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Alaska

7-Day Glacier Bay Wildlife by Wings - Helicopter & Scenic Air Assisted

Tour:
7 Days
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Alaska

7-Day Glacier Bay Wildlife by Wings - Helicopter & Scenic Air Assisted

Destinations

  • Juneau
  • Mendenhall Glacier
  • Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
  • Gustavus
  • Pleasant Island
  • Glacier Bay National Park
  • Haines
  • Chilkat State Park
  • Tsirku River
  • Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Highlights

As wildlife specialists, we've carefully paired Glacier Bay’s iconic natural wonders with its most sought-after wildlife experiences, led by high-end local naturalist guides:

  • Wildlife focus: Spot brown bears, moose, snowshoe hares, bald and golden eagles, mountain goats, spawning salmon, river otters, ptarmigan, sea lions, seals, Dall porpoises, humpback & minke whales, orcas and more.
  • Exclusive Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter Treck
  • Whale Watching, Salmon Hatchery
  • Gustavus – Glacier Bay Scenic Flight & Pleasure Island Kayaking
  • Glacier Bay day boat – Sail 130 miles through the bay in 7 hours to witness a pristine waterway that was under a river of ice only 250 years ago.
  • Tidewater glaciers and icebergs – See a glacial river of ice hundreds of feet thick and nearly a mile wide and witness the ice calving into the water.
  • Upper Tsirku River Remote Rafting Expedition and Scenic Wildlife Float through the heart of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
  • Haines: Chilkat State Park, Extended Alpine Tundra Hike, and Samuel Glacier

Itinerary at a Glance

  • DAY 1 Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier Trek, Salmon Hatchery, Whale Watching & Wildlife Evening
  • DAY 2 Gustavus – Flight to Gustavus, Pleasant Island Kayaking, Evening Hike
  • DAY 3 Gustavus – Day Boat into Glacier Bay National Park (West Arm)
  • DAY 4 & 5 Haines - Upper Tsirku Rafting
  • DAY 6 Haines - Alpine Tundra Hike
  • DAY 7 Depart - Haines, Scenic Catamaran to Juneau

7-Day Glacier Bay Wildlife by Wings - Helicopter & Scenic Air Assisted

Detailed Itinerary

Day 0 Pre-Trip Arrival Day
Upon your arrival into Juneau, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Once you are settled, you will have free time to enjoy the state capital of Alaska. Your guide will let you know at what time to meet the next day to start your adventure through Alaska and the Yukon.

Dinner Included

DAY 1 Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier Trek, Salmon Hatchery, Whale Watching & Wildlife Evening
After breakfast guests will prepare for an excursion to Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier – a popular attraction, yet while many tourists never venture too far from the visitor’s center, we’ll enjoy a scenic flight onto the glacier by helicopter where guides will lead a fun trek across the ice to explore some of the amazing features found out on the ice. Upon return we’ll enjoy lunch in downtown before heading to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery where local hatchery specialists will answer our questions, explain the hatchery operations, life cycle of the 5 species of salmon native to our waters, and more! The day will conclude with a chartered exploration of the fjord – our vessel will showcase the islands and coves outside Juneau that harbor a diverse ecosystem. A skilled naturalist will provide information throughout the experience, marine wildlife viewing opportunities include; humpback & orca whales, dahl porpoises, and stellar sea lions. Ashore and in the sky, guests are likely to see bald eagles soar overhead or perched in treetops while the coastal brown bear may explore the rocky shorelines. We’ll return to Juneau for dinner and return guests to their lodging.

DAY 2 Gustavus – Flight to Gustavus, Pleasant Island Kayaking, Evening Hike
We’ll catch an early breakfast and depart our lodging for the airport to transfer to Gustavus. A member of our team in Gustavus will meet us at the airport and transport the group to waiting kayaks where we’ll enjoy a scenic paddle out to Pleasant Island. During the paddle guests are encouraged to keep a keen eye for sea otters, porpoises, sea lions, minke whales, orcas, seals and bald eagles. We’ll enjoy lunch with an excellent view of the surrounding waters and extending peninsula past Excursion Inlet which runs north towards Haines. We’ll return to Gustavus in the late afternoon to settle guests into their lodging before an evening walk of the Tlingit Trail – ½ mile one way, this offers nice views of Bartlett Cove, a traditional Tlingit canoe, remains of a whale skeleton, and passes the Huna Tribal house as we exit near the Glacier Bay Visitors Center. Afterwards guests will enjoy dinner before settling in for the evening.

DAY 3 Gustavus – Day Boat into Glacier Bay National Park (West Arm)
We’ll have another early start to board the Glacier Bay Day Boat in Bartlett Cove. From here we sail 130 miles over a 7-hour trip through the illustrious and jaw dropping Glacier Bay. The National Park Ranger aboard the vessel will provide informative commentary on the natural history of the area and highlight some of the local wildlife special to the park’s unique habitat. We’ll sail past several smaller islands bustling with birds and marine mammals -- Tufted and Horned Puffins and the Common Murre nest here, alongside Pelagic Cormorants and Black-legged Kittiwakes. The area is also the best place to see Steller Sea Lions, as their feeding grounds are close! A highlight of the excursion is the lunch stop near the northern end of the West Arm where our vessel will pause for guests to enjoy their meal accompanied by stunning views of the Grand Pacific and Margerie Glaciers. These two towering masses of ice and snow rising 245 feet above the ocean and stretching another 100 feet beneath the water. The ice that calves from the face of the two glaciers is an average of 200 years old. After lunch the vessel will navigate the western edge of the arm making a stop at John Hopkins Inlet for another astonishing look at one of the park’s tidewater glaciers. Returning to Bartlett Cove in the late afternoon, we’ll transfer guests back to their lodging for a short rest before dinner.

DAY 4 Haines - Upper Tsirku Rafting
Following breakfast, a member of our team will transfer guests to the airport where our bush pilot will take us on a short breathtaking flight up the Chilkat Valley towards the headwaters of the Tsirku River. We’ll land along a remote strip near the Le Blondeau glacier where our team will establish a wilderness camp. Depending on group size the morning shuttle may be broken into two departures from lodging to the airport – the flight is around 15 minutes with limited seating allowing only 1-2 guests to fly in per trip, we’ll coordinate timing with the guests to minimize waiting around and allow the latter half more time in comfortable accommodations at their lodging before the flight in. Once everyone has safely landed at the drop off, guides will coordinate a delicious lunch and the opportunity to hike up towards the glacier. This is a remote and seldom traveled section of the valley affording stunning scenery and the opportunity to catch unique wildlife viewing. While unlikely, this is the best chance for guests to see wolves, lynx, and other rare wildlife not observed at popular wildlife viewing areas closer to town. The afternoon is dedicated to spending time exploring the landscape from our wilderness camp before settling in for a gourmet dinner prepared by our river guides.

DAY 5 Haines - Upper Tsirku Rafting
We will have a hot breakfast then we’ll pack up camp and load up the rafts for an exciting descent. The first sections of the river are a bit quicker moving and wind their way sinuously down the glacially carved valley. The valley is narrow in this section, and there are often moose, bears or other wildlife spotted from the raft. As we descend further down the Tsirku, the valley opens up as it joins the Chilkat and Klehini rivers right in the heart of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. This area has abundant Bald Eagles, and as the river opens up, they can be spotting feeding on the plentiful salmon. We typically reach our take out in the late afternoon, and a short drive brings us back to Haines. We’ll get guests settled back into accommodations in town before enjoying a nice dinner.

DAY 6 Haines - Alpine Tundra Hike
Today we will have a challenging full-day adventure on an invigorating hike in the alpine tundra of British Columbia. The drive will take us through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve once more offering additional wildlife viewing opportunity. Nearing the border often delivers a chance to view Trumpeter Swans that nest along the marshlands just before customs. A relative of the Eurasian Whooper Swan, these are the largest waterfowl in North America and often a highlight for any birders in the group. Once across the Canadian border, we gain elevation and travel above tree-line before arriving at our trailhead. The hike will range from 5 to 8 miles and ascend/descend about 500’ of vertical throughout the hike. Along the way, we’ll stop for a picnic lunch with a view. Snacks are provided to keep the energy going for the extended hike. The landscape offers beautiful views, a variety of wildflowers (in season late June through July) and the opportunity to look for mammals inhabiting the tundra. Sighting opportunities for foxes, bear, After our invigorating hike in the alpine tundra, we will return to our vehicle and head back across the U.S. border for the drive back to Haines.

DAY 7 Depart - Haines, Scenic Catamaran to Juneau
We’ll transfer guests from their lodging to the small boat harbor where we’ll board the Fjordland Express. We’ll get much more than just a boat ride. Whale watching comes hand-in-hand with this ferry trip, as our seasoned captains navigate the waters enroute to Juneau to find the most likely places to encounter whales! The Fjordland is great way to see Alaska’s Inside Passage, with a spacious enclosed indoor cabin or open aired back deck to . Some of the wildlife you may encounter besides whales include a stellar sea lion rookery, harbor seals, nesting bald eagles, and porpoises. While sailing, you will be able to enjoy the majestic mountains, waterfalls, and glaciers. Guests will arrive in Juneau midafternoon and may catch a connection out of Juneau for home or spend an additional night in town (lodging can be arranged by us for an additional cost if preferred).

Weather delays and associated considerations: Wild Planet Adventures may change the scheduled itinerary due to weather, conditions, or operational conflicts. If, for any reason, one of the schedule itinerary elements is unable to operate as planned, we will implement alternate tour programming which may involve alternate locations and/or different activities.

 

Alaska Lodging

Juneau

Baranof Hotel Juneau

Centrally located in downtown Juneau, the historic Baranof Hotel, BW Signature Collection was built in 1939 and stands out among all hotels in Alaska’s state capital. Just steps from Juneau’s waterfront, cruise ship docks, boutique shopping, the State Capitol building and government offices, the Baranof Hotel, BW Signature Collection offers premier accommodations for the business or leisure traveler.

Four Points by Sheraton Juneau

Four Points by Sheraton Juneau offers modern comfort in the historic downtown district of Alaska’s capital. With spacious accommodations, contemporary amenities, complimentary Wi-Fi, plush bedding, and both ocean and mountain-scape views, you won’t want for anything. Conveniently located just footsteps away from shops, restaurants, and museums. The hotel has a sports bar and grill and 24-hour fitness center, as well as waterfront access right out the door.

Haines

Aspen Suites

Located in the heart of downtown Haines, Aspen Suites is a newly built, beautiful hotel with modern kitchenette studio suites. Restaurants, the Haines Brewery, grocery stores, and downtown shops are all within a few blocks of the hotel. Just a short walk down the hill and you’re at the picturesque Haines Boat Harbor!

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Gustavus

Glacier Bay Lodge

Glacier Bay Lodge offers the only hotel accommodations within the national park. The Lodge, tucked into the spruce trees that line Bartlett Cove, offers magnificent sunset views of the Fairweather Mountain range. With clean, comfortable, Alaskan-inspired rooms, you’ll rest well after your full days of adventure, surrounded by the quiet Alaskan rainforest. The lobby sports a massive stone fireplace to cozy up and reminiscence on the scenery around you in the evenings and provides world-class meals straight from the Alaskan waters next door.

 

Alaska Activities

At a Glance

We know you've chosen to travel with us for our wildlife emphasis, so we've included a wide variety of adventure activities designed to educate, inspire, and bring out the wonder in you. All of our Alaska vacation's activities are flexibly designed to accommodate different skill levels and interests, while exposing you to a variety of unique eco-systems in order to see the most amount of wildlife. And did we mention fun?

Unparalleled Wildlife Viewing

Spot brown bears, moose, snowshoe hares, bald and golden eagles, mountain goats, spawning salmon, river otters, ptarmigan, sea lions, seals, Dall porpoises, humpback & minke whales, orcas and more.

Exclusive Wildlife Activities

Exclusive, Helicopter flight onto Mendenhall Glacier -

While a popular attraction, many tourists to Mendenhall Glacier never venture too far from the visitor’s center. We’ll enjoy a scenic flight onto the glacier by helicopter where guides will lead a fun trek across the ice!

Scenic Flight to Gustavus:

Fly over glaciers, waterfalls, forest, and mountain peaks on our way to the remote town of Gustavus, the Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. While most people see Glacier Bay and Gustavus from the bow of a ship, we will have the opportunity to experience these beautiful places in a gorgeously unique way – soaring from above. The professional pilots routinely fly in every kind of Alaskan weather and to remote towns along the coast of Southeast Alaska. They will point out features in the landscape below – including peaks, glacial icefields, waterfalls, towns, and more! – and keep an eye out for any wildlife we may fly past. Our flight may route through Juneau or go directly to Gustavus.

Extended Alpine Summit Walk -

Cross the border into Canada above treeline for an alpine tundra hike. Towering peaks loom in every direction, while glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and rolling tundra enchant us. During the peak of summer, enjoy multitudes of wildflowers! Golden eagles, ptarmigan, snowshoe hares, grizzly bears, and other wildlife frequent these areas.

Remote River Rafting Through Bald Eagle Preserve:

At the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, you’ll experience the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world! Fly via bush plane deeper into the Chilkat Valley than any other tour, where our specially-trained guides await to begin your rafting adventure near the headwaters of the Tsirku River. Take an exhilarating journey down the Upper Tsirku River aboard an 18-foot inflatable raft – the best way to observe the eagles, bears, and sometimes wolves drawn to feed on the plentiful salmon. Not only rich in wildlife, the preserve is also a place of incredible beauty, with towering mountains, hanging glaciers and lush forests.

Other Activities

Pleasant Island Kayaking

We will paddle to Pleasant Island, located just over a mile from the shores of Gustavus, and explore the remote coastline. While crossing Icy Strait Passage, we’ll keep an eye out for sea otters, porpoise, sea lions, Minke whales, orcas, seals, and bald eagles. Closer to shore, we may see a multitude of intertidal creatures as we drift along in our kayaks. We will paddle to beautiful sandy beaches to stretch our legs and explore before returning to Gustavus.

Day Boat Sailing to Glacier Bay National Park

We will set sail on a high-speed catamaran from Gustavus for a 7-hour excursion that you will never forget. We’ll spend the day on the waters of Glacier Bay, see magnificent tidewater glaciers, ancient snow-capped mountains, whales, stellar sea lions, rare birds such as puffins, coastal bears, seals, eagles, and so much more. The landscape and ecosystems will change dramatically as we pass rainforests, lichen-covered rocks, and dramatic ice. We will linger by at the faces of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, two towering masses of ice and snow rising 245 feet above the ocean and stretching another 100 feet beneath the water. The ice that calves from the face of the two glaciers is an average of 200 years old – watch the passage of time as they crash into the water. This incredible Alaskan tour will leave you speechless.

 

Alaska Wildlife

Likely Sightings

  • Whales (Orca, Humpback, Dall’s Porpoises)
  • Stellar’s Sea Lions
  • Harbor Seals
  • Sea Otters
  • Puffins, Bald Eagles, Owls, Ravens and a wide variety birds
  • Dall Sheep and mountain goats
  • Black and Grizzly Bears
  • Moose
  • Caribou
  • Ground Squirrels, Ermines and Ptarmigan

Rare or Endangered Possible Sightings

  • Wolves and Arctic foxes
  • Porcupines
  • Lynx
  • Beluga, Fin, Sperm and Blue Whales
  • Wolverines
  • Muskox
 

Alaska Guides

Josette Deschambeault

Josette Deschambeault, Naturalist Guide

Josette started guiding in Alaska in 2016. She is an avid hiker and an exceptional rafter. Josette is also a skilled writer and has published several articles on Alaska travel and gear reviews for various magazines. From observing the seasonal hooligan run to the various uses of Devil’s Club plant, Josette is a passionate naturalist with a deep knowledge of Southeast Alaska’s natural history.

Chris Muse

Chris Muse, Naturalist Guide

Chris originally studied Law at Georgia State University, after a brief practice he changed up his career and began guiding in Alaska. He enjoys spending time on the remote rivers of Alaska & the Yukon. Chris’ river guiding experience spans from the remote Tatshenshini River here in the Yukon and Alaska to whitewater rafting trips in New Zealand. He enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge of the flora & fauna of Southeast Alaska with guests. He is an exceptional guide, often requested for family trips, his knack for finding the nooks frequented by wildlife along our route make him a highly requested guide.

 

Alaska FAQ

Alaska Facts for Visitors

Location:

Alaska is a U.S. state located on the northwest extremity of the North American Continent, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. An exclave of the U.S., it borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon to the east and southeast and has a maritime border with Russia's Chukotka Autonomous Okrug to the west. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic Ocean, while the Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest.

Geography:

Alaska has more than three million lakes. Marshlands and wetland permafrost cover 188,320 square miles (487,700 km2) (mostly in northern, western and southwest flatlands). Glacier ice covers about 28,957 square miles (75,000 km2) of Alaska.[17] The Bering Glacier is the largest glacier in North America, covering 2,008 square miles (5,200 km2) alone.

Population:

Alaska is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh-largest subnational division in the world. It is the third-least populous and the most sparsely populated state, with an estimated population of 738,432. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. The state capital of Juneau is the second-largest city in the United States by area, comprising more territory than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.

Alaska's indigenous population is proportionally the highest of any U.S. state, at over 15 percent. Close to two dozen native languages are spoken, and Alaskan Natives exercise considerable influence in local and state politics.

Language:

English is the official language and is spoken commonly across the statee. According to the 2011 American Community Survey, 83.4% of people over the age of five spoke only English at home. About 3.5% spoke Spanish at home, 2.2% spoke another Indo-European language, about 4.3% spoke an Asian language (including Tagalog), and about 5.3% spoke other languages at home.

Entry Requirements:

Whether you can travel to Alaska without a visa will be determined by your country of origin. Meaning, if you are a citizen of one of the 39 countries member of the Visa Waiver Program you do not have to apply for a tourist visa to Alaska. Instead, you can obtain the ESTA Alaska by completing an online form with your personal details and passport info.

Though Alaska is not a common destination, it is still part of the United States and travelers must follow US immigration regulations and laws. Upon arrival in Alaska, travelers will be required to present a valid passport and a valid ESTA or US tourist visa.

Please contact your local US Embassy / Consulate for up-to-date entry requirements.

Banking and Currency:

The currency of United states is the United States Dollar (USD). Current exchange rates can be found at http://x-rates.com. Many, but not all, locations accept credit cards, mainly Visa and MasterCard.

Climate and Weather:

The climate in Southeast Alaska is a mid-latitude oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb) in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc) in the northern parts. On an annual basis, Southeast is both the wettest and warmest part of Alaska with milder temperatures in the winter and high precipitation throughout the year. Juneau averages over 50 in. (130 cm) of precipitation a year, and Ketchikan averages over 150 in. (380 cm). This is also the only region in Alaska in which the average daytime high temperature is above freezing during the winter months.

The climate of Anchorage and south-central Alaska is mild by Alaskan standards due to the region's proximity to the seacoast. While the area gets less rain than southeast Alaska, it gets more snow, and days tend to be clearer. On average, Anchorage receives 16 in. (41 cm) of precipitation a year, with around 75 in. (190 cm) of snow, although there are areas in the south-central region which receive far more snow. It is a subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc) due to its brief, cool summers.

Summer in Alaska begins in June and lasts through early September. Travel during these months is usually very comfortable. Each month has its features - June's daylight, July's flowers, August's berries, September's fall colors and northern lights - so there's always a "best time!"

Electricity and Plug Standards:

Electrical outlets, plugs and voltage are all exactly the same as in the rest of the United States (120V).

WIFI - All the hotels we use have wifi. Some places have faster/better service than others, but it is generally available.

Time Zone:

Most of Alaska falls withing the Pacific Time Zone (PST) while the western Aleutian Islands observe Hawaii-Aleutian Time, 1 hour behind the remainder of the state.

Sales Taxes:

The State of Alaska does not levy a sales tax; there are, however, several municipal governments that do. Inidividual municipalities have wide authority to set their own taxation rates, and sales tax can be as high as 7.5%.

Tipping:

Tipping is never expected, but always appreciated. General guidelines are:

  • Hotel housekeeping staff: US$2 per day per room
  • Guides: US$20/person/day
  • Drivers and Boat Captains: Half what you prefer to tip your guide
  • This Trip's Exclusive Wildlife Features:

    Choose Your Alaska Travel Style! Any of our wildlife adventures are also available as fully customizable private trips, honeymoons or family wildlife adventures.
    CONTACT US | EMAIL US | CHAT NOW | RESERVE A TRIP | 1-800-990-4376
    We're Wild for Wildlife...
    • Wildlife-focused ecotour, packed with specially-designed activities to maximize wildlife viewing
    • Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight onto the famous Mendenhall Glacier, touching down on the stunning blue ice to explore far beyond the crowds of other tourists
    • Boat, kayak, raft and more, with chance to see sea otters, porpoise, sea lions, minke whales, orcas, seals, bald eagles, and more
    • Wild Planet Exclusive Upper Tsirku Rafting Expedition for remote access of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
    We're Wild for Wildlife...
    • Wildlife-focused ecotour, packed with specially-designed activities to maximize wildlife viewing
    • Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight onto the famous Mendenhall Glacier, touching down on the stunning blue ice to explore far beyond the crowds of other tourists
    • Boat, kayak, raft and more, with chance to see sea otters, porpoise, sea lions, minke whales, orcas, seals, bald eagles, and more
    • Wild Planet Exclusive Upper Tsirku Rafting Expedition for remote access of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
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