** June 18 – 21, 2017 ** June 23 – 27, 2017 ** Aug 16 – 20, 2017 **
Our photography tours include a pre-trip orientation and dinner at a local restaurant the night before departure. Since available light conditions and weather will direct our daily activity, this itinerary is far from an exact description, but rather a means to give you a feel for some of the possible places we will visit. Since a year would be too short to try to cover all the photo options available, we will always remain flexible to serendipitous encounters and customize our itinerary as the days and weather unfold. Daily visits to shore will be made for photography as well as shooting from the boat.
Arrive in Anchorage and transfer to your downtown Bed & Breakfast (included) for a comfortable night stay. Accommodations offer convenient access to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Meet your guide Hugh Rose for an evening pre-trip orientation and welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, depart with Hugh via vehicle for a scenic ride along the Turnagain Arm, known for it’s tremendous tidal flats and frequent sightings of Beluga Whales. We will have time to stop for photo opportunities along the way. Continue through the Chugach mountains to rendezvous with the captain and crew in Whittier for a warm welcome abroad the Discovery. While the crew prepares for departure, relax in the Discovery’s cozy salon and enjoy specially prepared appetizers of fresh seafood chowder, salmon or halibut spread with crackers, fresh baked breads, fruits, and a plentiful selection of fine beverages.
Leave Whittier in the early afternoon for Port Nellie Juan, Alaska’s own un-peopled seacoast Yosemite with towering granite mountains, lush rainforest vegetation, countless rivers and waterfalls, and massive thundering glaciers. Upon arrival, the Discovery crew secures a safe anchorage and launches the inflatable “zodiacs” for an “up close” guided exploration of the surrounding shores and colossal tidewater face of the Nellie Juan glacier. Visit with the rich and diverse marine and bird life of Nellie Jaun lake; Harbor Seals, Sea Otters, Arctic Terns, Harlequin Ducks, Surf Scoters, Kittiwakes, and Oystercatchers to name but a few. Step ashore for an “other-worldly” experience of walking about hundreds of huge icebergs, stranded along the lakeside shore by the ebbing tides. Like an outdoor art studio, these sculpted formations exhibit nature’s artistic hand and beautiful forming processes. Return to the Discovery for an exquisite dinner waiting of fresh baked local sockeye salmon, halibut fillet stuffed with crab in cheese sauce, fresh breads, rice pilaf, vegetables, fancy dessert dinner wine and other beverages. Meanwhile the Discovery travels to an evening anchorage in one of the Sound’s many intimate and secluded coves.
Alaska’s constant summer daylight brings morning light rather early, and the early risers will have opportunities to photography the fjord mountain skylines and glacial faces prior to a casual breakfast. Enjoy warm fresh breads, muffins, rolls, fruits, cereals, omelets cooked to your liking, juices and other beverages. Underway in the morning, the Discovery sails through Knight Island Passage and Dangerous Passage towards Icy Bay. Some of the Sound’s most frequent Orca and Humpback Whale sightings are found along this route, keep your eyes peeled for dorsal fins and blow spouts.
At midday the Discovery navigates her way through Icy Bay’s, Nassau Fjord. Several miles of icebergs and brash ice (smaller pieces of glacial ice) lay between the fjord entrance and the massive, calving face of Chenega glacier, named after the local native community of Chenega. The massive 200 square mile Sergeant Ice field funnels ice down a wide mountain valley, forming a one mile long, 200 foot high wall that topples giant blue chunks into the sea. This active tidewater glacier, with its daunting size and mammoth sounds, offer a remarkable opportunity to experience firsthand the tremendous natural forces that move these spectacles of nature.
Hundreds of harbor seals make Icy Bay their summer home, using the floating ice as resting platforms and safe places for birthing. The rocky mountainsides around Chenega glacier support a healthy, frequently visible population of mountain goats; binoculars serve as helpful aids in sighting these skillful mountain climbers. After lunch, the Discovery exits this ice-laden fjord for Bainbridge Passage. Late afternoon and early evening provide opportunities for more Orca and Humpback whale watching. Enjoy a relaxing dinner while the Discovery travels south along Knight Island, into the uncharted narrows of Long Channel for the evening’s anchorage.
Cruising northwest through more “sea pastures” fertile with whale watching opportunities the Discovery cruises toward a noisy and raucous Steller Sea Lion haul-out. These entertaining creatures put on quite a display, some show off their graceful water acrobatics while others roar and bellow, or recline lazily upon the large rocky shore. After a short visit with the sea lions, travel turns westward towards an impressive waterfall, with lunch served along the way.
Those wanting to stretch their legs can take the short zodiac ride ashore for a guided hike through the world’s northern-most temperate rain forest, rich with ferns, mosses, and towering Spruce, Hemlock and Cedar trees. Later in the day travel the remote shores of Eaglek Bay to visit the oyster farm of David Sczawinski. Oyster lovers will enjoy one of the Sound’s most delicious sea products.
Upon leaving Eaglek Bay the Discovery makes a brief stop near one of the many small islands, home to a colony of Tufted Puffins, thought by many visitors to be Alaska’s most adorable seabird. Continuing westward through Wells Passage enjoy appetizers of expertly prepared fresh oysters, dinner of macadamia nut halibut, complimented by vegetables, fresh baked focaccia, dessert, dinner wines and other beverages. Set course northward to the fringes of College Fjord for the evening’s anchorage and midnight sunset views.
Awake to a casual breakfast and an exciting day of some of the world’s most spectacular scenery–corridors of breathtaking beauty, sprawling glaciers and a panoramic skyline of mountain grandeur. Harbor seals hauled out on the flotillas of icebergs watch closely as the Discovery navigates the icy, blue waters of Barry Arm. The enveloping mountains of this inlet stretch skyward to nearly 10,000 feet, with glacier after glacier descending the terraced mountain valleys. Alaska’s lush rainforest vegetation drapes the hillsides in green as streaming waterfalls fall from the rocky cliffs. Listen to the cracks, pops and thunderous roars of the Cascade, Barry and Coxe glaciers while the Discovery, dwarfed by blue and white walls, drifts silently by these actively calving rivers of ice.
Inflatable “zodiacs” provide access to shore to photograph this magnificent area. Touch the impressive face of Coxe glacier, watch the showy Black Oystercatchers strut across the rocky shorelines, sense the presence of the curious Hoary marmots and drink in the bright pinks of fireweed and the intense blues of the alpine lupine.
After lunch, spend time exploring the wonders of Harriman Fjord and Surprise Glacier. Hike along the shore among beached icebergs stranded by the ebbing tide, or possibly an upland hike, offering broad spectacular views of the Chugach mountain range and glacier-valleys. Then the Discovery will explore deeper into the ice filled fjord for a chance to kayak and up to the face of Harriman Glacier. On this journey, you’re entertained by families of playful sea otters foraging the shellfish-rich shallow waters of their favorite feeding ground. As a protected species, these otters exhibit little concern for human presence, instead offering great opportunities for photos and up-close observations. Nature offers few chances to see animals in the wild as “cute” and adorable as these mothers with young pups. Spend the evening anchored in Harriman fjord.
Spend the morning exploring the wonders of Harriman Fjord and Surprise Glacier. Hike along the shore among beached icebergs stranded by the ebbing tide. Or possibly an upland hike, offering broad spectacular views of the Chugach mountain range and glacier-valleys. Enjoy lunch while the Discovery goes deeper into the ice-filled fjord for a chance to kayak and up to the face of Harriman Glacier. On this journey, you’re entertained by families of playful sea otters foraging the shellfish-rich shallow waters of their favorite feeding ground. As a protected species, these otters exhibit little concern for human presence, instead offering great opportunities for photos and up-close observations. Nature offers few chances to see animals in the wild as ‘cute’ and adorable and these mothers with young pups. Enjoy a memorable final dinner on the Discovery while continuing toward the evening’s anchorage.
Awake immersed in a wilderness sanctuary of unparalleled natural beauty. Take in the morning light on the deck of the Discovery while enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea. These spellbinding sights and dramatic sounds leave you humbled and feeling insignificant amidst this powerful living landscape. Relax in the salty ocean breeze and splendor of this special place as we travel south. Lunch will be served while taking in the final sights of Passage Canal prior to docking in the Whittier Harbor and your van transfer to Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage.
Enjoy breakfast this morning at your Bed & Breakfast. Transfer on own to the airport for departures home, or you may choose to extend your stay in Alaska. If you have the time, we recommend seeing Dave Parkhurst’s Northern Lights show at the Performing Arts Center, or a visit to the Museum of Natural History and Art; or, if you have children, you may find a visit to the Alaska Zoo to be fun and informative (the indigenous Alaskan wildlife at the zoo are all rescued animals, taken to captivity only when they could not survive in the wild). Often, there is an outdoor market in downtown Anchorage, featuring Alaskan art and other local goods.
- May 19 - May 23
- June 18 - June 21
- June 23 - June 27
- July 31 - August 5
- July 26 - August 6