Summary : Alaska tops many a wildlife photographer's bucket list. From glacier-clad peaks to giant bears, you'll capture incredible images on this Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Photo Safari. Unlike standard big-ship cruises and bus tours, venture deep into the remote parts of Alaska far from the heavily touristed areas that dominate most itineraries. You—and your camera—are positioned at the rail of a private yacht in front of calving glaciers, before a panorama of Denali from a backcountry wilderness lodge, and at river’s edge to capture a salmon leaping from the water into the gaping jaws of a brown bear. Your photo safari reveals Alaska "less discovered": bigger, wilder and more amazing than you ever imagined.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography
Your Alaska photography adventure begins in Fairbanks, Alaska's thriving "second city" that retains its frontier flavor with pioneer saloons, paddlewheelers and mining camps on the edge of town. This evening, meet the rest of your small group and Expedition Leader, who is not just an expert naturalist but an accomplished nature photographer, specializing in Alaska's legendary wildlife.
Denali National Park, larger than the state of Massachusetts, is one of the world’s great wilderness preserves. Denali, which means 'The Great One,' is the native Athabascan name for Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. Its icy summit towers over the tundra and taiga below the provides habitat for grizzlies, wolves, moose and caribou. Every photographer who travels to Alaska wants photos of the elusive mountain, and you're positioned for the best odds of getting them. From your historic lodge base 90 miles inside the park, you are much closer to the peak than most visitors, especially those on organized tours, ever get. Enjoy time and space to encounter and photograph the wilderness, away from hordes of other people. Hiking, nature walks, biking, fishing and optional flightseeing—a must for photographers—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, 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 7, 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. The secluded location, which the 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. Keep your camera handy during paddling breaks to capture possible shots of Steller sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals and black bears wandering ashore.
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 boat allows you to approach wildlife at intimate range, and Kenai Fjords National Park provides unparalleled opportunities for photographing marine life including orcas, Dall's porpoise, a large colony of puffins and myriad other seabirds. Mighty tidewater glaciers grind their way to the sea's edge, and you may be fortunate to capture exciting images of icebergs calving with a huge splash. The water is filled with floating bits of ice, often tinged blue, and you'll be able to get plenty of classic Alaskan shots. Following your all-day outing, your boat returns you to 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.
It's hard to imagine that anything could top all you've experienced so far, but for most wildlife photographers, today is the ultimate highlight of your Alaskan adventure. Katmai National Park is home to the world’s largest population of brown bears, and it takes some effort to get here. Fly by small plane to King Salmon, then by float plane to world-renowned Brooks Lodge, one of the best places to view these coastal grizzlies in their natural habitat. From the safety of platforms built over Brooks Falls, photograph this classic spectacle up close, as the bears fish vigorously for salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Every photographer dreams of that iconic shot, "freezing time" as a salmon leaps from the boiling falls into the waiting jaws of a giant brown bear—and your Expedition Leader is by your side with tips to help you achieve this compelling image!
After one more chance to photograph the fishing bears of Katmai, return to Anchorage arriving in the afternoon. Celebrate your Alaskan adventure at a farewell dinner with your Expedition Leader.
Today, your Alaska photo safari comes to a close. Transfer to the airport for flights home.
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 p.m. 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 14 (except dinner on Days 6 & 10); bottled water; services of Photo Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff; some 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 6 & 10; 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)