Timed to coincide with the emergence of female bears from their dens with young cubs in the Arctic spring and framed by the spectacular snow covered mountains of Bylot Island, this trip will focus on opportunities for polar bear photography. The chance of encounters with mothers and cubs, while not guaranteed, is good. The Arctic spring brings twenty four-hour sunlight, with the low angled sun of the polar ‘night’ bringing out beautiful definition to the animals and the environment. We will be camping on the sea ice near the floe edge at Lancaster Sound, a bear ‘highway’ and feeding ground, with a large denning area nearby. Along the floe edge, we will encounter huge males in prime condition, hunting the plentiful ringed seal population and looking for mates. This is a superb opportunity for photography, among bears in peak condition in the pristine high Arctic wilderness, almost one thousand miles north of the Arctic circle.
Drawing upon many years experience of supporting professional film makers and documentary crews filming bears in this area, Arctic Kingdom has designed and built custom-made mobile polar bear viewing cabins/towers, which can be set out on the sea ice. Designed to be a polar bear proof film/camera shooting platform, these cabins allow for unparalleled viewing access to polar bears in their natural ice habitat. Led by experienced polar bear naturalists, participants will enjoy stunning arctic scenery, soaring cliffs of Navy Board inlet, the huge expanse of open ice and sea dotted by massive icebergs, supported by the best temporary eco-friendly lodge-style accommodations, including a chef.
While polar bears will be our primary focus, there will be a planned photography expedition to capture ringed seals basking on the ice in the sunshine, and for the very patient, surfacing at their breathing holes. We may also be lucky enough to see arctic fox and arctic hare in their winter coats. At this time of the year, the arctic seabirds are returning north, and can be photographed flying and feeding amongst the pack ice of Lancaster Sound. The landscape itself affords plenty of photographic opportunities, with huge icebergs frozen into the sea ice, and big bergs floating by in the open ocean. Depending on sea ice conditions, mystical tusked narwhal or pods of white beluga whales may be visible as they begin their migration to their summer feeding grounds.
Temperatures will range from lows of around minus 20° C to highs of 0° C, but we will be extremely well-kitted out with warm clothing. Modern digital cameras and batteries perform well in even colder temperature ranges, but for safety reasons, a long lens is absolutely necessary when photographing these top predators. We will be accompanied by Inuit guides, who are experts in polar bear and ice safety.
Our temporary, eco-friendly camp includes the luxury of our own chef preparing fresh hot meals. The heated communal area is a good place to gather and watch films or swap travel anecdotes when bad weather makes travel unsafe. As with any wildlife viewing expedition, there may be some days that wildlife is scarce. This expedition is designed for the serious polar bear enthusiast and/or photographer, who has the patience and fortitude to wait for the animals. Limited to a maximum of 8 expedition participants, be prepared to enjoy an intimate time of viewing polar bears and other wildlife known to the arctic regions.
Expedition leader Louise Murray, one of the most experienced professional photographers specialising in the Arctic regions worldwide, will be on hand to help out with advice at any time. She is a veteran of many expeditions to the high Arctic, and has had repeated excellent bear encounters in this area.
Day 1 – Arrival in high arctic gateway community such as Pond Inlet
Day 2 – Pond Inlet to temporary eco-friendly Base Camp at the Lancaster Sound Floe Edge
Day 3-11 – Daily sorties to track polar bears, polar bear viewing cabin, hiking, photography, iceberg exploring
Day 12 – travel back to gateway community
Day 13 – Explore the gateway community way of life
Day 14 – Depart gateway community for home