I was recently on safari in Canada, and had the amazing opportunity to head out into the tundra, and look for polar bears. I had three full days to search for, and photograph, the great bears and each day provided new images in different conditions, but one thing remained the same: the mercury hit the minus thirty point on the thermometer without fail! Chilly to say the least…
The first two bears we found were in quick succession of each other, and had slightly different plans. The first, a large male, moved smoothly across the packed ice, right past us, and went to another tundra buggy to suss it out. Fantastically exciting, but it was just the start. The second bear, thought that ours was the buggy that needed the sussing out, and came to see what we were about. This made my very cold shutter finger come to life, and click away furiously. The true joy of seeing such a magnificent bear up close was enough to keep me just warm enough to stay out and keep shooting.
This pattern of being kept out in the cold by a bear keeping me entertained basically lasted for the next two and a half days. However, after an hour in the gusty winds and minus thirty-degree temperatures, I did have to take an opportune moment (i.e. the bear took a quick nap) to get back inside the tundra buggy and warm my hands and face. A rather snazzy (and first for me) fireplace in the actual buggy kept things toasty, and brought the life back to my frozen digits. As if on cue, the bears would wake up just as I had recovered, and back out I went. I did take a moment on more than one occasion to wonder how these bears deal with such harsh conditions. The one bear that was out and about during an actual blizzard just carried on like nothing was happening. Incredible.
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