Alaska Inside Passage - Juneau to Ketchikan
Spirit of Endeavour
Note: This expedition now operates aboard the Safari Endeavour.
Having worked on a fishing boat and at a cannery in the Inside Passage of Alaska in my 'younger' days, I waseager to return for a more nature-based exploration of this memorable area. From my aerial sneak peak of the islands and glaciers to the views from Juneau Harbor as we arrived, I instantly felt the majesty and unique beauty of Alaska once again.
One of the attractive aspects of this trip was the itinerary, covering not only the wonderful natural landscapes and bountiful wildlife but also the towns, culture and history of this unique and largely water-bound region. We set out from Juneau, enjoying the scenery along the way and were able to visit the impressive Mendenhall Glacier. We cut the engines to idle and enjoyed the silence of the wilderness. And, what a thrill to hear that broken only by birdcalls and the sudden the crack and palpable rumble of a calving glacier!
The next morning brought our first town visit to the fascinating and well restored Gold Rush town of Skagway, Alaska. Some folks opted for the guided historical tour while others caught the Whiteriver Rail for some beautiful views and a pleasant journey. In the afternoon, we visited the small and rustic town of Haines, where the options for nature walks and river floats brought some bald eagle, sea lion and moose sightings.
Glacier Bay was a true highlight, with a National Park Ranger on board, we spent a whole day cruising past marvelous old growth forest, glaciers spilling down mountains and unforgettable wildlife, culminating in a half-hour spent watching the antics of two foraging bears on a sandy stretch of beach less than 50 feet away.
My favorite part of the trip was next... Hours well spent watching the beautiful and immense humpback whales in Frederick Sound as they fed while their calves cavorted, breaching and spy-hopping to our enjoyment. This was followed by the marvelous iceberg strewn inlet of Tracy Arm with green trees, and gorgeous waterfalls making for some beautiful photo opportunities.
Culture was not overlooked, and we very much enjoyed the bustling hamlet of Petersburg, with its Norwegian heritage and fishing focus. Not long after, we spent a half day on the island of Metlakatla, home to a community of native Tshimian Indians. After a tour of the town, we ended up in a lovingly maintained traditional long house where we were treated to an authentic, heartfelt and exciting welcome song and dance demonstration.
Misty Fjords was not so misty. We had a great barbeque on deck in gorgeous sunny weather as we sailed this narrow arm, home to many eagles. As we later neared the charming town of Ketchikan, I admired the views and began to immediately feel nostalgic for one of the best trips I'd ever been on. It's good to know that some things never really change, and the Inside Passage of Alaska is one of them!