Writer and Photographer for Badische-zeitung.de

The Tundra is Her Second Home.

By: Birgit-Cathrin Duval

Travel journalist Birgit-Cathrin Duval has been reporting on Canada for over 20 years. She is currently traveling in Manitoba.

Birgit-Cathrin Duval: Writer and Photographer for Badische-zeitung.de

Malsburg-Marzell. As a travel journalist and photographer, Birgit-Cathrin Duval, now living in Malsburg-Marzell, has been reporting on Canada for more than 20 years. This week, she and five colleagues from Australia, England and Germany visited Manitoba’s northern wilderness lodge. The BZ reports about her work there as part of our summer series. She flew to Canada last weekend – on Thursday her report reached us. On Friday she was flying back to Winnipeg.

Birgits PikeShe writes: “Manitoba is located in the middle of Canada and stretches from the prairie in the south to the Arctic tundra in the north. The province is about twice as large as Germany with just over one million inhabitants. The north is sparsely populated, except for some smaller towns.  There are no roads here, the only way to get to Gangler’s Lodge – from Germany – is by air.

From Winnipeg we flew to the lodge with the propeller plane and a gas stop in Thompson. From the air you will really become aware of the enormous expanse of this province. Below us are thousands of lakes, rivers and sub-arctic forests where bears, wolves, moose and caribou live – as far as the eye can see.

The area that is alocated to the lodge is 25 times larger than the district of Lörrach. The lodge is located directly on the Egenolf Lake and comprises 100 lakes and twelve river systems. The complex consists of a large main building and eight smaller cabins that can accommodate up to 24 people. The staff live in a small camp near the lodge.

Gangler’s Lodge employs around 45 people, most of whom are locals who guide fishing by boat. In addition, there are two pilots, as well as the kitchen crew, including the cook and other operations. To run such a camp in the wilderness, enormous logistical challenges have to be mastered. An example: The runway made of gravel and sand, on which even large aircraft such as a DC-3 can land, cost – converted – over one million euros.

My colleagues and I are invited by Travel Manitoba to familiarize ourselves with the area and the lodge. Gangler’s Lodge has focused on anglers so far, but there is so much more to explore here. The owner, Ken Gangler, would like to offer nature-interested travelers their own program, which we are now testing first.

On Wednesday morning I got up at 5 o’clock to use the morning light to take pictures. Breakfast was served from 7am, then we spent the whole day with Dr. Brian, a biologist, and John, our wilderness guide – either by seaplane or by boat.

The environment is also geologically very interesting. The glaciation created so-called Esker, up to 70 meters high hills, which are unique in Canada in this way. Thousands of years ago, local hunters migrated to hunt caribou. We found numerous spears and arrowheads from this period. It is quite possible that we are the first after the Indians who have ever entered this area. Tomorrow – according to the plan – we set out on an expedition.

We flew with a 56-year-old Beaver, a seaplane one hour further north to the border to Nunavut, Canada. A real adventure: We are dependent on wind and weather, floatplanes are flown by sight. We landed at Courage Lake north of the tree line in the tundra. There we explored places where future camps could be developed for a wilderness retreat.

The northern lights were followed by the storm in the morning.

Then I was with my colleague and Raimond, one of the wilderness guides, for fishing on the lake. Raimond used to live here in a tiny hut, in the winter he laid out his traps for the hunt. He knows the waters like his own vest pocket. He showed us how to heal wounds with Labrador tea. Raimond also guided me on the lake and helped me catch a northern pike (pike) out of the water. At noon, the men prepared shorelunch for us: we landed on an island, they made fire and sizzled the freshly caught fish with potatoes and beans over the fire. I have not eaten a fresher fish yet.

At night it is dark only after 11 o’clock. We sit outside the campfire and marveled at the northern lights, which usually show up around midnight. Experiencing this heavenly spectacle is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen.

Although my eyes almost shut, I managed to stay up until 1 o’clock to photograph the dancing lights. The fact that I am in the middle of the wilderness, several hours flight from the next civilization, makes this place so very special.  If you want to experience real wilderness, you will never find a better place.

Now, as I type these lines, a storm front pulls through from the north.  John and Ken are just running out the door to help the pilots moor and secure the seaplanes at the dock. Every moment here in the north is a real adventure. “

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