Our Newest Polar Bear Adventure—A Rare Opportunity for Close-Up Photos at Eye Level
At the top of Alaska, where the coastal plain meets the Beaufort Sea at 70 degrees north latitude, wild polar bears roam the shoreline in late summer and fall, waiting for the Beaufort Sea to freeze. While this icon of the Arctic has been at home on the edge of Alaska’s North Slope for millennia, its numbers have been increasing around the tiny hamlet of Kaktovik in recent years, where bears come ashore in search of sustenance until the winter seal-hunting season begins. Surrounded by the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Kaktovik offers Alaska’s best opportunity to photograph polar bears at eye level from small boats that cruise the coastline. This exploratory trip provides an unusual chance to learn about the impacts of climate change from the frontline as we witness changing polar bear behavior and learn how local Inupiat people are facing challenges to their age-old subsistence lifestyle.
Fly by private chartered plane from Fairbanks to Kaktovik on the Beaufort Sea for an immersive adventure in Alaska's best place to photograph wild polar bears
Six separate 3-hour boat excursions, with just four guests per boat (eight travelers total), offer extended opportunities to photograph polar bears and other Arctic wildlife
Travel with an Expedition Leader who is an Arctic naturalist and polar bear expert, as well as an accomplished wildlife photographer offering guidance for all ability levels
What's So Distinctive About This Polar Bear Photo Expedition?
You may be familiar with polar bear expeditions to Churchill or Svalbard, and those are exciting trips, for sure—we offer them! But this polar bear tour at the top of Alaska has a few unique elements that are worth calling your attention to:
Photograph Polar Bears Where Very Few Visitors Go
Remote Kaktovik on Alaska's North Slope sees a fraction of the visitors that go in search of polar bears elsewhere. Be among the few who have the rare opportunity to photograph polar bears in a setting most nature travelers will never get to.
Enjoy an Eye-Level Vantage Point for Polar Bear Photos We cruise the shoreline in small boats to view polar bears on the banks, coming virtually eye-to-eye with these enormous carnivores—marine mammals—that are the world's largest bear. With this means of transport, may also witness them swimming, something we occasionally see here.
Cross the Arctic Circle and Experience the High Arctic
Taking place just above 70 degrees north latitude, this is Nat Hab's most northerly adventure. We fly over the Arctic Circle before landing on the edge of Alaska's North Slope where coastal plain meets the Beaufort Sea.
Travel by Private Chartered Aircraft for Maximum Flexibility We have chartered our own plane for private travel directly from Fairbanks to Kaktovik and back. Rather than rely on very limited scheduled service, our chartered aircraft facilitates the maximum time possible in the Arctic with the bears. It also gives us greater ease to work around any weather-related delays. If a commercial flight is canceled due to weather issues, for example, passengers may have to wait several days for the next scheduled departure. Not so for us: we leave as soon as conditions permit.
Just Eight Guests—Divided Between Two Boats We start with a very small group—a maximum of eight travelers—who are then split between two boats, with four guests per vessel, each accompanied by a polar bear interpreter (our Expedition Leader alternates between the two boats, and the boat skippers are polar bear experts in their own right). Each boat accommodates six passengers, but we take just four per boat, ensuring your comfort, plenty of room for your photography equipment, and space to angle for the shots you want.
Witness What's Happening on the Frontline of Climate Change This unusual adventure offers not just a chance to see and photograph polar bears, but to learn in detail about how a warming Arctic is affecting them, the surrounding ecosystem, and the lives of the indigenous people who have been at home here for centuries. Climate change is what is keeping polar bears on land longer in this region, and we will hear about the reasons why and what is at stake for them and other species faced with adapting to rapid change in the far north.
Enjoy Authentic Encounters with Local People
While more visitors are starting to come to Kaktovik, it is by no means a developed tourism destination—no cultural shows or demos or contrived tourist activities. The people we meet and hear from are traditional residents who share stories from their daily lives. We'll have a chance to learn firsthand about traditional Inupiat customs, practices and lifestyles in an Arctic setting that's rapidly changing.
You Won't Find This Trip Available from Other Operators While you can find outfitters who will take you to see polar bears in the region, we know of no other major travel company that offers an all-encompassing nature travel experience like this one, with such an immersive focus. Along with six separate excursions to view and photograph the bears, we include all the elements to safely and comfortably get you there and home—including internal chartered flights! Once you arrive in Fairbanks, we've got your every need covered.
The World's Finest Naturalist Guides
Natural Habitat Adventures is renowned for employing the finest naturalist guides on the planet. At the helm of your adventure is our own Expedition Leader who is a both a seasoned naturalist and a highly accomplished nature photographer. Your guide has expertise in teaching travelers a multitude of tips to capture the best possible polar bear photos. As one of Alaska’s most qualified, dedicated and passionate natural history guides, your Expedition Leader is a font of knowledge and insight while ensuring your safety and comfort in every respect. See Expedition Leader bios with traveler comments regarding the quality of our expert guides.
Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Superior Experience
With Natural Habitat Adventures, you receive our exclusive guarantee, which clearly states that we will meet the lofty expectations we set in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
Feel Good About the Way You Travel
We care deeply about our planet, just as you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100-percent offset—Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, and this commitment is especially important when the fate of polar bears and other wild creatures depends on reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
Natural Habitat Adventures is World Wildlife Fund's Travel Partner
Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our adventures, World Wildlife Fund—the world's leading environmental conservation organization—has named Natural Habitat as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!
Longitude Books has created a custom comprehensive listing for Alaska travel books for this trip.
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