Due to its unique size and location, Alaska is very different from other destinations. Below please find some useful information and answers to some commonly-asked questions. For any other questions you may have about visiting or sending your guests to Alaska, please contact us directly at experts@alaskagrouptours.com.

Why should we plan a custom private tour to Alaska?

Custom touring allows you the opportunity to plan a program that meets the specific needs of you or your guests. The itinerary is custom tailored based on specific interests, and the age, activity level, and budget of the various travelers. A private tour ensures that you have the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey while the logistical details are handled by someone else. Simply tell us how much time you wish to spend, what you wish to see and do, and let us take it from there. We will send you a custom tour proposal to get the discussions started, and will continue to work with you in modifying the program until it is perfect!

Will all of the services included in our custom program be private?

While you will have the use of a private vehicle and driver, many of the excursions included in our custom programs are shared with other visitors. Depending on the size of your group there may be opportunities for some services to be reserved on a private, exclusive basis. If exclusivity is important to you and your guests please let us know at the time of your initial request and we can provide additional information and options to enhance your program and make it as private as possible, given Alaska's unique infrastructure and limited access to some of our natural attractions.

When is the best time to visit Alaska?

The best time to visit Alaska depends on your interests. Many services are only available during the summer months from mid-May through mid-September. Summer is the most popular time to visit, with July being the busiest month. The warm weather and long daylight hours allow you to enjoy all that Alaska has to offer. In addition, services at the state and national parks are open, fish are abundant and the bears are out of hibernation. All of the programs listed in our Sample Itinerary and Special Interest Programs are based on summer travel.

From November through March, Alaska is a beautiful, winter wonderland. Prices are lower and, with fewer visitors, the availability is better. There are numerous winter outdoor activities available during these winter months, such as dog sledding, skiing, and the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) viewing. You will also find many unique winter events, such as the Iditarod and the World Ice Art Championships. Regardless of when you visit Alaska, you are sure to have an adventure to remember! We offer some ideas for Winter in Alaska private touring, and can also design something special for you.

When should we begin planning our visit to Alaska?

We recommend planning your visit to Alaska as early as possible to ensure the best availability and options for your program. Some locations, such as the Denali park entrance, have limited space and so it is best to secure rooms for your tour as early as possible. We recommend a minimum of six months in advance but will certainly do our best to accommodate your program up to the last minute if space permits.

What's the weather like?

Weather in Alaska can vary greatly throughout the year from one part of the state to the next. Please see Alaska Weather for more information.

What are the daylight hours?

We have included the average number of daylight hours for various parts of the state throughout the year in our Alaska Weather tab.

What time is it in Alaska?

Alaska has its own time zone — Alaska Time Zone — and participates in daylight savings.

Generally speaking, Alaska is:
10 hours behind most western European countries
4 hours behind the Eastern Time Zone
3 hours behind the Central Time Zone
2 hours behind the Mountain Time Zone
1 hour behind Pacific Time Zone

What are the deposit/payment policies for organizing a private tour?

Specific payment terms will vary depending on the services included with your program. Please refer to our Terms & Conditions for additional information. Remote lodges, charter flights, and buyout options will require stricter terms and this information will be provided along with our initial offer.

Are taxes and fees included?

For each custom tour proposal we prepare all applicable taxes and fees are included.

Where can we go to see bears?

Bears live all over in Alaska and the Yukon and include brown/grizzly bears and black bears. The best chances for seeing bears are in places / areas where bears can consistently find a certain food source. In many reliable bear viewing areas the food source is salmon. Bears come to these areas during the salmon runs, which are not necessarily predictable or entirely consistent from one year to the next. Generally speaking July is the best, most reliable month for bear viewing throughout much of Alaska.

The brown bears living on the coastal areas are also known as coastal brown bears and can get big in size especially after feeding on salmon. Brown bears living in the interior, often called grizzlies, usually do not have fish as a food source and are smaller in size. Black bears can be sighted all over Alaska, in the interior as well as in the coastal areas.

The most accessible way to see black and brown (grizzly) bears is on a bus tour through Denali National Park. However please note that Denali National Park is a big area with only one road leading into the park. So while it is possible to see bears on this tour, it is a rather hit and miss situation that can vary greatly from one day to the next and should never be promoted as a 'bear viewing' excursion.

The majority of bear viewing programs we can recommend for you are day excursions that offer the chance to see coastal brown bears. There are some programs that go to places where bears find all different food sources and stay in pretty much the same area, such as the Katmai Coast. This area is best accessed via small plane from Anchorage, Soldotna, or Homer.

In addition to the time of year your tour is taking place, our specific recommendations for bear viewing will vary depending on the specific size of your tour, as some venues have very limited capacity. Because most bear viewing opportunities require a short flight by small plane, these excursions can also greatly affect the cost of your overall program. In many cases we will provide a 'free' day in a program so that these bear viewing excursions can be offered on an optional basis to help keep the cost of the main program to a minimum.

Please keep in mind that while we will provide the best possible suggestions for bear viewing based on the criteria above, we can NEVER GUARANTEE bear sightings for any program; no matter what time of the summer.

Where can we go to see whales?

Southeast Alaska offers some of the most reliable whale-watching locations in Alaska, including Frederick Sound, Icy Straits/Point Adolphus, and even Lynn Canal, located just outside of Juneau. In Southcentral Alaska, Prince William Sound (accessible from Valdez or Whittier) and Kenai Fjords National Park (accessible from Seward) are both summer feeding grounds for whales, including humpback and orcas. Kenai Fjords National Park offers the most reliable whale watching, with the best opportunities for humpbacks from mid-June through mid-August, and for orcas all summer long.

Can you provide a breakdown of individual prices?

Alaska Private Touring is a packaged tour operator and does not offer a breakdown of individual prices.

Are meals included?

All private tour programs are customized on a case-by-case basis and we can certainly include meals based on your tour size and if your budget allows. Please visit the Custom Tour Meal Options section of our website for additional information.

How much should we tip?

Unless specifically requested, gratuities are not included in our custom proposals, as we believe gratuities should be left to the discretion of the guests based on the actual services received. As a general guideline, however, we recommend the following:

Local Guide:
USD 4-6 per person, per day
Driver: USD 3-5 per person, per day

Please note that in some cases gratuities are required for inclusion by our vendor partners and we will always specify this as an inclusion with our custom proposal.

Do we need a passport?

Because Alaska is part of the United States, a passport is not required for US citizens who are flying from another state to Alaska. However if the program includes travel through Canada via ferry or cruise ship, a passport will be required. All non US citizens will need a passport and possibly other documents to enter Alaska. Alaska Private Touring is not qualified to provide information/details on various requirements. Therefore, we recommend you check with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration when planning your visit.

When and where can we see the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis?

The best time of year to visit Alaska for aurora viewing is during the darker winter months of October through March. We recommend planning your visit around the time of a new moon when the skies are their darkest. The auroras can be seen during a full moon but are more visible when the sky is black. The Northern Lights are most active in the northern regions of the state. Fairbanks is the most common point of entry for viewing the dancing lights and there are several options for evening or overnight aurora viewing excursions from there. Bettles Lodge and Coldfoot are both located above the Arctic Circle and away from city lights, making it possible to see the auroras even on slower activity days. Since any particular night may be cloud covered, thus prohibiting viewing of the Northern Lights, you can increase your chances of seeing the auroras by staying several days in a prime viewing location. Statistics show that you have a 90% chance of seeing the auroras at least once during a 3-night stay in the Fairbanks area.

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