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Alaska - Gateway to the Arctic
The ultimate boreal wildlife experience
Alaska Wildlife Expedition
Denali National Park, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Katmai National Park, Juneau and Glacier Bay NP
Jun 23 - Jul 02
2012
Long before its purchase by the U.S. from Russia in 1867, the Eskimo-Aleut peoples had bequeathed a name to this land that was representative of the natural treasures it possessed - Alaska, or "Alyeska" in the native tongue, means "great land." Alaska's coastline is longer that all the U.S. states combined and is home to a myriad of wildlife that is as diverse as it is abundant. On this trip, we will play witness to an exposition of some of North America's most majestic mammals including Brown Bear, Moose, Caribou, Orca, Humpback Whale, and Sea Otter. Thousands of bird species also inhabit Alaska, including Osprey, Sandhill Crane, Canada Goose, American Dipper and Harlequin Duck, just to name a few, but perhaps the most awesome and sought after is the iconic American Bald Eagle. Join WANT Expeditions on this incredible tour of Alaska where we will journey to see the best of what the United States has to offer, including two days at the world famous Brooks Falls where Brown Bears fish for salmon. For an even more in-depth and exciting experience combine this with our Aleutian Islands Extension. Click on the link below for more information on that excursion.
Popular combinations: Aleutian Islands Wildlife Cruise
Detailed itinerary:
Jun 23 Arrival at Juneau
  Our first day is dedicated to our arrivals from around the world. You are welcome to reach Juneau on any flight you like throughout the entire day. (Though, to make sure you don’t miss our Welcome activities, it is recommended you arrive latest by 5pm.) Upon arrival, you will be met by your WANT Expeditions’ representative and transferred to our accommodation in downtown Juneau. For those of you arriving in the morning and/or early afternoon, we suggest exploring the town of Juneau on foot – everything is within minutes from our hotel, including the port, with fantastic views over the rugged shorelines. Our official program begins this evening at 7:00pm with a Welcome Orientation by your Tour Leader, then a great Welcome Dinner in the dining area of our hotel. Just a little over 100 years ago, the same rugged shorelines and thick forests met prospectors arriving in Southeast Alaska, just as it does us today. The landscape has remained little changed as tumbling waterfalls cascade across nearly vertical faces of imposing mountains. Juneau lies nestled between the steep, forested flanks of Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts. Initially the town was called Harrisburg and then Rockwell. Finally in 1881 the miners met to officially rename the town Juneau (after Joe Juneau). A post office was established and the name has stuck ever since. In 1906, after the decline of whaling and the fur trade, the Capitol of Alaska, Sitka, became less important and the Capitol was moved to Juneau. Juneau is unique in that it can only be accessed by air or water.
  Accommodation: the best and most famous hotel in downtown Juneau
Jun 24 Juneau/Glacier Bay National Park
  After an early breakfast, we take our belongings, check out form our hotel and drive to Juneau’s most famous local attraction: the giant Mendenhall Glacier. We spend nearly 2 hrs enjoying, exploring and photographing the majestic glacier in the soft morning lights, before we have to pull up at the nearby airport for our flight to Gustavus. Spread across a large plain created by receding glaciers, Gustavus is an oasis of humanity surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park. It is also located adjacent to the Tongass National Forest and offers 360-degree views of snow-capped mountains. In summer, wildflowers bloom in the fields and rain-kissed vegetables grow in local gardens. The Salmon River meanders through town, where occasional visitors include moose, eagles and maybe a bear or two. The wild and sparsely populated roads, beaches, and waters of Gustavus invite individual exploration and relaxation. Once in Gustavus, we take a short transfer to the local dock and board our small whale-watching vessel for a fantastic afternoon tour into the land of whales. We'll keep our fingers crossed for breaching humpback whales (this is on of the best places in the world for such a wildlife phenomenon), bald eagles, Steller sea lions, seals, sea otters, Orcas and many species of birds. Our on board naturalist will give us an understanding of these wild animals and their unique environment. At the end of our 4 hrs whale cruise, we drive into Glacier Bay NP, check in at our accommodation, proceed for an early dinner, and then hit the beautiful forest trails around the lodge in search of additional wildlife, and the many great opportunities for forest detail photography. Tomorrow will be an exciting day with plenty of photographic opportunities, so don’t forget to charge your camera batteries and download your memory cards!
  Accommodation: the wildlife lodge in the national park
Jun 25 Glacier Bay National Park
  At 6:30am we all meet for breakfast, then at 7:30am we board a sightseeing vessel right from our lodge and depart on a breathtaking Glacier Bay cruise. We will spend the entire day exploring this icy wonderland aboard our high-speed catamaran. A National Park Service Ranger who will provide narration on the wildlife and history of the Park will accompany us. This will be a great opportunity to ask any and all questions you have wanted to know about the park. En route traversing the 60-mile bay, we also have a chance to see some of the nine active tidewater glaciers. We’ll keep our cameras handy in case one of them decides to calve... an experience we won't soon forget! We also have a great opportunity to see any number of sea life, including whales, otters, eagles, and sea lions. After our cruise, we have a relatively early dinner at our lodge, followed by yet another one of those lovely walks on the many forest trails in the bay area. At this time of the year, we have almost unlimited daylight available for exploration, so it is up to us how long we wanted to stay and enjoy our walks.
  Accommodation: the wildlife lodge in the national park
Jun 26 Glacier Bay NP/Fairbanks
  After another optional morning walk on the forest trails, we all take a relatively early breakfast and transfer to Gustavus to catch our small plane that will take us back to Juneau over the fjords and mountain ranges. Once at Juneau airport, we check in for our flight to Fairbanks and arrive on the other side just before noon. From the airport in Fairbanks, we drive directly to a lovely place for lunch, before we check in at our hotel and refresh ourselves for an afternoon exploration of the city. Fairbanks is situated in the heart of the Tanana Valley and combines modern amenities with a frontier atmosphere. Commonly referred to as the “Gateway to the Arctic,” the city has a long and colorful history dating back to the late 1800’s and the discovery of gold. There is a small downtown area with shopping, and there are a variety of attractions found in the general Fairbanks area. Fairbanks has the widest temperature spread of any city on earth, from –55C in the winter to +38C in the summer. Fairbanks is also home to the 800-mile Trans-Alaska pipeline, which carries crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez – a local attraction that we will visit just outside of town. Golden Heart Park is located in the center of downtown Fairbanks, and is the site of the 18-foot bronze monument -“Unknown First Family”. The statue and park were dedicated in July 1986 to celebrate the history and heritage of Fairbanks. Also, just minutes from downtown Fairbanks is the Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary - a 75-acre refuge that is home to over 100 bird species. But before we would explore all the above attractions, first we will visit the Museum of the North (a fantastic art and wildlife collection by the University of Alaska), as well as the wildlife-breeding center of the University. Later this evening, we gather for a typical Alaskan dinner at a famous local restaurant and then head back to our accommodation for a good night’s rest.
  Accommodation: comfortable downtown city hotel
Jun 27 Fairbanks/Denali National Park
  This morning we will have a chance to take another early morning walk in the downtown area, to catch some additional images in the soft morning lights, before we have our breakfast at the hotel, check out and begin our drive southbound. Our destination today is the famous Denali NP, named after the highest mountain peak in all of North America! Denali lies in the heart of a curved mountain chain about 600 miles long, the Alaska Range. The centerpiece of these mountains is Mt. McKinley, the tallest peak in North America. At 20,320 feet, "Denali" means "the high one" in a local Athabascan dialect but officially the mountain is still called Mt. McKinley after a former senator (later President), William McKinley. Denali National Park is one of North America’s best locations to view an incredible array of wildlife including the ‘big five’ (caribou, moose, Dall sheep, wolf & grizzly bears) in a spectacular setting. Upon arrival, we have lunch at a local restaurant near the park’s entrance, before we board our game viewing national park vehicle for a 6 hrs afternoon game drive in the park. At a slow driving pace, we will make our way as deep into the park as the roads allow this afternoon, stopping an enjoying any and all wildlife sightings we may come across, as well as the hopefully wide open and sunny views of this majestic mountain range! At the end of our road lies Kanthishna, where one of the earliest pioneer gold rush settlements once stood. Today, this is the location for a wonderful wildlife lodge, where we have a nice evening meal after check in, and where we will be able to take a walk in the surrounding valley and forest trails after our early dinner.
  Accommodation: best wildlife lodge in the area
Jun 28 Denali National Park/Seward
  After a very early breakfast this morning, we will board our national park game drive vehicle once again and participate in another 6 hrs drive, all the way back to the national park headquarters and main gates. En route, we hope to see many of the park’s large mammals and some of its unique bird species, as well as clear and amazing views on Mt. McKinley. Mid-morning tea, coffee and biscuits will be served en-route, and at the park gate, another lovely lunch will await us. Once we have taken care of our culinary needs, we exchange to our private transfer vehicle and continue our drive further south – all the way to the scenic Kenai Peninsula. However, first we will have to stop at several roadside viewpoints, to photograph ‘the big one’ from all different angles. Along the way, we drive through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, which is considered one of the most important agricultural areas in Alaska. The valley is rimmed by three major mountain ranges: the Alaska Range, the Talkeetna and the Chugach Mountains. There is also a small town called Talkeetna along they way, where we quickly stop for some delicious ice cream and another great view of ‘The Mountain’. Talkeetna is also the main staging area for climbers waiting to start their Mt. McKinley ascent. Next, during a stop in Wasilla, we will learn about the “Greatest Race on Earth” otherwise known as The Iditarod. At the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race headquarters an employee will tell all about the race that spans over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. During the Iditarod, mushers and their dog teams navigate through jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast. And all of this often occurs through blinding snowstorms. From Wasilla, we move on to Anchorage, which we pass late in the afternoon and drive another couple of hours all the way to Seward. En route, we will keep our eyes open for the elusive Mountain Goats. In Seward, we check in at out lovely lodge (expect a long day and a late check in this evening!) and proceed for dinner, before we save ourselves for yet another exciting day in Alaska.
  Accommodation: best wildlife lodge in the area
Jun 29 Kenai Fjords National Park
  After an early breakfast this morning, we take a short drive to Exit Glacier (one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska), where we can witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape and learn how plant life reclaims the barren rocky land exposed by a glacier’s retreat. Once we've thoroughly explored this area, we drive back to downtown and pay a visit to the Alaska Sea Life Center, a research and rehabilitation facility that focuses on marine mammals, seabirds and fish species of the Northern Pacific. We will spend two hours exploring the many aquariums, mammal and bird collections, as well as the educative, interpretive displays. At 11 in the morning, we will leave the center and drive a couple of blocks to the dock area, where we board a sightseeing vessel to cruise through the wildlife-rich and glacier-filled waters of Kenai Fjords National Park. This six-hour journey takes you to the face of a tidewater glacier where we might see large chunks of ice ‘calving’ into the sea. Some of the wildlife that we are likely to encounter is sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals and marine birds. A deli-style lunch will be served on-board our vessel. Then, after our spectacular cruise, we will have the remainder of the evening free to explore Seward. Seward has a bustling harbor and historic downtown district filled with quaint shops and art galleries, and has been voted an "All American City" three times. We will also have the chance to enjoy dinner together in the harbor area, before we drive back to our lodge for the night.
  Accommodation: best wildlife lodge in the area
Jun 30 Kenai Fjords NP/Brooks Falls
  Today we have to get up early in the morning, but the rewards will be absolutely satisfying, since we are going to spend the next two days at one of the world’s most incredible wildlife spectacles: brown bears fishing for salmon in the waterfalls at Brooks Lodge. However, in order for us to fly to King Salmon (the main transport hub on the Katmai Peninsula), first we have to drive all the way back to Anchorage and check in for our short flight. Upon arrival at King Salmon at approximately 9am, we transfer to a seaplane for a short 20-minute scenic flight to Brooks Lodge. Brooks Lodge is located in the heart of Katmai National Park, long known for its excellent fishing, spectacular volcano and beautiful countryside, but more importantly for us, Brooks is widely known for its bear viewing. Each year millions of salmon burst from the Bering Sea into the lakes and streams of Katmai National Park. These fish provide a food source for the world's largest population of brown bears. Upon arrival in Brooks, we'll meet with park service staff for a brief orientation and instructions on how to be safe in bear country. Afterward, we check in our rooms, have a quick lunch, and the rest of the day will be ours to experience independent bear viewing at Brooks Falls, just a short walk from Brooks Lodge, where (from special platforms) we can enjoy unobstructed, up-close views of the bears fishing for their salmon meals. Please remember, due to the bears, we are not allowed to bring food, so leave your granola bears in your room! Following our recap, briefing and dinner, we can enjoy any number of slide shows, films, lectures, or simply the bar, for evening enjoyment at the lodge, or we can head back to the bear platform and stay there as long as we wish.
  Accommodation: Brooks Lodge
Jul 1 Brooks Falls/Anchorage
  Our entire day is at our disposal to further enjoy the amazing Brown Bear sightings around Brooks Lodge! If we so desire, we can be back on the platform as early as 5 in the morning, or can use other trails around the lodge and look for bears walking on the trails or on the lakeshore. When we meet with the park rangers, we'll also check at what time the park naturalist will head out for a long nature walk on the "Valley of 10,000 Smokes" History Tour. The hike is a bit strenuous, but thoroughly educational and enjoyable. It is recommended that we dress in layers so we can layer on or off as exercise and the weather dictate. A raincoat and comfortable walking shoes are a must. However, if the bears are the main attraction for you, you can spend your entire day on the platform and around the lodge, taking thousands upon thousands of bear images, until we get that one perfect shot with the fish jumping into a bear’s mouth, or a bear flying through the air, plunging into the river after a nice piece of fish. All in all, the entire place is ours to enjoy, until an early dinner at 5:30 in the afternoon, after which we will board our small sea plane and fly to King Salmon. After a short transfer and check in, we fly to Anchorage, transfer to our hotel and after a nice and well-deserved shower, we gather for a Farewell Meeting at our hotels conference center.
  Accommodation: comfortable city hotel
Jul 2 Anchorage/departures
  Our last day on this Alaska itinerary is dedicated for our departures. We can leave Anchorage on any flights we may choose – we will be transported to the airport at our required times. Thank you for joining us on this incredible wildlife adventure, have a safe flight home! Those of us continuing on to the rarely visited Aleutian Islands, will board a flight together mid-morning and continue our adventure for another week.
 
Alaska, United States Trip mapCopyright © WantExpeditions

Trip price: in double room: USD 8,335
  in single room: USD 9,165

Trip images:
FairbanksCopyright © WantExpeditions
Native motif in FairbanksCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Gray Wolf in Denali NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Caribou in Denali NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Denali National ParkCopyright © WantExpeditions
Flying to Katmai NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Dining at Brooks LodgeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Hotel guests at Brooks LodgeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Fishing bears at Brooks LodgeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Fishing bears at Brooks LodgeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Fishing bears at Brooks LodgeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Fishing bears at Brooks LodgeCopyright © WantExpeditions
Cruising Kenai NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Cruising Kenai NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Cruising Kenai NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Bald Eagle in Kenai NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Sea Otther at Kenai NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Cruising Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Cruising Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Cruising Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Tufted Puffin at Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Whale watching in Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Whale watching in Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions
Calving glacier at Glacier Bay NPCopyright © WantExpeditions


Trip price: in double room: USD 8,335
  in single room: USD 9,165
Price includes:
· all accomodation
· all meals
· all activities mentioned in the program
· all land transportation
· all airport and local transfers
· all national park fees
· all entrance fees
· all local guiding fees
· international tour leader
· all government taxes and levies
· all domestic flights
· photography education and assistance
· all boat excursions

Price excludes:
· international flights
· travel insurance
· personal expenses at accommodation
· departure taxes at airports
· visa fees
· any other items not mentioned above