Journey to Alaska with Bob Berman to experience the Northern Lights!
The 6-day, 5-night tour is packed with special events, fascinating people, and spectacular sights:
March 1st: Arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska, in its most magnificent season, when the Sun is low in the sky and the snow is deep on the mountains. Guests arrive at all times of the day. With each arrival, we meet fellow travelers and the tour begins.
In Fairbanks, the group will be staying at the Westmark Hotel. This evening, we will dine at the hotel, get acquainted with each other, and meet our staff, including world-famous astronomy writer, lecturer, and teacher Bob Berman. His entertaining and informative introduction to the week’s events is not to be missed! As midnight nears, we bundle up, climb into our coach bus, and head out of town, away from the city lights, looking for clear skies and our first sighting of the aurora.
March 2-3rd: After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we will board our private coaches and make our way to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks for a private lecture with Dr. Neal Brown. The University of Alaska is one of the world’s leading centers of aurora study, and Dr. Brown, a retired professor, has made the study of the northern lights his life’s work. In addition to being a knowledgeable source about the phenomenon, he’s a delightful speaker who makes the science in this field understandable even to nonscientists. While on campus, we will also visit the Museum of the North, with fascinating collections and exhibits on the history, culture, people, and art of Alaska.
After our visit to the University of Alaska, we will board our coaches and travel to Chena Hot Springs for a 2-night stay. Literally at the end of the road, 60 miles from Fairbanks and set in the midst of the mountains well away from city lights, Chena Hot Springs is a perfect place for observing the aurora and the northern skies. And that’s not all: In your free time, you can ride a dogsled through the forest, take a snowcat to the top of a mountain for sunset, or relax in the hot springs while the air is zero degrees. It all makes for an unforgettable experience.
Chena is one of the “greenest” places on Earth. Scientists from all over the world have visited to see its innovative technology, and you will have an opportunity to tour these impressively progressive facilities: the recycling program (everything is recycled); the self-sustaining power-generation system, which uses the hot springs water to heat all of the buildings and create electricity; and the greenhouses where most of the resort’s food is grown.
Despite Chena’s natural splendor, neither Chena (meaning the property and the management) nor we, your tour leaders, can guarantee that the aurora will appear while we are there. The appearance of the aurora is subject to nature’s whim and timing. However, we can tell you that on six of our seven previous tours, we saw the northern lights spectacularly from Chena—and most of those displays filled the sky.
March 4th: Aboard our motor coach, we depart Chena to return to Fairbanks. Along the way, we stop briefly by the oil pipeline to see one of the great feats of building in the harshest of climates. After dinner in Fairbanks, we go to the ice-carving competition, a world-class event that attracts carvers from all over the globe. While stunning in sunlight, the sculptures are especially magnificent at night when illuminated by colored lights.
If we do not see the aurora at Chena, this evening we will charter a coach to take us to a remote spot away from the city lights to attempt once more to see the remarkable lights.
March 5th: After breakfasting at the hotel, we head to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. Here we will explore world-class exhibits of Alaskan natural habitats and Native culture. You have the rest of the day free to explore this unique and historic city. In the early evening, we will gather at the hotel for our farewell dinner.
March 6th: Transfer to the airport for the journey home. Guests who choose to join us for the trip extension (see below) will meet in the late afternoon for the charter flight to see Mt. McKinley and continue on to Anchorage.
An Optional Special Treat
Even before the aurora presents itself for our first viewing, you will have a rare opportunity to learn basic watercolor painting techniques with professional artist and teacher Jacqueline Rogers, in preparation for capturing impressions of the mountains and the northern lights on paper. This is a unique experience, optional but included, and never before offered on a Special Interest Tour. It is your opportunity to try watercolor painting to complement the photographs that you will take with your camera. Starting on the first day of our trip, several workshops and demonstrations will be offered for those who wish to participate. No previous experience is necessary.
*Tour itineraries are subject to change due to conditions beyond our control.
Included in the tour:
Lecture by Neal Brown
Museum of the North
Watercolor lessons by Jackie Rogers
Dog sled ride
Mountaintop sunset tour
Lecture by Bob Berman
Guide to the stars by Bob Berman
Fairbanks Cultural Center
Round-trip airfare to Alaska
Items of a personal nature
Meals that are not included above
Per person, based on double occupancy: $1,469
Single supplement: $430
Per person, deposit required upon registration: $400
2-Day Anchorage Extension
March 6: Meet to go to the airport for a charter plane to Anchorage. If the weather is clear, you will see one of the most magnificent sights in the world—a close-up view of Mt. McKinley. On this flight in 2013, many of the passengers commented that the aurora was great, but Mt. McKinley was absolutely spectacular. Remember, however, that views of Mt. McKinley are subject to the weather.
In Anchorage, we will visit the new Thomas Planetarium for a special show on the northern skies conducted by Bob Berman. The planetarium is located in the magnificent new Anchorage Museum, which includes a large, hands-on exhibit area. Visitors of all ages are invited to play in it, making volcanoes that explode, creating bubbles that completely surround you, learning about the dynamics of moving objects, and a whole lot more.
March 7: A free day in Anchorage to explore this beautiful port city.
March 8: Transfer to the airport for the journey home.
Charter plane (37 passengers)
Per person, based on double occupancy: $520
Single supplement: $94
NOTE: The majority of the Extension expense is not in the Anchorage hotels or activities, but in the charter plane to view Mt. McKinley, which also serves as the transportation from Fairbanks to Anchorage.