Deposit and Full Payment
A $500/per person deposit and a completed Reservation Form will hold space for you on a trip. The remainder is due 60 days prior to the trip departure date.
We strongly urge you to purchase travel/cancellation insurance. If you need help with your policy, contact Expedition Broker.
Air & Lodging Reservations
We urge you to make your travel plans as early as possible. Airlines, hotels, and bed & breakfasts fill up quickly. See our Lodging and Transportation recommendations list. Plan to arrive the day before your trip starts in time to attend a mandatory, 4 pm pre-trip meeting. Plan to depart no sooner than the evening following the last day of your trip’s published end date.
Return from the wilds & Possibility of Delay
Weather and airline connections permitting, you will return from your trip late in the day on the last day of your trip’s published end date. It is a good idea to plan one or more extra days in the area following your return in case of delay. Relatives and employers should be made aware of delay possibilities and someone at home should have the ability to re-organize your travel and lodging should your delay necessitate a change in plans for you.
We will host a pre-trip meeting the evening before your trip. If your trip starts in Fairbanks, rendezvous at the Arctic Wild “World Headquarters” on Nash St west of the University at 4 pm.
For trips starting in Kotzebue we meet at the Arctic Backcountry Flying Service hangar at 6:30 pm. For other starting locations, we will contact you about the meeting location and time.
Regardless of location the pre-trip meeting is a meet-and-greet, orientation, and Q&A session all rolled into one! Please bring all your gear in backpacks or river bags- all of it– as you intend to carry it. We will weigh it, and help winnow it, if necessary. The meeting takes about 2 hours.
Leave your cell phones and satellite phones at home. We carry satellite phones for medical emergencies and for the safe conduct of every trip. Few technologies impact a wilderness experience like a satellite phone and its ability to instantly contact the outside world. People traveled in remote wilderness for centuries without the aid of satellite phones. So can we!!
Valuables & Extra Gear
You may want to leave airline tickets and valuables in your hotel safe while on the trip. Most hotels or B&Bs will store your extra gear. Alternately you can leave it in our van or at our shop, but we cannot guarantee its safety.
Follow our Equipment List closely. On backpack trips, limit your personal gear to no more than 35# including a tent and rental gear. Leave room in your backpack for an additional 12-18# of food for one week, or 18-24# for 10-12 days. Backpackers may be issued additional community gear. On river trips, limit your gear to 50#. You will be issued a day bag for use on the river. It’s a 20” x 20” dry bag for items to which you want access throughout the day.
Rental gear is available on a first-come, first-served basis. We need to receive your Rental Request Form with your full payment 60 days before the trip.
If, as most people do, you are bringing your own tent, it MUST be at least a three-season tent with three poles. We also have tents to rent for your trip.
Previous backpacking experience is required for most of our routes. Though the mileages we travel daily might seem meager, hiking in the arctic is an “off-trail” experience, so a six-mile day can take as long and be as taxing as ten miles in other parts of the world. We frequently use streams as our highways (as the animals do), crossing back and forth, utilizing the best hiking terrain. Expect to have wet boots much of the time while backpacking–- the scenery alone is worth it!
Conditioning is highly recommended for everyone, even those of you in excellent shape. We recommend walking as often as possible with 25-30 #. in your backpack. Use the boots you will be hiking in. A couple weeks before your trip, add weight until your pack weighs 40-45 #. You can alternate this with the stair-master, bike riding, and balance exercises. The better condition you are in, the more you will enjoy the backpack.
On all of our raft trips, a raft captain is in charge of each boat. Everyone joins in the fun and work of paddling. Previous experience is not necessary except where specified in the itinerary. In some cases, the rivers may be shallow and braided in places. We may have to get out and walk along the rafts for short distances or slide the rafts over shallow spots. During abnormally long dry periods we may have more of this than usual.
Except where specified in the itinerary, experience canoeing is not required. We use 16′ AllyPak canoes. They perform much like a hard shell canoe.
If you are joining a backpack followed by a river trip, place your river gear (rubber boots, change of clothes, extra film, books, etc.) in your river bag. Tag it with your name, “Arctic Wild,” the name of the river trip, and the departure date. Give it to your guide the morning that the backpack trip starts. It will be put with the river supplies.
Weather & Bugs
Weather in Arctic Alaska is highly variable both daily and yearly. On any one trip we can get all kinds of weather. Generally speaking, though: June tends to have highly variable, but generally clear weather. It will include a mix of cold, snow, rain, and wind and hot, dry spells. Bugs (read: mosquitoes) come out in late June. July tends to have the steadiest weather: hot and dry with afternoon thunderstorms. Bugs can be bad but taper off toward the end of July. August can yield some of the finest weather if you’re lucky, but it tends to be the rainiest month. Chances of weather delay are highest in August but bugs are gone by late in the month. Day-light is continuous during May, June and July. By late August dark night with stars and the aurora are possible.
Bring enough cash for souvenirs, post cards, or for purchasing snacks/meals at villages we may visit en route to/from the trip.
Mytopo.com is a good place to order custom printed maps for your trip. Or you can order topographic maps from the Geophysical Institute, Geo-Data Center, UAF, 907/474-6960; 903 Koyukuk Dr., Box 757320, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320.
Tips and Tipping
If you think your guide(s) did a great job, a tip of 5-10% is very much appreciated.