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Build an igloo; catch a dogsled race in the wilds of northern Manitoba

By Judy Watiuk
  Ice Hut Canadian Inuit can construct cozy igloos in an hour or two. They always use hard packed snow from a single storm. They know building blocks made with different snow types from various storms crumble when shaped and stacked. They know that in Canada's icebound north, Ma Nature doesn't allow "do-overs." Now southern novices can try it, too.
     Alongside local Inuit who know their snow, you can safely tackle the ultimate in eco-friendly architecture - with the "Fire and Ice" journey, led by wilderness travel company Churchill Wild of Churchill, MB. Fire and Ice adventurers bunk in comfort at the company's Seal River Heritage Lodge some 65 km (40 mi) north of Churchill. They take on igloo-building, plus snowshoeing along the remote Knife River delta and wildlife-spotting on the edge of the Barrens. They spy bear, caribou, and along the tree line's fringe, moose, wolves, fox, wolverine, Arctic hare and ptarmigan in their natural environs. A pro photographer offers tips for dazzling winter imagery. Of course some of the wildlife turns up on the lodge menu - from caribou meat to local berries.
     The trip is in April to catch the arduous annual 400-km (250 mi) Hudson Bay Quest between Churchill and Arviat, NU. A mix of Inuit racers and hearty northerners, most of the Inuit Quest mushers use traditional sledding gear. Zipping right past the lodge, they offer an increasingly rare glimpse of the north as it was before settlers introduced mechanized transport.
     Try it the old way yourself: sleep in the igloo you built, with caribou hides and the heat of a single candle, a polar-bear guard standing watch outside. Keep that camera cuddled close at hand to catch the night-time aurora borealis lightshow.

Judy Waytiuk is a veteran Canadian writer, journalist, and broadcaster, based in Winnipeg, MB. She loves "soft adventure," history, nature and cultural travel, has written hundreds of features for dozens of newspapers and magazines, and holds five major national and international awards for her travel writing. Her heart is happiest when she's writing about Canada. www.wordsink.ca

Photo Credit & Article:
courtesy, Canadian Tourism Commission

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