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Arctic in Spring

Alaska

June 11 - 18, 2021
Cost: $2,900
Leader: Bill Mohrwinkel
Group Size: 7
Days: 8

Safari Overview

Explore Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain and Brooks Range under the Midnight Sun. Experience the true wilderness, wildlife, and scenery of the Arctic while journeying from the Beaufort Sea coast to Fairbanks, Alaska’s Golden Heart City. Witness the mind-boggling gathering of migratory birds on the Coastal Plain, waiting for nesting habitat to emerge from winter snows. Iconic wildlife, including grizzly bear, caribou, muskoxen, gray wolf, Arctic fox, moose, and birds from king eiders to gyrfalcons and rock ptarmigan await you in this arctic landscape. Journey south from the wide-open tundra of the Arctic Coastal Plains through the Brooks Range and visit the northern edge of tree line in North America. After exploring the Brooks Range drive south across the Arctic Circle and Yukon River ending in the historic gold mining town of Fairbanks. Take home countless memories and photographs under the expert guidance of Alaska resident and naturalist, Bill Mohrwinkel.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Search for Alaska’s iconic wildlife, including moose, grizzly bear, caribou, muskoxen, gray wolf, and Arctic fox.
• Witness and photograph the diverse congregation of migratory birds from spectacled eiders to bar-tailed godwits and elusive bluethroats in the Coastal Plains.
• Witness the explosion of life on the Arctic tundra, including spectacular displays of wildflowers.
• Spend nights at the northern edge of North America’s tree line and north of the Arctic Circle.
• Explore the legendary wilderness of the Brooks Range.
• Drive the famous Dalton Highway, the northern terminus of the Pan-American Highway, from beginning to end.

SAFARI OPTIONS
Mix and match any of our four Alaska tours as follows:

1. Continue from the Arctic in Spring tour and join us on our Denali Spring Wildlife and Wildflowers tour from June 16 to 22, 2021 and SAVE $400. Experience Denali National Park, the Crown Jewel of the North, in all its spring glory from our private, custom-designed Sprinter van, avoiding the crowds on the public shuttle buses.

2. Combine three Alaska tours (Arctic in Spring (this tour), Denali Spring Wildlife and Wildflowers, and Cruise Prince William Sound) and SAVE $600.

3. Combine all four Alaska tours (Arctic in Spring (this tour), Denali Spring Wildlife and Wildflowers, Cruise Prince William Sound, Coastal Brown Bears of Silver Salmon Creek) and SAVE $1,979.

Itinerary Updated: May 2019



Print Trip Safari Options
Date Description Lodge Meals
Jun 11 Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska.
Jun 12 Fly to Prudhoe Bay to meet Bill, and photograph wildlife under the Midnight Sun. Hotel in Prudhoe Bay D
Jun 13 Photograph birds and wildlife on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Hotel in Prudhoe Bay B, L, D
Jun 14-15 Travel the Dalton Highway to Wiseman, explore the Brooks Range and around Wiseman. Arctic Getaway B&B, Wiseman B, L, D
Jun 16 Continue south to Fairbanks, crossing the Arctic Circle and Yukon River. River’s Edge Resort, Fairbanks B, L
Jun 17 Free day in Fairbanks. River’s Edge Resort, Fairbanks B
Jun 18 Continue on our Denali Spring Wildlife and Wildflowers tour or fly home. B

Our Trip Leaders

Bill Mohrwinkel

Living and guiding in Alaska for 25 years, Bill has vast knowledge to share. He was part owner of an Arctic tour business for 10 years and has guided sea kayaking trips in Prince William Sound, polar and brown bear trips, and birding trips. His love of the polar regions has led bill to also guide in Antarctica and South Georgia Island. Though he is not a photographer, he has extensive experience guiding photo trips and works hard to help clients accomplish their goals for the tour. His true passion is natural history and sharing that passion with participants, and he loves to have fun!

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska

Jun 11

Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska. We can book you an overnight (not included).

Fly to Prudhoe Bay for arctic wildlife

Jun 12

Take the afternoon flight from Anchorage to Deadhorse Airport at Prudhoe Bay. The industrial complex of Deadhorse (consisting of the airport, lodging, and general store) supports the oil industry on the North Slope along the Arctic Ocean. Bill will meet you at the airport upon arrival to begin this amazing Alaskan adventure in what appears, at first glance, an unlikely place to view wildlife. Muskoxen, caribou, gray wolf, Arctic fox, and many spectacular birds make the Arctic Coastal Plain their home during the brief summer season. The oil industry’s presence results in residual heat creating freshwater pools that would otherwise be frozen. These pools are an excellent place for you to spot opportunistic shorebirds and other unusual birds like spectacled and king eiders. You may want to stay out late to photograph in the soft light of the Midnight Sun.

Photograph wildlife in the Arctic Coastal Plain

Jun 13

You’ll spend the day searching for birds and mammals on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Pacific, common, and red-throated loons, all in breeding plumage, are regularly seen. King and spectacled eiders, all three species of jaeger, Arctic warbler, and about 130 other species can be found in this birding paradise. Arctic fox and the native red fox are also common visitors. A short drive down the Dalton Highway (which follows the Alaska Pipeline) may afford looks at muskoxen, grizzly bear, caribou, and gray wolf.

Travel to Wiseman and explore the Brooks Range

Jun 14-15

You’ll drive the scenic Dalton Highway across the Arctic Coastal Plain and through the Brooks Range searching for wildlife and other photographic opportunities en route to Wiseman. Animals come to the plain to partake of the brief, but intense bloom of life and its brilliant carpet of tundra vegetation is an excellent backdrop for photos. Caribou, moose, and muskoxen are often seen browsing on willows and sedges, while predators, such as wolves, fox, snowy owl, and gyrfalcon search for a warm meal.

You’ll ascend the foothills of the Brooks Range and over the Atigun Pass at 5,000 feet, the highest mountain pass in Alaska that is maintained year-round. Pass through the Koyukuk Valley with craggy peaks of 400-million-year-old limestone. You’ll have time to search for grizzly bear, moose, and lynx in the dense spruce forest.

At the end of the day, you’ll arrive in Wiseman, a historic gold-mining community, that is well worth the time to explore on foot. Many artifacts can be found within a short walk of the lodge. Depending on weather and pilot availability, you may have the option of a scenic flight over the Brooks Range and the wilderness of the Arctic National Park. Cost not included, but Bill will organize it.

Cross the Arctic Circle en route to Fairbanks

Jun 16

You’ll continue south traversing boreal forest and mountain passes of windswept tundra. As you cross the Arctic Circle, you’ll stop for a photo and picnic lunch then continue looking for wildlife in the changing habitats. Further south, you cross the mighty Yukon River and continue through the White Mountains to Fairbanks.

Free day in Fairbanks

Jun 17

We will help you plan and facilitate your free day in Fairbanks experiencing world-class museums (UAF Museum of the North, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, and Pioneer Park), the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center to learn about the cultural and natural history of Interior Alaska, the UAF Large Animal Research Station for close-up views of muskoxen, caribou and reindeer, the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge to photograph sandhill cranes, waterfowl, and songbirds, walk aboard a vintage stern-wheeler at Pioneer Park, or shop for native art work housed in a 1939 hand-built log cabin at The Alaska House!

Alaska

Explore Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain and Brooks Range under the Midnight Sun.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip cost, double occupancy $2,900
Single supplement $200

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. Single rooms are subject to availability.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Final January 15, 2021 Remaining balance

Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Cancellations

Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.

Included

  • All activities, leaders, transport, park entry and user fees, landing fees and permits unless described as optional.
  • Accommodations for the nights of June 12 through June 17.
  • Meals from dinner on June 12 through breakfast on June 18 except meals listed in the Not Included section.
  • Complimentary beverages (wine, beer, spirits, sodas, juice) in Wiseman.
  • Group airport transfer on June 12 in Prudhoe Bay and airport transfer on June 18 in Fairbanks.
  • Gratuities to lodge and hotel staff throughout the trip.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
  • Optional scenic flight in Wiseman (approximately $300, depending on length, paid at time of flight, and subject to weather conditions and availability).
  • Lodging in Anchorage on June 11 prior to flight to Prudhoe Bay.
  • Dinner on June 16 and lunch and dinner on June 17.
  • Airport transfers in Anchorage.
  • Gratuities for the scenic flight pilots. We recommend $10-$15 per participant per flight.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Refer to our website for more information: www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation Form.

Climate

You will visit the Arctic Coastal Plain and Brooks Range during spring time in Alaska, which means the weather can vary greatly from sunny and hot to winter-like conditions, including rain, snow, and warm, sunny days. So, expect a wide range of conditions, with daytime temperatures ranging from 30-70°F (up to the 80s°F in the south) with nights possibly below freezing in the high Arctic.

Fitness Level

We strive for frequent stops for wildlife viewing, however participants should be comfortable sitting for several hours at a time due to the distances we cover. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.

Flights

Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska (ANC) by June 11, then fly to Prudhoe Bay (SCC) on the afternoon of June 12. Everyone should book the same afternoon Alaska Air flight from ANC to SCC that departs ANC between 2:00pm and 3:00pm on June 12; we will provide specifics in our Trip Materials. Alaska Air has, on occasion, cancelled this afternoon flight and moved people to the morning flight, so it is important to arrive in Anchorage on June 11 for an overnight (not included) to be sure you get to Prudhoe Bay the next day. Depart from Fairbanks (FAI) anytime on June 18. If you are continuing on our Denali’s Spring Wildlife and Wildflowers tour, see Flights section in its itinerary for departure information.

FAQ

Accommodations

Lodging throughout the tour is very comfortable albeit basic at times. Since you travel to remote locations, we do not have many options, but we have found excellent choices in all locations and hope you will enjoy the rustic Alaskan feel and remoteness of our lodges. Most lodges have private baths, but in Wiseman you will have shared baths.

Seasickness

Transportation

Travel in our private, custom-designed 12-seater Mercedes Sprinter, specifically adapted for photography, including windows that open on both sides. With only seven participants throughout the journey, you’ll have plenty of room for photography.

Take a scenic flight in small aircraft while in the Brooks Range (depending on weather and availability).

Conditions

  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
  • Use of drones/UAVs on tours: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.