When you're standing on the outdoor platform of the Polar Rover the chill Arctic air feels invigorating. But even more thrilling is the sight of a huge polar bear that wanders up alongside. Safely elevated above him, you’re nonetheless just feet away as you peer down at his shaggy, cream-colored bulk. Noticing you, he stops, sniffs and turns his face your way, curious. Awed, you draw in your breath, respecting the silence. The big bear ambles, then halts again. He rises on his haunches to peer at you more deliberately. You grin like a kid, filled with delight. You watch. You wonder. Minutes go by, perhaps an hour, who knows? On the tundra, among the bears, time stands still.
As summer approaches, the bears start a long journey northward, trekking 800 to 900 miles along the coast to seal-hunting grounds. They walk along the western shore until reaching the northwestern coast once again, where they wait for the ice to freeze. By mid-October, between 600 and 1,000 bears mass along a 100-mile stretch of coast between the Churchill and Nelson rivers. This spectacular gathering is the largest concentration of polar bears on the planet. An abundance of bears, typically males, clusters at headlands, particularly around Cape Churchill. When the ice becomes thick enough to withstand their weight, the bears once again disperse onto the frozen sea to prey upon seals.