The best possible explanation about the land, the animals, the camps and level of service that Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures provides is best described by our valued customers who have undergone their own journeys to the Arctic with us. The following testimonials are for real. If you are seriously considering joining us on our trips, please feel free to contact us and we will be pleased to put you directly in touch with those who have attended our trips over the past few seasons - and let THEM tell you about the wonderful experiences that Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures has to offer you...
- 2011-2009 Kudos
"As a boy I had dreamed of traveling to the far reaches of the Canadian north. So in the fall of 2009 the opportunity of a lifetime became a reality. I was on my way to the "Barrenlands" of Nunavut. I traveled with my friend Ron Burmeister who had explored the vast wilderness with Tundra Tom and his guides several times before. The flights in to this pristine wilderness was dotted with clear water lakes and the rich colors of the tundra. The first thing that I realized is how immensely large this region is. Our base camp was set up in a strategic location to see caribou,musk ox and many other animal species of the north. The camp was set up to make our stay in the arctic as comfortable as possible. Sleeping accommodations in our tents and the food were excellent. Both exceeding my expectations. I have traveled to remote area of Alaska to the rainforests of central America and I was very happy with the camp life here. We learned of ancient civilizations that had been here and also were taught the art of dancing in the caribou. Tom and his guides also taught us about the unique landscape and its flora. This area called the Barrenlands is the farthest thing from barren. It's landscapes is filled with endless photographic opportunities. The tundra is a macro heaven, colorful images of plant life were abound. As I lay on my stomach to photograph these jewels of the arctic ground, my scents of smell was enveloped by the greatest fragrance of plant life I had ever taken in. Countless species of berries were ripe for eating. Our days were filled with hikes,plane rides and boat exploration for wildlife and history of this ancient realm. After long days on the Tundra we could always look forward to a feast every night to fill our hunger. Every night the sunset was an incredible hues of purple,reds and oranges which reflected on the water and tundra with its magnificent light. At night the photographic opportunities began again, the Aurora Borealis was in full force .Climbing out of my sleeping bag at 1;00 am was well worth it. I spent several hours each night capturing this awesome display of light and color. At times I would be surrounded by the northern lights confused on which direction to point the camera. With the silence of night time in the arctic you could almost here the light's dancing in the sky. We hiked out into the tundra in search of Musk Ox, what a prime evil feeling stalking a creature that survived the Pleistocene era over 10,000 years ago. I was armed only with my camera. On this day we had located a herd of over 60 Musk Ox. Photographing from a rock blind we witnessed the herd resting,feeding and even some bulls being territorial toward each other, great natural behavior images were taken of this. Our motto of not disturbing this great mammal was held up by our guide. We were able to witness and photograph the Musk ox and caribou without disturbing their daily battle of life in one of the harshest places to live on earth. Laughter and a great sense of place were an everyday occurrence here. My travel partners and my guides were only strangers for a short time before the arctic brought us all together. All of us knowing that this trip would change our views of this great place and our place in the world. All of my dreams and expectations of this land and wildlife were realized with Tom and his wonderful staff they are all very professional and that is definitely what you want at an outpost like this. I hope to return to this magical land with Tom. This is a short poem of my time there:"
"As I stand in the Barrenlands with a cool wind in my face,
only the sounds of nature fill this place.
Bird's on a wing fill the arctic skies,
the howl of a lone wolf are it's midnight cries.
Colors of the tundra fade green to red,
and the Aurora Borealis is my night light in bed.
My body and soul would no longer need to roam
for I knew this is a place, I could call home.
For this magnificent land has forever changed my way,
this was a journey I remember everyday."
- David C. Olson
"The autumn [wildlife] trip was my second to Canada but my first to the “Barrenlands” and it certainly won’t be my last! Having never seen landscape like this was certainly an experience I will not forget. The wildlife was amazing and I felt lucky to see such variety. I was greeted with a much needed steaming hot cup of tea to warm my ‘freezing’ cold body when I arrived at the camp and within minutes my blood was pumping and I was ready to photograph! I noticed the campsite was safely guarded by a couple of SicSic (Arctic Ground Squirrels) which I thought were the cutest little creatures and couldn’t stop taking photos of them. Sometimes they seemed to be modelling for the camera and it was a bit of a contest to see who was the better model. After exploring the area and feeling renewed from all the fresh tundra air I was blessed with the most beautiful sunset. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to see what else the amazing Barren Lands had to offer."
"The next day (after photographing more Sic-Sic), Steve (aka Silvertongue) took me hiking. After learning a great deal about the amazing plants and the animals I encountered my first Caribou. I was so excited I could hardly breathe. He showed me how to “Dance with the Caribou” so I could get a bit closer to get a few photographs. Wow! It was awesome! Even the nights had something to offer – my first ever sightings of the Aurora Borealis –something we don’t see down under in Australia. It was the middle of the night, my hands and feet were numb, I was shivering beyond belief and I felt sick from being so cold but I didn’t care; I was actually out here in the middle of the tundra photographing the Northern Lights. "
"Every day offered something new – Snow Geese, Rock Ptarmigan, herds of Caribou, Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, SicSic, Arctic Hare, amazing lichen and moss, even yummy berries. Well, everything except Musk Oxen. They seemed to have disappeared. We hiked for miles looking for them, we even flew for miles looking for them – nothing. But on the very last morning I was woken to be told that the Musk Oxen were slowly moving in towards our camp. I have never jumped out of bed so quickly. I couldn’t believe my luck. We photographed them from our campsite until they realised they would have to go through the campsite to continue on, so they turned around and headed off in the other direction. "
"Later that day while waiting to be collected to fly back to Baker Lake, I decided to try and get a few more photos of the mighty Musk Oxen. I positioned myself against the rocky hill out of sight, I took shot after shot until I heard a rather loud “grunt” from behind. I turned around to find a very large male Musk Oxen staring straight at me just a few steps away. It scared the living daylights out of me. I quickly scrambled up the hillside and hid behind a big rock leaving my tripod to fend for itself. I remember thinking, ‘I know I wanted to see a Musk Ox up close, but not up close and personal!’ It was an experience that I will never forget and now makes me giggle every time I think about it. By the end of the trip, thanks to the Great Canadian Wilderness Adventures, I felt like an expert at dancing with the Caribou and even mingling with the Musk Oxen."
- Wendy Broekx
"To be one with nature is a concept that most of us (read: “city dwellers”) dream euphemistically about. We have no real concept of the true meaning of it. It isn’t until you witness a pair of peregrine falcons literally enjoying powerful updrafts, flying as if they are performing acrobatic stunts at a military air show, to show how it is really to be done, starting in a dive – pulling their wings tight to their body – speeding ever so fast downward in a vertical dive – and then heading straight upward in a powerful vertical rise, only to go headfirst into the next dive – at the same time vocalizing a long joyful wheeee sound every time the new descend was starting. Was this show put on for us? - probably not – but rather to show their offspring the beauty of flight – but what a chance for us to be one with nature – to be able to share a bird’s pleasure for flight! To apply stealth tactics to get close to a caribou cow and calf, but then to learn to play on the caribou’s instinct for curiosity and in effect using a form of psychology to enable to get the images that you are after, you are learning to become one with nature. The biggest message of being one with nature though was when nature showed us all that she was in total and absolute control! When, searching the whole day for the herd of muskoxen that were seen the day before, and not finding them, mother nature has the whole herd pass by the camp the next morning within a hundred feet. She was toying with us though by bridling the arrival of the herd with winds of over 60 miles per hour forcing us to be more concerned with the logistics of the campsite rather photographing the herd. To be fair to big Momma though, she brought her whole herd back on the morning of our departure for ample photo opportunity – a guilt trip by mother nature? – I wonder!! The food in camp was wholesome, and the shelter was adequate, but the understanding and love of the north by Tom and his crew, and what it has to offer was examplitory. With their expertise, not only did we get the images that we longed for, we also got to be one with nature! What a bargain!!"
- Shirley & Horst Baender
"Hi Tom, I made it home safely. I made my other appointments for Mt. Assiniboine in time and had a good time watching and photographing Grizzly Bears. In particular one female with 3 cubs from this year - I could watch them relatively closely for about 3 hours in the afternoon of my second day there. "Back to Nunavut and the Caribou Trip: it was my first time in the tundra and it took me some time to adapt to that situation. It took me as well some time back home to adapt to normal life after the Tundra. I learned Tundra is something special - and basically all people I was taking to when back home have totally wrong ideas about what Tundra is all about. ""I was pleased with the opportunities to watch and photograph Caribous and Muskoxen as well as all the other creatures. I have got excellent pictures! I was pleased with the northern lights, the landscape, the autumn colours and the Inuit history I learned from you, David and out of books of your library. Of course I would have liked very much to see some wolves or foxes as well. But you can't have it all."“…You and both Steve’s did do there best to make camp life more comfortable. The food was good - the fish I liked best. Please make sure that coffee is never going to be on short supply. “..Thank you Tom for the opportunity to learn about the Tundra and about the Dance with Caribou. It was a great time and I would not have wanted to miss the experience and excitement of the Tundra.”
- Karlheinz Berg
"Gday Tom! Sorry for not writing sooner, but I’ve just arrived home after 6 months of travelling to wonderful places like Baker Lake. I really enjoyed the trip – every moment of it! Just wandering around the tundra was a real treat for me, and seeing the muskox and caribou and aurora was more than I could have ever wished for. Many thanks to you and the 2 Steve’s for making it such an enjoyable trip. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back that way again, but if I do I’ll be sure to check the websites to see whats on!"
- Annette Stewart
"I was out for dinner this evening with some friends, and I was describing, in part, my trip to Baker Lake at the end of August. In fact, I've told quite a few people about it. "It was the totality of the 'Dance with Caribou' trip that was wonderful: encountering caribou and muskox and some other wildlife as well as the arctic flora during our exhilerating hikes across the seemingly endless tundra, our good group dynamics, the awesome Aurora Borealis at night, exploring the Hamlet of Baker Lake, the boat trip across the lake, flying in your bush plane (even if it wasn't the classic Beaver), the plentiful and wholesome food prepared by the two Steves, your camp library, conversations, and more."
"This was my third trip North of 60, and I hope to do more. In fact, I'd like to make a documentary film about the North. The governments of Nunavut (and the NWT) and the Federal Government should be doing everything possible, including subsidizing travel costs, to make the north readily accessible to those of its citizens who want visit that part of Canada."
" My article on our trip will be published in the Travel section of the Winnipeg Free Press sometime this coming spring. I don't know the exact date yet. But, if I'll make sure you receive a copy of the article after it comes out. Photos taken by fellow participant/professional photographer and naturalist, David Olson, will accompany my story."
- Martin Zeilig - Writer
"I had a fabulous time at the camp, caught about 25 lake trout on the fly, saw the animals, a perigrine falcon take out a snow goose in mid-air, and thoroughly enjoyed my camp buddies and the two Steves. This group really bonded, and we are still sharing emails and pictures. Your readings were inspiring and set the stage. The Arctic continues to be holy ground for me. I will review some notes I have made and write a piece for you. Most of it will be about fishing but that area of the world cannot be beat. I will attach two articles, both now published, in which I describe my perceptions and experiences of the Arctic. I will not write your article in the religious manner these were written. I hope you will enjoy them."
"I know you go through a lot of stress to organize these trips and pull them off. But I thank you for the effort so that we mortals can have experiences that are difficult to describe. David calls his experince life-changing. On November 10 he will present his slide show of the trip to my wife's group, Vegetarians in Motion. I anticipate more than 100 people."
- Dr. Ron Burmeister
"I first encountered the Barrren Lands in 1999 on a 2 week canoe trip on the Clark-Thelon rivers from Great Canadian Wilderness Adventures. First off, they were anything but bare. We encountered millions of black flies and mosquitoes, but I was prepared with my trusty bug shirt and many bottles of Deet." "Many of my photos were shot from my canoe as we paddled. On one occasion our guide spotted a musk ox and we landed and stalked it. That was an adventure! I wished then that we were able to do that more. While we did not see one, not one caribou, I was still very happy with the trip. Just the beauty of it all was amazing. We were immersed in the country and it's history. I got to visit the final camp site of Hornby and his companions and saw the remains of the cabin. It was a solemn moment standing there having read how they died one by one from starvation. When I got back home I signed up for a two-week photography trip for 2000. Due to personal reasons, I was not able to make the trip until this year (2009). Tom was cool about letting me use my deposit 9 years later."
"When I got to the camp site on Chesterfield Inlet in 2009, the first thing I did was go for a walk. It felt like I was home. Not 10 minutes into my walk I encountered a caribou. I did the dance, and it stopped and looked at me, and I got my first picture of a caribou! This was an amazing trip! After a boat ride to look for musk ox we saw only one. One the way back it got stormy and we were all soaked. The next day, a herd of musk ox sauntered into camp! We were in awe of them. On another occasion, Tom used his plane to look for musk ox as one client came for the last week all the way from Australia, and wanted to see them. After a 2 hour flight, he did not see any. The next day as we were all helping take the camp down for the year, a big herd of musk ox came not once but twice into camp. I stood by my tent and got some great shots. We were all extremely lucky with the quantity of animals we encountered. Some mornings I would get up early and take a chair to a spot overlooking the stream that ran through camp, and sit there waiting for the morning show of caribou strolling through!
"I feel very much at home in the Barrens. My soul feels cleansed and I feel totally relaxed. But not until the second week when I acclimated to 'Tundra Time'. Simply put, Tundra Time means, "It will happen when it happens. Or not... there is no rushing nature or the weather - just enjoy what you get and you will find contentment."
- Barry Girard