We just finished the logistical prep for the first (of three) exclusive Alaskan photo tours. "We?" you ask.
Oh yes. We.
I'm extremely excited about next year's photo tours. Not only because of the locations we'll be visiting (there's that plural usage again...), but also because of who I am working with!
Albert is one of those guys that exudes passion for all things Alaskan - kind of like myself, but with a tan and a gray beard. Scott knows who I'll get along with - hence the reason that Scott and Albert were my groomsmen a few months ago. Scott initially thought that Albert and I would hit it off, and probably start working together on adventure tours, since our companies shared similar goals and passions. Although Albert's tours are not photographic specific, you'd be hard pressed to find him traveling anywhere without his Nikon gear. Even though he likes to remain very modest about his photographic skills, make no mistake - Albert is a crack shot with a camera.
Albert has been offering small group adventure tours in Alaska since 1998. His tours constantly garner praise from his clients, and his business consistently wins awards from review sites. Hey, don't take my word for it - check out all his reviews on Trip Advisor! Don't worry, I'll be here when you get back.
Back? Ok. As you can tell - Albert is the preeminent Alaskan guide. He's been there, done that, brought his clients back safely, and probably has a t-shirt to prove it. He's who I want to be when I grow up.
If I ever grow up;)
Scott also knows that I am slow to place my trust in potential business collaborators. I've had some rotten luck in the past, so I tend to take my time and really get to know people before considering working with them. Simply put, there's no other adventure guide in Alaska that I would trust my clients around. Albert is the man.
Albert and I sat down several months ago and chatted about what we could do, in photo tour offerings, that could really shake things up. We came up with three requirements:
- Offer locations that are 'off the beaten path'. You can't do a search for photo tours in Alaska without getting dozens of carbon-copy descriptions. They all go to the same spots: Denali, Fairbanks, Seward, Brooks Falls, etc.. We weren't happy to offer tours that were indistinguishable from dozens of other offerings. Our tour participants are special. They deserve special locations. Unique locations.
- Offer all-inclusive tours. So many tour companies offer photo tours to far flung places, then expect you to figure out your own logistics. Basically, you pay them to guide you for a few hours a day, and they make you research and arrange your own lodging, transportation, and meals. That's B.S. - especially for the prices they charge! Especially for a visitor that is new or relatively new to an area. We don't do that. We take care of everything. From the minute the tour starts till we drop you off at the airport, your lodging, meals, and transportation are all taken care of. We chose the best lodges to work with (from personal, 'boots on the ground' experience), the best places to eat (hey, we like to eat, sue us), and arrange the best transportation for every aspect of your tour.
- Offer incredible service. That doesn't stop at being all-inclusive. We want your trip to Alaska to be superbly memorable. That means unfettered access to your guides, and their knowledge. That means customizing every tour to the needs of the individual participants of that tour. That means being fully permitted and licensed (you'd be surprised at how many guides get away with offering tours without proper permitting, or even an Alaskan business license!). That means smiling a lot, and doing the right thing. Every time. That means incredible research, and forethought about our locations. So many people offer tours to locations that they have no experience with. Why would you pay someone to 'guide' you if they had never been there before? That means reacting to unforeseen obstacles with optimism, and making things happen for our clients. Because we know, we can return to these places again - but for many of our clients, this is the trip of a lifetime. We aren't just your guides, we are your fellow travelers. Doesn't your adventure deserve that respect?
With those three facets in mind - we created an incredible (and exclusive) series of photo expeditions for 2014. The first of the tours is finalized, and we are now taking reservations. We are still working on the other two tours, but those should be ready in the next few weeks. I'm going to include a brief description of them as well, just to 'wet your whistle'. At the bottom of this post, you'll find an email form you can submit. If you fill this out, we'll add you to our 'shortlist', and once the other two tours launch - you'll be among the first to know!
Alaskan Northern Lights Photo Expedition - January 25th-February 1st, 2014
We now have limited availability!
The aurora borealis is the greatest show above the planet, and this photo adventure is timed to coincide with this winter’s peak in activity, known as solar maximum. You’ll be staying at a beautiful lodge, far away from any city lights. Treat yourself to excellent food, incredible vistas, and the amazing aurora borealis. Read more about this aurora borealis photo tour, on the expedition page!
Cordova Photography Expedition - early July, 2014
I still can't fathom why I am the only one offering a Cordova-based photo tour in the summer time. No complaints there! That just leaves more for our participants. Cordova is an incredibly beautiful and wonderfully diverse region, in Alaska's eastern Prince William Sound. Glaciers, mountains, moose, and sea life abound! It is a microcosm of Alaska at it's finest. This adventure tour may take you off the beaten path, far from tour buses and large groups of people, but that doesn't mean you'll suffer! You'll enjoy incredible meals at our base camp - a historic cannery, now converted to an adventure lodge, set on the Prince William Sound coast!.
St. George Island Expedition - mid-July, 2014
Everyone going to Alaska's Pribilof Islands for bird photography goes to St. Paul Island. Very few people make the short flight over to St. George. Sure, it's a bit more logistically challenging. But it is soooo worth it! Take a journey to the end of the world, based in the center of the Bering Sea, and just above the Continental Shelf. Millions of sea birds await. Incredible, towering volcanic sea cliffs rise out of the Bering Sea. And vast fields of lupine carpet the landscape.
Whistle wet yet?
I'll announce the availability of the other two tours as soon as they go live, but you can watch this page (on Albert's website) as well.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, by Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.