Alaska Relaxed Discovery

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Focused around the Matanuska Valley and the Kenai Peninsula, this trip offers a great Alaskan experience with less driving and more relaxation time.

Day 1: Anchorage

Anchorage is not the capital of Alaska (that’s Juneau), but it’s by far the biggest city in the state, and home to about half of the population. If you arrive early in the day, consider a visit to either the Anchorage Museum of History and Arts, or the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Other good options include a walk along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, or – if you’re not too…Read more

Anchorage is not the capital of Alaska (that’s Juneau), but it’s by far the biggest city in the state, and home to about half of the population. If you arrive early in the day, consider a visit to either the Anchorage Museum of History and Arts, or the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Other good options include a walk along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, or – if you’re not too tired after a long flight – a hike up the popular trail to Flattop Mt.

Most car rentals companies offer airport pickup, with the exception of some local agencies who are located a short taxi ride away.

Overnight: Anchorage, AK

Downtown Anchorage, Alaska

Day 2: Hike the Matanuska Glacier

The day starts with a drive east along the Glenn Hwy, which quickly becomes a winding, mountainous and super-scenic road. The highway follows the Matanuska River valley, parallel to the stunning snowy peaks of the Chugach Range. This beautiful drive takes about 2.5 – 3 hours. The afternoon will be spent exploring the Matanuska Glacier with local professional guides (no experience or equipment required). The “Mat”, as it’s known locally,…Read more

The day starts with a drive east along the Glenn Hwy, which quickly becomes a winding, mountainous and super-scenic road. The highway follows the Matanuska River valley, parallel to the stunning snowy peaks of the Chugach Range. This beautiful drive takes about 2.5 – 3 hours.

The afternoon will be spent exploring the Matanuska Glacier with local professional guides (no experience or equipment required). The “Mat”, as it’s known locally, is a 27-mile long glacier, the longest car-accessible glacier in the US. Your guides will take you to the glacier’s face, where you’ll don your helmet and begin the 3-hr hike. The glacier is constantly moving and shifting, creating a landscape rich with unique features such as turquoise pools, blue caves, crevasses and moulans (waterfalls emptying into an ice cave). Needless to say, this is a true highlight of every visitor to Alaska.

The day ends near in the Matanuska Glacier area, in one of the few remote lodges located in this beautiful corner of Alaska.

Overnight: Glacier view, AK

Hikers view icebergs in Lake George, Alaska

Day 3: Girdwood

The day starts with a drive back west towards Anchorage. A great option for a scenic detour is the Hatcher Pass area, a beautiful off-the-beaten-track alpine area in the Talkeetna mountains close to the town of Palmer. Surrounded by green tundra and overlooked by impressive granite peaks, this is a great area for a short (or long) hike. You can also visit Independence Mine Historical Site, an interesting deserted gold…Read more

The day starts with a drive back west towards Anchorage. A great option for a scenic detour is the Hatcher Pass area, a beautiful off-the-beaten-track alpine area in the Talkeetna mountains close to the town of Palmer. Surrounded by green tundra and overlooked by impressive granite peaks, this is a great area for a short (or long) hike. You can also visit Independence Mine Historical Site, an interesting deserted gold mine from the 1940’s.

Your destination today is the town of Girdwood, about 45 minutes drive south of Anchorage. The road to Girdwood runs parallel to Turnagain Arm, a narrow bay known for its panoramic views and extreme tides. This is also a great area for wildlife viewing, especially beluga whales and Dall sheep.

Overnight: Girdwood, AK

Hiking the Reed Lakes Trail, Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Day 4: Girdwood and Turnagain Arm

Full day for exploration in the Girdwood vicinity. A ski town in winter, Girdwood turns during summer into a hub for local outdoor activities. The Cross Pass Trail, one of Alaska’s best hiking trails, is right out of town (4-6 hours RT). If you’re looking for a flatter hiking experience, Winner Creek Trail offers a fun walk in the rainforest all the way to a great little view point called…Read more

Full day for exploration in the Girdwood vicinity. A ski town in winter, Girdwood turns during summer into a hub for local outdoor activities. The Cross Pass Trail, one of Alaska’s best hiking trails, is right out of town (4-6 hours RT). If you’re looking for a flatter hiking experience, Winner Creek Trail offers a fun walk in the rainforest all the way to a great little view point called “the Gorge”. Overlooking the town is Mt. Alyeska, and you can take the tram to the top and enjoy some excellent views of the area. Other options include bike rentals, dog sledding, helicopter flightseeing tours, and more.

Overnight: Girdwood, AK

Hikers in Portage Pass, Alaska

Day 5: Homer

A short distance south of Girdwood lays the beautiful glacial Portage Valley; consider a stop here, where you can check out the displays at the visitor center, take a short boat ride to Portage Glacier, or go for a walk on one of the valley’s many hiking trails. After visiting the valley, keep driving south for another 3 hours or so. The road will take you along a scenic stretch…Read more

A short distance south of Girdwood lays the beautiful glacial Portage Valley; consider a stop here, where you can check out the displays at the visitor center, take a short boat ride to Portage Glacier, or go for a walk on one of the valley’s many hiking trails. After visiting the valley, keep driving south for another 3 hours or so. The road will take you along a scenic stretch of the Chugach Mountains, then along the Cook Inlet shoreline. Weather permits, you could expect some great views of the big volcanoes (11,500-13,000 feet) across the inlet. Your destination, the charming town of Homer, Alaska, is literally the end of the road.

Overnight: Homer, AK

Garden decorations, Alaska

Day 6: Bear Viewing

Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks lay on the west side of the Cook Inlet, across the bay from Homer. These two wild parks are arguably two of the best locations in the world to view bears in the wild. Today’s plan is to go on a day trip to one of these parks and spend a few hours with the furry giants also known as the coastal brown bears…Read more

Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks lay on the west side of the Cook Inlet, across the bay from Homer. These two wild parks are arguably two of the best locations in the world to view bears in the wild. Today’s plan is to go on a day trip to one of these parks and spend a few hours with the furry giants also known as the coastal brown bears of Alaska.

The brown bear is not a social animal by any mean, but every summer, when the salmon begin moving upstream, big concentrations of bears are formed along the rivers. These bears will spend most of the summer fishing and competing for fishing and mating rights. Busy with their fishing agenda and concerned mostly with the presence of other bears, the bears are generally very tolerable of human presence. This does not mean you should approach them too closely, of course – these are still very wild and very big animals – but it allows for an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience.

The exact destination of the trip is determined by the local operators in Homer the day before (and sometimes, the day of) departure, based on bear activity observed in each area. Both Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks are not connected to the road system, so arrival at the bear viewing location is done using a variety of small aircraft, including (but not limited to) floatplanes, helicopters and wheeled planes capable of landing on the beaches during low tides. The super-scenic flight will take you over some serious mountains, glaciers and active volcanoes, and is a highlight on its own right. The tour is usually led by the pilot or by a professional guide, unless the destination is Brooks Camp, where park rangers oversee the site and direct the visitors.

Once the tour is over, you’ll fly back to Homer.

Overnight: Homer, AK

Brown bears fishing for salmon, Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Day 7: Homer and Kachemak Bay

Homer is located across the water from the beautiful Kachemak Bay; here you can find two of Alaska’s charming coastal towns, Halibut Cove and Seldovia, both accessible via ferry (Halibut Cove), floatplane service or day cruise (Seldovia). Also located along the bay, Kachemak Bay State Park offers some great hiking, most notably the Grewingk Glacier trail (you’ll need a water taxi for drop-off and pickup). Of course, you could also…Read more

Homer is located across the water from the beautiful Kachemak Bay; here you can find two of Alaska’s charming coastal towns, Halibut Cove and Seldovia, both accessible via ferry (Halibut Cove), floatplane service or day cruise (Seldovia). Also located along the bay, Kachemak Bay State Park offers some great hiking, most notably the Grewingk Glacier trail (you’ll need a water taxi for drop-off and pickup). Of course, you could also opt to spend the day in Homer, which offers a good mix of local museums, beach walks and eateries.

Overnight: Homer, AK

Iceberg near Grewingk Glacier, Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska

Day 8: Seward

Your next destination is the town of Seward, about 3 hours drive from Homer. Seward is located at the edge of Kenai Fjords National Park, a coastal area dominated by the vast Harding Icefield. Glaciers extending from the icefield towards the sea created a series of deep fjords, rich in wildlife and extremely photogenic. On the way to Seward you could stop for a hike in one of the many…Read more

Your next destination is the town of Seward, about 3 hours drive from Homer. Seward is located at the edge of Kenai Fjords National Park, a coastal area dominated by the vast Harding Icefield. Glaciers extending from the icefield towards the sea created a series of deep fjords, rich in wildlife and extremely photogenic. On the way to Seward you could stop for a hike in one of the many hiking trails along the way, or spend the afternoon on a stroll along the Seward waterline. If you like staring at big fish, Seward’s fishing charters typically return to the harbor around 6:00 pm; you can see the charters crews filleting their catch by the water, to the delight of outside visitors and local gulls alike.

Overnight: Seward, AK

Hikers overlooking the Harding Icefield, Alaska

Day 9: Kenai Fjords National Park

Today’s plan is to spend the morning on a cruise to the nearby Aialik Glacier, and then use the rest of the day to continue exploring the Seward area. With the exception of one road leading to Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park is only accessible by boat or aircraft. A day cruise along the rocky shoreline of this wild park allows for the best chances to view its abundant…Read more

Today’s plan is to spend the morning on a cruise to the nearby Aialik Glacier, and then use the rest of the day to continue exploring the Seward area.

With the exception of one road leading to Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park is only accessible by boat or aircraft. A day cruise along the rocky shoreline of this wild park allows for the best chances to view its abundant wildlife and incredible glacial landscape. The cruise offers excellent chances to view whales and orcas, as well as other marine mammals. Aialik Glacier is a big wall of white ice, and you can rest assured that the captain will allow for ample time next to the glacier, where you can photograph big chunks of ice crashing into the calm water of the bay. The cruise departs Seward in the morning and returns 6 hours later, leaving you lots of time to enjoy the rest of the day. The prominent options in the area are the Harding Icefield trail, Caines Head trail (coastal walk) or some section of the Lost Lake trail. If the weather is iffy and not very suitable for hiking (this is Alaska after all), you could spend some quality time in the Alaska Sealife Center learning about the local marine biology.

Optional upgrade: kayaking in the Bear Glacier Lagoon

Bear Glacier flows out of the Harding Icefield towards the ocean, but its terminus rests in a beautiful glacial lagoon, filled with icebergs. This tour starts with a jet boat ride from Seward to the lagoon; chances of viewing the local marine wildlife (whales, orcas, sea lions and more) along the way are pretty high. After a safety brief, you get your own double-seat ocean kayak and go on a guided adventure among the icebergs. You could choose one of two options:

  • Half-day tour: the classic choice. 5.5 hours total, out of which about 2.5 hours are spent kayaking. Upgrade cost: $110 per person.
  • Full-day tour: folks in good shape looking for a full day trip can go for this option – 9 hours total, 5.5 of which are spent kayaking all the way to the glacier’s face. This trip ends with a gorgeous heli ride back to Seward, hence its more hefty price. Upgrade cost: $375 per person.

Overnight: Seward, AK

Humpback whale tail, Alaska

Day 10: Anchorage

Drive back north to Anchorage and enjoy another look at the beautiful views along the Turnagain Arm. The trip ends at the Ted Stevens International Airport in town, where you return your rental car and begin the journey back home.

Drive back north to Anchorage and enjoy another look at the beautiful views along the Turnagain Arm. The trip ends at the Ted Stevens International Airport in town, where you return your rental car and begin the journey back home.

Juggler at the sunset, Sleeping lady in the background, Anchorage, Alaska

Why choose this tour?

If you’re curious about what Alaska has to offer, but you’d like to take your time, play more and drive less, this itinerary is for you.

The trip begins and ends in Anchorage. The route stretches between the Matanuska Glacier (3 hours east of Anchorage) and Homer (about 4 hours south of Anchorage), with a little hop over the inlet to Katmai or Lake Clark National Park to go see some bears in the wild. It’s based on our 8-day itinerary, with the addition of rest days in Girdwood and in Homer; you can use these extra days for anything from hiking to bike riding, wildlife viewing, dog sledding, or just good-old-fashioned rest. Your choice.

The tour package includes

1 Guided hike on the mighty Matanuska Glacier.

2 A day tour in Katmai or Lake Clark National Park, where you can view the world-famous coastal brown bears of Alaska in the wild.

3 Scenic day cruise in the beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park – Glaciers, whales and more.

Still not sure?

You’re more than welcome to contact us, we’ll be happy to chat and help you pick the right tour.

Total cost

  • $3,770 Per Person, double occupancy.
  • Taxes and fees included.

Deposit / Cancellations 

  • Covid-19 Policy! Yes, these are special times:

    • Deposit: $100 (for the whole trip, not per-person)
    • Balance is due 60 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellation fees:

    • Up to 60 days prior to departure: NO CANCELLATION FEE except for the $100 deposit.
    • 59-30 days prior: 10% of the trip cost + cancellation fees charged by vendors.
    • 29-1 days prior: 20% of the trip cost + cancellation fees charged by vendors.

Trip cost includes

Accommodations

  • 9 nights in hotels, lodges (usually rustic cabins) or B&B’s.
  • Breakfast is not included unless specifically mentioned.

Transportation

  • 10 day Fullsize car rental with unlimited mileage.

Tours

  • Guided glacier hike on the Matanuska Glacier (4 hrs).
  • Bear viewing tour in Katmai or Lake Clark National Park, including a RT flight in a small aircraft from Homer (5-8 hrs).
  • Scenic day cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park, inc. lunch (6-7.5 hrs).

Not Included

  • International and / or domestic flights.
  • Rental car additional costs: insurance, additional driver, gas.
  • Meals.
  • Tips.
  • Optional excursions or admission to optional sites (museums, trams, etc.).
  • Anything not specifically mentioned under “trip cost includes”.

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