Hey Everyone, Let’s Go Snorkeling…In Manitoba?

Snorkel with the Belugas in ManitobaYep, those crazy Manitobans have lost it. The cold has finally gotten to their brains. They must figure they’re part of the tropics or something. Apparently, when you visit Churchill, known for its polar bears, you can toss on your snorkeling gear, dive into the Hudson Bay, and swim with the belugas.

Oooo Dive into the Hudson Bay? Must be cold enough to freeze your knickers to your backside right? Well, it isn’t warm like it would be in the Caribbean, but it’s certainly warm enough to enjoy.

The whole activity starts every July by the arrival of an estimated 3,000 belugas to the warmer waters of the Bay and nearby rivers. They’ll stay here in order to give birth to their young, feed, frolic, and sing until the middle of August, when they return to their northern home.

If you’d like to witness this for yourself and listen to the beautiful songs of the belugas and their calves, you’ll want to visit Sea North Tours, who offers tours ranging from two to three hours long. A little scared about getting in the water with these graceful animals? Don’t worry. Wildlife and tour experts assure the public that these animals are not dangerous in any way.

The adventure starts out with everyone in wet or dry suits taking a relaxing boat ride out to the whale’s favorite spots. Once there, you’ll be instructed to put on the rest of your gear and hang onto a rope that will allow you to drift along or be pulled gently behind the boat, in the crystal clear water. (You don’t have to worry if you don’t have any gear with you. All of it is available for rent!) This method also makes it possible for non-swimmers to have the same experiences.

The mammal music is stunning, but as remarkable as that is, it isn’t what most people seem to remark about first. One trait that makes these animals so popular to swim with is their level of humanity and interaction.

When they swim upside down and cock their necks to look at you, you can see that they are as interested in you as you are in them. They look at you and communicate so much with their eyes. As Doreen Macri of Sea North Tours says, ‘They are almost speechless when they get back to shore.”

This activity is ideal for almost anyone’s vacation since there’s no age or size limit. You’ll also find this adventure is extremely affordable. If you’d like more information, visit the Sea North Tours website or Travel Manitoba.

Just a few quick notes:

Just because Saturday is 40th Anniversary of 7-11’s Slurpees in Canada, a useless fact for you: Winnipeg consumes more Slurpees per capita than any other city in Canada.

A big thank you to Cathy, Manager of Media Relations at Travel Manitoba for diligently sending info and keeping me up to date on what’s going on in the province. It’s greatly appreciated. You’re a real gem!

(This post can also be found at Travel the Prairies at http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/snorkeling-manitoba/)

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The Journey of a Lifetime: Churchill, Manitoba’s Hudson Bay Quest

Hudson Bay Quest - Churchill, Manitoba

Hudson Bay Quest - Churchill, Manitoba

©2008AngieHaggstrom

For anyone how travels to Churchill, Manitoba on March 21, 2009, the sound of dogs barking will be unmistakable. The Hudson Bay Quest is a 400 km self-sufficient dog sled race running from Churchill to Arviat, Nunavut along historic lines used by the Hudson Bay Company. The typical four-day event is an exciting celebration of the history of dog mushing and Canadian culture.

Created by the owner of Wapusk Adventure owner Dave Daley and a group of fellow mushers, the race was intended on growing the sport of traditional dog sledding. Now in its sixth year, it is one of the most popular events in the area. Approximately 20 teams take off on the morning of the first day and endure extreme cold, winds, polar bears, and the wild to make it to the other end.

The skill and endurance needed for this race is nothing short of absolutely amazing. Miriam Korner, fellow Saskatchewan freelance writer and photographer, is the only female to enter the race and was able to sum up the race perfectly. When asked what her goals for the race were, she replied “Don’t get wet, don’t get lost, don’t get eaten by polar bears, and finish the race with happy dogs.” For a native of Germany, her fifth place finish is nothing short of an unbelievable feat. For more stories of life out on the trail, read the interesting anecdote at the bottom of her interview with Sleddogcentral.com. It’s one of those ‘that was too close’ moments that I’m sure brought on a few other words!

The entire event finishes off with a fantastic banquet and awards ceremony for various categories including the best lead dog and the unofficial ‘Best Snotsicle Award,’ which according to their website was 2.53 inches for anyone interested. To put that in perspective, I was once told that spit freezes in mid air at minus 50. I have no idea how cold it has to be for a snotcicle, but I could just about imagine what it would take to form an amazing natural phenomenon such as that.

The race itself is not for the faint hearted. Many of the mushers and teams simply can’t take the extreme conditions and grueling pace the race requires (and there is no way most could, be it 2-legged or 4!). It is not without its tragedies either. The participants all learn a lot about the art of mushing and survival while making life-long friendships with those who share their passion. For spectators, however, it is an unforgettable, nail-biting event.

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(Picture provided by ukpicker at Stock.Xchng)

(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/churchill-manitoba-hudson-bay-quest/)