Wildlife Group Tour

Alaska Cruise with Chris Packham

9 days

from £7,195pp
  • A unique opportunity for capturing images of Alaska's wildlife under expert tuition
  • Cruise Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait, prime regions to view humpback whales bubble net feeding
  • Spend time at a bear viewing stand, strategically placed for photographing bears fishing for salmon
  • Visit a Tlinglit village, an indigenous community that dates back thousands of years

Chris Packham is one of the world’s leading natural history experts. He has gained recognition as a wildlife TV presenter, writer, photographer, conservationist and campaigner. This stunning tour is a rare opportunity to spend time in his company whilst surrounded by the spectacular wilderness of Alaska. Board the Safari Quest for seven nights to navigate the rugged coast of Alaska and the low-lying islands. Encounter humpback whales, sea lions and seals as well as terrestrial mammals such as black bears, brown bears, and moose. There will be an emphasis on photographing Alaska’s charismatic fauna, however, anybody with a love of wildlife and wild places is welcome on this cruise.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THIS CRUISE TO ALASKA?

We believe we have secured the best ship, doing an exceptional itinerary at the best time of year with an extraordinary host! Read on to find out why…

What is the safari quest like?

The Safari Quest is an ideal vessel to explore the Alaskan waterways. Sleek and small she can navigate into the tiniest of nooks allowing access to pristine wilderness and getting closer to the incredible wildlife of this region. With a maximum number of 22 passengers (including Chris and his partner, Charlotte), group size for shore excursions will be no more than 12 ensuring quick disembarking and exploration in small numbers. On board, the spacious cabins and ample social areas allow for a comfortable stay. Safari Quest is also equipped with kayaks and paddle boards for those that would like more active excursions. The Safari Quest has an onboard crew of ten in addition to a naturalist guide whom will be your main leader on board. The naturalist guide and the crew are all seasoned travellers to Alaska, whose passion and expertise will enhance your enjoyment of the cruise.

When is the best time to visit Alaska?

Alaska comes alive during the summer months from May to September. At this time of year, the days are long, and the night sky stays light most of the night. Daytime temperatures are a very pleasant 15-25 Celsius and while the evenings are cooler, the Alaskan mosquitoes have been killed off by the night frosts by the first week of August. August is also one of the best months for bear and whale viewing.

Your host - cHRIS PACKHAM

Chris is renowned for his work as a wildlife TV presenter and for his award winning photography. His passion for photography, along with a keen eye for unusual compositions and natural form, combine to make Chris’s images transcend just the aesthetic. His images often inspire the viewer to ask questions about the natural world and our relationship with it. Chris will be on hand throughout the voyage to give advice and tips on photography. He will also share his knowledge of post-production software that will further help to enhance your images. Chris will also be giving informal lectures on natural history, conservation and life as a BBC TV presenter.

WHat happens on a typical day during this alaskan cruise?

Activities will range between one and two hours and will often start early and finish late to make the most of the extended daylight. In certain locations, with the right combination of weather and timing, some activities can last as long as four to six hours. The itinerary has been designed to maximise the abundant wildlife photographic opportunities that exist in Alaska and so when the wildlife is cooperating the itinerary may change to make the most of this. While we have made every provision to capitalise on your time in Alaska, weather and animal activity will dictate what happens each day on the trip. When not enjoying the Alaskan wilderness off the boat, there will be informal lectures and talks on board the Safari Quest, given by Chris Packham or the onboard naturalist.

Who else will be guiding on this trip?

There will be one naturalist guide on board in addition to Chris who will be leading the trip. The additional 10 crew members will assist with other aspects of the cruise. All staff members are seasoned travellers in Alaska, passionate and experts in this extraordinary environment.

Do I have to be an experienced photographer?

Anybody can join this group. Whether an amateur or professional photographer or somebody just wishing to see Alaska in the company of experts. There will be plenty of opportunity for naturalist focused activities not just photography.

Photography will be possible from onboard the Safari Quest, from zodiacs when out on the water, on foot during shore excursions and from a bear viewing stand on Keku Island. It is important to know that Alaska is a challenging destination for photography. It can often be overcast with wet conditions and poor light, however, the crew on board Safari Quest will do all they can to help you make the best of any photographic opportunity that arises, ensuring you are out in the field taking advantage of the extended daylight hours.

Do I have to be fit to join this cruise?

You do not need a high level of fitness; however, you do need to be able to get in and out of zodiacs and manage walking on uneven ground. Bushwhacking hikes are arduous and slow going. Excursions are not compulsory, so if there is anything you feel you cannot participate you can opt out.



Departing on:
  • 1st August 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
1st Aug 2019 9th Aug 2019 £ 7,195 call £ 4,317 Chris Packham Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 1 evening dinner in Petersburg
  • 1 night accommodation in Petersburg (Tides Inn or similar)
  • 7 nights accommodation Safari Quest
  • Exploration of glacial ice fields and Tlingit culture
  • One week of expert tuition from Chris Packham, a world leader in natural history and photography.
  • Port Fees and taxes (CAD $300pp)
  • Use of on-board equipment which includes two skiffs, eight tandem kayaks and two stand-up paddle boards.
  • Visits to designated Wilderness areas or National Monuments
  • Wildlife viewing including birding, bear viewing and whale watching.

what is excluded

  • International Flights
  • Suggested crew gratuities of $35 per person per night
  • Visas

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Petersburg
Petersburg is the starting point of this Alaskan cruise. This small town, home to 3,000 people is a busy fishing port with a lively atmosphere with crabbers and trawlerman bustling about the harbour. Its Norwegian heritage has given it the nickname ‘Little Norway’ and the region was chosen by settlers for its similar appearance to the Norwegian fjords.


On arrival to Petersburg, you will be met and transferred to your local hotel


Evening welcome dinner with an introduction by Chris Packham


You will be staying at Tides Inn, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Federick Sound
This morning there may be the opportunity to take a 60-minute scenic flight for spectacular views of the glaciated peaks and icefields. There will also be an opportunity to join Chris on a birdwatching beach walk with great views to the Coast Mountains and Devil's Thumb.The flight is weather dependent and if not possible on this day, there will be other chances later in the week.

Lunch on your own.


Embarkation
Later this afternoon, board the Safari Quest. There will be a welcome briefing before settling down to a glass of champagne and an evening sail to Frederick Sound, a region where the nutrient-rich waters are a magnet for migrating humpback whales. This is a good area to see humpbacks bubble net feeding. Frederick Sound comprises of wooded islets with small beaches, home to moose, bald eagles and bears.


Chris Packham
Chris Packham will be your host while onboard the Safari Quest and will give informal lectures on photography, natural history and conservation. He is an accomplished photographer and will be generous with his time, in order to give advice on how best to photograph Alaska's exceptional wildlife.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 3

Kake/Keku Islands
This morning visit Kake, a Tinglit village that dates back thousands of years. The proud tribal members keep their history alive through legends and dance and love to share these with all whom visit. Only accessible by air or water, Kake is believed to be home to the tallest totem carved out of a single piece of wood. Time will be spent exploring the village and meeting the local people who allow the opportunity for visitors to have access to their pristine wilderness.

Kake is one of the best areas to observe black bears. The salmon return to spawn each year in Gunnuck Creek which runs through the village. The river is shallow and narrow with a waterfall where the spawning salmon get stuck. This in turn creates a prime spot for black bears to congregate and feed. It is here time can be spent at the bear viewing stand, strategically placed to view bears from a raised platform.

This afternoon take advantage of the daylight hours to explore the secluded coves and inlets of the Keku Islands by kayak or skiff. Take a relaxed walk along the tide zone where sea life clings to rocks. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and black bears which frequent the tidal zone, casually flicking over rocks in search of barnacles and mussels.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 4

Tebenkof Bay Wilderness
Tebenkof Bay Wilderness, on the northern coast of Kuiu Island, consists of 67,000 acres of islands, islets and both alpine and ancient forests. This region is home to remarkable topography and will be an opportunity to experience the heart of temperate rainforest in south east Alaska. Alaskan wilderness is graded by whether or not it is worthy of a capital 'W'. Tebenkof Bay is considered a capital 'W' wilderness area! Mountains rise over 10,000 feet while low lying islands home to vast tracks of rainforest with no human trace, are surrounded by crystal-clear waters. The forests here are some of the most biologically productive on the planet.

Hike tide pools and muskeg bogs or take a guided walk along the shoreline. Have a go at paddle boarding or sea kayaking or search for harbour seals, seastars or jelly fish by skiff keeping an eye out for the sea otters in the kelp.

If the tide (and bears) permit, hiking inland maybe possible - an activity often referred to as ‘bushwhacking’. Perpetually wet, the forest is tough and slow to penetrate and there are no established trails. This terrain provides fantastic opportunities for macro photography with beautiful light shining on the droplets and the dewy mosses and ferns.

The group will be split to reflect hiking capabilities to make sure everyone can get involved in the land excursions at their own pace. Please note that some excursions require a wet landing (climbing out of a skiff into knee deep water) and terrain is generally uneven. Walking poles are not provided so may be useful to bring.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 5

South Baranof Wilderness
South Baranof offers fantastic landscape photography. Towering granite walls and rushing waterfalls are interspersed with snowfields and glaciers which give way to coastal forest of hemlock and spruce. As the snow melts, every inch of the walls of the steep fjords (some as high as 5000 feet) turn into incredible cascades.

Paddle among the rarely explored inlets looking for seals, sea otters and sea lions. For those wanting a more challenging walk there is the opportunity for a little bushwhacking in the forests with the chance of gaining some altitude for a panoramic vista. Baranof is also a hotspot for bears, mink and Sitka black tail deer.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 6

Chatham Strait / Frederick Sound
Today sail in search of whales. Humpbacks migrate in huge numbers to feed in Frederick Sound and the Chatham Strait due to the abundance of plankton and krill. This region is renowned for bubble net feeding so keep a look out for tell-tale birds circling and bubbles on the surface. With luck this will be followed by humpbacks lunging to the surface mouths agape, pushing thousands of litres of water through their baleen plates, sifting out the nutrients. If the whales are less active, then head into the small recesses of the surrounding bays to explore by skiff or kayak. These waters are also home to both transient and resident Orcas and Dall’s porpoises, but sightings of these are less predictable.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 7

Admiralty Island National Monument
Admiralty Island is referred to by the Tlingit people as 'Kootznoowoo' meaning Fortress of the Bear. There are more brown bears here than can be found in all the lower US states combined. It also claims to have the highest concentration of bald eagles. Take the opportunity to explore the area by skiff or soak up this extraordinary wilderness quietly on a kayak.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 8

Stikine-Leconte Wilderness
Stikine-LeConte Wilderness is an exceptional location and another capital W wilderness area. The ice choked bay is encircled by incredible mountains with peaks jutting up 10,000 feet. Active glaciers and enormous icebergs dominate this region. LeConte Bay is home to the southernmost tidewater glacier, LeConte. The tide, currents and the captain will determine whether it will be possible to reach the face of the glacier. At high tide watch out for seal pups as this is a breeding and birthing area for harbour seals, they can often be seen in large numbers, floating by on pieces of iceberg that have calved from the glacier. At low tide walk among the bergs caught in the outwash.

Anchor at Ideal Cove for a hike along the Three Lakes trail. Today will also be the day for the overflight for any members of the group that did not get to go from Petersburg, weather permitting. This evening there will be a farewell dinner with a photo presentation looking back at the trip.


You will be staying at Safari Quest, full board

Day 9

Petersburg / Disembarkation
Disembark after breakfast. Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Safari Quest

Safari Quest

The overall concept of Safari Quest is to provide the atmosphere of private yachting rather than cruising, whilst combining adventure with comfort....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Alaska

Roxy Dukes, Travel Expert

"Roxy filled us with enthusiasm and came up with some great ideas for a trip. We liked the idea of a slightly 'off the beaten track experience' and some private bespoke activities and that's exactly what we've had. Thank you!"

"Roxy created a wonderfully interesting route which was the basis for a super trip. She also chose lovely places for us to stay and interesting activities for us to participate in, introducing us to the idea of private guided experiences which we thoroughly enjoyed."

Read More

Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Host

Chris Packham

Chris Packham
An accomplished photographer, cameraman, writer, conservationist and presenter, Chris Packham has become synonymous with natural history in the UK. His photography is innovative and thought provoking and has been shown at various exhibitions around the world and in numerous books. His TV work started with the award winning Really Wild Show in 1986 and has been prolific ever since. Credits include Wildshots , Wild watch , and Go Wild. His most recent works are BBC 2’s SpringWatch, AutumnWatch, and WinterWatch and Nature’s Weirdest Events.



Chris has explored many habitats from Antarctic Islands, rainforests, deserts, the Everest range, the deep oceans and some of the planet’s most notorious nightclubs and drinking dens. He has the honour of being a pro-active president, vice president and patron of some notable conservation charities and regularly expounds his entertaining, pragmatic, enthusiastic, and occasionally controversial view, on the environment and its care.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 17 / Max 22

Tour Expert:

Chris Packham

Departure Date (S):

  • 1st August 2019

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