Summary : Wind through canals and explore the Tongass backcountry on foot and by kayak. Visit Kiksetti Totem Park and Chief Shakes Tribal House on this adventure-rich cruise.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Dedicated Solo Cabins
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Arriving in Juneau and met with a warm welcome, that’s a good start. You have time to take in a bit of the city once you check in at the hospitality area. But after boarding, grab a glass of bubbly as you push off the dock. Set sail for the Endicott Arm wilderness.
Take an early peek out your window. Fjord cliffs reach skyward. Floating ice. And deep u-shaped valleys. There’s no abracadabra here. Mother Nature’s magic is real. Cruise past harbor seals and their pups lounging on chunks of ice. At the end of Endicott, the blue face of Dawes Glacier is stories high. And in classic fjord form, Tracy Arm delivers with the cotton-candy blue twin Sawyer Glaciers of its furthest reaches. Tides permitting, your skiff driver knows the ropes and guides you along. It’s a mashup of towering walls, temperamental currents, and the Coastal Mountains. So many waterfalls. Mountain goats show off fancy footwork on the cliffs. Look for them.
On-deck stretches jump-start the day. Humpback and orca are frequent visitors of this Southeast passage. A misty spout is a sure sign they’re in the neighborhood. Your captain navigates Stephens Passage to Port Houghton. And you’re in for a boot-sucking, paddle-smacking day of adventure with your guide team. The routes are all picked out. Make your choice and make your move. Slip off the kayak launch and take it slow spotting sea stars and shore birds. Hard chargers take a long wild paddle to the salt chuck at the back of the inlet. Or, hike into the Tongass. It’s a landscape of hanging waterfalls and shades green.
When you come this far, you might as well go all in. This is way back backcountry of Alaska's wilderness. Glacial landscapes marked by moraines, muskegs, and mud. In this playground, it’s all an option today. Kayak and skiff in water almost clear as glass. The mirror image of fjord walls plays on the surface. Hike through the outwash of Baird Glacier. Or keep it green on an interpretive walk through a grassy meadow into the forest. Later, wind into the Wrangell Narrows. Abundant bright red and green navigation lights guide the way. It’s nicknamed “Christmas Tree Lane,” of course.
Native culture and wildlife have gotten along just fine for centuries. Wrangell is one of the oldest towns in Alaska. It’s also the only one ever governed by four nations. The Tlingit culture has deep roots here. And local islanders come aboard this morning with a presentation that brings their stories and legends to life. Venture into town for a view of recently carved totem poles at Kiksetti Totem Park. See how many totems you can pick out on each pole. Step inside famed Chief Shakes Tribal House. Can you feel the history in this historic community house?
Wildlife abounds. Black bears, mink, eagles. In Behm Canal, it’s all remote waterways and the isolated Tongass National Forest. On Cleveland Peninsula, your expedition team leads a low-elevation hike with wide-stretching views. Good opportunities for panoramic shots of Southeast. In the water orca, porpoises, seals, and otters go about their business. Go about yours on a guided paddle in tiny, deserted waterways that feed into Behm Canal.
There are places on the planet that completely overcome you. This is one of them. The beauty. The peace. The sense of place you feel. Misty Fjords National Monument represents nearly every ecosystem found in Southeast Alaska, and that alone is a lot to consider. Glacial valleys filled with sea water. Sheer 3,000-foot cliffs. Seabirds, brown and black bears, mountain goats, Sitka black-tailed deer, all find safe haven here. Kayak in Walker Cove or Rudyerd Bay and you find it’s just as easy to paddle and go, as it is to sit and float and take it all in. Or skiff to the base of a waterfall for a fjord-released shower. The area's affectionate nickname, “The Yosemite of the North,” is deserved, and it’s an amazing wrap to your week. Your captain joins you tonight for a Farewell Dinner. Celebrate and reminisce about your Alaskan journey with a “photo journal” by your crew.
After breakfast this morning, bid adieu to your new pals before you disembark and transfer to the Ketchikan airport.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the itinerary is a guideline and may change in order to maximize wildlife and natural encounters. Variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary (Ketchikan to Juneau): 9/5/2020, 6/13/2021, 7/4/2021, 7/25/2021, 8/15/2021, 5/29/2022, 6/12/2022, 7/3/2022, 7/24/2022, 8/14/2022
Transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark days; shipboard accommodations; kayaking; stand up paddleboarding; gear on loan (yoga mats, hiking poles, and a limited supply of rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; most alcoholic beverages onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; travel protection (recommended); items of a personal nature; some premium alcoholic beverages; optional gratuities; port taxes and fees; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Eric Lindberg, © UnCruise