Ice Bear Antics

Far more exciting than watching grass grow is waiting for the ice to freeze in Hudson Bay.  Why?  Because in late fall, the small sub-arctic town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada becomes ground zero for a phenomenal Polar Bear ingathering.  Churchill is a perfectly positioned outpost in the triangle formed by a boreal forest in the south, the Arctic tundra to the north and the Hudson Bay, northeast.  It’s inaccessible by car and the temperature in the fall drops fast.  Bring mittens.

Multi-award-winning, Colorado-based Natural Habitat Adventures, partnering with World Wildlife Fund’s top scientists, was voted #1 World Adventure Travel Company by macho Outside Magazine.  This year they are offering a great new adventure: “Tundra Lodge & Town Adventure” with two departures, October 11 and 14, 2013, both are almost sold-out. Sign up for a chance to see the “King of the Arctic” polar bear unbelievably up-close and all the time. Sleep in a rolling “hotel.”  Meet a real musher and ride with a team of huskies. Explore the tundra in an ultra-sturdy, uniquely designed Polar Land Rover. And get this: outdoor viewing platforms with steel mesh floors get you inches away from the bears as they snoop around right underneath! Take advantage too of the photo opps of a lifetime. Bragging rights, no extra charge.

Their Tundra Lodge is a mobile hotel on huge heavy rubber wheels. It is driven to the busiest area for animal traffic in order to maximize bear-viewing.  Like a train, one car of the Lodge is the dining room, one is the kitchen, one is a welcoming lounge and two cars are for sleeping in berths.  Plenty of windows to watch bear from the lodge and for the more intrepid, Land Rover safaris are always available to explore the tundra.

In addition to big white bears, see rare arctic fox, arctic hare, red fox, and many feathered friends, most notably the gorgeous black and white snowy owls.

Two nights in the historic town of Churchill will be eye-opening and fun: meet hardy locals and former trappers, meet Kelly the king musher who will show sled dog basics, and an Inuit couple who demonstrate how people survived in this unforgiving climate long ago.  Not p.s.: a visit to the excellent museum of Inuit history, culture and music.

This wild 8-day small-group adventure, accompanied by two well-experienced team leaders and an enthusiastic staff, begins and ends in Winnipeg and includes the short chartered flight to and from Churchill.  $7295 pp. Click here.

Magic Mountains

Looking for an exhilarating and challenging quickie summer escape?  Consider Canadian Mountain Holidays acknowledged world’s leading heli-hiking operator for 35+ years.  When the powder poufs and the ski season closes, CMH offers “Summer Adventures,” an invigorating menu of stellar guests leading inspirational 3-day trips. July and August 2013.

Set amid North America’s most spectacular mountains in the southeastern quadrant of British Columbia, this is the perfect program for adventurous solo travelers.

Chop Chop. Thrilling helicopter transport to and from the lodges, in and out of the most gorgeous peaks and valleys.

Days are spent heli-hiking, mountaineering, rappelling, climbing, and/or swimming in glacial lakes in small groups.  Or for the less intrepid: leisurely guided walks through mountain meadows carpeted in wildflowers and Jacuzzi tub soaks.  Each evening, back into the comforts of the lodge, listen to one of the guest speakers’ dramatic presentations and dive into the excellent meals served family style at communal tables. Similar interests and shared experience prompt an easy camaraderie and good cheer.

Who’s onboard?

A renowned anthropologist, ornithologist, botanist, chef and photographer.

  • Dr. Cam Gillies – Ornithologist, photographer and a keen birder who has traveled and birded his way through much of North and South America.  July 12-15, 2013
  • Wade Davis – National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence – who will enthrall guests with his acclaimed Massey Lecture, “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World.” July 21-24, 2013
  • Brian Keating – Adventurer, explorer and global environmentalist.  Host of his own show on the Discovery Channel joins his wife Dee to lead an entertaining (and sometimes hilarious) Family Adventure for kids of all ages. Superb storytellers, their tall and true tales are CMH highlights. July 21-24, 2013
  • Peter Potterfield – Outdoor Adventure Journalist and Photographer leads guests on lodge-to-lodge adventures, sharing stories and photos from his world travels in the evenings. August 11-17, 2013
  • John Ash – Chef/owner of his beloved Santa Rosa, CA restaurant, an original culinary star in Northern California wine country with his focus on local, seasonal ingredients and local wines.  August 26-29, 2013

There’s still time to sign on. For more details please click directly:

Paint, Shoot, Fly Into The Bugaboos!

Canadian Summer Art Workshops

Painters and photographers, here’s the perfect summer trip for solo travelers: a chance to study with the masters in British Columbia’s immense and thrilling Bugaboos mountain range — some of the most extraordinary natural scenery in the Americas.

From August 5-8, 2012, guests of Canadian Mountain Holidays Summer Adventures can enroll in a “Photography Workshop with John E. Marriott,” acclaimed wilderness photographer. This is his third straight year of alpine adventures. The chopper will fly your small camera-totin’ group into virgin wilderness to capture the most dramatic digital images of wildflowers, jagged granite spires and glacial lakes. In the evenings, join Marriott back at the lodge for gourmet alpine dinners served family-style and hang out for evening discussions of techniques and technology. CAD 3,065. (approx $3,090). Click:

From September 4-7, 2012, renowned Canadian painters Robert Genn and Liz Wiltzen will, for the third straight year, lead guests for 3 days in their “Painting Workshop in the Bugaboos.” Artists-in-training will be dropped off by helicopter in remote areas of the inspirational Purcell Mountains together with mentors Gen and Wiltzen to paint in a heaven on earth. CAD 3,405.  (approx US $3433.)  Click:

Voted “Best Heli-Adventure Company on Earth” by National Geographic ADVENTURE Magazine, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures is the oldest (est. 1965) and largest heli-skiing and heli-hiking operator in the world, operating from 11 lodges. Rates are per person, based on double occupancy.

Please click: to check out their many adventure ideas and options up there in the wilds. Or call a CMH expert at 800-661-0252.


For Grizzly Voyeurs in Canada

Intrepid solo travelers who can go for a little coddling too, how does the Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of British Columbia sound for an extraordinary expedition this summer?  Cool, huh?  What began as a wildlife passion for Tom Rivest and Marg Leehane evolved into Great Bear Nature Tours 13 years ago. Cited by National Geographic Adventure as one of the Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth, their floating eco-lodge is beautifully set in a fjord and runs on wind, solar and water power.

Guided trips are available in spring, summer and fall, and each season offers unique insight into grizzly bear behavior. In the spring, bears emerge from their dens to graze on wetland plants and grasses. In summer, they search for food in berry patches, grasslands or in the rivers for early salmon and other tidbits…. With the beginning of fall and arrival of thousands of salmon, the wild drama is played out in front of your eyes, ears and nose from viewing stands along the river.  Photographers’ paradise.

A quickie one-hour seaplane flight from Port Hardy on the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island over Queen Charlotte Strait is phenomenal fun for the chance to see breaching whales, foraging bear, and sailing birds from the air. Great Bear programs include two professionally-guided viewing excursions per day, a warm shower, great meals, and a good snooze in one of the five cozy bedrooms. You will not get lost in the crowd: 10 guests max. per tour.

Their site: includes an enticing little video.  Phone: 888-221-8212 for rates and additional info, or write directly to

Choo Choo Overview

Train travel all over the world is almost limitless, and there is something mysteriously alluring with a whiff of romance (or at least foreign intrigue) in the puff of a train. Some are expensive and luxurious, like rolling, well-appointed 5-star hotels with exceptional staffs and food, but many are basic and good choices for the budget-minded. In addition to saving the cost of hotels, overnight trains deliver the thrill of waking up in a new city or even a new country.


Colossally fascinating and endlessly-intriguing, is the cryptic name for the website for train travel throughout the world. Get schedules, costs, connections, and every inch of train travel in Europe including such off-the-beaten tracks as those in Macedonia, Cyprus, Andorra, and Belarus AND onward into Iran, Cambodia, and even Cuba (the Ferrocarriles de Cuba. which offers no official website and no toilet paper.)  Tap into this site and run the risk of getting lost in it!

The Good Web Guide UK says “…has all the mystery of  a Le Carre epic. Who is this mysterious man who always books Seat 61 on the Eurostar and why has he set up a site devoted entirely to world rail travel? His name’s Mark Smith and he is passionate about long-distance rail travel….”

Alaska: For mesmerizing, non-stop beauty, check out the award-winning upper-deck domed window cars of the Denali Star during the 12-hour trip between Fairbanks and Anchorage.

The Alps: Rocky Mountains Highs

In Switzerland, the Rhaetian Railway offers the highest rails in the Alps: the Albula and Bernina lines which are stellar examples of technical, architectural and environmental brilliance. In the northwest, the Albula pass wends through 42 tunnels and over 144 viaducts and bridges. The Bernina train “sails” through 13 tunnels and over 52 viaducts and bridges. And the gorgeous (usually snowy) area between Thusis, rich in forests, rivers, glaciers and gorges, and the tiny town of Tirano in northern Italy has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Click:

P.S. Don’t forget the train trip between Switzerland’s two top ski resorts, St. Moritz and Zermatt, is simply a glorious 7-hour whiteout ride on the Glacier Express. Click:

From Adelaide to Alice Springs to Darwin, the Ghan crosses the spectacular transcontinental heart of Australia, north to south, in a 48-hour one-way ride with two nights on board.

Although many trains stop running during their freezing winters, others chug along splendidly through great drifts, mounds and mountains of ice and snow.

Out west, the award-winning Rocky Mountaineer toot-toots through the Canadian Rockies on a variety of wintry routes. Phone 877-460-3200.

In Eastern Canada, look into the Agawa Canyon Snow Train which starts in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario – for a 4-hour, 114-mile rail cruise through rugged snowscapes and “diamonds of ice,” wildly colorful fall foliage as per season; chug 500 feet down over 10 miles to the floor of the billion-year old Agawa Canyon. To know more, phone 800-242-9287 or

VIA Rail operates about 480 trains per week over a vast 9,000-mile network that spans and links all of Canada. This is huge. Excellent website makes it easy to navigate their fascinating network.

India anyone?  The royally luxurious Deccan Odyssey departs from Mumbai and visits towns and villages all along the gorgeous coastline of the Arabian Sea for 8 days, including hottest beach spot on the subcontinent, the intensely sensual sandy city of Goa.

…and stay tuned for more…

Earn your Taiga Stripes

Great Slave Lake is the place for a thrilling 10-day journey high in the Canadian Subarctic, and an adventure you can redeem for bigtime bragging rights in exchange for 43 miles of kayaking and tented camping.

Not on everyone’s GPS, one flies from Edmonton or Calgary on a chartered plane into non-bustling Yellowknife, Canada on the northern shore of the Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America and one of the largest in the world.  This lake, framed by Islands of the Taiga, is 318 miles south of the Arctic Circle and framed by a maze of forests, sheltered bays, shale beaches and red granite cliffs sculpted by glaciers.

During the one-weather-window a year, California-based operator, Explorers’ Corner, leads the “Great Slave Adventure” in early autumn to catch peak fall colors and plentiful wildlife – large flocks of migratory birds, bear, moose, muskrat, and mink and more.

Act now! 2011 departure dates: Aug. 12, 19, 26 and Sept. 2.  Price per person in a small group is $4390.  To hop in, click: for all details or call 877-677-9623.

Pick God’s Pocket? Yes!

If you want to try kayaking in British Columbia but will do anything to avoid camping out, the quaint 7-room lodge called God’s Pocket Resort appeals. Envision: private rooms-with-bath on a remote uninhabited island in the heart of God’s Pocket Provincial Park just off the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Take off by boat from Port Hardy and glide gently past rugged mountains and forested islands on the pristine waters of Queen Charlotte Strait.

Sea Kayak Adventures has recently made available an exclusive wilderness adventure right in this heavenly spot. Daily excursions take you into the intricate network of waterways surrounding the many islands that make up the Park. If you are willing to paddle yourself in a kayak, enjoy front-row center seats to watch awesome humpback and fin whales, sea otters, porpoises, seals, sea lions and bald eagles. Hiking trails lead you into the island’s lush rainforest.

Lovely meals prepared from locally grown organic produce, fresh seafood, and fresh baked wholegrain breads, and desserts are served around the communal table. Then sunset and stargazing fireside from their spacious floating deck, followed by a blissful sleep in a comfy bed in absolute quiet … fantastically rejuvenating.

These special 5-day God’s Pocket pickers take off every Monday from Vancouver Island – June 21 through July 30, 2011 and prices begin at $2295 per person.

Want to know more? Call Sea Kayak Adventures at (800) 616-1943, or click:

Chopper Chicks

Renowned heli-skiing operator, Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH), follows up on recent success with two heli skiing trips for women with a cool concept, “Chicks in the Chopper” – sensational spring skiing for women only.

Although no prior heli-skiing experience is necessary, these trips are geared for strong, intermediate and advanced women skiers who would enjoy supportive and fun group skiing on Western Canada’s wildly beautiful, untouched mountainscapes.

: A typical day: morning stretch or yoga class – breakfast –heli-lifts for group downhill powder runs with two CMH’s experts – back to the lodge – lunch – soothing massage – hot tub soak – blazing fire – exceptional food and wine – lively conversation …then well-deserved zzzzzz’s.

For current prices and dates, ski to: Canadian Mountain Holidays or call. 800-661-0252.