- Elisabeth Brentano
THE ENDLESS BEAUTY OF THE ALASKAN COAST
Alaska is one of those places you can never get enough of, and seeing as it’s the largest of the 50 states, there’s always plenty of hidden gems to discover each time you return. After previously traveling through a good portion of the interior, I decided to explore the coast this spring, and from magnificent marine mammals to technicolor sunsets, I was wowed by everything I saw aboard the Safari Endeavor with Uncruise Adventures.
The ever-changing landscapes
From fog dancing in and out of the trees to sparkling chunks of ice floating in the turquoise water, the rugged Alaskan coast is absolutely stunning. The coniferous trees give you a classic Pacific Northwest feel, but the waterfalls, snow capped mountains and glaciers make you realize you’re way out there. There were still patches snow on most of the trails, but there was also plenty of melt, which meant two things: Raging waterfalls and boot-sucking mud! Both of which are equally amazing, because it’s a great reminder that mother nature is the boss. The vegetation along the forest trails glowed under the golden morning light, and just when we thought we were getting a few balmy days in a row, the wild Alaskan weather decided to switch it up. But hey, variety is the spice of life, right? I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The abundance of wildlife
Seeing whales, orcas, mountain goats, bald eagles, porpoises, harbor seals (and a grizzly bear!) thriving in their natural habitat was truly the highlight of this trip. Though it was a bit early in the season for prime whale viewing, we still saw humpbacks almost every other day, and we were lucky enough to spot an orca just after departing from Seattle. We saw so many bald eagles, sea lions and harbor seals we lost count, but catching a peek at a lone brown bear digging for clams along the coast was a truly special moment. At one point, he decided to plop down on a log and take a break, almost as if he was posing just for us. We didn’t see any bears on the trails, and though we stumbled across plenty of wolf scat during our hikes, we never ran into any of the elusive creatures.
Accessibility is everything
Why get on a boat for 12 nights? Because that’s the only way to see some of these magnificent settings, and you certainly don’t feel like you’re stuck. When I wasn’t hiking or kayaking, I was on the deck snapping photos, because there was so much scenery to take in, I felt like I would miss something if I wasn’t out there with my camera. When we entered the Endicott Arm and approached the Dawes Glacier, we were the only boat there, which was not the experience I had when I visited Glacier Bay some years back. We were able to take our zodiac up to what felt like the edge of the glacier, and after sitting there for a few minutes, we watched as a massive chunk calved off into the icy waters below. It produced a massive wave, and I was able to catch the whole event on camera.
When you can’t get outside…
I didn’t take photos of the food on this trip because I was too busy scarfing it down. They say sea lions eat 6% of their body weight in fish every day, and I felt like one after I got off the boat in Juneau. Portions were the perfect size, and everything put in front of us was exceptional. Even with the activities and fitness equipment on board, it’s impossible not to gain a few pounds, so pack some sweatpants, because you’ll want them at the end of the day.
Last but not least…
With presentations about bears, glaciers and even a screening of Paul Nicklen’s TED talk, I felt like I was back in school — but in the best possible way. Whether it was a slideshow in the lounge or a question answered during a walk through the woods, our expedition guides were knowledgable, enthusiastic and passionate about our planet — and what they do. In addition to the scenery and the thrill of seeing wildlife on a daily basis, every individual aboard our vessel helped make this one of the most unique and unforgettable adventures ever.
Here are some of the highlights from our 12 night cruise from Seattle to Juneau: