Last updated: October 2, 2019
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
After seeing the sights in Kotzebue and collecting park stamps at the new Western Arctic Parklands visitors center, meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 6:45 pm in Kotzebue.
Fly from the Eskimo village of Kotzebue on the Chukchi Sea up the Kobuk River and then head north into Gates of the Arctic National Park. Landing on a gravel bar near a clear fast river we will unload and set up camp. We spend the afternoon and evening settling in, learning the birds and plants, and planning the next day’s adventure.
A full day to explore and enjoy Gates of the Arctic. Your desires help govern our activities. We can hike to a lake and try some fishing, ascend the nearest peak and watch Dall sheep grazing, or plan a big loop hike, up one drainage and down the other. With long-days and more wilderness than we could explore in a lifetime, our energy and imagination are the only limits to what our day in the wilderness will hold.
After packing up our camp, we await the pilot’s return. We will fly south right into the heart of the Kobuk Dunes. Once we unload we may have to carry our gear a ways to access fresh drinking water but then we can go and explore the dunes, springs and sand flats.
A full day to enjoy the dunes. Moose, wolves and fox all frequent the dunes as do a great number of birds. The sand constantly shifts and swirls. There are springs coming right out of the sand and great expanses where nothing seems to live. The hiking is soft in places but great distances can be covered if so inclined. Swim in the ponds, look for wolf dens, slide down the tallest dunes, or just stretch out your beach towel and parasol.
Weather permitting, our bush plane will arrive to fly us back to Kotzebue where you can reunite with your luggage and then check-in to the Nullagvik Hotel on the shores of the Chukchi Sea.
After a morning wandering around Kotzebue or resting in the hotel, you’ll make your way back to the airport to meet a chartered airplane which will take you on a 2.5 hour flight across the width of Alaska from the Chukchi Sea nearly to the Canadian Border. After landing in Kaktovik and meeting your host, you can settle into Arctic Chalet B&B. If the weather cooperated and we arrived early enough in the day we can don parkas and head onto the water to see what the bears are doing. We are likely to find several loafing near town and some younger animals playing in the water, a taste of the many experiences we’ll have with the bears in the coming days.
Our first full day in Kaktovik and we will spend much 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.
We can choose to spend another full day on the water and/ or tour the village of Kaktovik with a local guide, or split our time between both. Either way, it will be a good day and the weather, the light, and the bears will inform our choices.
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.