Arctic Photo Tour FAQ and Travel Information
Will we see the polar bears and the aurora borealis?
- While we can't guarantee things beyond our control, this question is best answered by past experience. To date only one year out of 10 resulted in no aurora viewing. All past trips have yielded polar bear photography opportunities. Weather is an inhibiting factor for the aurora since clear skies are required, it is less of a factor for viewing and photographing polar bears. Every year is different, but every trip delivers many outstanding viewing and photographic opportunities.
Do I have to be an experienced photographer?
- No. While the trip is geared for photo opportunities and interests, it is not uncommon for one spouse to be more interested in photography, while the other enjoys the scenery and watching the wildlife. This is fine with us.
Will I freeze up there?
- While temperatures can be cold, we are never far from a warm car or cabin. People's tolerances vary, but there is flexibility and so far all guests have found the temperatures manageable.
Do I need a long telephoto lens?
- We strongly recommend a telephoto lens for wildlife photography. We use a 500mm lens very often. Something near that range is beneficial, and some form of image stabilization is a bonus as well, especially when shooting from a vehicle window while resting the lens on a bean bag. The 400mm DO IS, and the 100-400mm range work well too, especially if you are shooting with a camera that has a 1.6 magnification factor due to the smaller sensor. If you don't own a long lens, you might consider renting one.
Lodging and Airport Pickup
- Your hotel accommodations, located just a mile from the airport, offer pick and drop off service for free.
Important Travel Note About Village travel:
- In the unlikely event that our return flight from viewing the polar bears
back to Prudhoe Bay is cancelled due to weather, an additional
fee of $250 per person will be collected from all trip participants
for each additional night. This additional
fee covers our accommodations and enables us to continue photographing. I apologize
in advance if this additional fee becomes necessary, but weather
in the arctic can be unpredictable.
- A valid US ID is required for travel to and from Alaska
via commercial airline
Arriving in Alaska:
- Have your flights arrive
in Fairbanks no later than 4:30 PM on DAY one in order join our 6:30PM welcome/orientation
- If you arrive earlier we can refer you to a rental car company and local hotels.
- If you are staying additional nights before or after the tour, please make reservations as necessary.
- Please schedule your departure flight from Fairbanks on the final day of the trip.
Safety and Security:
- We will be viewing wild animals, which can be unpredictable
and potentially dangerous. Please keep this in mind as we travel in the
arctic and you are given instructions about how to act around
the wildlife. In addition we may experience winter conditions
and proper gear will be necessary. If you have any questions about
gear please contact us before the trip departure.
- Travelers Checks cash or credit cards all work just about
everywhere in Alaska! We recommend carrying a small
amount of cash for incidental purchases and use a credit
card for anything larger. (A stop will be made at an ATM machine before leaving Fairbanks for cash necessary for optional excursions which will be discussed during the orientation meeting)
- There is standard phone and cellular phone communication-service
in Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, but limited service at our other accommodations.
- Laundry is available in Prudhoe Bay
- Keep in
mind the arctic has ever changing weather with temperatures
that can swing from below freezing to warm in a matter of
hours at this time of year. Expect daytime temperatures in
and 20’s (perhaps as high as the 40’s) with nights
well below freezing.
- Both rain and/or snow are possible, although rain is less likely. A thick parka is important for the colder conditions. A down sweater and a windproof shell is appropriate for the moderate conditions.
- Warm hat and gloves are essential as are
liner gloves for photography!
- Please take into consideration that you will be traveling
by van and will be living in small spaces.
- Please use soft-sided
duffel bags and limit your bags to at most two medium sized
bags per person and a camera bag.
- There will be no place
that you need any formal clothing. Casual clothing can be worn even
at the fanciest restaurants in Fairbanks.
- All meals are included in the cost of the trip.
- Please notify us of any special dietary requests, food
allergies or food preferences.
Regional Books of interest:
- 1) Arctic Village by Bob Marshall - a summary of the community of
Wiseman in the early 1900's, which specifically mentions the historic
B&B where we will be staying.
- 2) The Brooks Range, the Ultimate Mountains by John Kauffman. It is a good read on the history of the area and
the value of wilderness in the north.
- 3) Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie - Memoirs of a wilderness
advocate with tales of her life in the early pioneer days of Alaska,
namely Fairbanks and scientific exploration in Alaska's Arctic.