An Alaska Safari: adventures in paradise

In Alaska Travelgram by scott

Canoeing on Pedersen Lagoon in Kenai Fjords National Park.

If you want to w-o-w your friends and relatives visiting Alaska, take a 7-day Kenai Backcountry Safari Trip with Alaska Wildland Adventures.

The Alaska Safari Adventure includes:

  • Stay at three wilderness lodges: Kenai Riverside Lodge, Kenai Backcountry Lodge, and the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge.
  • A full-day raft trip down the Kenai River to the Kenai Backcountry Lodge.
  • Marine wildlife and glacier cruise out to the exclusive Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge.
  • Alaska Adventure Activities include: Explore the Kenai Fjords National Park, including your choice of activities, including kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rafting, beachcombing, and more!
  • Alaska Wildlife Viewing: you may see bears, humpbacks, orcas, sea lions, harbor seals, otters, eagles, mountain goats, Dall sheep, and many birds.
  • Alaska Glacier Viewing: See the Pederson Glacier, Bear Glacier, Holgate Glacier, and Aialik Glacier

Below is a stream-of-consciousness hit list from last week. There are lots of moving parts to this type of adventure:

  • Getting you and your bags from one place to another
  • Designing the right activities
  • Putting together the right meals
  • Snacks and drinks

It’s quite an accomplishment.

Here goes:

Pick-up. Join the safari at pick-up in Anchorage. You’ll meet your guide, who will be with you all week as you explore the wilds of the Kenai Peninsula.

The “Wildlander” makes a beach landing in Aialik Bay.

Our guide, Lisa Culpepper, has been working off and on in Alaska for more than a decade. You’ll know her by her Canon camera with a long lens (100-500mm). She’s able to capture wildlife images from far, far away!

Our guide, Lisa Culpepper, zooms in on a Bald Eagle on Skilak Lake.
Kenai Riverside Lodge, owned by Alaska Wildwind Adventures

Kenai Riverside Lodge

The first stop is the Kenai Riverside Lodge in Cooper Landing. On the way, take a hike on the Winner Creek trail near Alyeska Resort for an up-close look at the flora in the rainforest. It’s more than just trees. There are mushrooms. There are berries. And yes, there are bears, too.

Keep your eyes open for birds and critters along the way. Lisa spotted swans, eagles, Dall sheep, ducks, and gulls.

Kenai Riverside Lodge is right on the water in Cooper Landing. Dinner is served in the main lodge—and everyone gets a cabin. Sign up for a sauna or an evening program on what sort of wildlife you’re likely to see on safari. Sign up to go fishing on the Upper Kenai or raft the Kenai River Canyon en route to the next lodge: Kenai Backcountry Lodge.

Our guide on the Kenai River.

Take a raft trip down the Kenai River to Kenai Backcountry Lodge

Kenai Backcountry Lodge is on the south shore of Skilak Lake, near the Cottonwood Creek trailhead. The lodge is off the grid and gets its power from a small hydro set-up, a solar array, and generators. It’s oh-so-quiet at night. 

You might as well put up your cell phone at this point.

Join the others for a hike up Cottonwood Creek above the treeline. It’s not a particularly long climb—but it’s pretty much straight up. The views are worth it. Alternatively, sign up for a boat cruise of Skilak Lake, a kayak trip, or…a sauna! During your two-night stay, you may have the chance to do all three: hike, kayak, and sauna! 

Room with a view. Overlooking Skilak Lake at Kenai Backcountry Lodge.

Hike in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Next stop: hiking to see the bears and other critters in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Lisa knows where the bears are. Choose from several hikes in the refuge for views of the river, canyon, and Skilak Lake—or a “saunter” along the shoreline. And yes, there are bears. Overnight back at Kenai Riverside Lodge.

Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge

Next: off to Seward for a glacier/wildlife cruise en route to Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge

Get ready for a great ride on the “Wildlander.” Alaska Wildland Adventures had this custom boat built for the lodge. It holds a maximum of about 30 people, along with the crew. It’s got a bow-lander, so it just runs up on the beach when it’s time to land.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park’s glory is on display when cruising on the Wildlander. Stay warm inside or get out on the front or back deck to breathe the sea air and spot the whales. 

Watch for both humpbacks and orcas on the ride. 

An otter plays in Pedersen Lagoon in front of Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge.

Bear Glacier 

Bear Glacier is kicking off some massive icebergs visible over the top of the terminal moraine. I think they were more than 100 feet high!

Your captain will get in close to see sea lions, harbor seals, otters, eagles, mountain goats, bears, and Dall sheep. The seologic features of the park make for an awesome backdrop for many seabirds that fly by. Common birds in this area include puffins, cormorants, eagles, oystercatchers, kittiwakes, gulls, ducks, and others that I cannot pronounce…much less spell. HA!

Zoom in to see the sea lions and seals pulled out on the rocks. Here, we’re rounding the corner to chase a pod of Orca killer whales!

Holgate Glacier

After reaching Aialik Bay, the Wildlander sneaks up close to the Holgate Glacier. It’s not as big as Aialik Glacier, but there aren’t many other boats in the water. You have the bay to yourself. 

Aialik Glacier

At the lodge, you have the option of a full-day kayak trip to the face of Aialik Glacier—it’s a seven-mile paddle. It is one of the TOP trip options. Others include canoe rides up to various lakes in the area to see bears or a ridgetop hike for a million-dollar view. I think it’s everybody’s favorite Alaska Christmas Card shot!!

Again—no bars and no bandwidth. This adds to your immersive dive into nature’s splendor. Don’t fight it. You’re going to eat well, sleep well, and wake refreshed. You’ll be ready to see the best and the brightest wonders of the Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska Wildlife Viewing

Bears. Eagles. Moose. Puffins. Otters. Loons. Whales. Sea Lions. Seals. Oystercatchers. Will you see them all? Maybe. But you’re waking up in their country. 

Push down on that cushy moss. Check out the crazy mushrooms. EXAMINE those berries carefully, and don’t touch the Devil’s Club.

Zoom in to see the sea lions and seals pulled out on the rocks. Here, we’re rounding the corner to chase a pod of Orca killer whales!

Learn more about Alaska’s “safaris” into the wilderness. Alaska Wildland Adventures is headquartered in Girdwood, Alaska’s ski town. Check ‘em out. Maybe plan your safari….which might include Denali, Talkeetna, or Seward

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More great Alaska adventures on the Kenai Peninsula:

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