• USA
  • 11 Days

Life in the Arctic Refuge, AK

  • Basecamp Retreat
  • Nature Immersion
  • 11 days; 10 nights
  • 6 to 10 travelers
  • Begins & ends in Fairbanks
Known by many ecologists as "the last great wilderness", the Arctic Refuge has been a land in contention for decades. While energy interests have fought for years to open this area for potential fossil fuel extraction, the land is has remained one of the most pristine natural ecosystems on Earth: home to polar bears, thousands of migratory birds, and the birthing grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd. Join Earthtones for a unique opportunity to visit, recreate, and learn from Indigenous Alaskan Natives in Arctic Village and Kaktovik, Alaska. Arctic Village is home to around 150 Gwich'in Native Americans. The village is situated at the southern end of the Arctic Refuge at the base of the wild Brooks Range. We will learn first hand from local Natives about their traditional ways, subsistence lifestyle, and why protecting the Arctic Refuge is so important. Spending the nights under the stars, camping on the land of a Gwich'in elder, the days will be spent recreating on East Fork of the Chandalar River, hiking and hunting with local substance hunters, and learning the myriad of ways the Gwich'in maintain their traditional culture - including language and knowledge preservation projects. From Arctic Village, we will fly out to Lake Peters and Lake Schrader, the two northernmost of the Neruokpuk Lakes in the Brooks Range, for a three days of exploration, relaxation, wildlife ecology, and storytelling with Robert. The area is known as "America's Serengeti" as it is one of the most in-tact, pristine ecosystems in North America.read more

At a Glance

Creature comforts

no frills


Physical activity

moderate


Ground support

fully guided

Terrain

  • Mountains
  • Ocean
  • Lakes
  • Village Life

Practicalities

  • For ages 18+
  • Fluent english spoken

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Foraging
  • Wildlife
  • Digital detox
  • Indigenous culture
  • Stargazing
  • Rural homestay
  • Philosophy
  • Canoeing

Your Local Expert

Earthtones Journeys

Alaska Native Inupiaq storyteller Robert Thompson pioneered Ecotourism on the north slope. He is a living legend among notable photographers, consistently booked years in advance by major news outlets, international production crews and celebrity journalists. Thompson is well trusted to guide clients using only the highest ethical and safety standards. In his own words, "I am a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. I am a subsistence hunter and resident of Kaktovik, located on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and the only community found within the boundaries of ANWR. Many problems surround the Arctic refuge drilling provision of the budget bill. A community petition opposing oil development in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic refuge was sent to Sen. Cantwell of WA during the Senate debate over the tax bill. This petition was signed by 61 adult residents of Kaktovik, which is a majority of the number who voted in the last election. it is signed by the real people of Kaktovik.read more

The Journey

Day 1

Arrival in Fairbanks

We will arrive in Fairbanks, settle into our dwellings, meet the rest of the group, and independently explore the town.

Day 2

Journey to the Village

We will spend the morning in Fairbanks, visit the cultural center, meet with a local wildlife biologist and naturalist to learn about the Refuge and set the scene for our adventure. From Fairbanks, we will board a bush plane to take us by air to the Arctic Village. Upon arrival, we will meet our host, set up camp, and receive an introduction to the local culture and landscape.

Day 3

Exploring the Village

We will spend the day exploring the village, guided by the locals. We will learn about life in the Arctic, meet the elders of the village, and learn about the caribou and their essential role in the ecosystem. You will have time to explore the village independently, with the option to hike in the nearby mountains.

Day 4

Hunting and Foraging

We will go out for a hunt with our local guides. The day will involve a long walk into the bush, lessons on the natural ecosystem, and the relationship between the natural and human systems in the Refuge. Subsistence and hunting is an essential part of life in the Arctic Village. Take this rare opportunity from those who have lived on this land for generations.

Day 5

Exploring the Village

We will spend the day exploring the village, guided by the locals. We will learn about life in the Arctic, meet the elders of the village, and learn about the caribou and their essential role in the ecosystem. You will have time to explore the village independently, with the option to hike in the nearby mountains.

Day 6

Fly into the Refuge

We'll fly by bush plane for the day to Lake Peters and Lake Schrader, the two northernmost of the Neruokpuk Lakes in the Brooks Range. We will spend 4 nights camping on the lakes, exploring, viewing wildlife, and storytelling with Robert.

Day 7

Schrader and Peters Lake

Camping on the lakes, paddling, exploring, viewing wildlife, natural & cultural history, and storytelling with Robert.

Day 8

Schrader and Peters Lake

Camping on the lakes, paddling, exploring, viewing wildlife, natural & cultural history, and storytelling with Robert

Day 9

Schrader and Peters Lake

Camping on the lakes, paddling, exploring, viewing wildlife, natural & cultural history, and storytelling with Robert

Day 10

Schrader and Peters Lake

Camping on the lakes, paddling, exploring, viewing wildlife, natural & cultural history, and storytelling with Robert

Day 11

Journey Home

After 4 inspiring nights in the wilderness of the Refuge, we will fly back to the Arctic Village and part ways for the journey home.

Included

  • Lodging

    Lodging is included, although we will be camping more often than not

  • Meals

    All meals are provided. To protect our local subsistence lifestyle and resources, not all meals will be locally-sourced, though you will have an opportunity to participate in a few select, traditional meals.

  • Equipment

    All guiding-related equipment (packraft, kanoe/SUP, ATV)

  • Transportation

    All transportation (other than flights to and from Fairbanks) is included.

Not Included

  • Camping Gear

    We will be camping in Arctic Village, as well as on the Lakes in the Refuge. We’ll be sending a gear list. If traveler’s do not have the necessary equipment, we will rent from REI Outfitters.

  • Warm Clothing

    Please be prepared for unpredictable weather and procure the proper provisions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. We will provide a suggested list of clothing and equipment prior to arrival.

Join the Journey

Join a likeminded community of curious and active explorers

$3600 per person
Moderate cancellation - 100% refund more than 30 days before departure.

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