Most recently made famous as the U.S. State from which Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, Alaska is much more than a tool of foreign policy. In fact, immersing yourself in Alaska’s extraordinary nature and getting to see all the diverse wildlife to which it is home, you would be forgiven for doubting foreign policy, politics, or any other complicated human relationships exist. An Alaskan guided tours is truly about discovering the home of some of the most intriguing and beautiful animals and animal habitats on the planet.
The whales have to be the stars of the show in Alaskan waters. From Belugas, Humpbacks, Minke, and Gray Whales to Killer Whales (as known as Orcas), and whether by small cruise, sea kayak, or boat, this is sure to be some of the most magical wildlife watching imaginable. Marine life tours are often combined with glacier tours, such as in the Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward. Out on the water you can see wildlife phenomena like Humpback Whales ‘bubble-netting’. The whales blow out bubbles, herding small fish into balls, so that they can feed on them. Teeming with wildlife, the waters are home to dolphins and porpoises who make neighbors to their whale companions.
Back on dry (if very lake-filled and snowy) land, Alaska is home not only to Brown Bears (both Grizzlies and Kodiak varieties) and Black Bears, but also to Polar Bears. Black Bears are smaller than their brown counterparts but more widely scattered over Alaska; their excitable curiosity leading them into local towns, camps and garbage bins. Tours by 4×4 through Denali National Park or by seaplane from Anchorage and through lake-filled Katami National Park are some of the best ways to enjoy seeing bears in gorgeous natural habitat.
Perhaps the most thrilling bear sighting would have to be that of the Polar Bear. Polar Bears can be seen in the Kuskokwim Delta and on St. Matthew and St. Lawrence Islands. No longer hunted, but still under threat from global warming, Polar Bears are perhaps the most elusive and thrilling of all Alaskan wildlife.
In the same depths of the treeless arctic tundra and mountains, you can find Caribou or reindeer, out on their migration routes or familiar calving grounds. Caribou can travel up to 50 miles a day once they decide to migrate. They have an in-built compass-like sense of direction, much like birds, which makes it well worth taking an Alaska guided holiday in order to catch up with them, at the same time as enjoying sightings of whales and bears.
The Alaskans have had to come up with some innovative ways to get around their vast, arctic, snow-country. Whether you go by bush plane, sea plane, sea kayak, cruise, 4×4 or snowmobile, it’s not only larger animals to be seen. There’s also the chance to get acquainted with American Dippers, Bald Eagles, Harlequin Ducks, Ospreys, and countless other kinds of birds. The rivers are no less full than the skies, with salmon, pike, trout, and char easily spotted also. These environments make for a sumptuous background to the big names of Alaska – the whales, the bears and the caribou.
Author: Zoe Sutherland is a trainee human rights lawyer. When feeling less serious she sees plays, travels in South America and Europe, enjoys music and good food with friends, and plays guitar (badly) …..@zoe_sutherland
Photo Credit: The whale tale and mountain are our own. The bear photo is courtesy of the The State of Alaska Tourism Information Website. The Reindeer is kindly provided by flickr user peternijenhuis through a creative commons license.
Thanks to Zoe for today’s post. If you’re an adventurous traveler interested in writing for IShouldLogOff, contact us at info [at] ishouldlogoff.com or check our submission guidelines.