Alaska 2023. Classic Birding II. Kenai & Utqiagvik (Barrow): The Arctic Circle

The Fjords & the Arctic Circle

June 17 – 23, 2023

Tour Length: 7 days
Est. Spaces Left: Waiting list!

This tour covers two unique habitats in Alaska: Barrow on the Arctic Ocean; and, Kenai Fjords National Park in the Gulf of Alaska. They provide very different views of Alaska and its spectacular coastline.

Tour Leaders

Stephan Lorenz
Claudia Cavazos



Birds, Mammals, Photography


Double Accommodation: $4,950/person
Single Supplement: + $570
Deposit: $750

Max Group Size

14 (2 leaders)


Relaxed; Birding from roads and boats with short walks.

Future Departures

June 17, 2024

Tour Descriptions

Barrow is the northernmost settlement in the United States, located on the edge of the Polar Ice Cap, more than 300 miles above the Arctic Circle. Vast seas of ice extend from Point Barrow another 1,200 miles to the North Pole. From May to August, darkness never falls on Barrow as the golden glow of the midnight sun fills the sky. For birders, High Arctic species are the main attraction here. Snowy Owls are common, Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders are starting their very short breeding seasons in June, while Yellow-billed Loons also breed in the area. We’ll visit the numerous tundra ponds to look for breeding species as well as travel to Point Barrow in hopes of seeing some of the Arctic mammals – Polar Bears are fairly common during May and June. Many shorebirds, resplendent in their breeding plumages, are also possible here, with Buff-breasted, Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers all being regular breeders. Even Asian species such as Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper (both rare breeders) have been seen in Barrow during June, while there is always the chance for an unexpected surprise!

Then we head back to Anchorage and after a night there we make our way south along scenic Turnagain Arm and Cook Inlet, before arriving into the town of Seward. From here we’ll take a boat trip through majestic Kenai Fjords National Park, one of the most spectacular parks in North America. Even just right in town, Bald Eagles are plentiful, and Sea Otters are seen swimming about playfully. Once out in Resurrection Bay and then amid glacial waters, highlights will no doubt be the thousands of alcids, including many murres, Tufted and Horned Puffins and Parakeet and Rhinoceros Auklets, and with luck the sneaky Kittlitz’s Murrelets. We also shall enjoy good chances for Humpback Whales, Killer Whale, Steller’s Sea Lions and even other sea mammals and still other seabirds.



More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Snowy Owl, Pomarine, Parasitic & Long-tailed JaegersSpectacled & Steller’s Eiders, Yellow-billed & Pacific Loons, Buff-breasted, Baird’s & Pectoral Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Bald Eagle, Tufted & Horned Puffins, Parakeet & Rhinoceros Auklets, Kittlitz’s Murrelet (rare), Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-necked & Horned Grebes, Swainson’s Thrushes, Pine Grosbeak, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, “Sooty” Fox Sparrow, Steller’s Jay, Rufous Hummingbird, Pacific Wren

Top Mammals

Polar Bear, Sea Otter, Humpback, Beluga & Killer Whales, Steller’s Sea Lion, Mountain Goat, Dall Porpoise, Black & Brown Bear

Habitats Covered

polar ice pack, pelagic waters, rocky shorelines, boreal forests

Other Attractions

high arctic wilderness, Inupiat culture, history, scenery, wildflowers

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Coast Inn, Anchorage meeting in lobby 6:30 pm for welcome dinner


Comfortable with private baths.


Roundtrip flights: Anchorage to Barrow; Pickup and drop-off at Barrow Airport; All meals from dinner on day 1 to lunch on day 7; Drinking water throughout the tour; All lodgings as per the itinerary; Ground transportation; All taxes and reserve entrance fees; All guiding services; and Tips for local guides and services.


ANY international airfares. Any airfares other than stated above, taxes and visa costs; Alcoholic beverages; Special gratuities (guide & boat tips); and Telephone calls, laundry and items of a personal nature.

Expected Climate

Colder in Barrow, 30 degrees; warmer in Kenai up to 70; can be very cold and wet on the boat

Suggested Clothing and Gear

Valid, current passport (w/ 4 blank pages)
Visa (if required)
Credit cards / cash
Scope and tripod (optional)
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Water bottle
Small umbrella
Small day pack / fanny pack
Small flashlight
Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)
Itch relief cream
Lip screen/balm
Prescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
Hair Dryer
Small alarm clock
Field guides
Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
Hiking Boots/Shoes
Hat with brim/visor
Safari (e.g., Tilly) hat
Rain jacket/wind breaker
Warm hat with visor
Rain hat
Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
Warm winter jacket
Balaclava or full facial ski mask
Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
Glove liners
Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)
Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)
Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)
PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping
Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmth
Sturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots
Moleskin for blisters

Recommended Reading

  • National Geographic Field Guide to The Birds of North America (7th Edition) Jon Dunn, et. al. 2017, National Geographic Society