon, we saw a Muskox in the distance.
Our guide took us on a hike up the hill, hoping we would see or see more, but unfortunately we never had a better view.
But Parc Omega has a musk ox and we finally saw a couple eating around in their enclosure.
I often mix the moose with caribou or deer. But a moose is much bigger than both.
The moose is related to the deer, but more majestic.
When visiting the Parc Omega, the elk were just starting to throw their antlers, but we managed to catch one they were still intact.
Moose throws antlers every year. They fall off in winter and grow new in spring. By the end of the summer they are mature and the velvet covering the antlers is rubbed off in the autumn.
And there you have it. These are the animals of the tundra that we have seen on various trips to the sanctuaries of northern Canada and Quebec.
Canada is an amazing place to spot wildlife.
Where is your favorite place for a wildlife safari?
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