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Waldo Arms Hotel
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Reviewed July 7, 2013

Stayed here twice. Both times I have to say it was exactly what I would have expected for a village camp. The room was small but clean. The small TV in the room was a bonus as was the free wi-fi. The common area was small and somewhat messy. Meals are included in the price and are what you would expect for a work camp in the arctic, high calorie meals with lots of quantity.

The staff was very friendly and helpful. They picked me up at the airport and provided transportation back there at the end of my stays.

Things to note about camps... the rooms are small and two twin bed with a desk is the norm. The private bathrooms in some of the rooms are not typical, and the price is driven by the cost of having to fly every item that you see up there via airplane. The staff typically are awesome.

Kaktovik is where I recommend everyone go to see Polar Bears and to have an experience not no other. This is a place for those true adventurers and people seeking to get off the beaten path.

Room Tip: Ask for the rooms with a private bathroom
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled on business
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3  Thank WIAKtravaler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2013 via mobile

We wanted to see polar bears thats how we ended up in Kaktovik. We didnt go with any tour operators we drove to Deadhorse and took a plane with ERA to Barter Island. We pre-booked two nights at Waldos Arm with I think 8 hors of bear watching. Expensive as hell but what can you expect from a nice place in the Arctic Ocean?

How nature works our plans changed drasticly: the airstrip got flooded in Kaktovik so we got trapped in Deadhorse for three nights. We didnt even know if we can make it at all since we needsd to return our rental car to Fairbanks. We talked to Waldo and his wife Marylin(?) and they told us we can go even for an hour they will show us bears and we shouldnt worry about the price...

We ended up having a super crazy day. We finally got to a plane the last day available and had one hour or so on the island. We went to Waldos first and the little place is amazing. A container as everything else from the iutside but a warm cozy amazing place from the inside. Fresh burgers, library and so much much more.

They took us out first in a car ten in a van to see the bears and it was crazy! Polar bears everywhere. We saw at least ten different bears and got pretty close to some of them.

We almost missed or little plane but we managed to stop it from taking iff right in the middle of the strip. With a 30 years old van... Just like they do it in the movies:-)

it was one of our best experience and all we paid was 45 minutes of bear watching. They helped us with everything from the planning stage to the actual solution.

Great place with amazing people and loads of polar bears!

Thank you so much!

  • Stayed: September 2012
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3  Thank beavisnail
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2013

Agree with kyle10014 and stanonpch's reviews.
Initially my wife and I were a little shocked/apprehensive. The hotel is a multiservice enterprise: the local restaurant/snack shop, Era agent and place for some of the local kids to hang out. In context, due to the location and limitations of supply to the area this place is a bit run down, but this is overcome by the extremely warm and welcoming hosts Walt and Merylin and their staff. It took about half an hour or so to relax as we remembered that we were there to see the bears and experience the community and accepted the hotel for what it is and why it is there.

To the bears, we were there in September 2012. There isn't any snow here at this time. The bears sleep in the gravel/sand or tundra and swim across to the bone pile. After sometime the bottom half of the bears become dirty...not that it matters but just so people know that it is not the scenes of white fluffy bears playing in powder snow or walking across ice as you might find in Churchill. This is still a truly amazing experience to see the bears and how they interact, plenty of photo taking time, don't even need much in the way of zoom because of the close vicinity to them.
Bears can be seen out on the spit as you come into land on the gravel/compacted run way. During the day the bears sleep out on the spit, viewable with binoculars from the windows of Waldo Arms, in the morning and evening there were heaps of bears at the bone pile ~20-40 bears at a time. We missed out on seeing a whale being brought in but the local fishermen were out as we were leaving.
We were there for two nights/three days and saw ~25 bears the first afternoon.
Very easy to arrange a boat tour there is always someone who can take you without notice (recommend Ketil, very knowledgeable plus has a heated cabin on his boat!), just ask Walt or Merylin.

Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Maanxt13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2012

Not many choices in Kaktovik but this is the best choice. The Bed & Breakfast is closed and for sale and the other hotel looks nicer but has no charm or character. The Waldo Arms was a pleasant surprise, very comfortable, clean, warm, and the food was great. What ever we needed they did their best to provide it. Don't be concerned about the exterior appearance. I would stay here again anytime.

Room Tip: If you can get a private room you will have room on the other bed to put your "stuff" camera gear.
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Ken P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2012

Waldo Arms in Kaktovik is exactly how the other reviews describe it! One of a kind but not to be missed!
I stayed there twice over the past couple months and had a wonderful experience. The owners, Walt & Merylin are very gracious and have lots and lots of stories to tell. The employees Greg, Chris & Sue are nice, fun and very accommodating. Food is plentiful and pretty much whatever you want. So you won't go hungry or get bored. There are usually many other guests that gather in the common area and chat about their adventures. Someone is always willing to get up before dawn to take you out to the bone pile to watch the Polar Bears and sunrise.
It is an amazing place to be able to get so close to the huge, beautiful polar bears!!! Locals with boats will even take you out (for a charge) to the barrier islands to see them up close and personal, or watch them swim right past the boat. What a thrill!!! Also a good place to possibly see the beutiful Northern Lights!
ALl the reveiws are correct in their descriptions of the Waldo Arms. But remember you are in an isolated village at the top of Alaska and it's amazing that you are provided with all the things you get TV, wi-fi, indoor plumbing, running water, food, drinks (non-alcoholic) and friendly service!!!!
I gave them an excellent rating because in that isolated environment it's amazing, and I have travelled to many of the Alaskan native villages.
Go, ENJOY!

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled solo
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5  Thank Kim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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