Innovative Tours Bring Patrons Within Feet Of Polar Bears

Visitors to the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska can now engage in tours that bring them up close and personal with polar bears, offering them an otherwise unattainable view of the beautiful, yet dangerous, species.

Churchill, Manitoba, in northern Canada, is billed as the polar bear capital of the world, according to the Daily Mail, and tourists visiting the city are now able to get within touching distance of the bears, thanks to massive hand-built machines that tower 13 feet above the frozen tundra.

Described as “cruise liners on wheels,” Tundra Buggies are owned by Frontiers North Adventures, a tour company that works with Polar Bears International in order to research ways to save polar bears from extinction. The mobile lodges contain a variety of amenities, including sleeping quarters, a lounge, and a cafe, as well as an observation deck that allows patrons to view polar bears close up.

According to Frontiers North Adventures spokeswoman Brandi Hayberg, tourists can sometimes find themselves face to face with an inquisitive bear.

“Bears are often interested in the Tundra Buggy and will approach it. Sometimes they will stand on their hind legs and put their paws on the side of the vehicle.

“Depending on the height of the bear, our guests can easily get their faces within a few feet of a polar bear.”

The are currently 18 permits issued for the vehicles, though some locals fear that more permits may attract tour operators who would not navigate safely around the bears. Home to two thirds of the world’s polar bear population, Canada is preparing to designate a new polar bear provincial park in the area, on Hudson Bay.

The Alaskan city of Kaktovik has also become a polar bear hotspot, as wildlife photographer David Swindler discovered last year. According to the Telegraph, he first came to the region last October, in order to photograph polar bears going about their daily lives. This year brought unique challenges, including a pair of curious polar bear cubs, who swam after his boat, investigating his GoPro.

Earlier this year, another cinematographer captured amazing footage by attaching a GoPro to a polar bear, as the Inquisitr previously noted. Swindler is already preparing for next year’s trip, when he will guide a group of photographers hoping to capture not only polar bear, but also the northern lights.

[Image: Medavia via the Daily Mail]