Birds and Musk Oxen of Nome, Alaska

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Alaska's Seward Peninsula and the surrounding nutrient-rich waters of the Bering Sea have been home to the Iñupiat people for thousands of years. Once, these small groups of subsistence hunters made seasonal encampments along much of Alaska’s northern coast, fishing and hunting the coastal waters for birds and marine mammals, and venturing further inland for caribou and musk oxen.

With the discovery of gold in 1898 on Anvil Creek—where the small city of Nome now stands—life on the peninsula was forever changed as the windswept area experienced its first gold rush population boom. Since then many prospectors, adventurers and scoundrels have come and gone in search of their fortune. At the turn of the 20th century the population of Nome swelled to almost 20,000, making it Alaska’s largest city at the time—five times larger than it is today.

parasitic jaegerWith the ongoing search for gold in the isolated Nome area, the Seward Peninsula saw three major gravel roads constructed into the adjoining Alaskan wilderness. These 200-plus miles of roadways penetrate deep into the surrounding arctic ecosystem allowing modern-day nature photographers excellent access to a wonderful assortment of arctic birds and mammals in habitats not easy to reach in other northern locations.

In Nome the summer arrives quickly and seems to depart even faster. By early June the snows of winter are receding, sea ice has pulled away from the shore, the rivers have thawed, and throngs of migrant birds return from their wintering grounds far to the south. The coast comes alive with shorebirds and waterfowl.

Rafts of common eiders float just offshore of the coast’s dark gravel beaches as arctic terns dip and glide overhead. Ice on lakes and tundra ponds retreats, providing valuable feeding and nesting habitat for ducks, geese and swans. Setting up our cameras along the shore of one of these wetlands provides opportunities to photograph long-tailed ducks, red-necked grebes, and Pacific and red-throated loons in breeding plumage.

Photographing in Nome AlaskaWhile the returning birds are busy and distracted by the onset of the breeding season it is possible for a patient photographer to approach and photograph bar-tailed godwits, whimbrels, red-necked phalaropes, American golden plovers, common snipes and semipalmated sandpipers as they perform their fascinating courtship displays.

Streamside willows and alders now come alive with songbirds just returning for a chance to mate and nest during the short summer season. The area around Nome is one of the best places to find and photograph Eurasian songbirds, such as arctic warblers, bluethroats, yellow wagtails and northern wheatears—found almost nowhere else in the US.

A vast carpet of low-growing tundra stretches from the Bering Sea to the Kigluaik Mountains. As the days warm the tundra bursts forth with colorful summer wildflowers. A macro lens provides a glimpse into the miniature world of arctic poppies, Kamchatka rhododendron and alpine azalea—all while under the watchful eye of a long-tailed jaeger sentinel.

COMBINE THIS TRIP
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This trip can be combined with our Birds of Barrow, Alaska photo tour June 9–16, 2019.

The open tundra ecosystem provides sweeping landscapes of time-worn mountains and misty coastlines sensuously combined with the low-angle light of early summer mornings and quiet evenings to enhance our photographic landscape potential. Some days start with dense and mysterious coastal fog generated by the cold Bering Sea waters, on other days we head to the high country where we pursue one of the north’s most iconic creatures—the musk ox.

Following a series of reintroductions of musk oxen to the Seward Peninsula in the 1970s, the animals now thrive in this rugged environment. Traveling around town or heading out on any of the roads from Nome can provide some iconic photographic opportunities with these wooly denizens of the tundra. If it has been a good winter for the musk ox the photographic rewards include a new batch of the year’s calves. We also search the roadsides and hills for other local inhabitants—red foxes, moose, reindeer, grizzly bears and wolves.

There are always new photographic opportunities waiting to be found on Alaska’s arctic tundra, all under the summer’s long hours of daylight.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Jun 1)
Participants should arrange to fly from home to Anchorage, Alaska, and on to Nome where we meet for dinner. Following dinner we make a short first foray into the rugged landscape of the Seward Peninsula. (D)
 
Nome AlaskaDays 2–6
The roads leading in and out of Nome offer us the chance to photograph along Bering Sea beaches and lagoons. We also take time to explore inland tundra and mountain landscapes. Our flexible schedule gives us time to photograph the light, the land, and the varied arctic wildlife.
 
With a very small group and five full days based in Nome we have the ability to adjust our plans to take advantage of the changing weather and light as we see fit.  The 24 hours of daylight requires some personal adjustment in sleeping schedules! Our typical shooting schedule—influenced by weather conditions and distance needed to drive to a shooting location—has us in the field between 5 AM and 11 AM. We return to town for an early lunch, break for a midday nap, and then eat an early dinner. We are again out in the field between 5 PM and 11 PM.

Because of the early shooting schedule, we may not be in Nome during typical breakfast hours. Breakfast items and snacks are not included in the trip fee, but can be purchased in town during the tour and consumed in your room or carried into the field. 
 
Musk ox Nome AlaskaPhotography of the dawn chorus of songbirds, such as arctic warblers, blue throats, the ever-present common redpoll, and numerous other northern species, is on our agenda. We encounter photogenic willow ptarmigans with plenty of opportunities to photograph these dapper birds, as well as many of the shorebirds that spread out over this expansive tundra breeding habitat. Small tundra ponds become important nesting habitat for intriguing waterfowl, including red-throated and Pacific loons, while almost every little wet area becomes home for other water birds from red-necked phalaropes to long-tailed ducks.
 
As the light changes throughout the day we can spend our time looking for larger species to photograph. Musk oxen are often spotted and can be safely and easily photographed from the road system. Always keeping a keen eye out may turn up a moose and calf along one of the river valleys.  Evenings are always a great chance to get out and photograph wildlife in the long hours of the quiet Alaskan twilight. (LD)
 
Day 7 (Jun 7)
After one more early morning in the field we return to the hotel to gather our belongings and check out in time for the morning flight back to Anchorage. 
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Birds and Musk Oxen of Nome, Alaska

Jun 01, 2019 - Jun 07, 2019


1. REGISTRATION
A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.

2. PAYMENTS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposit only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee


No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

3. TRIP INSURANCE
Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

4. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

5. CONTACT SCHEDULE
Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

6. PHOTO SAFARI COSTS
Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

7. LOGISTICS
Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

8. RESPONSIBILITY
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Birds and Musk Oxen of Nome, Alaska
Highlights
  • Photograph in one of Alaska’s most diverse and accessible arctic environments
  • Experience the height of Alaska’s exuberant bird courtship displays
  • Capture exciting images of wild musk oxen in spring tundra habitat
  • Only one hotel for the entire tour 
 
Jun 01 - Jun 07, 2019
Fee: $4,895 from Nome Alaska*
Deposit: $500
Limit: 7

* The fee does not include breakfasts due to trip logistics. Participants will be responsible for their own breakfast food and snacks to be purchased at the local grocery store.
 
 
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