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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
AR
Level Contributor
1 post
7 reviews
31. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

I just returned from Waldo Arms for bear viewing, so I wanted to share my experience and give a little more insight to this forum. For a 1 night stay for me and my husband, the cost was $1700 total for the both of us. Initially, it seemed like a lot, but by the time I checked about staying at Marsh Creek and hiring my own guide, there was not that much difference. This cost included lodging, all meals/snacks, early morning and evening bear viewing by bus, and a boat ride during the day. Unfortunately, the sea was rough, and the boat captains were not going out that day, so Mr. Walt knocked off some of the initial quote because we did not get the full experience promised. So, I highly discourage just a day trip as you can only see the bears up close during the day if the boats are running. This is because the bears do not come to the bone pile on the edge of town during the day, only late evening and early morning. However, unless you are a die hard fan of polar bears, I do not recommend more than a 1 night stay. Once I had seen the bears, I really didn't feel like I missed anything by not staying longer, and I am by no means a fan of shared bathrooms. Overall, it was a great experience, the people at the Waldo Arms were very friendly. Know ahead of time that they are in charge of the Era flights and that is first priority--they are not necessarily in a hurry to get you to the bears, although eventually they get you out and it's truly amazing. The trip is not something I would do over, but it was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and I am very glad I went. I also wanted to add if you have an Alaska Airlines credit card, you can use Alaska miles to book your Era flight.

Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
5 posts
7 reviews
32. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

We just returned from polar bear viewing. Yes it seems expensive but compared to Canadian Winnipeg trips it is not. You have to understand/accept where you are and have corresponding expectations. We did the trip on our own, stayed at Marsh Creek and toured with Ketil Reitan of kaktovik tours.we stayed two nights to get the best opportunity to see bears.

Marsh creek is simple but rooms have private baths. We had the best grilled halibut there from our entire trip. Everyone was very friendly and really wanted us to have a good time, get enough to eat etc. recommended

Ketil was great it work with. We had a day tour and we broke up the tour to three different times in the day. At one time we counted twenty bears and a wide variety of bear behavior. It was an exciting time. Ketil was as excited about the bears as we were which is always nice to see when someone does this over and over. He has guided film crews and national geographic as well as being the only person to complete the five longest sled dog races. There is no lack of conversation if you are interested.

If you need cell phone reception, the best food, accommodations and being outside your comfort zone gives you angst, this is not a trip for you. But if you are interested in how other people live, you are willing to interact with people and be open to experiences while seeing polar bears in their natural environs, then you will not be disappointed--go.

I have been to Alaska many times and this is one of the best trips I have been on. How many people do you know can say they have seen polar bears in nature. Or experienced an airport in a native village where the hotel gives you the bag claim ticket, the plane lands and everyone drives up to the plane to let you off. No tickets. What a slice of their real life.

Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
5 posts
7 reviews
33. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

We just returned from polar bear viewing. Yes it seems expensive but compared to Canadian Winnipeg trips it is not. You have to understand/accept where you are and have corresponding expectations. We did the trip on our own, stayed at Marsh Creek and toured with Ketil Reitan of kaktovik tours.we stayed two nights to get the best opportunity to see bears.

Marsh creek is simple but rooms have private baths. We had the best grilled halibut there from our entire trip. Everyone was very friendly and really wanted us to have a good time, get enough to eat etc. recommended

Ketil was great it work with. We had a day tour and we broke up the tour to three different times in the day. At one time we counted twenty bears and a wide variety of bear behavior. It was an exciting time. Ketil was as excited about the bears as we were which is always nice to see when someone does this over and over. He has guided film crews and national geographic as well as being the only person to complete the five longest sled dog races. There is no lack of conversation if you are interested.

If you need cell phone reception, the best food, accommodations and being outside your comfort zone gives you angst, this is not a trip for you. But if you are interested in how other people live, you are willing to interact with people and be open to experiences while seeing polar bears in their natural environs, then you will not be disappointed--go.

I have been to Alaska many times and this is one of the best trips I have been on. How many people do you know can say they have seen polar bears in nature. Or experienced an airport in a native village where the hotel gives you the bag claim ticket, the plane lands and everyone drives up to the plane to let you off. No tickets. What a slice of their real life.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
351 posts
15 reviews
34. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Gumwrapper, great info ! I think that doing the entire trip on your own is better, my guide was at the runway within 5 minutes of us landing (he came in a boat). We were shooting (with cameras) Polar Bears within 4-5 minutes after that....

Traveler 4962,

Great to hear you had a great trip with Ketil, he's a great guy ! Don't forget "No security checks" on this flight. I did not even hav eboarding passes for us on our way back, no one at Waldo Arms Hotel cared :-). It is indeed a step back in time,visiting this place...

I did have some questions:

1. Did the Inupiats harvest any Bowhead whales by the time you were there?

2. How was the weather ?

Thanks,

TP

Edited: 10:17 pm, September 09, 2013
Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
5 posts
7 reviews
35. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

They had taken 1 whale before we arrived and were out spotting for whales while we were touring. While I understand and respect their subsistance lifestyle I am glad they did not find a whale while we were there. Just my personal preference.

We spoke to a couple in Deadhorse in the airport. they left Kaktovik and the wind was so bad they had to cut short their boat tour. The day of our tour the wind was non existent but there was a lot of fog at times. Pretty crazy at 4pm you could barely see and at 6pm we got some of the best pictures. the day we left there was blue sky. temps in low 40's to high 30's.

absolutely fantastic time. I put some photos on Ketils trip advisor page for kaktovik tours.

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
2 posts
8 reviews
36. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

We are thinking of going to Kaktovik to see the polar bears with Ketil Reitan. Can I email you and ask more questions about the trip? Is it better to spend a few days in Kaktovik? etc.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
16,111 posts
33 reviews
37. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

It is always best to spend as much time as possible in a destination like this. Transport costs to Kaktovik are a large part of the budget, so if you can spread that cost out over 2-3 days, your per day price decreases. Plus, you have more chances for quality bear viewing (read the above posts - weather can often play a factor).

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
2 posts
8 reviews
38. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Thank you for the reply. Do we make our own air and hotel reservations or does Ketil make them for us? I sent him an email and he replied to go to his website. Which hotel do you prefer?

If we make our own air/hotel, who coordinates pick up at Kaktovik?

Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
5 posts
7 reviews
39. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

We stayed two nights did a full day tour with Ketil. We broke eight hours into three times on the boat. Thsecond session early afternoon was so foggy we ended early. The last session the fog cleared and it was outstanding. Ketil was talking about maybe offering a tour package next year but making your own arrangements isn't hard. ERA has a couple of flights a day from anchorage or Fairbanks ans was the cheapest ticket cost we found. You could take Alaska air to prudhoe bay and then transfer to Era for the flight to kaktovik. Advantage would be alaska air has larger planes but, it cost more. The hotel is easier if you call rather than email and accept they are busy, things move slowly. The hotel will pick you up at the airport. We made our reservations 8 months in advance.

If you find a review that you like. Underneath the question did you find this review helpful there is ask xxxxx a question. Use that link and it sends an email to the author for a private conversation. Find mine from sept, ask a question and i can send you a shutterfly link to our pictures and answer any questions. My ID is traveler4962 and I just finished a conversation with a couple from Belgium.it was a great trip.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
351 posts
15 reviews
40. Re: Polar Bears Viewing Kaktovik

Mary S,

You can directly call Waldo Arms hotel and speak with them about lodging. They do offer packages from the hotel and bear viewing from their School bus or a van. If you were to hire Ketil, then call Waldo Arms (it is also the check-in place for ERA flight, so you have to go here before departure) and ask them to book only the lodging for the night. Btw, if you have an Alaska Air credit card and or 15k alaska air miles, your flight form Fairbanks to BTI and back could be free of cost ! Era is Alaska air partner and you can book a roundtrip tkt with airmiles to BTI and back, that saves you $660+. Hope this helps ! It is a very laid back place, Ketil can come in a motor boat to pick you up right at the runway unlike the others who have to go to the Hotel first etc. I was shooting Bears within 5 mins of landing. He will also drop you back to Waldo Arms on the last day after Bear viewing and you will check in with them for your return flight. They take you back on a school bus and await the incoming aircraft. No check-in required, no security check required, no boarding pass required. It's a different part of the world....

Edited: 10:07 am, November 05, 2013
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