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Alaska – Mammals and Birds NEW!

AT A GLANCE

FOCUS

Mammal and birds Tour: Mammals, birds, scenery (autumn colours and glaciers) & photography.

WHERE

Anchorage (USA) – Kenai Fjords – Denali NP – Denali, Richardson and Glenn Highways - Anchorage

SAMPLE WILDLIFE

Brown (Grizzly) and Black Bears, Sea and River Otters, Grey Wolf, Moose, Bison, Steller’s Sealion, Beluga and other whales and dolphins plus c80species of bird.

CLIMATE

Temperature autumn.

ACCOMMODATION

travel will be by 10 seat passenger van, generally staying in typical American hotels and lodges, rooms with private facilities. 

We are delighted to be able to confirm the details for our first mammal watching tour to Alaska in autumn 2017. Based on interest expressed so far we expect demand for this tour to be high so if you are interested recommend that you book as soon as possible. If demand is as high as expected we will repeat the tour in 2018 and/or 2019.

The tour departs from the UK on a Sunday and we will arrive in Anchorage on the evening of the same day. We will transfer to our comfortable hotel and if time permits have a short walk to a nearby wetland to look for waders and other wetland birds.

Our first full day will see us drive south for 130 miles to Seward at the head of the Kenai Fjords. On route we will make a number of stops to look for mammals including Beluga (if the tides are right), Dall’s Sheep, Mountain Goat, Muskrat etc. With luck we may also come across Black Bear. We also expect to see a good variety of birds.

The following day will see us heading out into the Kenai Fjords for a full day boat trip to look for mammals and seabirds. Among the species we hope to see are Sea Otter, Killer Whale, Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Steller’s Sealion, Harbour Seal, Tufted Puffin and Rhinoceros Auklet. Richard has also seen Northern River Otter on both of his trips to this area and there are good chances for Black Bear and Mountain Goat on the slopes bordering the fjords. We will also be visiting at least one of the several impressive glaciers in the area.

After returning to Seward we will board our van for the journey back to Anchorage where we will spend the night. If the tides are right we will stop to look for Belugas on route. At this time of year Belugas are often close inshore and can sometimes be seen with young riding on their backs!

The next morning will see us heading north towards Denali National Park, a journey of around 240 miles. Where it is safe to do so, we will stop for any mammals or good birds that we see on route. After checking into our hotel, if time permits, we will have a short excursion to a nearby area of interest.

We will spend the following three days in and around Denali National Park. Trips into the park itself will be on the park shuttle buses and we will take buses at different times of the day to maximise our chances of seeing good numbers of mammals. Late afternoon buses can be quiet and particularly productive. On a couple of days we are likely to spend time on foot along the park roads. Among the mammals that we hope to see in the park are Brown (Grizzly) Bear feeding up ahead of their winter hibernation, Wolf, Moose, Caribou, North American Porcupine, Snowshoe Hare (and if their populations are peaking, and we are extremely lucky, Canada Lynx), Red Fox (including the spectacular black morph) and Dall’s Sheep. Among the scarcer species that we may encounter are Collared Pika and Arctic Ground Squirrel.

Outside the park itself we will visit a number of sites including the start of the Denali Highway to look for American Red Squirrel, Canadian Beaver, Muskrat, Moose, Caribou and if there are any visiting feeders at nearby lodges, American Marten. 

The next day will initially see us heading north along the Richardson Highway to look for American Bison before returning to Paxson and then continuing south for 74 miles to Glennallen keeping out an eye for roadside owls on route. We will overnight in Glennallen.

Leaving Glennallen we will drive south-west for 190 miles towards Anchorage looking for birds and mammals on route. We have an excellent chance of seeing Northern Hawk Owl today as this is one of the best areas in Alaska to look for the species. There is also an outside chance of Great Grey Owl.

After our arrival in Anchorage If we haven’t seen Beluga earlier in the trip we will arrange another visit to Beluga Point to look for them.

The itinerary on our final full day will depend on what we still need, or want, to see but it will include a half-day visit to Eagle Creek Nature Centre where we can expect to see American Red Squirrel and a good range of boreal bird species, hopefully including Pine Grosbeak, around the feeders. Richard has also seen bears here.

The reminder of the day will be spent either looking for Belugas or visiting nearby wetlands such as Potters Marsh or Westchester Lagoons for mammals and birds.

Our final day in Alaska will see us transferring to the airport for our overnight return flights back to the UK. There will be time to have another look around the nearby Westchester Lagoon before heading to the airport.

We have abandoned our plans for an optional extension up to Barrow, due to the lack of Polar Bears seen at this time, in recent years. As with most WildWings Tours however, if you want to go out early, or stay on in Alaska after our tour, please simply contact us to discuss your requirements.

Day 1: Fly UK to Anchorage via Keflavik. Transfer to hotel and overnight.
Day 2: Driver Anchorage to Seward, overnight.
Day 3: Kenai Fjords cruise, 8.5 hours. Evening drive back to Anchorage and overnight.
Day 4: Drive Anchorage to Denali, four night stay.
Days 5-7: Denali NP, exploring by van, shuttle bus and on foot.
Day 8: Denali to Paxson, overnight.
Day 9: Paxson to Glennallen, overnight.
Day 10: Glennallen to Anchorage, overnight.
Day 11: Exploring the Anchorage area, overnight.
Day 12: Morning at leisure or local birding. Afternoon flight departure for the UK.
Day 13: Arrive back UK, changing planes in Keflavik.

Accommodation

All accommodation will be in good quality hotels or lodges close to the areas where we will be looking for birds and mammals.

Meals

As with many tours to North America the cost of meals has been excluded from the cost of this tour. This will enable clients to select from the wide range of food available in most of the places being visited and will also give us more flexibility regarding our time in the field so that we can be in the field at the best times of day for seeing mammals. We suggest that you budget $100 per day for food. Do not forget U.S prices are often plus tax, and gratuities are normally expected in restaurants (not in takeaway outlets however).

Transport

We will use a comfortable 10 passenger seater mini-van throughout the tour other than in Denali National Park itself, where we will use the park shuttle buses. Our van will have three rows of seats, we will seat our clients 2, 2 & 3. There will be a spare seat in each row for optical gear etc. We will expect participants to rotate seats during the trip, as six of the seats are effectively window seats.  Our trip into the Kenai Fjords will be on a comfortable day-cruise vessel.  This will be part of a regular daily trip and will not be exclusive to WildWings’ clients. However by late August numbers of tourists have generally dropped off and we do not expect the boat to be particularly busy.

Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Dates: 27th August – 8th September 2017

Leader: Richard Webb

£5495 - per person sharing a twin room

£1229 - per person – single supplement

£950 – Deposit (plus flight supplement if applicable).

Group size: 7 plus leader

2018 Dates: TBC August/September.  You may advance register for only £50pp.

Price includes: Flights London-Anchorage-London in economy class, including airport taxes with Icelandair via Keflavik* (deduct £750 if you wish to make your own way to Anchorage), all ground transportation by mini-van with a professional driver (including the driver’s gratuities), accommodation on a room only basis in twin bedded en-suite rooms. Wildlife cruise from Seward (with a light breakfast and deli-style lunch), Denali NP entrance fee and shuttle bus rides, services of WildWings leader, pre tour information pack and a day-by-day mammal and bird checklist. (* you may also fly from some UK regional airports eg Manchester, Glasgow, please ask, a small supplement may apply)

Price excludes: Travel insurance, all meals (except breakfast and lunch – Seward cruise), other drinks (water and soft drinks will be provided in our van), souvenirs, gratuities, laundry charges and other items of a personal nature. Allow approximately U$100+ per full day for food and other drinks.

NB This trip is costed at £1 = $1.40. Hopefully after the June 2016 UK EU referendum, the exchange rate will improve again, for example if the rate rises to $1.5, the basic tour price will drop by £250pp.    

Target mammals

Brown (Grizzly) and Black BearsAmerican Bison
Grey (Timber) WolfMoose
CoyoteCaribou
Red FoxMountain Goat
Sea OtterDall’s Sheep
Harbour (Common) SealAmerican Red Squirrel
BelugaCanadian Beaver
Killer WhaleMuskrat
Humpback WhaleSnowshoe Hare
Dall’s PorpoiseNorth American Porcupine
Steller’s Sealion 

 Less likely

Canada LynxCollared Pika
American MartenArctic Ground Squirrel

Selected birds of interest. We would expect to see about 80 species.

Harlequin and Long-tailed DucksMarbled Murrelet
Bufflehead & Barrow’s GoldeneyeRhinoceros Auklet
Bald & Golden EaglesTufted and Horned Puffins
Rough-legged & Red-tailed HawksNorthern Hawk Owl
GyrfalconGray Jay
Spruce and Willow GrousePine Gosbeak
Sandhill CraneTwo-barred Crossbill
Pigeon Guillemot 

 

    Photo

    Tour Leader

    Richard worked in Financial Services for much of his life but early-retired in 2016 to enable him to pursue his passions of travelling in search of birds and mammals, and has already visited over 70 countries.

    Learn More

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