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“Worth the Trip”

Alaska Northern Lights Tour
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Alaska Northern Lights Tour has an evening of viewing Aurora and Native Culture Show at a remote Lodge with an excellent view of Northern Skies. Also has, a Fairbanks City Tour, Dog Sled Rides, Chena Hot Springs Tours, and Ice Fishing Tours. Activities are Guided by Owner, Ben Boyd who is an Alaska Mountain Man who lived from hunting and trapping, using only a sled dog team for transportation. In later life attended University of Alaska Fairbanks and received a BA Degree in Cultural Tourism and a MA Degree in Cultural Documentation. He is Producer of many Cultural Videos that can be seen on Boyd Communications Youtube Channel. He gives Native Culture Presentations and preforms a Native Hoop Dance for which at over age 70 is the Oldest Native Hoop Dancer in the World.
Reviewed March 26, 2014

Just got back on 3/25. Booked for 5 nights. First night & Ben canceled the trip as would not see. Second night Ben picked us up. Did not asked us to pay all up front. Saw the lights. Beautiful! Third night went and did not see. Clear night but no light. That is nature & Ben can not control that. We did not go the third night & Ben was OK with that. On 5th night I was sick & we canceled again. Ben Boy was more than co-operative with us and fair. A gentlemen.

8  Thank Pastorpat1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BenBoydAlaska, Owner at Alaska Northern Lights Tour, responded to this reviewResponded April 17, 2014

Thank you for the review, it shows how as a Tour Operator here in Alaska we have to be flexible and as well clients should understand that they have to be flexible. This is not Disneyland where everything is operated by computers and is exactly on time and goes as plan. Alaska is the Last Frontier and as such it's weather, road conditions, and logistics are totally unpredictable. Especially when the attractions are natural phenomena. Weather and Aurora predictions are far from always being correct and the weather can change by the hour. If it is snowing I usually do not take clients out but if it is cloudy, that can change very quickly and from location to location. This is why I do not have clients pay at the time of booking as most companies do. That way, either I or the client can change our plans with out the hassle of refunds. Some companies have a policy of no refunds, only if they cancel the tour. I try to make my tours more flexible to accommodate clients doing what it is they want to do.

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Reviewed March 19, 2014

We spent three days with Ben seeing the sights of Fairbanks. He was very attentive to us, taking us to a dog sled tour, walk with reindeer and to the Arctic Games and ice festival as well as to see the Aurora Borealis. We were amazed at his energy and positive attitude. I would recommend this tour!

6  Thank rkl610
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BenBoydAlaska, Owner at Alaska Northern Lights Tour, responded to this reviewResponded June 24, 2014

These two ladies were lots of fun and we had a lot of fun together. I was surprised though that they did not give me an excellent grade. They were both school teachers so I guess they were hard to get and excellent grade out of. LOL

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Reviewed March 15, 2014

Booked four nights of aurora watching with Ben. We paid in full on first night as we were requested to do when reservations were booked. We noticed others did not pay in full for multiple nights, and we questioned our common sense; but, this did not pose any problems as Ben is an honest person. Ben was basically on time and this is hard to do as he drives throughout Fairbanks picking up others at various hotels. I would suggest that he consider a quick text or call when he is on his way to each pick up point as some tour participants were calling him asking where he was. We certainly wondered ourselves one night, but he always showed up. It would probably also be a good idea for Ben to load his passengers on the van from back to front as it was very difficult for many tour members to get to the back of van, especially if front seats were already filled. The drive to Chandalar Ranch was basically uneventful but Ben did provide narrative with regard to local area. Walking into Chandalar Ranch was a little unsettling as there were multiple rows of chairs lined up and filled with other tour groups in front of a tv playing an aurora video. There were some light snacks of Oreo type cookies, pretzels, Tang, packaged hot chocolate. Downstairs was a hostel with many foreign students who took up much of the seating area. I felt a little crowded overall while indoors, and it was too cold to just stand around outside unless there was an aurora to see. Upon arrival, Ben gave a very brief tour of the ranch showing where bathrooms were and pointing out where to view the aurora. After that, he disappeared until approximately 2am which is when he reappears to do his Native American cultural show. He did not avail himself to our tour group, and if I hadn't overheard another tour groups guide mention a possible aurora forming, I possibly would not have seen it. Later on the ride back to our hotels, one of our tour mates asked Ben if the aurora we had witnessed that night was typical, and Ben commented that actually he hadn't seen it. He touts the fact that he stays an hour longer than other tour groups but I quickly found out that his 'extra' hour (2am-3am) for aurora watching was not geared toward aurora but rather toward his Native American cultural show. I'm by no means an aurora expert but the geophysical institute university of AK Fairbanks says the best time to see aurora is around midnight, although displays are possible throughout the night. I personally think if you haven't seen the aurora by 2am, you probably aren't going to see it that night. This was my personal experience. Unless there is an active aurora at 2am, I would rather leave with the other tour groups at this point rather than stay an extra hour to watch a Native American presentation that has nothing to do with the aurora. I enjoy Native American culture but I signed up for an aurora tour.

10  Thank Kelynn1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BenBoydAlaska, Owner at Alaska Northern Lights Tour, responded to this reviewResponded March 24, 2014

This is a good example of: "Things may not always be as they seem at first sight".
Concerning your comment that the extra time provided on my tour between 2am and 3am was
to do the culture show not see aurora. The culture show is not done every night at that time.
It is done at different times on different nights to correspond with the time when there is the best potential to see aurora. When aurora is able to be seen in the early evening, as it was when you were there, because most clients are expecting to see the show, it is done just before leaving after 2am so as to not interfere with the aurora viewing in the early evening. On nights when it is cloudy in the early evening with no opportunity to see aurora the show is done then to provide something for clients to do while waiting to see aurora. It is an extremely common weather pattern, for Pleasant Valley where the Lodge is, for the sky to clear up in the early morning hours around 1pm to 2pm. It is this fact that makes this an optimum time for viewing aurora at the Lodge, not the frequency the aurora at that time. Your assumption that if aurora is not see by 2am, then there is little chance of seeing it is totally incorrect. You seem to be forgetting that there are two variables to seeing aurora, frequency and cloud coverage. I have had many clients who were not able to see aurora in the early evening, because of cloud coverage, who saw very good aurora after 2am and were extremely happy for the extra hour of viewing. In fact this just happen a few nights ago when fantastic aurora was just over head moving around all over the place at 2:30am. I have even on some nights when the viewing was very good after 2am stayed till 4am.

Both myself and my associates at Chandalar Ranch are people who have lived a traditional native way of life in Bush Alaska. We are real Alaskans and most visitors welcome the change for us to share our experiences in Bush Alaska with them. You complained about the Culture Show and said, that you were only interested in the Aurora. Well, I am truly sorry, that you had to endure something that was of interest to the rest of the visitors that you were not interested in.

It is pretty ridiculous that when I go out of my way to provide an extra service to try and enhance the clients experience that someone would complain about that service.

As for your comment about discounts: I give discounts for multiple aurora tours to clients who ALSO take my day tours.

Thank you, but no thank you for your advice concern texting or calling clients when picking them up. I am not one to text and drive and stopping to do so would only add to the total time it takes to pick them up. I ALWAYS tell clients that I may not be there to pick them up at a certain time because other client might not be on time which through me behind schedule.

As far as your comment about me not being around all night to tell you when aurora was coming out: The night you were there there was aurora popping in and out all night. So frequently that the lights inside and out of the Lodge were off all night, making it totally dark. It was a very large crowd which happen mostly in March. Most nights the rest of the season are not crowded which makes it easier for me to have an more intimate relation with my clients. My clients were mixing in the crowd both inside and out and constantly moving in and out. Clients alway want it as dark as possible for the best aurora viewing and photographers will complain even if someone turns on a flashlight which would have been the only way I could have found my clients. The aurora was so frequent that there was no need for me to warn my clients. On nights when it is not so frequent I will go outside and see if I can see aurora forming which I am able to do a lot better than people who are not use to aurora hunting. When I see it I will come in and tell everybody, not just my clients. We have a new breed of young aurora guides who pride themselves on being able to look at the computer to see what is happening with aurora which is not always correct. I have been spotting aurora before they were even born and there is no better way than using your eye looking at the real thing, instead of looking at a computer generated image. The other night I spotted aurora starting and came in and told everyone and one of the computer nerds was sitting there looking at his computer and did not know that aurora was starting. The aurora went on to develop into fantastic aurora.

Thank you very much for your comments and they were certainly a good example of "Things may not always be as they seem at first sight". I am sure that if you had more than a first sight of the tour that you would have realized that your complaints were not very valid.

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Reviewed March 10, 2014 via mobile

Ben was very punctual, his van was packed. Lucky for us were flexible and were able to fit through the back. We were able to see the lights and they were fantastic. Ben performed his dance which was interesting and he had a show n tell moment with animal furs. Very nice guy, good tour.

5  Thank Cru16110
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2014

Ben was all his reviews said he was; punctual, well versed; and an all around interesting character. However, the best part of the trip was that we only had 1 night in Fairbanks and, even though Ben warned us we may not see the lights because several trips are sometimes necessary. To his and everyone else's surprise, the aurora was beginning to be visible when we exited the van and shortly gave us a display lasting several hours with virtually non-stop movement. We did not get to enjoy his "shows" but he understood completely that we were there for the lights and he graciously left us to our own devices until we were ready to return to our hotel.

I would, without reservation, recommend Ben for any and all tours of the area.

1  Thank gone50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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