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Fred Ackerman

From a young age, Fred sought out knowledge of wild things through books, TV specials and rolling around in the dirt. Fred never missed a ranger talk as a child, and he’s now sharing natural history lessons himself as an Expedition Leader, guiding nature adventures from the Canadian tundra to the canyonlands of the American Southwest.

He builds upon his general knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology to enhance nature-focused discussions ranging from geology to apex predators and far-out supernova. He's fascinated by fungus, gets fired up about wildfires, and speaks eloquently on the elegance of bighorn sheep. Largely a self-taught naturalist—although he's learned much from experts in their fields in the field—Fred’s heroes are the other autodidacts, including Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday and John Muir. Guests find themselves inspired by Fred’s child-like inquisitiveness and his overarching message about using connections found within the natural world as a means to learn about ourselves.

Growing up in Silicon Valley, Fred studied electronics by smashing VCRs with a hammer, although he never followed through on his plan to build a robot with the pieces. His parents not only encouraged such curiosity, but also instilled in him a great appreciation for the outdoors. An interest in both cryptography and the law led him to study linguistics University of California, San Diego. While living in Southern California, Fred became hooked on the wilderness, making repeated trips on the rough dirt roads of the Eastern Sierras and the desert Southwest—and badly affecting the resale value of his Saturn sedan. He has an intimate knowledge of the High Sierras, bolstered by a 200-mile thru-hike on the off-trail, above-tree-line Sierra High Route—and he is currently planning a trip on Utah’s similarly-rugged Hayduke Trail.

Today, Fred lives in central California’s Bear Valley, where he works as a ski patroller during the winter, and Oakhurst, where he works as a naturalist guide in the summer. In his free time, he enjoys backpacking, backcountry skiing and climbing, but he has given up smashing VCRs.

Upcoming Adventures with Fred:
Northern Lights & Arctic Cultures
Canyons of the American Southwest
Canyons Photography in the American Southwest
Polar Bears of Churchill

Praise from Nat Hab travelers:

K. Hutchinson

"Fred was beyond any Expedition Leader I have ever had on any tour I've taken. He was SO knowledgeable about so many different topics and didn't hesitate to say if he didn't know or wasn't sure about an answer. He was polite and very aware of each guests needs and conditions. You are extremely fortunate to have him as one of your guides. I would go with him again."

G. Ng
"Fred was an absolutely exceptional, outstanding Expedition Leader; the very best! Not enough words can describe how incredibly wonderful he was! He was extremely knowledgeable about everything, especially astronomy, geography, geology, zoology, photography, nature, and the history of Churchill and the North. His passion, energy and excitement were off the charts! He was also very funny, and I am sure that everyone will miss hearing his jokes! His attentiveness to all travelers' needs is top notch. He really made our trip so much fun. Everyone we encountered and worked with from Nat Hab on this trip was of the highest caliber!"

S. Black
"Fred was without a doubt the very best guide I have ever encountered on the many trips I have taken. His knowledge and manner are positively amazing. He takes great care that every member of the group is comfortable and included at all times."

J. Bristow
"Fred was very polite, knowledgeable and had our best interests at heart. He went above and beyond what we expected and represented Nat Hab 110%. He made our experience better than we could have imagined!"
 
S. Schrier
"Fred was absolutely outstanding. Please let me know when he is going to be guiding other trips. I have been on many and never found anyone so aware and knowledgeable on so many subjects."

B. Hunter
"Fred was very professional and knowledgeable. He was very willing to help with cameras and photography questions, and attentive to all our needs."

R. Leilich

"Fred was a superb guide and made us feel like we were his special friends. He was enthusiastic and genuine in his passion as a guide. He took us to a spot where we were totally rewarded with a mother and two cubs playing tug of war with an old hide, after which they came over to our Polar Rover and checked us out eyeball to eyeball."

P. Teitelman
"Fred was one of the best guides I have ever had. He was well versed in every aspect of the trip from astronomy to geology. He was passionate about  polar bears and about being a guide. He worked hard bringing the group together and we all got along. Everyone was excited for every activity because Fred prepped everyone before hand. Nat Hab is lucky to have such a consummate professional."

J. Vores
"Fred had the ideal personality for our group—plenty of knowledge along with a great sense of humor. Fred made sure everything was exceptional for every single traveler. He always went way above expectations so that we had everything checked off our bucket list. It is very easy to see why he is working with Nat Hab and will for many trips to come. We would highly recommend Fred as an Expedition Leader to any future travelers. I will tell my two sets of friends to check whether Fred will be guiding when they go to Churchill next year."

T. Pisto
"Fred was an outstanding Expedition Leader. You are privileged to have an employee who TRULY loves his work."

B. Burnham
"This is a hard one because saying Fred was great, fantastic, calm, level headed, knowledgeable about everything, a super nice guy and passionate about nature is an understatement. He did tell us this was his first year doing polar bear tours, but we would have never known it. He is a true asset and ambassador for your company. Fred truly cares about the environment and was great at being informative without being preachy. He was full of interesting facts and I only hope I can retain some of them. He was patient with each guest regardless of how many times he had been asked the same question. If he didn't know something, he got the answer overnight from one of the other guides and relayed it to us the next day. FRED WAS GREAT!"

G. Zettler
"The highest praise I can give Fred is this: he convinced me of the value of a good guide. This was our first guided trip, as we've always done this sort of thing on our own. After spending time in Katmai, we very much wanted to see polar bears but found the logistics daunting (the good locations being A. inaccessible and B. dangerous). Finally, we went with Nat Hab. Fred was just great. His calm manner belies a deep passion for the animals and their world. His knowledge of their biology and their behavior seems limitless and he expressed himself with great clarity. This also applied to his understanding of the geology of the region. He made me appreciate, really for the first time, the deep interplay of geology and animal behavior. It made me wonder about all the things I missed while traveling through Alaska. Thanks, Fred!"

C. Morton
"Fred was superb! I learned so much on the trip from him. If we did stump him with a question, he had the answer for us the next day. His communication style was easy to listen to and understand. He was very accommodating when people wanted to do something outside of the scheduled activities, such as shopping or pictures at specific sites."

C. Katz
"Fred was amazing. His deep scientific knowledge was a huge plus on our trip. The guy is obviously brilliant and loves his subjects, and I use the plural because his breadth of knowledge is stunning. You are beyond lucky to have someone like Fred leading your trips, as were we!"

S. Jacobson
"Fred is quite a polymath so he links answers to questions together, easily moving from animal habits to astronomy to climate and culture. It made his commentary fascinating, far more than someone who might reel off information. He made the information come to life in the interactive way, which made him an excellent teacher and Expedition Leader."

R. Katz
"Fred was an absolutely outstanding leader. His knowledge, confidence and integrity really made a difference, as we all could trust in and rely on him in the face of many uncertainties due to the historic blizzard in Churchill. I believe he is a key reason the experience was so exceptional."

H. Dieckhans
"Fred was OUTSTANDING! He shared a wealth of information on astronomy, archaeology and cultural history of Churchill in a clear and engaging manner. His familiarity with local resources enabled him to provide a rich and varied exposition of life in Churchill. Fred was lighthearted and humorous yet serious and focused on ensuring our learning and physical comfort."

B. Rein
"Fred is one of the best tour guides I've ever had over thirty some years of active traveling all around the world. You should never let him go."
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