Summary : While superlatives strive to convey the grandeur of Alaska, they never quite manage to capture the reality. Our Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari does, though. In the company of some of Alaska's top naturalist guides, we take you far afield from the heavily touristed routes and into a genuine Alaskan wilderness adventure: Experience the silent inner heart of Denali, where wolves and grizzlies roam the tundra. Come alongside the face of a calving glacier on a private small-boat cruise. At river’s edge in Katmai, watching giant brown bears fish for salmon. This is Alaska “less discovered”: bigger, wilder and more amazing than you ever imagined. You’ve got to see it for yourself!
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking
Your Alaska nature safari begins in Fairbanks, Alaska's "second city" and capital of the Interior, which retains its frontier flavor with pioneer saloons, paddle wheelers and outlying mining camps.
Today travel south to Denali National Park, which at 6 million acres is larger than the state of Massachusetts and one of the world’s great wilderness preserves. The park's namesake, also known as Mt. McKinley, is the highest peak in North America, towering 20,320 feet over the tundra and taiga below that provides habitat for wolves, grizzlies, moose and caribou. Its Athabascan Indian name — Denali — means "The Great One." From your remote base 90 miles inside the park, enjoy the time and space to encounter authentic wilderness. Hiking, nature walks, biking, fishing and optional flightseeing are available. The climate and environment of Alaska's interior at this latitude is harsh much of the year, and it takes a vast amount of habitat to sustain animals — wildlife encounters thus tend to be fleeting, though always thrilling!
Depart for the park entrance this morning by road this morning, keeping a close eye out for moose, caribou, grizzly bears and other resident wildlife. At midday, board the Alaska Railroad for a classic train journey through Alaska’s rugged interior. Your route through the Alaska Range climbs above tree line over Broad Pass, then descends to follow the Susitna River to historic village of Talkeetna, where you disembark for the night. The rustic town, founded a century ago as the district headquarters for the new railroad, sits at the confluence of three rivers and enjoys a striking panorama of Mt. McKinley and adjacent peaks. An outdoor recreation mecca, the town's economy today thrives on rafting, flightseeing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, and it is also the main base for climbing expeditions to Denali. After dinner there's time to stroll the compact downtown, whose buildings dating to the early 1900s have been designated a National Historic Site.
Leaving Talkeetna, continue south, eventually reaching the coast and following Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and Alyeska Resort, Alaska’s premier ski area, where a host of exciting summer activities is also available. Set in a lush glacial valley in the Chugach Range southeast of Anchorage, Alyeska offers nature and luxury in tandem. Explore the northernmost temperate rain forest in North America that surrounds your deluxe accommodations at the Hotel Alyeska, or choose an optional tram ride to the alpine summit to dine at Seven Glaciers, a 5-star restaurant with vistas of the ice-bound peaks and inlet far below. On Day 6, explore the scenic drama of iceberg-choked Spencer Lake, then take a gentle float trip down the Placer River before returning to Girdwood for the evening.
This morning enjoy a magnificent drive south to the fishing town and port of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Board a boat to Fox Island, a private island on the edge of Kenai Fjords National Park. Your secluded location, which your group enjoys all to yourselves, reveals the pristine side of Alaska most visitors miss. The region is famed for sea kayaking, and an easy paddling excursion late this afternoon is likely to reveal some of the area’s prolific marine life.
Iconic images of Alaska are on display today as you board a private charter boat for a cruise through a realm where the Ice Age still lingers. The small yacht allows you to approach wildlife at intimate range, and Kenai Fjords National Park provides unparalleled opportunities for viewing humpback and orca whales, porpoises, sea otters and a large colony of puffins. Glaciers pour from the jagged mountain heights into the sea, and you may observe icebergs calving with a crash. Following the all-day outing, your boat returns to secluded Fox Island for a final night.
After a final morning to enjoy the wild environs of Fox Island, weave your way back through the fjords to Seward. From here, retrace your route northward, with the mountain ranges of the Kenai Peninsula rising one after another as you traverse Moose Pass and cross some of Alaska's richest salmon rivers. Time permitting, stop at Exit Glacier for a close-up look at this active river of ice. The only portion of Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by road, it is a place where visitors can witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape and see plant life reclaiming the barren rock exposed by a glacier's retreat. Overnight in Anchorage.
Katmai National Park is home to the world’s largest population of brown bears. Fly by small plane this morning to King Salmon, then by floatplane to world-renowned Brooks Lodge, one of the best places to view these giant coastal grizzlies in their natural habitat. From the safety of platforms built over Brooks Falls, observe this iconic wildlife spectacle up close, as the bears fish vigorously for salmon swimming upstream to spawn, sometimes capturing them in their jaws as the fish leap in a streak of silver from the rapids.
After morning activities in Katmai, return to Anchorage. Celebrate your Alaskan adventure at a farewell dinner with your Expedition Leader.
Your Alaska wildlife safari comes to a close today as you transfer to the airport for homeward flights, or ongoing travel for those who have booked extensions.
Departure dates subject to change. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm departure schedule before purchasing air tickets.
Getting There & Getting Home:
Arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Day 1 of the program by 5:00 pm. You are free to depart Anchorage anytime on the final day.
The activities on the Alaska adventure are diverse. Although the longest walk required is two miles (round trip to the falls in Katmai), longer walks and hikes are available for those who choose them. It's stressed that travelers are not required to participate in every activity, but all participants must be able to walk two miles.
Internal flights and train; accommodations; all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 13 (except dinner on Days 5 & 9); bottled water; services of Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff; most gratuities; airport transfers on Day 1 and final day; kayaking at Fox Island; permits and entrance fees; all taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip; dinner on Days 5 & 9; alcoholic beverages; some gratuities; passport and visa fees; optional activities; items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.); airline baggage fees; airport and departure taxes; optional travel insurance.
PHOTOS: © Eric Rock (NHA)