Our lodge near Sterling, will be our base camp. When we're not photographing bears, this is where you will sleep. You'll stay at a riverside lodge where we'll enjoy private rooms with a view, private bath and access to evening fishing, hiking, kayaking and paddle boarding. For part of the trip, we will fly to a secluded and dedicated bear viewing camp for three days, finally returning to the lodge and then back to Anchorage on Saturday the 13th. You'll return home with memory cards full of magical images, plus lifetime worth of cool stories to share with your friends and family.
This North To Alaska Photo Tour features stays at a private bear camp and riverside lodge. The bear camp is a "glamping" style base camp with twin and king beds and linens, gas heat and light, "en suite" potties in the tents and composting toilets and showers in shared bathrooms. The lodge features river and mountain view rooms complete with individual decks. Each participant will have their own room at both the lodge and the bear camp. Both the lodge and the bear camp are prepaid and part of your Tour package.
Saturday - Fly to Anchorage and spend the night in a nearby hotel at your expense. You will receive a recommendation for the best place to stay if you want to be near the tour leader and the rest of the group. We will have a pizza party and orientation slide show on the first evening so plan to fly in as early as you can or even an extra day before (you can take time to go sight-seeing in Anchorage.)
Sunday - We will eat breakfast early and be ready for pickup at 7:30 AM sharp. We will be chauffeured by knowledgeable guides who will be driving comfortable vans. Once you get in the van, you can keep your wallet in your pocket. All expenses are covered from this point on until we return to Anchorage on the last day of the trip.
The drive to the Kenai Peninsula Borough takes us on Alaska’s most scenic highway, which crosses two mountain passes & brings you to our to the lodge in time for lunch. Following lunch and a quick bear camp orientation, you will drop off your main bag at the lodge, and board a small plane for the flight to our private, remote bear camp. Perched between the mountains and the sea it's a very beautiful and unique place. This location is special not only because of the bears, it just offers a great experience. Great meals, comfortable accommodations (high tech heated tent-cabins) and amazing guides that make it a one of a kind, truly Alaskan experience. (Timing is Weather dependent.)
Monday - Revel in a full day with the bears and true wilderness. Spend enough time to get those great shots of the amazing wildlife in their native habitat with majestic Mt. Illiamna in the background. We'll experience the bears on a raised (and safe) platform overlooking the Mt. Illiamna meadow and creek. At times, we'll hike a short distance to some ground level viewing spots to get a different perspective. Scott will be available at all times to help you get the best images and for any photography questions. Our bear guides will be available to answer questions about the area and the animals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served in the main dining tent. Overnight in tent-cabins.
Tuesday - We'll spend another full day at the bear camp. We may vary the areas we shoot from depending on the weather and bear behavior. We will work on refining our approach. We will soak in more authentic, Alaska wilderness in a place that few people ever get the privilege of visiting. We will overnight in the bear camp again. (As I write this I have goose bumps -I am so excited!)
Wednesday - One last morning with the staff and animal residents of bear camp. We will breath in some more true wilderness get in a morning shoot (weather permitting), then return from the camp to the lodge via bush plane (return flight from 10:00-1:00 typically). Then we will shuttle to our riverfront main lodge to check back into the river front cabins. After some down time to rest and organize your photos, we will have image critiques. The rest of the evening is on your own. Enjoy happy hour and dinner. Maybe try some fishing and S'mores at the "by the fire" staffed with a campfire-tending beach assistant. (If you decide to fish you will need to pay for a fishing license - available at the lodge - not included with your photo tour.)
Kenai Fjords Glacier/Wildlife Cruise
Thursday - today we embark on a scenic wildlife and glacier cruise in the incomparable Kenai Fjords National Park! The protected waters of Resurrection Bay and Aialik Bay are some of the most amazing regions on earth and are an absolutely bucket list worthy. We'll be on a 100 foot cruise boat. Along the short drive to Seward, we'll stretch our legs by walking to the face of a retreating Glacier and get close enough to nearly touch for a few "macro" shots of blue ice...then it's on to Seward to spend the rest of this day cruising and seeking calving Glaciers, Humpback whales and Orca, charming Sea Otters, peculiar puffins and endangered Stellar Sea Lions. We'll return to the lodge in time for happy hour, dinner and a healthy sleep after taking so many photos.
Bald Eagle Scenic Float Trip!
Friday - We'll schedule a little bit of a sleep in day and then we'll head upriver, into the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We'll float through the aquamarine waters of the upper Kenai river. It's one of Alaska’s most prodigious salmon spawning grounds. This annual event brings bears and eagles in numbers to feast on salmon eggs and the carcasses of hundreds of thousands of dying salmon. This is one of Alaska’s classic and most impressive wildlife miracles. A shore side lunch served by your river guide will fuel the rest of your National Park photo trip through the beautiful Kenai Canyon under special permit through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Return to lodge for happy hour, dinner and overnight.
Turnagain Arm Photo Tour
Saturday - We'll check out after breakfast at the lodge, and head back to Anchorage...along the way we will traverse a mountain pass, cross countless rivers and hopefully see some Alaska wildlife. We'll take a short hike to a beautiful river canyon and then drop down to Turnagain Arm, an incredible fjord boasting the second largest tidal swing in the world. Finally, we'll take a tram to the top of a rugged mountain to get some final "big picture" shots before arriving back in Anchorage around 3:00. We will arrive back to Anchorage in time for dinner together, a last chance discussion of the trip and then we'll get additional night's rest before departing on our own to the airport the next morning. Your lodging on Saturday the 13th is on your own. If you prefer to skip the group dinner and go directly to the airport in time for a late flight home, you may do so as you see fit.
Saturday - June 6, 2020 - meet in Anchorage - Sunday - June 7, 2020 depart Anchorage for the lodges - Saturday - June 13, 2020 return to Anchorage. NOTE: We have no way to get you to the lodge if you miss our departure time so please carefully consider arriving one day early just to make sure you aren't delayed by weather, etc.
Why early June? Research! This workshop has been timed to happen at the peak time for wildlife and good weather.
$8,750 - Early bird discount of $750 for sign up by May 1, 2019 - Net cost $8,000. After May 1, 2019 the full price will be charged. Deposits will be accepted up until January 2, 2020. After that only full payment will be accepted to hold a seat.
Prior to January 2, 2020, a deposit of $1,500 per person is required. Full payment of the balance of the trip fee is due 180 days prior to departure date. This deposit is fully refundable until June 1, 2019. After that date, there are no refunds. If you do cancel, we must receive written notice of your cancellation. After June 1, 2019 there are no refunds - all fees (deposits and full trip payments) are non-refundable and travel insurance will have to take up the slack should you have a life emergency that precludes your attendance on the tour.
Additionally - please note that there are no partial refunds made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable. Tour seats are non transferable.
We know life is unpredictable so travel insurance is required. We recommend World Nomads (http://bit.ly/nomadstravel).
WHATS INCLUDED IN THE PACKAGE PRICE:
Pizza party at Saturday night orientation. Complimentary van pickup in Anchorage on day two followed by sightseeing transfer to lodge. Once we get to the lodge, you will receive all meals, nightly happy hour (Includes adult beverages) and appetizers. All discretionary evening activities like "by the fire," and kayaking/paddle boarding. All transportation from our hotel in Anchorage to the lodge and back is provided along with guide service, permits (except fishing) taxes, boat and seaplane rides, and photography instruction. Closing dinner in Anchorage on the 13th. Finally, all necessary equipment for your daily adventures is included in your package along with lodge concierge service.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
Gratuities, Alaska fishing license (optional) fish processing/shipping (optional) and hotel/meals in Anchorage (other than Pizza party on opening night and final diner) are not included in the package price. Alcohol is not included in the price of the tour when staying at our hotel in Anchorage. Limited alcohol is available during happy hour at the lodge and is included in the package price. Any alcohol purchased outside the scope of the happy hour is not included in your package price.