If you have been tuning into BBC1’s Wild Alaska Live in recent weeks you’ve probably already put Alaska on your bucket list. If you haven’t, our run down of the amazing experiences you could have on a cruise to Alaska should do the job.
Let’s start with the bears. They’re everywhere, ambling through pine glades and scooping salmon from rushing rivers and streams with gargantuan paws during the salmon rush each June/July. Coming across bears in Alaska is a common occurrence and for those who love the thrill of the chase, bear hunts in the Spasski River Valley will see you scout them out with the safety of a guide by your side.
Alaska has the whales too; 40-ton humpbacks feed here in their thousands during the summer months, along with orcas and beluga whales. Look up and you might spot one of the 40,000 or so bald eagles found in Alaska, one of more than 300 bird species that call the area home.
With so much of Alaska remaining so remote, buckling up and taking to the skies by float plane provides views you’d never see from land or sea. Drift on the wind high above some of the world’s most glorious scenery, from the Glacier Bay National Park to the vast Denali National Park, home to the highest peak in North America. It is a spine-tingling experience that isn’t forgotten in a hurry.
Feel the fear and do it anyway on a whitewater rafting excursion. The rush of water in your ears, the froth of whitewater rapids and the raging tides that make your knuckles white and your nervous laugh louder prove yet another example of nature’s great power in Alaska. Hold on tight because you’re in for a wild ride on the whitewaters of the Nenana or Mendenhall River. Our pick of the bunch is Mendenhall, the Mendenhall Glacier looming large above as you take on the rushing rapids.
Anyone who fancies a more relaxing approach to cruising Alaska can cast off in some of the most scenic fishing spots to found the world over. Sportfish for salmon, go on the search for King Crab or take a floatplane to the best fly-fishing locations in all Alaska.
Even cat people will fall hard for the Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies here. They are the most intelligent hounds you will ever meet, aside from the still-to-train pups that are there to pull heartstrings more than sleds. Dogs have pulled sleds in Alaska since the early 1700s and you can experience mushing like an Iditarod racer on an Alaska cruise excursion. That’s if you ever make it past the puppies…
Lumberjacks are one for the ladies, all big arms, tight plaid shirts and rugged beards. Jane McDonald was literally swept off her feet at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and though unapologetically a tourist attraction, the experience won’t leave you disappointed, even if you aren’t there for the eye candy. Watch the professional lumberjacks chop, saw, climb and flex those pecs.
The Rocky Mountaineer train journey through the heart of the Canadian Rockies has been described by National Geographic as the ‘World’s Greatest Trip’. Through alpine towns and scenic expanses, past glacial lakes and whitewater rivers, the Rocky Mountaineer shows you the Canadian scenery in five-star style.
The Rocky Mountaineer is the only passenger train transporting guests over the historic Canadian Pacific Highway, Canada’s first trans-continental railway line. Travel to places planes, ships and cars can’t and finally visit gorgeous Lake Louise in Banff, before or after your cruise to Alaska.