Book a trip to Alaska and within no time you will be dreaming of gossamer veils of fog, icebergs stretching out in front of your eyes, flying over glaciers that stretch out for miles in a helicopter, meeting grizzly bears, or hiking on frozen fields of ice. There is truly no dearth of options offered by travel agencies and tour companies in the area – dozens of excursions vie for your attention, as they did ours! But as we found out, some are definitely better than others. Here are five of our favourite experiences from Alaska:
The White Pass and Yukon Rail
The White Pass and Yukon Rail starts in the picturesque town of Skagway and crosses the Canadian border en-route to Yukon. It is often touted as one of the most picturesque train journeys in the world, and with good reason. The railroad was made during the Klondike Gold Rush years and retains much of its original charm. Vintage carriages, fascinating stories about the Gold Rush years, and spectacular scenery make for a great afternoon out. Expect to see tunnels, mountains, waterfalls, cliffs, and the gorgeous Alaskan countryside.
Canoeing by a glacier in Juneau
It’s not every day that you get to stare at a mass of ice so blue that it’s hard to take eyes off it. The Mendenhall Glacier is one such sight! Visitors can go to a viewing point and see the glacier from a platform. But if you want to get truly up close and personal, then opt for a kayaking or canoeing tour and go right to the edge of the glacier!
As you glide on the still water, you can examine the crevices in rock solid ice, the intricate formations, and sharp edges of The Mendenhall Glacier. If you’re lucky, you might even see chunks of ice calving off the glacier. The mass of ice, stretching out in front of your eyes will leave you gobsmacked at the marvels of mother nature.
Flying over glaciers and icebergs in a helicopter
If you have to pick just one excursion during your time in Alaska, make it this! The feeling of boarding a tiny helicopter and flying over entire masses of ice and floating icebergs in glacial lagoons is second to none. Opt for a helihike that drops you on a glacier when you can go for a short hike (under the guidance of experts of course!) before flying back. For sheer spectacle, this excursion can hardly be bettered!
Don’t believe us? See this short video we took from our helicopter in Skagway:
Whale watching in Juneau
If you’ve had enough of excursions in and around landscapes draped with saphire ice, then head into the untamed Alaskan wilderness for a spot of Whale Watching. There are a number of other wildlife excursions available in the area including grizzly bear spottings, but we loved our time spent whale watching in Juneau. In fact we got really lucky and spotted 13 hump-back whales together. What’s more, we got to witness a rare phenomenon known as bubble net feeding, a complex and intricately co-ordinated technique where whales blow bubbles below entire schools of fish, forcing them to come to the surface. This makes it easier for whales to devour thousands of fish all at once. Did you know just one humpback whale can have upto 800 pounds of fish every single day?
As we watched the highly co-ordinated tactics of the whales in front of our eyes, we couldn’t help but feel we’d walked into a National Geographic documentary. I squealed in excitement everytime a whales giant tail swooshed out of the water!
Take a look at just how close you can get to these rare majestic creatures in Alaska:
Floating through Glacier Bay National Park
This is one of those surreal experiences that is made even more special if you are on an Alaskan cruise! Glacier Bay National Park is truly the most wondrous thing we’ve seen on our travels. An ethereal mist hangs low as mountains and glaciers stretch in the distance. In front of your eyes, you will see hundreds of icebergs floating around. The most spectacular vision comes in the form of Margerie glacier. It appears like a wall of ice in the middle of the ocean and it’s easy to imagine the vast Tundra with polar bears that lies beyond it. Truly the edge of the world!
Imagine waking up to this view of the panoramic Margerie from your cabin’s balcony. Crazy eh? If that happens, order room service and have breakfast in your cabin pretty please! 🙂
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