Join this exclusive small group tour to see polar bears like never before, on the remote shorelines of the Alaskan High Arctic in summer. With viewing by boat, there are exceptional opportunities for close-up encounters and photography.
August is the best time to see polar bears interacting along the coastline as they become active, waiting for the ice to form. You will access the remote village of Kaktovik on the Beaufort Sea by privately chartered plane and travel as part of an intimate group of only eight people, divided into two small boats - making you feel completely alone with the bears.
Your expedition leader is also an expert naturalist and experienced wildlife photographer, who will not only share his knowledge about High Arctic life but also help you capture the perfect picture of these charismatic carnivores.
Day1: Fly to Fairbanks, Alaska
Board an afternoon flight to Fairbanks via Seattle. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel, where your expedition leader will brief you about the coming few days.
Depending on your flight schedule, join a welcome dinner to meet with your fellow travellers.
Visit the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska, showcasing the region’s natural, artistic and cultural heritage. You also visit the Large Animal Research Station, a former homestead which started with a muskox domestication project on the property before focussing on research into maintaining colonies of large animals, plus an educational outreach programme.
Day3: Fly to Kaktovik, polar bear viewing & photography
This morning you board a chartered light aircraft and embark on a two-hour scenic journey over the Alaskan Arctic Circle to the remote Inupiat village of Kaktovik, your base to explore the coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You land on Barter Island, by the Beaufort Sea, and transfer to your rustic accommodation in the village.
After lunch the small group of eight guests will be split into two small boats, each led by an expert naturalist guide, and head out for your first polar bear excursion. This intimate approach feels like an exclusive encounter with the bears and offers close-up encounters, ideal for photography, while providing an outstanding wildlife experience. The boat excursion lasts for about three hours with plenty of opportunities to see the bears interacting on the shoreline of the Beaufort Sea, waiting for the ice to form.
You head back to town for dinner and a photography editing session with your expert leader, to conclude a thrilling day.
Accommodation: Marsh Creek Inn, Kaktovik, 3-nights
Days4-5: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, polar bear viewing & photography
The next two days are filled with morning and afternoon boat excursions following polar bears movements from the Beaufort Sea. You head back to the hotel for lunch and some rest before heading out again in the afternoon fpr some great photography opportunities, when the light is ideal and the bears more active. Other charismatic species you may see along the way include Arctic fox, wolf and a variety of seabirds.
Your expedition leader will take the opportunity to share his knowledge about the bears' biology, behaviour and threats such as global warming and how they have had to adapt to survive longer summers with restricted food sources. He will also talk about the local Inupiat community and life in the Far North.
Day6: Polar bear viewing, fly to Fairbanks
This morning you join your last polar bear viewing excursion by boat and after lunch board the charter flight back to Fairbanks. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner, reflecting on your extraordinary wildlife expedition.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 8 daysfrom £10,395 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 7 daysfrom £9,195 pp
Single supplement: From £1,830
Group size: 8
Included in the price/package:
Return charter flight between Fairbanks & Kaktovik
3 nights hotel in Fairbanks
3 nights motel in Kaktovik
6 boat excursions to see polar bears
Guided city tour Fairbanks
Considered one the ultimate virgin wildlife reserves in the Americas, the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 78,000 square kilometres and supports a remarkable biodiversity. It is particularly renowned for its polar bear population who rest on the Arctic coastal plains in late summer.
Alaska’s largest inland city is the gateway to Denali National Park. Its museums house interesting exhibits on Alaska’s cultural and natural history, as well as native crafts. In summer, daylight lasts forever. and in winter you can dog-sled and watch the spectacular Aurora Borealis.
Excellent for: Activity & adventure
Overlooking the scenic Chena River, this 3-star hotel is conveniently located in the centre of Fairbanks and offers all modern amenities for a comfortable stay. A member of the Marriott chain, its 140 suites have either a king size or two double beds, a sofa bed and private bathroom.