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8 February 2017

The Ultimate Outdoor Experience: Polar Park

Img: Polar Park - Facebook 
There are those among us who proudly walk around in wolf apparel. The reason for this strange need to publicly display their love for the long-legged dog relation is likely due to the wearer’s dreams of owning a wolf. Perhaps in their daily life they will come across a breeder who just happens to specialise in dogs bred with wolves. A very slim possibility to be sure, but why else would you wear wolf apparel? If you find yourself pining after wolves, then you may want to make a special trip to Norway.  

Polar Park is the world’s most northernmost arctic wildlife centre. It houses a bevy of Norway’s predators – bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines and foxes – in addition to their prey – deer, elk, reindeer and musk ox. The animal park boasts the most area per animal of any park in the world, 11,840,301 square feet (1100 decares) split into 12 enclosures.
Img: Polar Park - Facebook

The wildlife centre was created with the intent of showing animals in their natural habitat, made possible by the large areas allotted to park inhabitants. Though very different to a traditional zoo, the wildlife in the park is said to be social and curious of human visitors. Visitors who take the time to explore the park on foot are likely to spot animals amongst the beautiful landscape. However, as it is such a large space, seeing all of the animals can be tricky. To combat this, the park has scheduled predator feeding or private guided tours.




Become One with the Pack

Wolves in the wild are “genetically conditioned to be afraid of humans.” Polar Park’s captive wolves, however, have no fear of humans. It would be folly to call a wild animal tame, but the group of wolves that lives in the wildlife centre are as close as can be. WolfVisit is one of the biggest draws that the wildlife centre has to offer. These socialised wolves have regular contact with handlers and visitors and seem to enjoy human interaction. Visitors are actually allowed into the wolf enclosure to interact with the wolves. The Polar Park team supervises to ensure safety while also educating visitors about wolves.

A visit to the park allows people to come in close proximity with predators. Predator centres like Polar Park are places to encourage understanding of issues regarding predators and increase the public’s awareness of their own attitudes, as per Polar Park’s mission statement. In addition to providing once-in-a-lifetime chance to observe these misunderstood and stigmatised beasts, the information presented goes into biology, research, proposed methods of management, policies and conflicts surrounding.


For those wanting to take full advantage of their stay, the park offers accommodation at the WolfLodge, accommodation in the middle of one of the wolf enclosures! That may sound a bit scary, but there is no traditional entrance or exit. Instead, guests must enter the lodging through a tunnel originating outside the enclosure fencing. A local host stays with guests at all times, supplying dinner, breakfast and snacks as well as information relating to the surrounding wildlife and fauna. Guests are able to have a WolfVisit after breakfast. WolfLodge offers a unique opportunity to observe wolves at all hours and get an authentic Norwegian experience. The lodge is complete living area with “one double room and five 3-bed rooms of different sizes,” communal bathroom, kitchen and living room. Three sides of the lodge are windowed to allow as much visual interaction with the wolves as possible.


Don’t get too excited about the WolfLodge just yet though. A one night stay costs £7100 ($8770)!


Activities

The park caters to the outdoorsy, offering a plethora of outdoor activities to occupy the time not ogling wildlife. During down time, visitors can go fishing, bouldering, and slack- or zip-line. People are encouraged to stay several days on the campsite or in caravans in order to fully experience the park. For the less nature-inclined, traditional Norwegian dinners are served in the Log Cabin. The rustic restaurant seats up to 45 guests on wooden benches topped with reindeer skin, completing the ambience with candles and a roaring fire. There is a larger restaurant on-site which seats 70. When the weather is more seasonable, the park serves up meat and sausages sourced from local suppliers or freshly-caught fish from the park. If you’d rather have a private dinner, there are barbeque and bonfire sites throughout.
  • Howl with the Wolves under the Arctic Light is a unique opportunity to watch wolves sing to the moon under the northern lights in winter or midnight sun in summer. Interestingly, the park set the Guinness World Record for the “Most people as possible howling with wolves” in 2013. That night 535 guests made history.
  • Wolves aren’t the only thing to see here. The park offers a Moose Safari, bringing visitors deep into the park to observe moose in the wild. In the winter, these areas are only accessible with snow shoes.

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).