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Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari (Gold Creek Lodge)

13 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1: Fairbanks, Alaska 
Our Alaska nature safari begins in Fairbanks, Alaska's "second city" and capital of the Interior, which retains its frontier flavor with pioneer saloons, paddlewheelers and outlying mining camps. Meet your Expedition Leader at a welcome dinner this evening.

Days 2 & 3: Denali National Park—Kantishna 
Travel south through boreal forest and along the Nenana River to Denali National Park. At 6 million acres—larger than the state of Massachusetts—Denali is one of the world’s great wilderness preserves. The park's namesake is the highest peak in North America, towering 20,320 feet over the tundra and taiga that provide habitat for wolves, grizzlies, moose and caribou. Formerly known as Mt. McKinley, its Athabascan Native name—Denali—means "The Great One." From our remote base 90 miles inside the park, we have time and space to encounter genuine wilderness. Hiking, nature walks, mountain biking, fishing and optional flightseeing over the glaciers of Denali are available. The climate and environment of Alaska's interior at this latitude is harsh much of the year, and it takes a vast amount of habitat to sustain animals. Wildlife encounters thus tend to be fleeting, though always thrilling.

Day 4: Denali / Alaska Railroad Dome Car / Talkeetna 
Depart for the park entrance by road this morning, keeping a close eye out for moose, caribou, grizzly bears and other wildlife that roams the open tundra. At midday, we board an Alaska Railroad dome car for a classic train journey through Alaska’s rugged interior. Our route through the Alaska Range climbs above tree line over Broad Pass, then descends to follow the Susitna River to the historic village of Talkeetna, where we disembark for the night. The rustic town, founded a century ago as the district headquarters for the new railroad, sits at the confluence of three rivers and enjoys a striking panorama of Denali and adjacent peaks. An outdoor recreation mecca, Talkeetna's economy today thrives on rafting, flightseeing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, and it is also the main base for climbing expeditions on Denali. After dinner, there's time to stroll the compact downtown, whose buildings dating to the early 1900s have been designated a National Historic Site. 

Days 5 & 6: Talkeetna / Girdwood
Leaving Talkeetna, we continue south, eventually reaching the coast to follow Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and Alyeska Resort. Alyeska is Alaska’s premier ski area, where a host of exciting summer activities is also available. Set in a lush glacial valley in the Chugach Range southeast of Anchorage, Alyeska offers nature and luxury in tandem. Explore the northernmost temperate rain forest in North America that surrounds our deluxe accommodations at the Hotel Alyeska, or choose an optional tram ride to the alpine summit with vistas of the ice-bound peaks and inlet far below. On Day 6 we'll explore the scenic tableau of iceberg-choked Spencer Lake, then take a gentle float trip down the Placer River before returning to Girdwood. Dinner is not included on Day 6, in order to give you a chance to sample your choice of restaurants in the Alyeska/Girdwood area. 

Day 7: Kenai Peninsula / Fox Island 
This morning, revel in magnificent scenery on the drive south to the Kenai Peninsula, as we cross Moose Pass en route to the fishing town and port of Seward. The road corridor we follow takes us through the Kenai Mountains–Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, a designation that recognizes the area's unique cultural, geographic and historical features. Once we reach Seward's small boat harbor, look for sea otters that are frequently seen bobbing among the yachts and docks. Here, we board a boat for the journey to Fox Island, a lushly forested private island in Resurrection Bay on the edge of Kenai Fjords National Park. Our secluded location, which we enjoy all to ourselves, reveals the pristine side of Alaska most visitors miss. The region is famed for its sea kayaking, and an easy paddling excursion late this afternoon is likely to reveal some of the area’s prolific marine life. 

Day 8: Kenai Fjords National Park—Private Cruise 
Iconic images of Alaska are on display today from our private chartered vessel as we voyage through a realm where vestiges of the Ice Age still linger. Our small boat allows us to approach wildlife at close range, and Kenai Fjords National Park provides excellent opportunities for viewing humpback and orca whales, porpoises, sea otters and a large colony of puffins. Glaciers pour from the jagged mountain heights into the sea, and we may observe icebergs calving with a thunderous crash from a glacier's towering blue face. Following our all-day outing, our boat returns us to our secluded lodge on Fox Island for another night of peace and solitude in the wilderness.

Day 9: Seward / Anchorage
After a last morning in the serene environs of Fox Island, we weave our way back through the ice-dotted fjords to Seward, where we'll have lunch and visit the Alaska SeaLife Center, located on Resurrection Bay. While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the renowned center also features a public aquarium and is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state. From Seward, we retrace our route northward, with the mountain ranges of the Kenai Peninsula rising one after another, sourcing some of Alaska's richest salmon rivers. Reaching Anchorage by late afternoon, we have the rest of the evening at leisure. Dinner is not included so that you can select your choice of the many outstanding offerings available in Alaska's largest city. Local seafood is always a highlight! Tap your Expedition Leader for recommendations. 

Days 10 & 11: King Salmon / Katmai National Park—Brooks Falls 
Fly west by small plane this morning to King Salmon, then by floatplane to Katmai National Park and world-renowned Brooks Falls, one of the best places to view giant Alaskan brown bears in their natural habitat. Katmai is home to the world’s largest population of these enormous coastal grizzlies, with some 2,200 individuals inside the park. As many bear populations around the world decline, Katmai's 4 million acres of wilderness provides some of the last pristine habitat for these magnificent animals. We enjoy Alaska's most exclusive bear-watching accommodations at Alaska's Gold Creek Lodge, where you'll enjoy a secluded wilderness experience, a luxurious lodge atmosphere and gourmet meals.

Inside the park, scientists are able to study bears in their natural environs, visitors enjoy unparalleled viewing opportunities, and the bears live largely undisturbed. Nurturing this delicate relationship between people and bears is the key to Katmai's success as the world's preeminent place to observe brown bears in the wild. From the safety of platforms built over Brooks Falls, we get a close look at this iconic wildlife spectacle, which very few visitors to Alaska have the privilege of seeing. At close range, watch bears stand in the rushing whitewater, jaws gaping, trying to catch the salmon that leap up the falls once spawning season starts. Our June and July departures will have a good chance to see fishing bears, since this is when the salmon are running, but bear viewing is excellent in August and September, too, with even more bears in the vicinity. During each full day with the bears, we'll take a break to relax over lunch at world-famous Brooks Lodge, an easy walk from the falls.

Day 12: Katmai / Anchorage 
After a last round of bear viewing in Katmai, we fly back to King Salmon, then on to Anchorage. Tonight our Expedition Leader hosts a farewell dinner to celebrate our Alaskan adventures.

Day 13: Anchorage / Depart
Our Alaska wildlife safari comes to a close today as we transfer to the airport for homeward flights, or ongoing travel for those who have booked extensions.
Map
All This Included
While superlatives strive to convey the grandeur of Alaska, they never quite manage to capture the reality. Our Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari does, though. In the company of some of Alaska's top naturalist guides, we take you farther afield from the most heavily touristed routes and into a genuine Alaskan wilderness adventure. Experience the silent inner heart of Denali, where grizzlies and caribou roam the tundra. Cruise to the face of a calving glacier and look for whales and otters among the icebergs on a private chartered boat cruise in Kenai Fjords. Along the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, watch giant brown bears fish for salmon. This is Alaska “less discovered”: bigger, wilder and more enthralling than you ever imagined. You’ve got to experience it for yourself!
  • Accommodations including private island in Kenai Fjords
  • Services of Nat Hab's professional Expedition Leader plus local guides and lodge staff
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 13 (except dinner on Days 6 and 9)
  • Most gratuities
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and final day
  • Kayaking fees at Fox Island
  • All special permits and entrance fees
  • All taxes
Highlights
  • Our comprehensive itinerary takes you to more remote locales and includes close-up viewing of Alaska's famous brown bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park
  • Experience genuine wilderness in the remote reaches of Denali National Park as we overnight at one of the few lodges located deep within the park’s interior 
  • Cruise Kenai Fjords aboard our chartered boat, surrounded by glaciers, icebergs and marine wildlife, and stay in splendid isolation on private Fox Island
Accommodations
Fairbanks: Springhill Suites Fairbanks
Denali National Park: Kantishna Roadhouse
Talkeetna: Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Girdwood: Hotel Alyeska
Kenai Fjords National Park: Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge
Katmai National Park: Alaska's Gold Creek Lodge
Anchorage: Anchorage Marriott Downtown
Pre and Post Add-ons
The Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter
An exclusive small-ship adventure to view the world's largest coastal grizzlies up close! Walk the shores as enormous brown bears dig for clams, forage for grasses and pursue salmon in tidal pools.
8 Days / Jun - Sep, From $8895 (+air)

Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness
A small-ship voyage through the narrow channels and fjords of Southeast Alaska's storied Inside Passage—meet wildlife up close in the company of top naturalists.
8 Days / May – Aug, From $5990
Notes
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 14 Travelers.
  • Bears are attracted to the Brooks River at multiple times during the summer, and their precise location varies depending on seasonal movements. More intimate experiences with bears (due to fewer tourists) tend to happen in late August and September versus late June and July, when bears are found throughout the area rather than primarily fishing atop the falls.
  • Not Included: Travel to and from start and end point of trip, interior airfare ($595, to be added to your invoice and subject to change through day of departure), dinner on Days 6 and 9, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance and required medical evacuation insurance.
  • Internal Air Cost: $1195 on Gold Creek Lodge departures, per person (2019 departures); $1495 on Gold Creek Lodge departures, per person (2020 departures).
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate. The activities on our Alaska wildlife adventure are diverse, requiring general mobility and fitness. The longest required walk is two miles roundtrip over a relatively flat wooden boardwalk to reach Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, where we observe the brown bears. Trail surfaces for our various walks vary from pavement to uneven natural terrain. While all travelers must be able to walk at least two miles, some longer hikes are available for those who desire. Our kayaking activity on Fox Island involves paddling for approximately two hours in conditions that are typically quite calm. We stress that travelers are not required to participate in every activity, but all participants must be able to walk at least two miles.
  • This Alaska adventure begins in Fairbanks and ends in Anchorage. Arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska by 4 pm on Day 1 of the program in order to attend a 6 pm orientation followed by a 7 pm welcome dinner. You are free to depart Anchorage anytime on the final day.
  • Alaska's Gold Creek Lodge, a fly-in wilderness lodge near King Salmon, offers deluxe accommodations and includes a scenic 20-minute floatplane ride to reach Brooks Falls.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.