Overland Travel Blogs
26Apr 2016
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Alaska – wild and wilder!

There are many reasons why I love Alaska – spectacular scenery, a unique “wild” feel, wide open spaces and great walks/hikes. But one of the biggest drawcards of Alaska for me is the incredible wildlife…

Grizzly bear in Denali National Park

There are many reasons why I love Alaska – spectacular scenery, a unique “wild” feel, wide open spaces and great walks/hikes.  But one of the biggest drawcards of Alaska for me is the incredible wildlife.

Alaska wildlife: Caribou bull in Denali National ParkAlaska is the size of South Africa, Mongolia or Peru, but is home to only around 740,000 people.  In fact there are more caribou (reindeer) than people in Alaska!  With so much wide open space, wildlife flourishes, and there are some fantastic opportunities to see the unique wildlife, often surrounded by mountains, glaciers and beautiful scenery.

 

Here are the top wildlife viewing opportunities on overland tours through Alaska:

Denali National Park

This massive national park is home to Alaska’s highest mountain, Denali (formerly known as Mt McKinley) which sits at 20,310 ft / 6,190m.  It is also home to 39 species of mammals, 169 species of birds and 1 lonely species of amphibian (the wood frog).

When you are exploring Denali, keep an eye out for the “Big 5”: moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves and grizzly bears.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Alaska wildlife: Orca whales in the Kenai FjordsThis park boasts nearly 40 glaciers which flow from the Harding Icefield, as well as an incredible range of sea-life including Steller sea lions, sea otter, Dall’s porpoises, orca (killer) whales, humpback whales, gray whales, mountain goats, bald eagles, puffins and a vast number of seabirds.  Taking a cruise out into the bays is the best way to see the wildlife and glaciers; you can also take a sea kayaking trip where you may just be joined by a curious otter!

Valdez

This town on the coast of the Prince William Sound gained international infamy through the massive oil spill in 1989 which had a terrible effect on this delicate ecosystem, but fortunately the area has recovered and once again offers fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities.  While there is plenty of wildlife on the land too, the real highlight here is to get out on the water on a kayaking trip amongst icebergs, whales, seals, sea lions and seabirds.

Katmai National Park

Alaska wildlife: brown bear fishing for salmonDuring the summer months, from June to September, brown bears congregate around Brooks River to feed on the salmon which travel to the river to spawn.  Thanks to the relative isolation of the park, a trip here is not a cheap optional activity, but it is a unique opportunity to experience this incredible natural spectacle.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." 
Mark Twain

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