Every year we take a hard look at what we can do to increase your enjoyment and face time with the animals, keep costs from spiraling with all the other inflationary costs, and add whatever options and value folks tell us before, during and after the tour.
For 2023, we have made changes that will give you more time to photograph animals, and allow you to modify your main activities with optional ones if you wish. This new flexibility in our itinerary grew out of the last few years of monitoring and readjustment on almost all our tours due to weather, more limited flight charters, and surge in post-Covid travel. They were also based on a review of the last 5 years of participant surveys, rising costs of fuel taxes and activities that many participants opted out of, and scheduling changes that made our tours run a little smoother.
The first change is that some of our tours this year may run in reverse! No, you won’t have to look out the back window of the van. But depending on the lodge schedules, flight charters, weather and other logistics, we may go to the bear camps earlier in the tour than shown in the generic itinerary. Normally, we schedule bear camps on the 3rd or 4th day. This only gave us 1 day at the end for any adjustments due to weather or whatever, to finish up and get back to Anchorage.
By going to the brown bear overnight camps earlier on the 1st through 3rd days, this gives us more flexibility to do the other day activities (helicopter aerials, marine wildlife/whale tour, land wildlife tours, etc.) that aren’t dependent on variables out of our control.
This may involve us chartering directly out of Anchorage to the Lake Clark or Katmai bears, and returning either to Anchorage or the Kenai Peninsula to continue our tour. If we get delayed from leaving or returning from the remote bear spots, we have more time to readjust. This change It doesn’t really affect you in any way, just gives us more leeway and a little less stress when Murphy’s law surfaces.
Another change is that the dogsledding on a remote glacier activity is now optional rather than included with all tours. This also allows us to spend more time at the other wildlife activities that, over the years, most of our participants preferred. Since we are geared to photographers, a vast majority consistently opted to forego the dogsledding when offered more time shooting wildlife on the road, boat, helicopter or bear locations. Others reasons for the change include 1) the cost of the dogsledding from our providers was increasing almost every year, including major fuel tax increases across the board for any charter flight or boat operations. By making this an optional add-on, we were able to keep our prices from increasing too, and 2) weather cancellations or postponements of many of the dogsledding in the past — they are at lower elevations and nestled in glacial cirques that are more susceptible to fog and rain whiteouts.
These changes are just some of the reasons that using an smaller but experienced tour company and guide is the best way to go. We make it easier for you to concentrate on having fun on your trip, rather than trying to juggle all the logistics before and during a major trip to a huge, multi-faceted place like Alaska. There are a lot of choices behind the scenes that are made months before you arrive, and sometimes minutes before your charter leaves, that have to be considered. Alternates have to be planned and available to keep things moving along and get you in front of the best light and animals possible during your short immersion into this land of Oz.
Thank you again for your trust and commitment to photographing and sharing in the beauty of our planet!
“We can’t see light, only its source and reflection…yet we can’t see without it.” — Ernst Haas