Summary : Early spring in Sitka brings a frenzy of wildlife activity that is one of Southeast Alaska's best kept secrets. Beginning in March, humpback whales, eagles, Stellar sea lions, and humans alike congregate to enjoy vast concentrations of Pacific herring that migrate into the Sitka Sound area. Many locals prefer this season over any other time of year, with its crisp mornings, lengthening daylight hours, and flora and fauna springing to life. You'll skirt miles of rugged coastline, taking in dramatic mountain views, pristine old growth forest, and the bountiful wildlife that rely on herring as a keystone species. The shallow draft of the Misty Fjord allows passengers an up-close view of stunning estuaries and bays that become spawning grounds for herring while her versatility creates a photographer's dream trip, allowing all aboard to view the abundant wildlife and spectacular vistas of Southeast Alaska. While the specific timing of the herring spawn changes from year to year, guests will enjoy an exclusive and personalized journey in and around the channels and bays of the Sitka Sound area.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking
As with all Misty Fjord itineraries, routes are not strictly defined on this expedition. A knowledgeable local captain and experienced onboard naturalist choose the best activities based on each day’s unique circumstances and guest interests.
On the Alaska’s Spring Wilderness and Wildlife Safari, you’ll skirt miles of rugged coastline, taking in dramatic mountain views, pristine old growth forest, and the bountiful wildlife that rely on herring as a keystone species. The shallow draft of the vessel allows passengers an up-close view of stunning estuaries and bays that become spawning grounds for herring. While the specific timing of the herring spawn changes from year to year, guests are guaranteed an exclusive and personalized journey in and around the channels and bays of the Sitka Sound area. During the days, you may find yourself immersed in whale and other wildlife viewing or on kayak, paddleboard, and hiking excursions. In the evenings, you’ll enjoy exquisite meals featuring fresh Alaska cuisine while anchored in secluded coves. After a decadent dessert, step onto the upper deck to enjoy the sunset, alpenglow, and stars while listening for the faint sounds of nearby humpback whales and the rustle of eagles settling into their nests. Upon setting sail, you’ll immediately be immersed in the unparalleled natural beauty of Sitka Sound. This itinerary truly has something for everyone: jaw-dropping photography opportunities, birding and wildlife viewing, kayak ventures, and even the possibility of witnessing the spirited and competitive commercial herring fishery.
Highlights of this expedition may include:
– Dazzling humpback whale viewing. These gentle giants are famous for their powerful and sometimes synchronized foraging behaviors of breaching, lunging, and bubble net feeding.
– Bays and inlets teeming with herring along with a great variety of additional wildlife including sea otters, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, porpoises, Sitka black tailed deer, brown bear, bald eagles, great blue heron, belted kingfishers, and more.
– An up-close visit to the St. Lazaria Wildlife Refuge, an offshore volcanic island that is home to a variety of seabird species.
– A chance to step ashore on remote beaches dwarfed by the towering canopies of Sitka spruce, yellow cedar, and western hemlock stands.
– Hiking adventures on one or more of the many beautiful trails near Sitka. These trails include maintained paths or boardwalks through rainforest habitats that feature tidelands, waterfalls, muskegs, and old growth forests.
– A visit to the rustic mineral pools at Goddard Hot Springs, where visitors can soak in healing tubs while taking in views of the meadows, tidelands, and islands scattered about Sitka Sound.
Cruise information is subject to change without notice based on navigating conditions. Itinerary subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Transfer from local airport to select hotels in embarkation city on the day prior to sailing; transfer from airport or downtown hotel to ship in embarkation city on the day of sailing; transfer from the ship to downtown hotel or airport on the day of disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; complimentary non-alcoholic beverages; complimentary glass of beer or wine with dinner; select shore excursions as indicated in the itinerary; use of recreational equipment like kayaks; gear on loan (binoculars, rain jacket, rain pants, and boots). Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Airfare; pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations; non-complimentary beer, wine, or alcohol; discretionary gratuities to crew; travel insurance; all taxes and port fees; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © ADC