Kayak among glaciers and whales with the experts on this one-of-a-kind adventure through pristine Glacier Bay
Few places are as hauntingly beautiful as Southeast Alaska. Rich with some of the most stunningly preserved nature and wildlife, America’s last frontier is home to Glacier Bay National Park, the densest convergence of tidewater glaciers in Alaska. Watching these enormous, blue ice glaciers calve into the ocean quickly puts size into perspective. And every year as the glaciers recede, they reveal an astounding ecosystem in their wake. “Southeast” has another draw—humpback whales—who migrate specifically to this spot from Hawaii to eat the abundance of food that is generated during the long, 18-hour days of sunshine over the summer months. It’s hard to top of the thrill of seeing a 40-ton mammal come to the surface of the water to breach as you sit in a kayak only a few hundred yards away—talk about feeling small!
We have been pioneering kayak expeditions in this bay since 1972, inspiring the National Park Service to use our standards and ethics as a barometer for working with other commercial operators. We are one of only two travel companies to have permits to kayak here and the only one to offer this unique itinerary. Our local guides are the real deal—seasoned professional “salty dogs” who have spent years camping and kayaking in these wild places. In addition to educating you about America’s purchase of Alaska, they can tell you about everything from bear safety and the breeding patterns of the humpbacks to identifying the species of abundant, beach fringe wildflowers. Their indefatigable spirits will lead you through miles of moderate paddling and beach camping.
Our adventure centers around the rustic bush town of Gustavus (population 429), the gateway community to Glacier Bay National Park and home to writers, artists, and conservationists. The only way to get there is by plane, and we’ll fly in from Juneau on our first day. We’ll be traveling in and out of town, based out of the Annie Mae Lodge, a charming, rustic lodge on the shores of the Good River, for two three-day camping excursions. For our first, we’ll venture through Icy Straight to Point Adolphus on Chichagof Island. Kayaking along spectacular coastline filled with sea lions, porpoises, bald eagles, and countless exotic seabirds, we’ll be on the lookout for the great humpbacks, who offer magnificent acrobatics. We’ll camp on isolated, pristine beaches, be lulled to sleep by lapping water and the cavernous breathing of the humpbacks, and perhaps even spot a bear. Seeing a bear is never a guarantee, but certain to be a highlight of any trip to Southeast, and our guides will be sure to teach you all there is to know about interacting with them safely. When we get back “home” to Gustavus, we’ll enjoy a dinner in one of the restaurants in town before heading out the next day on a scenic, charter boat transfer into the remote upper west arm of Glacier Bay. We’ll jump back in our kayaks for our second excursion and paddle at a leisurely pace, taking in massive glaciers, majestic peaks, and icebergs, and stop along the way to explore the shores and appreciate the wildflowers and waterfalls before returning to Gustavus for our last night.
The calm, glassy waters of Glacier Bay offer an amazing perspective into the powerful forces that have shaped the landscape. As you hear the thunderous sound of glaciers calving miles away, falling into the water after traveling down the mountains at a snail’s pace, you can’t help but marvel at the symphony before you. Glacier Bay is part of the largest contiguous stretch of wilderness in the world—truly one of its last frontiers.
8 days easy to moderate sea kayaking and hiking
- Explore Southeast Alaska with the original kayaking pioneers on this one-of-a-kind adventure through Glacier Bay National Park—only with MTS!
- Paddle among icebergs and marvel at the size of whales and glaciers from up close—a rarity given that MTS is one of only two companies to have permits to kayak Glacier Bay
- Visit Point Adolphus, a world-renown humpback whale feeding ground, where you’ll also see sea lions, porpoises, and bald eagles
- Camp for four nights on isolated, pristine beaches and enjoy delicious meals prepared by your local, expert guides
- Live it up like a local in the tiny bush town of Gustavus
Duration: 8 days Start Location: Juneau End Location: JuneauDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Fly from Juneau to the bush town of Gustavus, Alaska
On Day 1 we meet in the Juneau Airport and fly to Gustavus. You will check into your lodge at the edge of Glacier Bay National Park and have a pre-trip meeting with your guide. We share a welcome dinner and then you will have plenty of time to explore the nearby sandy beach and beach fringe meadows.
Day 2 : Point Adolphus, Chichagof Island
Take a charter boat from Gustavus across Icy Strait to the whale-feeding grounds of Point Adolphus, and camp at the water's edge.
Day 3 : Kayaking Point Adolphus & the shores of Chichagof Island
Look for humpback whales, sea lions, otters, and seals as we kayak along the shore of Chicagof Island.
Day 4 : Point Adolphus & return to Gustavus
Kayak along the shore to meet our charter boat back to Gustavus, where we'll explore the town and eat at a local restaurant.
Days 5 - 6 : Glacier Bay kayaking expedition
Board a boat for a spectacular scenic cruise into Glacier Bay, followed by a kayaking expedition. Our pace is leisurely as we paddle and hike along the scenic shores of the bay, with ample time to appreciate and photograph the fantastic surroundings.
Day 7 : Gustavus
Return to Gustavus by boat and enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a stroll or bike ride outside in the "day" light.
Day 8 : Depart
Morning hike, fly home via Juneau
DATES: Best time to go: June - August Departures: Jul 20 - 27, 2015 Aug 1 - 8, 2015 Aug 14 - 21, 2015
Annie Mae LodgeGustavus
The Annie Mae Lodge rests on the banks of the Good River, surrounded by lush rain forest and overlooking the Icy Straits of Alaska's Inside Passage. Started by Annie Mae's 3 granddaughters and now run by her great-granddaughter, the aim of this family lodge has always been to provide traditional country hospitality in a place of exceptional beauty.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Shelli Ogilvy, Alaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Shelli was born and raised in Alaska. She grew up in Gustavus with Glacier Bay as her backyard. She has been guiding for Alaska Discovery as a wilderness leader since 1997. She has a deep love for this place and ecosystem, finding peace and joy through sharing the experience of the wilderness. When not guiding, Shelli tries to find time to paint and work on her cabin. She currently spends her winters in New Mexico skiing and eating green chilies.
Tom Schwartz started guiding canoe, skiing and sea kayak trips in Southeast Alaska in 1997 with a non-profit organization for youth in Juneau. He joined the Alaska Discovery team in 2003 guiding trips to Berner's Bay, Pack Creek and Glacier Bay. His experience as a fine dining chef has inspired him to create excellent food in amazing places. Keep an eye out for a wilderness cookbook!
Keith Thompson, Alaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Originally from Pennsylvania, Keith left a job in medical research to pursue his love for travel and the outdoors. He's been involved in a rock and ice climbing business, worked as a bike guide, and traveled extensively throughout North and Central America, and Southeast Asia. In 1999, his travels led him to Alaska where he fell in love with his surroundings. Keith writes, "I found the pristine Alaskan wilderness an inspiration and guiding a way of sharing and learning about this special place." (Bonus: Keith is also a massage therapist.)