The Aichilik River is a beautiful clear river traversing the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Join Arctic Wild for a the trip starting in the foothills of the Brooks Range and ending at the frozen Arctic Ocean, allowing you to experience a great diversity of wildlife and habitats. The trip is timed to experience spring in all its abundance, with multitudes of birds nesting on the tundra, 24 hour daylight, and the river high with spring runoff.
Last updated: January 10, 2019
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet with your guide(s) for a pre-trip meeting at 4 pm in at Arctic Wild headquarters in Fairbanks.
Fly north from Fairbanks across the mighty Yukon River and over the Arctic Circle. Land in the Athabascan Indian settlement of Arctic Village, pop. 120. Time allowing, tour the village before boarding our bush plane for the last leg into the wilderness. Once the plane goes, we are on our own in the immense and quiet landscape.
At any time during the week, we could see caribou, a grizzly bear or two, a wolf, or other arctic wildlife. On the 3 anticipated paddling days, we will be on the “go” for 6 to 8 hours. We won’t be in the rafts that whole time and will pull ashore several times each day for brief forays or to watch wildlife. At day’s end, we’ll choose a nice, dry, scenic camp. There will be free time for group and personal pursuits. Guides will lead informal natural history hikes, but you are also welcome to go off on your own.
We will plan two or three “layover days” and 3 full paddling days. Our first day hikes will be in the Brooks Range foothills. This area affords us great opportunities for gaining elevation, admiring wildflowers covering the slopes, and hopefully watching wildlife.
Our final layover will be on the arctic coast. Hiking along the beaches is excellent and a pretty good workout. Depending on sea ice conditions, we may be able to climb an icy “pressure ridge” formed by the frozen Arctic Ocean.
Await the arrival of our bush pilot, who will land on the beach. We will fly south across the breadth of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge back to Arctic Village where we will switch to a larger plane. Weather permitting we arrive back in Fairbanks for a late dinner.
Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless. A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.
You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed. Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails. He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.
Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks
Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils
Boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear
Professional guide service
Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic. Temperatures range from the 20s to 80s even in a single day. Cold rains and snow are possible, but we get lots of warm sunny weather this time of the year. As we get closer to the Arctic Ocean temperatures will drop as will the insects. Right on the coast we will probably encounter strong winds and cold temperatures. Traveling with insect repellent (DEET) is always prudent in the arctic but we don’t expect bad bugs during these dates.