GUIDED ALASKA Custom

close
VIEW AVAILABLE TRIPS A custom trip begins with a dream. Yours. Perhaps it is your desire to camp amongst the great herds of caribou in the Arctic. To climb high into the Arrigetch Peaks, to photograph bears in Katmai National Park…the options in Alaska are exquisite and limitless. For the wilderness traveler there is no better destination. We take designing your custom wilderness trip seriously. With decades of experience, exhaustive knowledge of the landscape and wildlife, and an extensive network of pilots, boat captains, luxury lodges, and guides, each itinerary is tailored exactly to your specific dreams. The process starts with your desires, the size of your group or family, your expectations, your budget and your abilities. Our role is to advise, inspire, listen, and finally to transform your dreams into reality. We can share with you what is possible and help you craft the ultimate Alaska adventure. All of our trips are "off the beaten path", true wilderness expeditions. A custom trip can be one of our scheduled trips on dates of your choosing and exclusive to your group, or an entirely new and unique itinerary just for you. We work with groups from 1 person to 10 people but 4 to 6 is often the best. Browse through the list of custom trips we have done in the past or give us a call and tell us about your big Alaska dreams. We can help make them happen. From a family friendly base camp to true exploration in the farthest reaches of Alaska. Wildlife trips: Our experienced guides can help you find wildlife whether it be caribou, polar bears, blue-throats, grey-headed chickadees, or musk oxen. Photography trips: Wildlife photography, landscape photography, film or art. We have worked with professional and amateur photographers from around the world. Let us help you get the shot. Film or Science Support: In addition to "fun trips" we also provided guide services and logistical support for field projects big and small. Skills training: Need to improve your wilderness skills? We can provide field courses, skill specific classes in Fairbanks or a combination of the two. Rafting or canoeing workshops, navigation seminars, wilderness safety.... the list goes on. We have the experience to teach you. Family and youth trips: We love seeing young people enjoying the wilderness. Though we haven't had any clients under the age of 7, we take our own toddlers to the Brooks Range regularly. We can plan a trip that will be safe and fun for people of any age.

Polar Bears

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 fall 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. In addition to our time with the bears we are planning a fly-in day trip to the Brooks Range to show you the great beauty and diversity of the Arctic Refuge.

calendar

DATES

September or October
region

REGION

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
price

TRIP COST

$$$$

TRIP DETAILS

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 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 four separate boat trips including one full day out on the Arctic Ocean (weather permitting). When observed from a boat they seem totally unconcerned with our presence. This creates and ideal situation for observing polar bear behavior while minimizing our impact on the bears.

There is no other place that compares to Kaktovik for observing Polar Bears. With all age classes of bears congregated in one area we get to see the wonderful variety of bears. Interactions between mothers and cubs are complex and clearly intimate. We regularly see young bears “play fighting” on both the beach and in the shallows. And amongst the young bears and the sows there are often massive bears, with scars and other signs of the rigors of life on the sea-ice. It is truly humbling to see these enormous bears walking the beach, younger bears showing great deference and caution.

In addition to Polar Bears, on our boat charters, 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.

When not on the water watching the bears we can take a tour of town led by a charismatic and very knowledgable Inupiat woman who has spent her life in the community. We can explore a bit more of the island too, looking for the big flocks of snow geese and learning about the tundra.  Some years we can observe polar bears at the “bone pile” when community permissions and tides allow access. Late at night, when it gets truly dark, we will point our gaze skyward and look for the Aurora Borealis. Kaktovik is a unique and interesting community. Many find it hard to believe it is part of the United States, so different is the culture. Bring an open mind and a thirst for adventure. This is a truly unique place.

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.

ITINERARY

What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

Day 0:

Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 4pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters in Fairbanks.

Day 1:

Fly from Fairbanks, over the mighty Yukon River, across the Arctic Circle, and over the Brooks Range. Then to the Arctic Coast and land in Kaktovik where we settle into our hotel.

Day 2:

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 evening and then will have the opportunity to watch bears on the beach.

Day 3:

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.

Day 4:

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.

Why so expensive?:

The Arctic is an expensive place to work and live. Transportation costs are tremendously high. After years of relying on regularly scheduled air service to access Kaktovik, we have decided to only use chartered airplanes for this trip. We have found that charters are much more reliable when the weather is marginal, making it a better trip for you. We also don’t want to fill all the planes to this remote community with “tourists” when the locals rely on the plane for access to medical and other services.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

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-hour boat trips (weather permitting).

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Lodging beyond the duration of the scheduled trip

Food beyond the duration of the scheduled trip

Warm clothing per our Equipment List

Gratuity for guides

(Should weather delay our departure from Kaktovik you will need to pay for additional nights of lodging.)

WEATHER & BUGS

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.

RECOMMENDED READING

Polar Bears, Ian Sterling; Ice Bear: Cultural History of an Arctic Icon, Michael Engelhard; Fifty Years Below Zero by Charles Brown; Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. More Alaska reading is available at our bookstore.