Escape the cruise ships on an Alaskan adventure that immerses you in wildlife, not crowds. Alaska’s Southeast Panhandle is wilderness on the grandest of scales. Ice-capped mountains, rising 15,000 feet from the sea, are the backdrop for a network of fjords carved by glaciers. The world’s largest temperate rainforest blankets hundreds of islands that dot the Inside Passage, the sheltered saltwater between the open Pacific and the Coast Range. Bears, whales, seals and eagles dominate these environs, where human presence is slight. On foot and at sea, we feel small and insignificant – just as we’d hoped to.
Days 1 & 2: Sitka, Alaska
Arrive in Sitka, the original Russian capital of Alaska. Arguably Alaska’s most beautiful town, Sitka surveys a bay studded with islands in the shadow of a snow-capped volcano. On a boat ride in Sitka Sound we watch for whales, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and bald eagles, before choosing a remote beach to disembark and explore the Tongass National Forest on foot. We also visit the Alaska Raptor Center, which cares for injured birds of prey, and Sitka National Historic Park, with its impressive collection of totem poles.
Day 3: Gustavus / Glacier Bay National Park
We fly over a maze of blue fjords and green islands to Gustavus, Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. Spend the afternoon exploring one of the world’s youngest habitats, created over the last 250 years in the wake of retreating glaciers. Search for wildlife, pick berries from one of the area’s many patches, and hike through temperate rainforest. We overnight at Gustavus Inn, with views over Icy Strait.
Day 4: Glacier Bay National Park
Explore the expanse of Glacier Bay on a trip aboard our private catamaran. No ship offers these intimate perspectives, as we observe Steller sea lions basking on the rocks, and Dall’s porpoise swimming alongside us. We cruise to the face of tidewater glaciers, towering 250 feet above the surface. As we bob before the stark blue walls, we hope to see icebergs calve with a reverberating crash.
Day 5: Kayak with Whales / Juneau
A short boat ride across Icy Strait takes us to Point Adolphus, a nutrient-rich confluence of currents which feeds an abundance of marine life, from tiny barnacles, to sea otters, to orcas and other whales. It is here, from this remote spit of land across from famed Glacier Bay, that our guests can experience the rare thrill of close encounters with the mighty humpback, the most exciting and flamboyant of all whale species. In the shadow of remarkable towering snow-speckled peaks, we take to the water for an easy sea kayak excursion along the coast, allowing us eye-level access to the whales in an intimate manner. This is truly an authentic Alaska nature encounter that very few visitors experience—surely a nature travel thrill of a lifetime! This afternoon, we fly to Juneau, Alaska’s scenic capital.
Day 6: Helicopter Glacier Walkabout / Wrangell
This morning we helicopter over the vast Juneau Icefield. Landing on a glacier, we strap on crampons for an exciting walk on the ice. Our guides lead a safe and easy trek, interpreting the geology and natural history along the way. Return to Juneau this afternoon for our flight to Wrangell.
Day 7: Wrangell / Bears of Anan Wildlife Observatory
Wrangell is the only community in Alaska to have been ruled by four nations: Tlingit, Russia, Britain and United States. We begin today with a native tour of this fascinating island. After lunch, we travel by jet-boat to see the bears of Anan. Disembark and walk through lush green forest to the observatory. From the safety of a large platform situated over the river, we watch both brown and black bears below as they fish the salmon-rich stream. This is a truly magical and off-the-beaten-path destination that few visitors have the chance to experience!
Day 8: Wrangell / Juneau
After our return flight to Juneau, we cap our trip off with a ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway. From sea level, the tram ascends 1,800 feet up the side of a sheer mountain draped in rainforest. On top, there are stupendous views and inviting hiking trails. This evening, we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Day 9: Juneau / Home
Transfer to the airport for flights home today.
Dates and Costs
Jul 19 - 27
Jul 29 - Aug 6
Jul 19 - 27
Jul 29 - Aug 6
Single Supp.: $895
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in US Dollars. 2013 dates and fees may change slightly.
Location of Adventure
Group Size Limit
Approximately 9 travellers
A very important feature of this trip is the limited group size as a guided tour is best experienced with a small group of travellers.
Internal flights, accommodations, all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 9, services of an Expedition Leader and local guides, some gratuities, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, permits and entrance fees, all taxes.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip, 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.
Easy to Moderate / Flexible
The activities on our Southeast Alaska adventure are diverse, from hiking to kayaking to boat excusions. We also have an easy walk on a glacier, which involves wearing crampons (supplied) over regular shoes or boots. Guests should be able to walk at least one mile over uneven, natural ground in order to participate in this trip. Those guests who can hike farther tend to get the most from this adventure. We stress that travellers are not required to participate in every activity.
This trip ventures far afield from the typical Alaska tour. Though we are traveling in Alaska’s southeast, known for its massive cruise ships, our itinerary takes us away from them as much as possible. There are also instances on this adventure where we focus on bears, which, naturally, should be treated with caution. We will also have the chance to kayak in areas where marine mammals may appear close by.
Getting There & Getting Home
This trip begins in Sitka and ends in Juneau. Arrive in Sitka, AK on Day 1 of the program for a 7pm dinner orientation. You are free to depart Juneau, AK anytime on the final day.
We strongly recommend that you let The Independent Traveller arrange your flights.