Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bearly Affordable

I've been sniffing around trying to sort out a way to go to see the polar bear migration in Churchill, Manitoba.

T'ain't cheap. It's about $3,000 to go on an organized expedition. Going it without a group, you pay $1000 alone for the airfare from Winnipeg to Manitoba. The road ends about halfway between the two and then it's train or plane only. I've been scrounging around all morning trying to put together various non-flying options, but it's not looking good for $$ + carbon impact:nature/bears.

Lessee... frequent flyer ticket from NYC-Winnepeg: Check, and accepting that it's the only way so long as I have a job. Winnepeg-Thompson on the... nine-hour bus? That's $63. Then long train journey to Churchill from Thompson is $56.70 to $222.60 depending on if I wanted coach or cabin. But of course, nothing matches up, so I'd end up with a night in Winnepeg or Toronto, then a night in Thompson. Gah. That's not good. It eliminates any savings on transportation, plus I have a job, which given that I also have vacation time, isn't quite as important as the fact that I have to be in Manhattan every Tuesday night in the autumn to teach coloring class, which ends at 5:50 pm.

Guess I could end class early on a Tuesday, fly halfway, then finish the trip to Winnepeg in the a.m., catch the bus, then the train, or train then the bus.

Oh, and of course the train doesn't run every day. Swell.


Maybe I'll just need to fork over the big bucks or forget about it. Again. For now.

And I might indeed do that... but while searching for answers, I stumbled over the most amazing site.

Brilliant. I don't have a Canadian address but that won't stop me from admiring this person's resourcefulness.


Marie Javins said...

All these people offer options. I think I'm too overwhelmed to chase this.

Linda said...

I take it you are trying to see the polar bears while they still exist in the wild. Sigh!

Marie Javins said...

Trying but pretty sure it's just going to cost way too much.

Anonymous said...

It is worth going. I did the trip several years ago and thought the program that the Churchill Northern Studies Center put on was good value. They do a 5 day trip (including 2 tundra vehicle tours and a helicopter flight) for about CAD 2500 now.

You can see my travelogue on it at:

Marie Javins said...

Miriam, I have to make some choices, as we always must. I think I'm going to manage a bit trip next year but Churchill is not really on the itinerary of that or most any other trip. But I could also delay it, anticipating going there someday along with a cross-Canada trip. I was also thinking of going to Madagascar, though that could be shoved into an Africa trip.

Did you like Madagascar? I saw it on your site.

I really do like the idea of the train up to Churchill. But I can't fit that in with teaching classes once a week.

Anonymous said...

I had mixed experiences in Madagascar. A lot of that had to do with the incompetence and outright larceny of the local travel company involved in my planning who didn't admit that they didn't have a clue about some of the things I was trying to do.

It's hard to do things inexpensively there because there isn't a lot of infrastructure geared to budget travel. If you just want to go to a few of the national parks and see lemurs, that's somewhat doable. There are spectacular beaches in the west, but no cheap accommodations near them to speak of. (There are cheap places around Ifaty but that is less attractive).

It might be most practical to take a tour with one of the usual budget travel companies.