After touching down in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city despite its relatively small population of 300,000, begin your grand adventure by wandering the streets and getting a feel for what it might be like to live here. Check out one of the locals’ favourite restaurants, like Spenard Roadhouse, for the chance to chat with area residents, and to get a taste of the best the city has it offer. It pays homage to the roadhouses that dot the state, but it isn’t just a place to grab a quick bite to eat – it’s a spot you’ll want to sit down and stay a while. Save some room for your welcome dinner in the evening, followed by a restful night at one of Anchorage’s finest accommodations, the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa.
Ovenight: Sheraton Anchorage Hotel
Day 2 & 3
Travelling the Seward Highway in the morning, the 127-mile stretch of road between Anchorage and Seward, you might think you’ve landed in a fairytale. It winds through the spectacular Alaskan wilderness offering dramatic views of the shorelines of Turnagain Arm, the soaring craggy peaks of the Chugach Mountains, countless waterfalls, turquoise-hued glaciers and sparkling lakes. Keep an eye out for the moose, eagles and bears that are often spotted along the way. Once in Seward, Resurrection Bay reveals itself, with its waters frequented by orca whales, humpbacks, porpoises, otters, harbor seals and sea lions.
After this unforgettable drive, you’ll hike the breathtaking trail from Exit Glacier to Harding Icefield, considered one of the most impressive hikes in the entire state. This strenuous trek that runs along the glacier is a Kenai Fjords classic, with dramatic vistas that include the vast seracs and deep crevasses on the glacier. You’ll pass heather-filled meadows, climbing well above the tree line to a lookout over the icefield for views like you’ve never seen before. At the top is a window to past ice ages, with endless snow and ice stretching as far as the eye can see. If the hike is too challenging, you can choose an easier option which will provide a different, yet also beautiful perspective of the glacier. If you still have energy afterwards, visit the Alaska SeaLife Center, an aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue centre where you can see all sorts of creatures, from the adorable puffin to Steller sea lions and giant Pacific octopuses.
After a restful night’s sleep at the lodge, you’ll embark on a full day of wildlife viewing with a cruise on Resurrection Bay and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy a delicious lunch featuring fresh salmon, prime rib or vegetarian options while you hear informative and entertainment commentary about the wildlife you might spot, from puffins and eagles to sea lions, otters, humpback and orca whales, and the local area from your expert guide. You’ll also get up close and personal with two active tidewater glaciers – so close, that you’ll be able to hear their creaking sounds, and watch as chunks of ice plunge into the chilly waters of the bay.
Overnight for two nights: Seward Windsong Lodge, Seward
Day 4 & 5
It’s time to make your way towards Homer, renowned for its rugged coastlines, deep fjords, magnificent mountains, old growth Sitka spruce forests, peaceful beaches and incredible tidal fluctuations. One of the best ways to explore your destination for the next two nights is to paddle across the glistening waters of Kachemak Bay by kayak. You’ll be enveloped by the tranquility while watching for the porpoise and sea otters on the water, gazing up to see the bald eagles that soar overhead. With the snowy mountain peaks and the dense forest as your backdrop, you’ll quickly realise there are few places more extraordinary than this.
The ultimate wilderness experience continues with a premier bear viewing, fly-in experience at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. This spectacularly rugged region offers just about all of the highlights that Alaska is known for in an area that’s less than one percent of the entire state: volcanoes, alpine spires, glaciers, wild rivers, ice fields, and an abundance of wildlife. The dense forests and sweeping tundra are home to herds of caribou and bears, which are drawn to take lakes and streams that are loaded with salmon and trout. As the bears tend to head to the shorelines, where the thousands of salmon spawn in the shallows, it’s easy to spot them enjoying an easy meal. After your 40-minute seaplane flight from Soldotna, you’ll fly over Mount Redoubt just before landing, where a boat will take you around the lake to see these amazing animals.
Overnight for two nights: Land’s End Resort, Homer
Although your tour ends today, you still have lots to look forward to. As you make your way back to Anchorage, you’ll stop at Alyeska for a wilderness walk in the Chugach Mountains along Alaska’s south-central coast, which features a backdrop of towering spruce trees, bald eagles and glaciers. Let the hand trolley pull you across the stream, and then begin your trek at the Alyeska Resort. You may want to ride the gondola, where you’ll discover more awe-inspiring vistas of the snow-capped mountains and wildflowers before moving on to your final stop: Anchorage.
Back in Alaska’s capital, one of the most diverse cities in the nation, there are lots of shops that specialise in authentic Alaska Native artwork. These beautiful handmade works of art offer distinctive reminders of your time in Alaska, with each piece revealing its own rich history, so you may want to pick something up to bring back home as a souvenir before it’s time to return to the airport and end your journey in The Last Frontier.
Please note that the tour does not end until 17.00, so we advise booking a final night hotel in Anchorage, or book a flight departing after 21.00