We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Brisbane Australia
3 posts
Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

What are the chances of seeing Polar Bears in either the

end of Feb or earlish March please.

How close can one go or get to photograph the bears

And if the answer is positive who in Fairbanks do i contact for the flight?

Thank you,

bernie smits

46 replies to this topic
Adirondack, New York
Level Contributor
3,999 posts
89 reviews
1. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Bernie, in February/March the bears are far away from the village. Warbelow's Air (http://www.warbelows.com/polar_bear_tour.htm) organizes tours to the village of Kaktovik in September and that's when you have the best chance to see them very close to the village. These are overnight trips and cost $2299.00 per person. Your pilot will drop you off at the village and then a native guide takes you around to see bears.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
8,220 posts
45 reviews
2. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

From what I've read about polar bear viewing up there, it is still a bit on the primative side without a good infrastructure for viewing/photographing. In other words, local native guides driving you around in their pick-up truck or jeep. From some of the stories told up there, folks have had very close encounters with the bears . . . perhaps too close . . . although I have also not heard of any tourists being attacked/injured.

A trip there is on the bucket list of several regulars here. Perhaps they will share their research here too.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
13,124 posts
233 reviews
3. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

I've had good friends do this (in Sep/Oct?) and it was primitive (as previously mentioned). Their encounter was very close (bears on their pick-up & rocking the truck).

The details were as mentioned in the previously 2 posts. THey thought despite the cost, it was worth every dollar (they were freaked out!).

If I recall, this viewing/event is only in Sep/Oct.

Good luck,


Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
8,220 posts
45 reviews
4. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

>>>>Their encounter was very close (bears on their pick-up & rocking the truck).<<<<

Given what I've seen bears in general do to break into vehicles and houses, this would make me very anxious . . . NOT a good time in my opinion.

Manitoba, Canada
Level Contributor
6,894 posts
5. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Is February/March the only time you can get away?

If you can travel in October/early November, and your main interest is polar bears, consider going to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. There are various tours in the safe "tundra buggies". Von (poster #4), can give you more details on that, as she is a DE for Churchill.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
8,220 posts
45 reviews
6. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

I think Bernie will find that the prices for Churchill will be significantly higher, albeit for more days on the tundra viewing. $2,300 seems very high for one overnight including the flight up there to Kaktovik. Expect something around $4,000 to $4,500 for a basic polar bear viewing tour to Churchill. Folks have done it "ala carte" but it can be a logistical challenge, since the two major tundra buggy companies largely work with tour companies to fill their buggies. They do price "per day" viewing opportunities, if you can get there (expensive fight or long train trip from Winnepeg) . . . and make hotel reservations in town (also tied largely to the tour company operations).

Bernie if you're interested in more, feel free to come to the Churchill Forum to see what others have done . . . and ask whatever questions you may have.


Brisbane Australia
3 posts
7. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Hi Fellows ,

Thank you very much for taking the time.

Yes i did at one stage think that the bears would be out on the ice

but we keep seeing and hearing about all that ice melting up

north and the article did not mention any time of year so i thought i would give it a try.

I will have to give the bears a miss this time i have never seen the Northern lights that together with your dogsled races made me pick Feb/March next year also here in Queensland Australia it

gets bl.... hot in summer time so we like to find cooler places.

Thank you all very much again.

Bernie Smits.

If you ever decide to visit Australia and want some info let me know.

Ps. Wait untill our dollar drops!!

Eagle River, Alaska
3 posts
8. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

I have been going to Kaktovik in the fall to photo and view bears for almost 20 years. Friends that have gone with me say its much better than Canada because you get much more time with the bears. When we go we spend up to 12 hours per day near and around the bears. Observing them interact makes the time fly by. Accommodations are rustic but food and lodging is very good. The guides that have been going up there from the beginning have local connections, are very good and will show you a trip of a lifetime with photo's to prove it. I do not recommend weekend trips because there is much more noise and activity and the bears sometimes stay away.

October 2010 was the best year yet with 24 bears in the area and a mom with 2 playful spring cubs that would really put on a show. We also had awesome Northern Light shows.

Anchorage, Alaska
Level Contributor
2 posts
7 reviews
9. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Great post, thanks.

Question... Did you set your trip up through the City site, or ??

I am 60 y/old life long Alaskan(read outdoors guy) now living in Anchorage who wants to do this in fall of this year, 2011.

Any tips appreciated.


Edited: 12:00 pm, February 18, 2011
Eagle River, Alaska
3 posts
10. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

I worked construction up there years ago and have friends to stay with. Otherwise, I have stayed at Waldo`s. If you want open water viewing, there are some locals that take people out for around 200.00 per trip(several hours). I usually wait until early October after freezup. Try to avoid weekends as it can be very busy with everyone off of work and out of school. With so much activity sometimes the bears stay out farther. I would say any of the guides both local and those that come in to take people out are good. Just ask lots of questions like group size, how much field time you get and how custom the trip is.

Reply to: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Kaktovik