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Spotlight

on Alaska

Alaska is the Great Land, one of the world's last frontiers for unspoiled wilderness. The ice age is still in action here with glaciers and ice bergs adding to the natural beauty and giving you the opportunity for some unique outdoor adventures. A visit to Alaska can be an overwhelming as well as rejuvenating experience. Take a look at these amazing highlights of the 49th State.



Tune in to this brief portrait of a voyage with Rocky Mountaineer Vacations to see why they are hailed as “The Best Train Experience in the World” by the Society of American Travel Writers. Duration: 2:42

Alaska's Glaciers

Visiting a glacier is one of the highlights of a journey to Alaska which is home to an estimated 100,000 of these rivers of ice.

Watch and listen as they creak and groan before a huge piece falls into the sea with a giant roar. This is called calving and takes place as glaciers meet the open water. You'll see at least one of these tidewater glaciers during your Alaska cruise. Ships sail as close as possible to the walls of ice giving you a spectacular view.

  • Cruise ships make at least one glacier call during a one week cruise. Giant Hubbard Glacier (the longest tidewater glacier in North America), Glacier Bay, the twin Sawyer Glaciers on Tracy Arm Fjord or College Fjord with its many glaciers are what to look for on your itinerary.
  • Massive Mendenhall Glacier and its beautiful lake are situated on the outskirts of Juneau making it one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. It has a very interesting Visitors' Centre and plenty of trails for hiking in the area.
  • You'll come across glaciers as you travel around Alaska, often very close to the highway, like Worthington Glacier near Valdez.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Imagine being in the largest protected ecosystem in the world and seeing North America's highest mountain! You can do this by visiting Denali National Park and Preserve. It's the leading park in Alaska covering nearly 2.5 million hectares. Around 400,000 people visit the part each year for unsurpassed hiking, camping, rafting, backcountry travel, fishing, wildlife viewing and flightseeing.

Most pre/post cruise land tours feature Denali with overnight stays at wilderness lodges.

The park is home to Mt. McKinley, or Denali, North America's highest peak at 6.167 meters. A spectacular sight, on clear days it can be seen as far as 113 km away.

You'll find many other fine parks as you travel around the state. The well organized park system across Alaska protects the spectacular wilderness with state and national parks, preserves and trails where visitors can enjoy the outdoors and watch for animals and sea life.

Flightseeing

For an absolutely breathtaking experience, see Alaska from the air. The natural beauty is somehow enhanced when seen from above.

  • Helicopters and small aircraft take you on flights over the mountains and through valleys.
  • There are opportunities to land on a glacier for a walk.
  • You can also visit a glacier dog sled camp and try your hand at dog mushing while hearing some fascinating local stories.

Wildlife Viewing

Home to hundreds of species of wildlife, sea life and birds, Alaska is an ideal spot for wildlife viewing. For more on this attraction, see the ">Wildlife Viewing article.

Native Culture

The art and culture of Alaska's first people is presented at many parks and venues. One of the best places to visit is Ketchikan renowned for its totem pole collections. Watch carvers and artists at work and observe the impressive totem poles at Totem Heritage Center, Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center Museum in Anchorage has indoor and outdoor exhibits of Alaska's eleven cultural groups. Dance and art displays also take place at the museum which is the largest cultural centre in Alaska.

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway

This is one of the world's most spectacular railway journeys and a leading excursion in Skagway. This scenic and historic adventure follows the famous Gold Rush trail as you ride along the edge of the mountains and over trestle bridges towards Canada's Yukon.

The narrated Summit Excursion takes three to three-and-a-half hours to the White Pass summit, an elevation of 873 meters and back to Skagway. The railway depot is visible from your ship. If booking independently, walk there or take the municipal shuttle into town to catch your train. (Note that the trains pull up near the ships for cruise line excursions only.)

Alaskan Cuisine

Alaska's delectable cuisine depends on local produce, meat and fish.

  • Try Valdez Moose Stew, Roast Caribou, Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cakes and a wide range of recipes using oysters, salmon and halibut.
  • One good Alaskan feast is Wild Salmon grilled on an open fire served with salads and rice which you'll find offered at Salmon Bakes around the state.
  • Berries are very popular for jams, jellies and cooking with meat and fish. Wild Salmonberries, Lingonberries, Blackberries, Rhubarb, High Bush Cranberries and Black and Red Currants are just some of the 50 species of wild fruit that grow here.
  • Be sure to try some Alaskan sourdough bread, made famous during the Gold Rush.

Alaska certainly offers a wide range of exciting things to see and do. It's unique in the world, an amazing and wild place which should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

By Susan Milne

Ensemble Travel Group

IMPORTANT: When booking, ask us for the appropriate supplier brochure for complete details and terms and conditions for your vacations and as well inquire about any possible past guest savings. Offers are space available and may be withdrawn at anytime without prior notice and are not combinable with other offers (unless stated otherwise). All prices, details and offers are subject to change. We are not responsible for errors or omissions.

Articles by Susan Milne

Ensemble Travel Group - Experience That Takes You Places

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