Alaska camping does not have to be a high adrenaline adventure. A base camp trips allow you to settle into this wilderness landscape. Enjoy bird watching, wilderness photography, or witness the incredible caribou migrations. But these Alaska wildlife photography and bird watching tours aren't just for professional photographers, Arctic Wild base camp trips are also great for family wilderness vacations or anyone wanting to experience true wilderness.
What to Expect on a Camping Adventure
We plan our base camp tours around wildlife migrations and activities. Our base camp trips offer unparalleled opportunities for wildlife photographers and naturalists to spend time with the arctic's fascinating animals.
Your Arctic Wild guide will set up a comfortable camp with abundant, good food and drink and lead daily hiking trips, offer suggestions and insight, or just let you relax in peace. Alaska bird watching can't be beat with seabirds and terrestrial birds (depending on location) including Asian migrants rarely seen in North America.
The Brooks Range and the untamed Alaska wilderness is your home for the week, enjoy!
Preparing for a Base Camp Trip.
Everyone from young children to octogenarians will enjoy our base camp trips, and no physical training is needed. We are happy to advise on specialized equipment needed for wilderness photography in the arctic. Our years of Alaska bird watching experience will help you prepare or decide which trip is offers the best arctic birding opportunities for your interests. A reading list can be provided for each trip tailored to your interest whether general natural history, wildlife photography, arctic bird watching, or northern cultures.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the best place in the world to watch polar bears and Arctic Wild’s guides are uniquely qualified to share the wonders of the Arctic with you. On our trip to the Arctic Coast this September you can immerse yourself in the world of the polar bear, learn about modern Eskimo (Inupiat) culture, and experience wilderness at the end of the earth. From the safety of our chartered boat we can observe and photograph dozens of bears each day.
Each fall polar bears from the Beaufort Sea travel to Barter Island, sometimes in great numbers. They travel off of the pack ice to the shore seeking an annual food bonanza. Each fall, the Inupiat Eskimos of Barter Island continue their tradition of hunting for bowhead whales. When all of the parts of the whale fit for human consumption have been harvested, the carcass is given to the waiting bears. This situation provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to safely observe bears feeding and interacting at the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Twenty to thirty bears are regularly on the island at this time of year. We will fly to the village of Kaktovik on Barter Island and stay in a local hotel, immersing ourselves in the exciting world of the Polar Bear.
The abundance of polar bears around Barter Island each fall is truly staggering. They tend to feed near town and rest on the barrier islands nearby. The best way to observe them and other wildlife is from a boat. We will charter a local guide for 4 separate boat trips including one full day out on the Arctic Ocean (weather permitting). The boat is not only a great platform for watching bears but an unparalleled opportunity for learning about modern Eskimo life in Alaska. In addition to Polar Bears we often see ringed seals, King and Common Eiders, several species of loon and a good variety of other arctic bird species. We occasionally see arctic fox and other terrestrial animals but the focus is on polar bears and the Arctic Ocean.
During early September, bears often lounge around or nap during the day. It appears that temperatures above freezing are uncomfortably warm for them. During the evening hours they are likely to interact and feed closer to town. Each evening we will spend as much time as possible watching bears from the safety of our rented vehicle. When it gets truly dark, we will point our gaze skyward and look for the Aurora Borealis.
While observing bears you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide at all times who can educate you about bear behavior, physiology, and ecology. The guide is also on hand to ensure your safety and the safety of the bears.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 4pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters in Fairbanks.
Fly from Fairbanks, over the mighty Yukon River, across the Arctic Circle, over the Brooks Range, and to the Eskimo village of Kaktovik, population 400. After an orientation and moving into our rooms at a local hotel, we will head to the beach to see the bears.
Weather permitting, we will enjoy a 1/2 day boat ride with a local guide. We will certainly see polar bears but we may also see bowhead whales, bearded seals and perhaps even beluga whales. Once back on shore and fed, we await twilight and then will have the opportunity to watch bears on the beach.
Another full day in Kaktovik and we will spend all of it on the water with our local guide. With a full day to explore we can travel a bit further and take time to watch the bears interacting with each other.
A final trip out on the water to see what the bears are up to. Changing light, temperatures, and weather make each trip on the water unique. We will have the bulk of the day to watch loons, eiders, or polar bears, or do whatever suits your fancy. Weather permitting, we will fly back to Fairbanks in time for dinner.
Transportation to Kaktovik starting and ending in Fairbanks, outstanding guide service, 4 days/ 3 nights food and lodging in Kaktovik at Marsh Creek Inn (Double and Triple occupancy rooms), transportation in Kaktovik, Four 3 hours boat trips (weather permitting).
Lodging beyond the duration of the scheduled trip, food beyond the duration of the scheduled trip, warm clothing, gratuity for guide(s). (Should weather delay our departure from Kaktovik you will need to pay for additional nights of lodging.)
A variety of weather should be expected including foggy periods and sunny conditions. Temperatures will be cold (20 to 50). Snow is likely. Bring a good parka, hat, and gloves. The up-side is that mosquitoes will be nowhere in sight.