We typically encounter between 20 and 60 polar bears on a trip. Mothers leading cubs. Males looking for food. Play fighting. Or just resting. We also experience moose, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and trumpet swans. All iconic wildlife that is amazing to experience, see, and photograph. This is all part of the Xpedition Arctic’s annual trip up to Alaska and the Arctic.
We start in Anchorage, Alaska
We pick up all travelers in Anchorage and start off from our hotel. After a good night’s sleep, we head up north to Talkeetna. Talkeetna is near Mount Denali. The first adventure is we take a flight-seeing trip up to a glacier on Mt. Denali. Mt. Denali many times is tough to see due to cloud cover and this allows us to be up close.
After the flightseeing tour, we head for lunch in the eclectic town of Talkeetna. Talkeetna has an outstanding panoramic view of the Alaska Range that can be enjoyed and photographed from several places as you wander through the town, and discover what this unique location has to offer.
This town is also said to be the inspiration for the town of Cicely in the popular TV show “Northern Exposure”. It truly is a typical Alaskan town.
After everyone has eaten, had a coffee, relaxed, photographed, and explored, we head to our accommodations right outside of Denali National Park. Depending on how many people we have with us, we typically stay in little log cabins right outside the park.
Denali National Park
Get ready to check off another must-do. We are heading 90 miles into Denali National Park. Only about 10% of visitors are allowed to travel this far in, as Denali does not allow anyone to drive past mile marker 15 (typically up to mile marker 29 in the shoulder months). The only road in the park drives along the Alaskan Range and Mount Denali (weather permitting) is viewable. But also look out for Grizzlies, Dahl Sheep, Wolves, and Moose. We are heading to one of National Geographic’s Best Wildlife Lodges and a perfect place to explore Denali’s backcountry.
But the trip out is one of the best parts of the trip.
In a remote valley, deep in the heart of Denali National Park, experience authentic Alaska. All-inclusive private cabins. Stunning views. The warm hospitality and unmatched adventures. Guests will experience the best creature comforts in one of the world’s wildest landscapes. Located at the historic settlement of Kantishna, the lodge is a perfect base for exploring the ruggedly wondrous backcountry of Denali National Park. Return each evening to fresh and seasonal cuisine, a cozy fire, and a serene sense of wonder. This truly is a once in a lifetime experience.
The next day, enjoy hiking, game viewing, gold panning, and fishing deep in the heart of Denali. This is always a highlight of the trip.
We head out of the park on the same route we came in on (there is only one road) on the lookout for more wildlife and taking photos. We stay in the Denali area for the night getting ready to head up to Fairbanks.
So far, we have landed on a glacier, seen Mt. Denali, experienced moose, grizzlies, dahl sheep, and possibly wolves. We have explored Denali’s backcountry and still have not done what most come on the trip for, to see wild polar bears.
We head up to Fairbanks
After breakfast, we start to travel up to Fairbanks. This is about 3 hours of driving, but we are always on the lookout for Moose, Bear and other Alaskan wildlife. We typically stop and have a picnic lunch and explore the remote areas of Alaska a bit. This day is a nice leisurely day to get ready to head up to the arctic.
We fly up to the Arctic in the morning
Early in the morning, we will be flying from Fairbanks to Kaktovik. Kaktovik is on Barter Island. Barter Island is an island located on the Arctic coast and about 380 miles north of Fairbanks over the Brooks Range. It is a small native Alaskan village of around 300 people.
Once there and after lunch, we will go out for 4 hours to see these magnificent animals in the wild. We take small boats and get about 90 feet from the bears. The polar bears many times are curious about us and try to swim to us, adding to the adventure. Don’t go buying arctic coats and gloves as they will be provided for you. This is what everyone has been waiting for and it never disappoints.
Each year, polar bears gather along barrier islands just off Barter Island and the Inupiaq village of Kaktovik, as they wait for freeze-up in the Beaufort Sea, so they can head out onto the sea ice to hunt.
There are only two “hotels” in Kaktovik. Both offer clean comfortable rooms and food throughout the day. These are not 5-star accommodations, but everyone loves the authenticity of the arctic “hotels”.
The next day, after breakfast, we will head back out for another 4 hours with the Polar Bears. The morning gives you another chance to get that picture with just the right light that you want.
After viewing the bears, we will come back, have lunch, and get ready to fly back to Fairbanks.
Fairbanks back to Anchorage
Well after everyone is fully satisfied having experienced so much iconic Alaskan scenery and wildlife, we start to head back to Anchorage which is a 7-hour drive. We stop along the way to get more photos and have lunch. We take everyone back to their hotels and enjoy the drive. This truly has been a great adventure and we typically have made some lifelong friends.
To see more photos, click here
To check out our 2021 Xpedition, click here to go to Xpediton Arctic’s website. We hope to see you on our next trip.
The cost of the Xpedition is $5995.00 and reservations are now open. We will close the reservations on December 31. The cost includes all activities, all internal flights, 8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners. Winter clothing when viewing the polar bears, transportation to and from the airport, and water throughout the trip.
“The Human Connection” explores the profound impact of human interactions during travels. It emphasizes the importance of embracing local cultures, understanding diverse perspectives, and forming meaningful connections. This post encourages readers to see beyond tourist spots and delve deeper into the heart of the places they visit, through the people they meet.
We have traveled to Alaska and boarded a small plane. Flying through the Brooks Range, a mountain range in far northern North America stretching some 700 miles from west to east across northern Alaska into Canada’s Yukon Territory it felt like as if we were so close to the mountain tops that we could reach out and touch the peaks. Our destination was the arctic. The small village of Kaktovik.
And our goal? To encounter Polar Bears in the wild.
Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is a threat to our very existence. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and melting ice caps are just the beginning. The consequences of inaction are dire, affecting ecosystems, economies, and human lives. It is imperative that we understand the urgency and take immediate action to combat this global crisis.