NORTH AMERICA TRAVEL SERVICE

Alaska

The largest of the US states, Alaska spans an incredible 586,000 square miles. With its myriad of geographical terrains which split the state into 5 distinct regions and the expanse of water encircling over three quarters of the state, Alaska showcases a world of ecosystems just waiting to be discovered.

Follow a pod of giant humpback whales as they breach into the air, watch the spellbinding grizzly bears as they lead their cubs to food and safety, spot puffins, bald eagles, moose, harbour seals and polar bears as they go about their daily rituals. The wilderness boasts a wealth of wildlife indigenous to their Alaskan habitats. Take to the water for a view from a different perspective. Cruises sweep along the inside passage, calling at intricate ports along the way. For a more intrinsic experience, small ship cruising with Cruise West enables guests to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna and offers the option of taking a raft to less accessible destinations accompanied by professional guides knowledgeable in the terrain. Ocean day cruises venture out to Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords and Prince William Sound offering a wonderful glimpse of coastal Alaska with dramatic mountain scenery, tidewater glaciers and the water's abundance of wildlife. For the more adventurous, kayaking and rafting along the thousands of rivers and coastal waters enables exploration of destinations difficult or impossible to access by land.

Ascend into the skies for a bird’s eye view. Helicopters, light aircraft and float planes whisk you into the air across land and sea. Circle magnificent Mount McKinley, fly deep into back country wilderness or land on a glacier and tread where few others have been before. From an hour’s pleasure flight to a full day tour fly fishing in the wilderness, Alaska is an inspirational experience which shouldn’t be missed.

Back on land, a self drive or escorted itinerary are the only ways to truly experience the best of Alaska. Traditionally commencing from Anchorage, this small city is a wonderful introduction to life the Alaskan way. Sitting at the base of the Chugach Mountains, Anchorage is alive with arts, culture and speciality shopping. Leaving the city behind, the scenery is transposed to reveal small villages, rugged landscapes and gigantic national parks.

One of the most famous attractions, Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest mountain. Standing 20,320 feet in the air, Mount McKinley’s magnificence attracts visitors from across the world. Visitors flock to the 6 million acre park, to hike, bike, raft, ski and explore the world's largest protected ecosystem, home to 750 species of flowering plant, 39 types of mammal and 165 bird species.

Take a sternwheeler cruise from Fairbanks, try dog sledding or how about testing your luck panning for gold? Bathe in the naturally heated waters at Cheena Hot Springs, drive into Wrangell St. Elias National Park, North America’s largest national park, which is 6 times the size of Yellowstone, or explore the historic mining town of Kennicott. Sail out of the seaside village of Valdez on a sightseeing cruise to Prince William Sound or Columbia Glacier. No visit to this enchanting destination is complete without exploring Seward, Kenai, Homer, Girdwood and of course, Kodiak Island. The Kenai Peninsula boasts spectacular scenery and idyllic seaside villages but primarily is renowned as a natural habitat for Alaska’s abundant population of marine wildlife and birds.

From a relaxing retreat to intrepid wilderness exploration, from small ship cruising to a soft adventure, whatever way you choose to appreciate this stunning destination, you can be assured that one visit is never enough!

 

Our Top Tips

1. From Girdwood, take an Alpine Air helicopter sightseeing trip over the Chugach Mountain range and land on a glacier.

2. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Centre in Seward. It's a marine mammal rehabilitation facility where you'll view sea-birds, octopus and sea lions and learn about the work of the centre’s ocean scientists.

3. Take a day cruise on Kenai Fjords National Park to view the magnificent glaciers and abundant wildlife.

4. Alaska is mecca for fishermen worldwide. Try your hand at fly, salt or freshwater fishing and even ice-fishing.

5. If you are looking for a beautifully scenic way of getting between Alaska and The Yukon, try the White Pass & Yukon rail journey. Renowned as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, the breath-taking panoramas of mountains, gorges, waterfalls and historic points drift by. This is scenery you can only view by rail as it’s not accessible by road!

6. Take a float plane ride from Anchorage to Kodiak Island to see the owners of the island, the half ton Brown Bear!

7. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks is between November and April. It’s darkest during these months so the viewing is better.

8. Make sure you visit Denali National Park. Private vehicles aren't allowed in the park so either take a day excursion or, better still, stay in one of the lodges within the park.

 

Winner of ‘Top Tour Operator to the USA & Canada 2012’ voted by readers of Selling Long Haul magazine.

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