Cornforth Images

Polar Bear Photography Tour

Have you ever wanted to photograph polar bears, but have been intimidated about visiting some of the more well-known polar bear viewing destinations? Then join us to visit the Eskimo community of Kaktovik on Barter Island in Alaska’s Arctic wilderness. Up to 80 polar bears, including mothers and cubs, call the barrier islands near Kaktovik their summer home as they wait for the Arctic Ocean to freeze over in the fall.

After arriving in Fairbanks, you will fly up to Barter Island on ERA Air’s 2+ hour flight the next morning. Upon landing, you will often immediately encounter polar bears and be able to photograph them.

You will then check in to the Waldo Arms Hotel, which will be your basecamp during the tour. The hotel is charming by Arctic Alaska standards with two twin beds in each room. The dining room is large and comfortable, so you can stretch out and warm up after a long day outside photographing the bears.

Each day, you will set out to photograph the polar bears using local vehicles or boats piloted by Eskimo guides. The days can be long and cold, so we will choose the optimum weather conditions to help you photograph the bears. They are most often photographed at the water’s edge resting or frolicing. From the boats, you will be able to photograph the bears from a very low angle which allows for intimate portraits with pleasing soft backgrounds. We will be especially focused on photographing unique behaviors and bears in beautiful light.

On the last day of the tour, you can usually spend the morning photographing the bears, but need to be back at the hotel ready for the return flight to Fairbanks in the afternoon. The foggy weather can delay the plane at this time of year, but it has been possible to fly all the way to Seattle in the evening, though this can not be guaranteed.

Here are some comments from our previous tour participants,

“During our trip to Kaktovik with Jon, we had the most amazing, intimate encounters with polar bears. Being a novice photographer, I also appreciated very much their patience and help in improving my photography. My only complaint is that I wish I was still there!”
– John and Paula, Santa Barbara, CA Oct 2011

“This is a real wildlife photography adventure in the Arctic! An amazing place with great and close encounters with the great polar bears in the wild. This is not a tourist-crowded place.”
– Dr Carlos, Mexico City, Mexico Oct 2011

“It is hard to express just how amazing this adventure was for us. Just seeing these magnificent animals in the wild was the experience of a lifetime. We were able to get incredible photographs of the many (dozens!) of polar bears. The tour was well organized by Jon from start to finish. They worked hard to make our experience both safe and rewarding.”
– Jeff and Shauna, Seattle, WA Oct 2012

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