Today marks the one year anniversary of an experience of a lifetime, one that neither of us will ever forget. An experience so incredible that it changed our lives forever. I am talking about the day when Tommy and I had the chance to get up close and personal with a pack of wolves. Yes, wolves. Not huskies, not wolf-dog hybrids, but actual mighty and majestic wolves. Keep on reading to find out how we were able to cross a wolf visit off our bucket list!
First of all
I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about this up close and personal wolf visit but it was definitely a couple of years ago. Tommy and I were still in a long distance relationship at the time. We used to tag each other on a bunch of cool things we saw on Facebook, dreaming that we could do them together one day. Now most of them were just for fun and sort of got dismissed as ‘that’s not something people like us would ever get to do.’ As was the case when I found a post about this wolf visit.
Fast forward to December 2017 when we were at the first stages of planning a first time trip to Norway. We didn’t have a specific place in mind and that’s when Tommy got back to the whole wolf visit thing. After deciding that we, and only we, get to decide what ‘people like us’ would and wouldn’t get to do, we quickly started looking into this incredible experience. After some research we decided to plan our whole trip around the wolf visit. That’s one decision we will never regret!
As I mentioned earlier, we plannend our entire trip around our adventure with the wolves. We found the perfect Airbnb at the perfect location in Grovfjord. Everything we wanted to do was under a 2 hour drive. More info on the rest of our trip will be available soon!
We got up early that morning and enjoyed a beautiful drive through winter wonderland, to Polar Park in Bardu. This is the northernmost zoo in the world, how cool is that? But Polar Park isn’t your average zoo, it is an arctic wildlife center. They only have a few enclosures, all of them a substantial size. As the huge animal lovers that we are, we were very pleased with that. However keep in mind that you might not see the animals at first due to the size of the enclosures. So be sure to do more than one walk through the park so you can spot all the animals when you go. It’s not big but with its charm and beautiful scenery it’s definitely worth a visit.
Preparation is key
As we made our way back to the restaurant to receive our instructions, we could feel the excitement rushing through our bodies. We were actually going to do this! Instructions about your wolf visit are not taken lightly here, as should be the case. These are not cute and cuddly dogs, you’re about to engage with actual predators. So do not approach these magnificent animals like dogs. It’s important to let that fully sink in. You play by their rules, not the other way around.
Some basic requirements for a wolf visit are that you are able to understand either Norwegian or English, you are at least 1.60m tall and you need to be in good physical condition. You can find the full list of requirements here. Everything else you need to know is carefully explained by the very knowledgeable zookeepers. Things like do’s and don’ts, wolf behavior 101 and the way you are expected to conduct yourself will all be discussed. Now that we were brought up to speed it was time to meet the wolves!
Like a fairytale
Eagerly and in almost a dream like state we entered the wolf enclosure. A thick blanket of snow covered the park, making it look all the more magical. Surrounded by this beauty with curious wolves approaching, I felt like I was living a fairytale.
We were required to kneel down on one knee and wait for the wolves to come to us. A lick in the face is the greeting, an invitation for interaction and the rest will follow. The pack of 5 is lead by the alpha pair Brage and Marit. They were the first ones to inspect us as we kneeled down.
Silently we sat, completely surrendered and eagerly awaiting the alpha male, Brage, to come closer. He was standing taller than we were sitting down. I saw a nose come so close, my eyes couldn’t even keep it in focus anymore. I closed my eyes and there it was, the greeting, the invitation, a warm wolf’s kiss, covering almost half of my face. Quietly I sat, tears starting to form in my eyes, from this amazingly humbling and spiritual experience, as I feel teeth softly touch my lips. Never before have I felt this accepted and connected to everything.
The wolf visit continues
Being accepted by the pack like this was out of this world. The wolves interacted with us by licking our faces, inviting us to make contact and pet them. We were able to photograph them, observe them, learn from them. What else could you possibly wish for? Maybe watching them interact and play together? See them dig into the snow and roll around in it? Or hear them howl until all the hairs on your arms rise? Well we were able to check all of those off during our wolf visit.
Especially when the pack started howling I couldn’t contain my tears anymore, I was so deeply grateful for this experience with these beautiful animals. Completely in love and euphoric we eventually got up and left the enclosure. This is something we will forever carry in our hearts with so much gratitude.
Some important notes
We are always very cautious about experiences with animals. Never would we participate in anything that is not in alignment with our love and respect for animals. That’s why we firmly believe in experiences that are enjoyable for both human and animal.
A wolf visit in Polar Park is based on mutual respect. It serves as enrichment for the wolves and as education for humans. Unfortunately there’s still a lot of misunderstanding towards these beautiful creatures. That’s why we compliment Polar Park and their zookeepers for all their educational efforts. Contact between you and the wolves is never forced and therefore never guaranteed. Polar Park only provides a wolf visit on Wednesdays and Fridays, in small groups of a maximum of 10 people. If you’re lucky like us you might be the only ones who booked a visit when you go!
A few last words
As far as bucket list items go, for us, this was an absolute must. Yes we traveled all the way to Northern Norway. Yes the whole trip revolved around the wolf visit. And yes, it was quite expensive. (Check here for up to date prices.) However none of it mattered to us. Because to this day our wolf visit is still the most epic and powerful experience we’ve ever had and we would recommend it to anyone with a passion for animals.
If only we had our mirrorless camera during our wolf visit! Maybe we just have to go back? Or maybe we get a chance to photograph the wolves if our next HUGE dream comes true; to stay at Polar Park’s Wolf Lodge, to learn even more about these amazing animals. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to make that happen. If that’s the case we’ll be moving to cloud 9 for a permanent stay. All we can say for sure is, we’ve been forever touched by the wolves.