This 14-day tour travels from Alaska’s southern coastline to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, through taiga forest and open tundra, past snow-capped mountains and towering glaciers, in search of the state’s wealth of birds, mammals – of which Alaska boasts a greater variety than any other region of the Americas – and other natural history. Highlights are likely to include: travelling along the spectacular Seward Highway in search of Moose, Black Bear or Beluga; a boat trip through the Kenai Fjords National Park; a visit to the dramatic Exit Glacier; looking Spectacled, Steller’s and King Eiders, Sabine’s Gull and Snowy Owl during our stay in Barrow and exploring the spectacular landscapes of Denali National Park in search of Dall Sheep, Grizzly Bear, Gyrfalcon and Willow Ptarmigan. We conclude our tour with two nights in Fairbanks, where we’ll look for Mountain Bluebird, Upland Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Grouse and many more bird species before flying home. For those who wish to stay longer we have plenty of suggestions ranging from searching for Musk Oxen in Nome, Grizzly Bears in Lake Clark or a cruise through Prince William Sound!
Alaska the USA’s 49th state, is vast in every sense! By far and away the largest state of the Union, it spans an astonishing four time zones in astronomical terms (although human government has now rationalised these to two), and contains the highest mountain in North America, some of the most remarkable climatic extremes, and more private aircraft licences than anywhere else in the country! Best of all, its birdlife is both diverse and approachable – from the huge seabird colonies on the coast, to its forest and tundra species further north – and it offers a greater variety of large mammals than any other region of the Americas. These include Black, Grizzly and Polar Bears, plus Grey Wolf, Moose, Dall Sheep and nearly a million Caribou – the most numerous residents! Alaska is also very rich in marine mammals, with Sea Otter, Humpback Whale and the magnificent Orca amongst the many highlights.
This tour explores some of Alaska’s finest wildlife reserves and landscapes – a cross-section of the state’s varied habitats. Our journey will take us from Alaska’s southern coastline to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, through taiga forest and open tundra, and past snow-capped mountains and towering glaciers, in search of the wealth of birds, mammals and other natural history for which this wild land is home.
We begin our holiday, however, with a flight to Anchorage, home to nearly half of Alaska’s 750,000 human inhabitants. The following morning we will head south along the spectacular Seward Highway to the town of Seward itself, the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. Our journey will take us alongside the Alaska Railroad, through a dramatic landscape of rainforest-clad mountains, the tops of which will still be capped in snow. We should see our first large mammals during this drive, such as a herd of Dall Sheep, a Moose or even a Black Bear or Beluga. Our 2-night stay in Seward will give us time to enjoy a boat trip in search of the marine wildlife and glacial scenery of the Kenai Fjords National Park. Sea Otters are abundant here, and both Humpback Whale and Orca are likely, while the rich seas also provide easy fishing for numerous seabirds, amongst them Horned and Tufted Puffins, Marbled, Kittlitz’s and Ancient Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklet.
After visiting the dramatic Exit Glacier, and looking for such birds as Grey Jay and Northern Three-toed Woodpecker, we will return to Anchorage prior to flying north to the shores of the Arctic Ocean for a 2- night stay in Barrow. This may not be Alaska’s most attractive town, but the wildlife certainly makes up for its lack of aesthetic appeal. Caribou, Ringed Seal, Spectacled, Steller’s and King Eiders, Sabine’s Gull, Baird’s Sandpiper and Snowy Owl are amongst the species we hope to see here. If conditions allow, we will also offer an optional tundra buggy tour (not included in the holiday cost) in search of the Polar Bears and Arctic Foxes that sometimes gather to feast on leftovers from the Inuit whale hunts.
After returning to Anchorage, we will next drive north to Denali National Park, Alaska’s most famous wildlife reserve, and deservedly so. Whatever your wildlife interest – birds, mammals, wild flowers or just outdoor activities – this is a paradise! Grizzly Bear, Grey Wolf, Caribou, Dall Sheep and Hoary Marmot are just some of the mammals we hope to see; Gyr Falcon, Golden Eagle, Willow Ptarmigan, Arctic Warbler and Waxwing are some of the birds; and wild flowers such as Shooting Star and Dwarf Rhododendron complete the scene. During our visit we should also have great views of ‘Denali’ itself (formerly Mount McKinley) if the weather conditions allow. At 6,194 metres this is the highest mountain in North America and, whilst there are many higher peaks in the world, few others are as impressive since Denali rises from a base just 305 metres above sea level. This is the highpoint of our holiday in more sense than one. During our 3-night stay here we will explore both the national park and the scenic Denali Highway.
We conclude our tour with two nights in Fairbanks, from where we will explore the many habitats that surround the city in search of Mountain Bluebird, Upland Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Grouse and many more. An evening walk may even produce a glimpse of the secretive Northern Flying Squirrel. Finally, we must fly home from Fairbanks’ small airport, although there are plenty of extension options available for those wishing to spend more time exploring this vast state. Ideas include wading birds and shaggy Musk Oxen in Nome, Grizzly Bears in Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks or even a wildlife cruise through the sheltered waters of Prince William Sound. Please call for more details.
• Explore the spectacular landscapes of the USA’s 49th State
• Mammals include Black & Grizzly Bears, Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep & Sea Otter
• Take a boat trip into the Kenai Fjords National Park in search of seabirds & cetaceans
• Humpback Whale, Orca & Dall’s Porpoise
• Seabirds include Horned & Tufted Puffins, plus Kittlitz’s & Ancient Murrelets
• Stay for 2-nights in Barrow on the shores of the Arctic Ocean
• Join an optional tundra buggy tour in search of Polar Bears & Arctic Foxes
• View the spectacular snowy peak of ‘Denali’ (Mount McKinley) assuming the weather is clear!
• Drive the Denali Highway in search of birds & mammals
• Led by expert naturalist guides
+32 71 84 54 80
Présente le mardi et vendredi toute la journée
Wed 9th Jun - Tue 22nd Jun 2021 - 9130€
- Flights from London
- Accommodation: We stay in a mixture of comfortable motels, hotels and guesthouses, all rooms with private facilities.
- Food: All breakfasts and lunches are included in the tour cost. Dinners are excluded. Allow approximately £250 for these.
* These tours are operated by Naturetrek (ABTA Y6206) for which Nature et Terroir acts as agent.
“Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays in this brochure are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed in this brochure. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate”
-“It is a condition of joining one of our holidays that you must be insured against medical and personal liability risks, including our 24-hour medical emergency assistance cover. We strongly recommend that you ensure the cancellation cover under your policy insures the full value of your holiday.”
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-Le prix affiché est majoré de 10 euros pour frais bancaires.
-En cas d’inscription à moins de 70 jours de la date de départ, la totalité du montant du bon de commande est dû dès inscription. A plus de 70 jours, un acompte de 30% est dû, le solde étant à verser dans les 70 jours précédents le départ.
Gerald is an experienced naturalist and has spent a good deal of his adult life working as a tour leader on natural history tours, expedition-style travels and environmental and conservation projects. He is a Belgian national, speaks fluent English, and over the last 17 years has travelled the globe in search of birds and animals, visiting over 100 countries on all continents, many of them several times. During the last couple of years, Gerald has concentrated on tour leading and lecturing on expedition ships on all the world's oceans, specialising in the Antarctic and Pacific regions. As a cameraman and scriptwriter he has also worked for Belgian television and produced several natural history films.
NB. Please note that the itinerary below offers our planned programme of excursions. However, adverse weather & other local considerations can necessitate some re-ordering of the programme during the course of the tour, though this will always be done to maximise best use of the time and weather conditions available.
We depart from London’s Heathrow Airport mid-afternoon on our British Airways flight to Anchorage (changing to an Alaskan Airlines aircraft in Seattle), the largest city in Alaska, arriving late evening. On arrival we will transfer to the comfortable Lakefront Hotel for the first night of the tour.
Following a leisurely breakfast, we will drive south along one of Alaska's most scenic roads to the little town of Seward, the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. En route we will stop at the famous Potters Marsh, a wonderful little wetland that teems with waterbirds. Here we can expect to find Red-necked Grebe, (wild) Canada Geese, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Arctic Tern, Violet-green and Tree Swallows, Belted Kingfisher, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and the uncommon Rusty Blackbird. We will also stop along the Turnagain Arm at Beluga Point to scan the waters for its ghostly white namesake, the Beluga Whales. The 'Turnagain Arm' was named after a visit by Captain James Cook who was so alarmed by a tidal bore he witnessed here that he turned his ships around and fled. The surrounding hillsides are also home a healthy population of Dall Sheep. Our journey takes us alongside the Alaska Railroad, through a dramatic landscape of rainforest-clad mountains, the tops of which will still be capped in snow. We will stop frequently to admire the grandeur of the views and explore the surrounding forests and mountain passes in search of birds such as Goshawk, Spruce Grouse, Northern Flicker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Rufous Hummingbird (here at the most northern part of its range, making it the northern-most hummer in the world!), Alder and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Steller’s Jay, Northwestern Crow and Northern Shrike. Mammals to look out for include Black Bear, Moose and Mountain Goat. On arrival into Seward we will check in to the comfortable Breeze Inn for the next 2-nights.
We will spend this morning and early afternoon cruising the waters of the Kenai Fjords National Park, truly one of Alaska’s hidden treasures. Our cruise will take us alongside magnificent glaciers and verdant temperate rainforest, through pristine waters teaming with wildlife and past some of most spectacular scenery Alaska has to offer. It will not be long after we leave Seward marina that we will start to see some of the many different species of auk that breed and fish in the area. These should include Ancient, Marbled and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Horned and Tufted Puffins and we will keep a sharp eye out for species like Cassin’s Auklet and Rhinoceros Auklet, two more southern species that have only a limited distribution in south-western Alaska. Other birds to look out for include Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters, Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, American Black Oystercatcher and Bald Eagle. The Kenai Fjords are also a wonderful place for marine mammals and we need to keep our eyes peeled for Humpback Whales, Orca (Killer Whale), Steller's Sea Lions and the endearing Sea Otter, which are often present here in large numbers. A glance landward may even reveal a Mountain Goat or Moose; a memorable and diverse assemblage of wildlife!
Once back on dry land, we will spend the remaining hours of the day further exploring the forests and bays around Seward before returning to the town for a second night.
We will spend today exploring the extensive spruce forests that surround the Seward Peninsula. By walking a variety of easy trails, including the Resurection Trail, we can expect to see many avian specialties of south-western Alaska including Varied and Swainson's Thrushes, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Grey Jay, Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak, Orange-crowned, Townsend's, Yellowrumped and Wilson's Warblers, Northern Tree-toed and Downy Woodpeckers, Spruce Grouse and Alder Flycatcher. Black Bears and Moose are also common in this area. In the afternoon we will visit the spectacular Exit Glacier, before returning to Anchorage’s Lakefront Hotel late in the afternoon for a further 1 night in the city.
Day 5 - 6
This morning we fly north to Barrow, the northerly-most point in Alaska on the edge of the cold, ice-dotted, waters of the Beaufort Sea. We are now far north of the Arctic Circle in a land of perpetual summer daylight and will spend the next 2 days exploring the surrounding tundra and lakes in search of a wealth of birdlife that breeds in these icy climes. These include Steller's, King and Spectacled Eiders, Baird's, Pectoral and Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Sanderling, Long-billed Dowitcher, Grey and Red-necked Phalaropes, Tundra Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Snowy Owl, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting and Hoary Redpoll. Other species, such as White-rumped, Buff-breasted and Western Sandpipers, Pacific Loon and White-billed Diver (Yellow-billed Loon) are at the very edge of their breeding range and fluctuate in numbers from year to year.
It is worth noting that numbers of some of the above are tied in with Lemming populations and fluctuate enormously from year to year. These small rodents known for their boom and bust cycles are the main food source for many of the birds and animals that live in the Arctic.
Our accommodation in Barrow, the Barrow Airport Inn, is simple but comfortable and located close to the Inupiat Heritage Centre which offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the local Inuit people as well as to purchase their traditional arts and crafts.
NB - You might also like to join an optional Tundra Buggy tour or scenic flight in search of the Polar Bears and
Arctic Foxes which are occasionally attracted to a nearby spit to feast on leftovers from the Inuit whale hunt (not
included in the tour price).
After spending a final morning enjoying the arctic birdlife of Barrow we will return to the airport for the short flight back to Anchorage. Depending on our arrival time (flight timings between Barrow and Anchorage are very weather dependent) we may have the time to take a walk along the waterfront or visit nearby Spenard Lake. At low tide, the mudflats here attract various wading birds including Lesser Yellowlegs, Whimbrel and Semi-palmated Plovers, whilst the freshwater ponds hold Red-necked Grebe, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Blue Heron, Arctic Tern and various ducks. Musk Rats can also be seen on occasion, especially in the evening. We will overnight in Anchorage at the same hotel we stayed in previously.
Denali National Park
We will spend today driving north to Denali National Park, wildlife watching as we go. There are plenty of places to stop enroute including numerous small lakes and marshes home to an abundance of ducks and other waterbirds including Bufflehead, Red-throated Diver, Whistling and Trumpeter Swans and Sandhill Crane. Moose are also plentiful along the highway, many of which will have young (mostly twins) and Caribou and Black Bears are also often seen. As we approached Denali National Park, and given clear weather, we should have great views of Denali itself (formerly Mount McKinley) which, at 6,194 metres, is the highest mountain in North America. There are many higher mountains in the world, but few so impressive, since Denali rises from a base only 350 metres high. Being at such a high latitude, Denali has the widest snow band in the world, rarely spanning less than 4,270 metres of altitude, it is truly an impressive sight and sure to be one of the highlights of the tour.
We will be based for the next 3 nights in the Nordhaven Hotel around 10 miles from the park entrance. We aim to arrive at our accommodation around mid-afternoon and so should have a few hours to head out to explore the northern edge of the park, perhaps walking the Stampede Trail or exploring the mixed forests around the park entrance and visitor centre. Here we can search for such species as Grey Jay, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Whitecrowned Sparrow, White-winged Crossbill, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadee and Spruce Grouse.
Denali National Park
Today we will board one of Denali’s special buses to explore the national park. The bus will take us all the way to Eielson, some 66 miles from the park entrance, passing a wealth of spectacular scenery enroute and a few famous landmarks such as Polychrome and Sable Passes. Before boarding the bus, however, we will spend a little time exploring the visitor centre, an essential introduction to the park, its landscapes and wildlife which includes a large model of the region which your guide will interpret. Denali not only protects one of North America’s most spectacular landscapes – the vastness and grandeur of the scenery here is breathtaking – but is one of the best places on then continent to view large mammals. Species to look out for include Grizzly Bear, Red Fox, Beaver, Porcupine, Dall Sheep, Caribou, and Moose. Sadly, Wolf populations have declined somewhat and, although we do have a chance of finding this elusive canine, they have become more difficult to locate in recent years. Smaller mammals are abundant, however, and include Hoary Marmot, the delightful Collared Pika, Snowshoe Hare, Red Squirrel and Arctic Ground Squirrel. For the very fortunate there is even a remote chance of Wolverine or Lynx! Wild flowers are profuse and spectacular. They include species rare in Britain, such as Mountain Avens and Scotch Asphodel, plus ones unknown here such as Shooting Star, Spider Plant and Dwarf Rhododendron.
Birds are also well represented and by making frequent stops along the way we hope to see White-tailed and Willow Ptarmigans, Gyrfalcon, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Merlin, Great Northern Diver (Common Loon), Buff-bellied Pipit, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Long-tailed Skua, Cliff Swallow, Grey Jay, Varied Thrush, American Robin, Lincoln’s and American Tree Sparrows, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows, Boreal Chickadee and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Denali National Park
This morning we will retrace our steps for a few miles before heading east along the Denali Highway, one of the most scenically spectacular roads in the State! Whilst it is forbidden to take private vehicles into Denali National Park, no such restrictions apply to the Denali Highway and as such we have more flexibility to drive where we want and stop where and when we wish. As we make our way east we will stop frequently to check the many roadside pools and small lakes for breeding Surf, Black and White-winged Scoters, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Little Stint, Bonaparte's Gull, Black-necked Grebe and Upland Sandpiper, while the surrounding scrub holds Grey-cheeked Thrush, Wilson's and Yellow Warblers and Sharp-shinned Hawk. This is also one of the best areas to look for Northern Hawk Owl, although we will probably have to check a few thousand tree-tops if we are going to strike lucky! This is also a wonderful area for mammals and during the day we will be on the lookout for Grizzly Bear, Beaver, Porcupine, Caribou and Moose, all of which are quite common. After a full day enjoying the scenery and wildlife of the Denali Highway we will return to our hotel for a final night.
This morning we will head north to the city of Fairbanks, stopping frequently along the way to admire the scenery or enjoy the wealth of animal and birdlife we are sure to encounter along the way.
On arrival in Fairbanks we will visit its famous Natural Museum. The museum’s research collections – numbering 1.4 million artifacts and specimens – represent millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of Alaska’s cultural traditions, and serves as a valuable resource for research on climate change, genetics, contaminants and other issues facing Alaska and the circumpolar north. We will also visit a reserve on the outskirts of the city. The Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge covers nearly 2,000 acres. It is home to a wide variety of breeding birds ranging from the diminutive Hammond’s Flycatcher to the stately Sandhill Crane. Mammals include Woodchucks, the smaller cousin of the Hoary Marmot, plus Beaver, Muskrat, American Mink, Porcupine, Coyote and Snowshoe Hare. An evening walk may even produce a glimpse of a Northern Flying Squirrel! We have 2 nights in Fairbanks based in the Best Western Chena River hotel.
This morning we will drive north along the Dalton Highway in search of a variety of breeding waders and other species with a more northerly distribution. If the conditions are on our side and we reach the right habitat, we will also explore the mixed spruce and birch forest for the rare Siberian Tit.
Later in the afternoon we will find ourselves in a completely different habitat as we search the abandoned fields for a further suite of species including Sharp-tailed Grouse, Mountain Bluebird, Upland Sandpiper, American Kestrel and Red-tailed (Harlan's) Hawk. Every 4 or 5 years the Snowshoe Hare population ‘booms’, and if we time it right - and enjoy a great deal of good fortune - we do have a chance of finding the rare Canadian Lynx in one of its last strongholds! After a full day exploring the various habitats around Fairbanks we will return to the city for our final night in Alaska.
This morning we must make our way to Fairbanks’ small airport in time for our 0630 hours flight to Seattle from
where we connect with a British Airways flight back to London’s Heathrow Airport.
We are due to arrive back into London's Heathrow Airport around midday.