2016

Alaska – whales, otters, glaciers, mountains and brown bears

The trip was timed to be in Alaska before the tourist hoards and to provide opportunities to see bears.  It proved difficult to organise with only one travel agent, out of 7 or 8, willing to offer a tailor-made trip, rather than a standard package.

We started with a short cruise from Sitka to Juneau; it was the off-boat activities that made this good.  The scenery was okay, but well below the incredible landscapes that we saw later in the trip.  We were on a small boat that was adventure activity focused and we learnt to kayak.

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Humpback whale at sunset

Whales were a common sight as were sea otters.

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Feeding Sea Otter

After the cruise and an overnight stay in Anchorage, we spent a week on the Kenai Peninsula where we did some long day hikes, rafting and more kayaking (this time close to glaciers).  The glaciers around Seward were far more impressive than those we saw on the cruise, including in Glacier Bay.

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Kenai Penisula

Then we drove from Anchorage and flew to the Wrangle-St Elias NP to see the huge , spectacular and dirty Kennicott Glacier with its many medial moraines.

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Kennicott Glacier

We visited the Kennecott (correct spelling) Copper mine’s 12-14 story wooden crushing and screening facility.  One day was spent walking across the Root Glacier in crampons – a pretty surreal experience in a very weird landscape.

We then drove north to Fairbanks and took a day trip up the Dalton Highway to Coldfoot Camp where it was over 30C when we arrived.  We then drove to Denali NP which was a bit of a disappointment given the hype surrounding it.  It was okay but there are far more interesting places to visit in Alaska.

The flight around Mt Denali and the Ruth Glacier landing was great with good views of the mountain.  We organised the flight from an airfield outside the park.

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Ruth Glacier view

At this stage we had only seen a few brown bears in the distance and one close black bear.  We flew by float plane to Redoubt Bay for the sole purpose of bear viewing.

We were lucky and watched Goldie and her cubs for over an hour as they fed, moved and splashed near some salmon fishermen.

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It was then time for a great holiday to end and to return home.

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