Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska
Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska. Lodging on this night is not included but we’ll be happy to make arrangements for you at Susitna Place Bed and Breakfast near downtown.
Travel a slice of Alaska from north to south, see the Arctic Plains, Brooks Range, Denali and Lake Clark National Parks, and sail on Prince William Sound. Experience Alaska’s wildlife and scenery traversing the Arctic Plains, Denali and Lake Clark National Parks for brown bears, and cruising Prince William Sound. Moose, grizzly bear, caribou, muskoxen, gray wolf, Arctic fox, and birds from king eiders to bald eagles await you in this rugged frontier land. Journey south from the wide-open tundra of the Arctic Coastal Plains through the Brooks Range and across the Arctic Circle. Visit Denali National Park for wildlife and wildflowers and take an exhilarating scenic flight around the highest mountain in North America. Explore the remote corners of Prince William Sound on a five-day voyage, observing sea otters, harbor seals, whales, puffins, and loons, amidst a spectacular blend of mountain, forest, and glacial scenery.
• Search for Alaska’s iconic wildlife, including moose, grizzly bear, caribou, muskoxen, gray wolf, and Arctic fox.
• Observe coastal brown bears at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, a private reserve within Lake Clark National Park.
• Explore varied scenery from muskox on the tundra to playful sea otters in Prince William Sound.
Itinerary Updated: November 2017
|Jun 15||Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska.|
|Jun 16||Fly from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay, meet Nan, and photograph wildlife under the Midnight Sun.||Hotel in Prudhoe Bay||D|
|Jun 17||Photograph birds and wildlife on the Arctic Coastal Plain.||Hotel in Prudhoe Bay||B, L, D|
|Jun 18 - 19||Travel the Dalton Highway to Wiseman, explore the Brooks Range and around Wiseman.||Arctic Getaway B&B, Wiseman||B, L, D|
|Jun 20 - 21||Continue south to Fairbanks, crossing the Arctic Circle and Yukon River. Free day in Fairbanks.||River’s Edge Resort, Fairbanks||B, L|
|Jun 22||Drive to Denali National Park, explore the Denali Visitor Center, and meet local sled dogs that travel in the winter.||EarthSong Lodge, Healy||B, L, D|
|Jun 23 - 24||Explore Denali National Park, including scenic flight around Mount Denali (weather permitting).||Skyline Lodge, Kantishna||B, L, D|
|Jun 25||Return through Denali National Park and south to Anchorage.||Susitna Place B&B, Anchorage||B, L|
|Jun 26 - 29||Drive to Whittier to board the Discovery for a five-day voyage on Prince William Sound.||Discovery||B, L, D|
|Jun 30||Spend the morning on Prince William Sound then disembark and return to Anchorage.||Susitna Place B&B, Anchorage||B, L|
|Jul 1 - 3||Scenic flight from Anchorage to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, photograph Brown Bears and other wildlife in Lake Clark National Park.||Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, Lake Clark National Park||B, L, D|
|Jul 4||Enjoy more wildlife action then fly back to Anchorage for farewell dinner.||Susitna Place B&B, Anchorage||B, L, D|
|Jul 5||Fly home from Anchorage, Alaska.||B|
Nan is a wildlife biologist who has worked as a professional guide in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska for over 20 years. She currently works as the head naturalist and instructor for the Denali Education Center in Denali National Park when she is not off birding, hiking, canoeing, dog sledding, guiding photographers, or conducting botanical surveys in the wilderness of Alaska. She worked with many photographers throughout her long career, so understands and delivers the elements that make a great photo: proper light, unique composition, and the best positioning to capture wildlife behaviors and beautiful landscapes.
Dean will assist during days aboard the Discovery only. Considered by many to be one of the most knowledgeable mariners in Prince William Sound, Dean's extensive involvement with a broad range of scientific research conducted throughout the sound has provided him with a well-rounded background in the region's natural history. Longtime owner and Captain of the Discovery, Dean is a master shipwright and marine mechanic with more than 40 years of full-time service in the marine trades on the Alaska coast.
Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska. Lodging on this night is not included but we’ll be happy to make arrangements for you at Susitna Place Bed and Breakfast near downtown.
Take the afternoon flight from Anchorage to Deadhorse Airport at Prudhoe Bay. The industrial complex of Deadhorse (consisting of the airport, lodging, and general store) supports the oil industry on the North Slope along the Arctic Ocean. Nan will meet you at the airport upon arrival to begin this amazing Alaskan adventure in what appears, at first glance, an unlikely place to view wildlife. Muskoxen, caribou, gray wolf, Arctic fox, and many spectacular birds make the Arctic Coastal Plain their home during the brief summer season. The oil industry’s presence results in residual heat creating freshwater pools that would otherwise be frozen. These pools are an excellent place for you to spot opportunistic shorebirds and other unusual birds like spectacled and king eiders. You may want to stay out late to photograph in the soft light of the Midnight Sun.
You’ll spend the day searching for birds and mammals on the Arctic Coastal Plain. Pacific, common, and red-throated loons, all in breeding plumage, are regularly seen. King and spectacled eiders, all three species of jaeger, Arctic warbler, and about 130 other species can be found in this birding paradise. Arctic fox and the native red fox are also common visitors. A short drive down the Dalton Highway (which follows the Alaska Pipeline) may afford looks at muskoxen, grizzly bear, caribou, and gray wolf.
You’ll drive the scenic Dalton Highway across the Arctic Coastal Plain and through the Brooks Range searching for wildlife and other photographic opportunities en route to Wiseman. Animals come to the plain to partake of the brief but intense bloom of life and its brilliant carpet of tundra vegetation is an excellent backdrop for photos. Caribou, moose, and muskoxen are often seen browsing on willows and sedges, while predators, such as wolves, fox, snowy owl, and gyrfalcon search for a warm meal.
You’ll ascend the foothills of the Brooks Range and over the Atigun Pass at 5,000 feet, the highest mountain pass in Alaska. Pass through the Koyukuk Valley with craggy peaks of 400-million-year-old limestone. You’ll have time to search for grizzly bear, moose, and lynx in the dense spruce forest.
At the end of the day, you’ll arrive in Wiseman, a historic gold-mining community, that is well worth the time to explore on foot. Many artifacts can be found within a short walk of the lodge. Depending on weather and pilot availability, you may have the option of a scenic flight over the Brooks Range and the wilderness of the Arctic National Park. Cost not included, but Nan will organize it.
You’ll continue south traversing boreal forest and mountain passes of windswept tundra. As you cross the Arctic Circle, we’ll stop for a photo and picnic lunch then continue looking for wildlife in the changing habitats. Further south, we cross the mighty Yukon River and continue through the White Mountains to Spend your free day in Fairbanks experiencing world-class museums (UAF Museum of the North, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, and Pioneer Park), the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center to learn about the cultural and natural history of Interior Alaska, the UAF Large Animal Research Station for close-up views of muskoxen, caribou and reindeer, the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge to photograph sandhill cranes, waterfowl and songbirds, walk aboard a vintage stern-wheeler at Pioneer Park, or shop for native art work housed in a 1939 hand-built log cabin at The Alaska House!
Drive to Denali National Park and enjoy the Denali Visitor Center located at the northeast end of the park before heading to EarthSong Lodge and getting a tour of the working dog kennels of owner Jon Nierenburg. If timing works out, you may be treated to a wonderful slide show presentation from the lodge’s owner, an excellent photographer and dogsledder.
Denali National Park exemplifies Interior Alaska’s character as one of the world’s last great frontiers. Most of the park remains largely wild and unspoiled. It’s an excellent place for viewing wildlife and wildflowers, mammals, and birds. Stony Creek is one of the special areas to explore with 132 species of wildflowers, as well as wheatears, nesting shorebirds, long-tailed jaeger, and other birds.
Depending on the weather, you’ll have the opportunity for a scenic flight around Denali’s impressive peak (cost included). The mountain makes its own weather and is often hidden in clouds, especially in the afternoon. Staying two nights in Kantishna provides excellent opportunities to photograph this majestic mountain and explore the Kantishna side of the park, including Wonder Lake for iconic photos of Denali’s reflection.
You’ll depart early for what will hopefully be more stunning views of Denali and great wildlife experiences traversing back through the park. You’ll travel south to Anchorage through fertile Matanuska Valley farmlands and make a stop at Denali State Park for a chance to photograph the south side of the Alaska Range and Denali from a distance. After checking in at Susitna Place Bed and Breakfast, you’ll have a bit of time to explore downtown Anchorage and enjoy dinner on your own this evening.
You’ll travel to the small port town of Whittier on the western side of Prince William Sound to rendezvous with the Discovery and begin your five-day voyage through breathtaking glacial scenery, blue icebergs, and spectacular marine life. Lush vegetation drapes the hillsides in green as streaming waterfalls cascade down the rocky cliffs. Harbor seals hauled out on the flotillas of icebergs and bald eagles perched atop trees watch as the Discovery navigates the icy, blue waters. You’ll search for marine mammals such as sea otters, often seen sunbathing on icebergs or carrying young on their bellies as they swim. Listen to the cracks, pops, and thunderous roars of calving glaciers while the Discovery drifts silently by these active rivers of ice.
Prince William Sound is surrounded by the northern-most temperate rainforest in the world and many land mammals are also present, though not always easy to spot. You’ll hike on shore among the wildflowers and also kayak for a water-level view of the wonders of the sound. Whale watching will be another exciting and unpredictable experience as many whales, especially humpbacks, are found in the region.
Note: Cheesemans' are members of World Cetacean Alliance and abide by responsible whale watching practices.
You will wake to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery with sprawling glaciers and a panoramic skyline of mountain grandeur. After disembarking, you’ll follow the Turn Again Arm of the Cook Inlet to return to Anchorage. Be sure to keep an eye out for the occasional family of dall sheep on the cliffs above.
From Anchorage, you’ll take a one-hour flight to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, situated on the coast of Cook Inlet within Lake Clark National Park. The scenic, low-level flight will end with a beach or lagoon landing for a unique experience. Silver Salmon Creek Lodge is on 40 acres of private land within the coastal region of the expansive park, offering views of the coast and towering volcanic peaks.
The opportunity to observe concentrations of coastal brown bears in their natural habitat is the primary attraction of this remote wilderness area. Due to their high-protein salmon diet, coastal brown bears are often significantly larger than the interior grizzly bears (both are subspecies of brown bear, Ursus arctos). Most of the time spent here will be observing and photographing the phenomenal bear activity, sometimes even from the deck of your cabin. You’ll look for mothers with cubs as well as larger male bears as they dig for clams at low tide and forage for grass in the meadows. Patches of lupine, wild geranium, and other wildflowers will add a splash of color to your photos. As you move into the habitat of the bear, you may witness seldom-seen behaviors, such as courting, mating, and nursing. Keep your eye out for wolves and other wildlife that inhabit the park as well.
Birding around Silver Salmon Creek Lodge is excellent with an abundance of shorebirds, songbirds, and birds of prey, such as peregrine falcons and northern harriers. Small islands just off the coast host nesting pelagic birds. Horned and tufted puffins, parakeet auklets, murres, eiders, and more are found here during the short Alaskan summer. If time and weather permits, you will make a half day boat voyage to “Bird Island,” a major nesting ground for horned and tufted puffins and common murres with excellent photography opportunities.
You will have the morning for one last bear viewing opportunity and to take in the wildlife and scenery around Silver Salmon Creek before departing for the flight back to Anchorage. Tonight you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together at a local restaurant.
Explore a slice of Alaska—Arctic Plains, Brooks Range, Denali and Lake Clark National Parks, and cruise Prince William Sound.
The Discovery is meticulously fitted to combine comfort and utility with an atmosphere of charm and style. The lower deck includes sleeping accommodations for up to twelve guests in six cabins, plus crew quarters, two bathrooms with hot showers, and stowage space. Guests can readily view and photograph panoramic scenery and marine life from the ship's complete walk-around deck and expansive windows. Unlike the cumbersome cruise ship giants, the Discovery's size enables access to Alaska's lesser-traveled, more intimate inside passages.
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip cost, double occupancy||$12,595|
|Single Supplement||Contact us|
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you are willing to have a roommate, there will be no single supplement charge. Single rooms are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed throughout the safari.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||August 15, 2017||$2,000|
|Final||January 15, 2018||Remaining balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
We cover a lot of territory so expect a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions. Daytime temperatures usually range from 30–70°F (up to the 80’s°F in the south) with nights rarely below freezing. Both rain and snow are possible as are warm, sunny days.
We strive for frequent stops for wildlife viewing, however participants should be comfortable sitting for several hours at a time due to the distances we cover. Our voyage in Prince William Sound will include landings and opportunities to hike on shore, typically no more than a mile or two on varying terrain. Walks and hikes are generally at a slow pace with stops for observation and photography and may be skipped by anyone that is not interested or able. Kayaking is also an option. You must be able to climb up and down a steep, narrow staircase on the boat. At Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, you may walk over a mile each day on flat terrain at a slow pace. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Airfare (except flights listed as included) is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you after registration.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska (ANC) by June 15 for overnight, then fly to Prudhoe Bay (SCC) on the afternoon of June 16. Everyone should book the same afternoon Alaska Air (AS 50) flight from ANC to SCC that departs ANC between 2pm and 3pm on June 16. We will provide specifics in our Trip Materials. Please note: Alaska Air has, on occasion, cancelled this afternoon flight and moved people to the morning flight, so it is important to arrive in Anchorage on June 15 for an overnight (not included), to be sure you get to Prudhoe Bay the next day. For your flights home, depart from Anchorage anytime on July 5, or later if you wish to extend your trip.
Flights we book for you: The roundtrip flights between Anchorage and Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark National Park. The cost of this roundtrip booking is included in the tour cost.
Lodging throughout the safari is very comfortable albeit basic at times. Since we travel to remote locations, we do not have many options, but we have found excellent choices in all locations and will enjoy the rustic Alaskan feel and privacy of our lodges. Some lodges have private baths, however most have shared baths and Skyline Lodge in Kantishna has bathrooms in a separate building a short walk upstairs from our rooms (staying here is well worth it since we are able to travel deep into Denali National Park and see Denali in the morning when it’s more likely to be clear and visible). Each of the Discovery cabins has bunk beds, a small clothing closet, and drawers for your personal belongings. The two shared bathrooms provide complete facilities including a hot shower. See our website for more details about the Discovery, including photos.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.
Travel in our private, custom-designed van, specifically adapted for photography, including windows that open on both sides. There will be seven participants throughout the journey so there is plenty of room for photography in this 12-seater van.
Spend five days and four nights aboard the cozy and comfortable, twelve-passenger Discovery. Additional Discovery guests may join our group for just this Prince William Sound portion of our safari.
Take a scenic roundtrip flight in a small aircraft around Mount Denali and between our stay in Anchorage to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge. We will have additional opportunities for one or two scenic flights in small aircraft while in the Brooks Range (depending on weather and availability).