A Tundra Buggy is an all-terrain vehicle built and used by Frontiers North Adventures as a wildlife viewing vehicle for photographing and observing polar bears and other sub-Arctic wildlife outside of Churchill, Manitoba in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area and Wapusk National Park in northern Canada. Churchill is known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World". To date, 17 vehicles have been produced and are used by researchers and tourists. The term "Tundra Buggy" is a registered trademark of Frontiers North Adventures.
Tundra Buggies are built very high off the ground to ensure guest safety. Before the autumn freeze, these vehicles only use an existing set of trails on the tundra that were built by the Canadian and American Armed Forces in the 1950s and 1960s. The high ground clearance of the Buggies also help navigate through difficult areas of the trail. The Tundra Buggy fleet is custom built and manufactured by Frontiers North Adventures in Churchill, Manitoba.
The average male polar bear is 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) tall when standing on its hind legs. The tires on each Tundra Buggy vehicle are 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) high and 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) wide, and sit on 25-inch rims. A wide-bodied enclosure sits on top of the wheels and provides even more height, security, comfort and ability for guests to move around to view and photograph wildlife. The engine in Tundra Buggies is an International DT 466, often found in highway semi-trailers. It is geared through the Allison Transmission, and then geared through the differentials and planetaries on the hubs. The buggies are full-time four-wheel drive and have the capability to lock the differentials if needed.
The top speed of a Tundra Buggy is approximately 45 km/h (28 mph) on a smooth trail, but usually travels much slower. The Buggies are relatively self-sufficient with onboard air compressors, tool kits, extra fluids and oils, lavatories and propane heaters which are independent of the engine. As well Tundra Buggies include comfortable seats, windows that open and a large observation deck.
Tundra Buggies can also tow additional modules containing bunks, showers, and dining facility for overnight stays on the tundra in a configuration the company calls a "Tundra Buggy Lodge".
Other companies in the Churchill area also operate tundra vehicles designed for polar bear viewing in the Churchill area. Companies such as the Lazy Bear Lodge offer similar vehicles, tours and accommodation - although they do not hold permits to operate within the Churchill Wildlife Management Area or Wapusk National Park.
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