THE POLAR BEAR - ICON OF THE POLAR NORTH. AS FEARED AS IT IS MISUNDERSTOOD. VIEW THIS MAGNIFICENT APEX PREDATOR IN THE COMPANY OF A LOCAL INUPIAT CONSERVATION LEGEND AND POLAR BEAR EXPERT. LEARN ABOUT THE CHALLENGES FACING NOT JUST THE POLAR BEAR BUT THE BOWHEAD WHALE AND ALL THE CREATURES OF THE ALASKAN NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (ANWR).
THIS 5-NIGHT EXPEDITION TAKES YOU TO THE MOST NORTHERLY AND MOST CONTROVERSIAL WILDERNESS REGION OF NORTH AMERICA - ANWR - AND INTO THE MOST NORTHERLY INUPIAT SETTLEMENT OF KAKTOVIK. HERE YOU WILL PATROL THE LAGOONS OF THE BEAUFORT SEA BY RIGID ZODIAC, WITNESS THE FAMOUS BOWHEAD BONE PILE AND ENCOUNTER POLAR BEARS AS THEY AWAIT THE FORMATION OF THE WINTER SEA ICE.
Arriving into Fairbanks Alaska you over-night and then fly north over the Brooks Range to the Inupiat settlement of Barter Island. Here you will be met by your expert guide and taken to your village accommodation and a hot lunch before kitting up, exploring the village and heading out onto the lagoon and surrounding wilderness in search of polar bears.
Arrive into Fairbanks, Alaska. Here you will transfer to your guesthouse and have dinner in town.
After a hearty breakfast you will transfer from your guesthouse back to Fairbanks domestic terminal. You will fly north, over the Brooks Range and down across the North Slope towards the small High Arctic airstrip of Barter Island.
Here your guide will transfer you to your accommodation for a hot lunch. A quick kit-up and re-pack and you will be off onto the lagoon to spot and track polar bears before a night-time vigil at the bowhead whale bone pile with powerful torches. Your evening will end with a meal at the excellent Waldo Arms guesthouse in the village.
EXPLORING THE SHALE SANDBARS OF THE BEAUFORT SEA
Each morning after breakfast your guide will arrive to take you on an emersion into pristine polar bear territory. You will travel by 4x4 vehicle, by rigid Zodiac inflatable and on foot with your armed expert guide. You will return each evening for a home-cooked meal at the famous Waldo Arms guesthouse where you might dine in the company of USGS polar bear researchers, National Geographic photographers, Federal oil workers and fellow adventurers.
After breakfast and a last journey to view the bears on the lagoon you will board your late morning flight for your onwards journey southwards.
A NOTE FROM OLLY
INSPIRATION & GROUND TRUTH
In 2003 I happened across a book ‘Seasons of Life and Land’ by the photographer Subankar Banerjee. The book documents the photographer’s journey of discovery in ANWR and highlights the threat to wildlife from Federal on-shore and off-shore oil drilling in the Refuge. I had made numerous expeditions into the Alaskan interior with Suzi over the years but we had never been beyond the White Mountains north of Fairbanks. The book greatly inspired me and before long I managed to make contact with the Inupiat chief who had guided Subankar for his year-long photographic assignment.
In April 2004 I headed out with him across the frozen North Slope on snow-machine, making a series of camps on tributaries of the frozen Hula Hula river, tracking caribou and polar bears on the sea ice. Living together in our small ‘Arctic oven’ tent, hunting ptarmigan for food, and talking endlessly for days on end we all soon became firm friends.
The next year I returned, this time in September with Suzi, to track and paint polar bears and learn more from this amazing indigenous hunter and conservationist about his battles to stop ‘big oil’ from exploiting this fragile, rich ecosystem. During our 30 year career Suzi and I have been privileged to work with some extraordinary wilderness experts and conservationists; men and women who against all odds have dedicated their lives to saving their piece of wilderness. My friend is one such man. He has guided President Carter, Sebastian Salgado and Senator John Kerry and other dignitaries. In my opinion he is one of the most important and resonant voices in indigenous affairs and Arctic conservation today.
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