Posts Tagged ‘alaska tours’

A Virtual Tour of Alaska

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Glacier Bay, Alaska

Don’t forget! Our virtual Alaska expedition launches tonight – Tuesday, October 26th – at 8:00pm, ET. It’s free and features Alaska expert Sue Perin.

Drawing from her vast experience in Alaska’s Inside Passage, Sue will share her insights on this remarkable expedition and what you could experience and enjoy on our May 22 – 29, 2011 voyage aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird.

- Discover Alaska and the value of expedition travel with an expert team of naturalists and Smithsonian Study Leader Patty Hostuick.
- See expedition highlights—humpback whales feeding, brown bears, soaring glaciers and lush, temperate rainforest.
- Get sense of daily activities – from onboard activities to kayaking, Zodiac rides, hiking and more.

Ready to go? Click here more more information on our virtual Alaska expedition, and here for more our Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness Cruise.

Where was your last adventure? Please share.

Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Does all of the hot weather we’ve been having make you long for cooler climes? Consider Alaska, where the wildlife stay cool by the rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and icebergs.

Ready to follow whales, bears, sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, and a host of other fascinating animals through their beautiful native habitat? Click here for more information on Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness, departing in May, 2011.

Click here for information on all of our tours to Alaska, with our next departures beginning in August, 2010.

Where do you go to stay cool in hot weather? Please share!

Denali, Alaska’s Big Five

Thursday, July 1st, 2010
A hungry grizzley bear having a snack. Photograph by Roman Kruywczak

A hungry grizzly bear having a snack. Photograph by Roman Kruywczak

The Athabaskan people recognized Mount Denali, the massive  peak looming over a 600 mile long mountain range, as the “High One.” But it’s the animals surrounding the mountain that many people travel from all over the world to see. There are 39 known mammals that live in the park, but many come to see what are known as the Big 5 – moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and the grizzly bear.

For those of us who love cuddly teddy bears there’s the question, “Are real grizzly bears the same way in real life?”

Definitely not.

The grizzly bear is actually one of the most solitary and aggressive of all the bears. Due to their large size, they are unable to climb trees like the smaller black bear, and instead must stand their ground. A small grizzly may weigh about 300 pounds, while bears living in coastal areas can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds. When bears are competing for food, they may become even more irritable.

But who is the most dangerous of all? The Mama Bear. 70% of human fatalities when encountering a grizzly are by a female grizzly protecting her young. Should you ever meet a grizzly bear, it would be best to respectfully keep your distance.

What wild animal sighting will you always remember? Tell us your story.

There’s still room on our Alaska’s Best: Denali and Kenai Fjords tour leaving this August. Maybe you’ll see all of the Big Five.

The Excitement of the Iditarod

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Alyssa Bobst is Program Support Coordinator at Smithsonian Journeys. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, with minors in International Studies and Arabic, from Washington University in St. Louis. Recently, she got a taste of the Iditarod, in advance of our new 2010 Iditarod tour. Click here for Alyssa’s full bio.

Musher and 2009 Iditarod winner Lance Mackey at the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo: Alyssa Bobst

Musher and 2009 Iditarod winner Lance Mackey at the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage. Photo: Alyssa Bobst

Jeff King, four-time winner of the Iditarod Race, stood right in front of me signing an autograph for an awe-struck teenage boy. In the next street over Lance Mackey, soon-to-be winner of the 2009 race, was talking to an animated reporter of a local news channel as fans and volunteers clamored around him for a picture. In the early hours of the morning, Anchorage was waking up and preparing for the Ceremonial Race Start activities before the mushers hit the Iditarod trail to work their way to the finish in Nome.

Commemorating a challenging history in wild Alaska, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has become a highly competitive sport. What began in 1973 as a project to celebrate Alaska’s Centennial Year now draws mushers from all over the world. Prior to the 1920s dog teams were used to cover rough terrain that was highly impassible for everything except dog sleds. The Iditarod Trail was a heavily traveled route used to carry mail, transport supplies to small isolated communities, and take gold out. In 1925, dog sleds carried medication to combat a diphtheria epidemic in Nome. With no other way to reach the residents, the mushers and their dogs saved many lives.

I learned the history of the Iditarod Race and why it is important to Alaska’s identity from locals, volunteers, and others in my tour group. During this time of year, the Iditarod is the only thing people talk about and they were delighted to share their knowledge with me, a first-timer to Alaska and the Iditarod. The Race attracts mushers, volunteers, and thousands of visitors from all over the world coming together and creating an international community to witness “The Last Great Race on Earth.” (more…)