Ready to chase the Northern Lights, explore virtually untouched natural wonders and maybe even catch a glimpse of Santa Claus along the way? This 8-day adventure through Alaska is perfect for travellers looking to connect with nature in one of the world’s most stunning winter wonderlands. Explore one of Alaska’s largest glaciers, the Matanuska Glacier, take part in a guided snowshoeing experience in the pristine Denali State Park and just when you’re ready to warm up, you can bliss out in Chena’s natural hot springs. With the opportunity to view the Northern Lights from strategically chosen viewing points every night of the trip that the weather permits, this is an adventure that you will never forget.
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Day 1: Anchorage
Welcome to Alaska! Today you can arrive in Anchorage any time that suits you to check in to your accommodation. If you have some free time, you might like to head out for a stroll in the crisp, Alaskan air and get acquainted with the town. This evening your Welcome Meeting will take place at 6 pm where you will meet your local leader and fellow travellers. After the meeting, you may like to enjoy dinner with the group – your leader will be full of recommendations for the best local restaurants. Every night of this trip, providing the weather permits, you will be given the opportunity to join your local leader – at the most strategic location within driving distance of your accommodation – for the chance to see the Northern Lights.
Day 2: Anchorage
This morning, after breakfast you’ll hop into your private van and travel along the scenic Seward Highway. It is one of only 13 highways in the US with the distinction of ‘All American Road’, meaning it is considered a tourist attraction unto itself. Along the way, you will have great opportunities to view and photograph some of the most scenic vistas that you pass, before arriving at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC). The AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round, providing spacious enclosures and quality animal care. This morning you’ll have the chance to learn more about some of Alaska's iconic animals and how they are nursed to recovery. After a quick break to enjoy a packed lunch, you’ll continue driving, through the Anton Anderson Tunnel to Whittie before boarding a boat for a 3.5 hour cruise on Prince William Sound. Here you’ll be surrounded by the mighty tidewater glaciers and should keep an eye out for harbor seals and otters playing in the water. After this, you can choose to head to town for dinner with the group or do your own thing. For those who are tired after a fun-filled day, there’ll be time for a quick nap before you’ll have the option of trying your luck at viewing the Northern Lights again.
Day 3: Sheep Mountain
Today after breakfast you’ll drive up to The Matanuska Glacier, one of Alaska's most famous destinations. At 27 miles (43 kilometres) long and 4 miles (6 kilometres) wide, it is Alaska's largest glacier that can be accessed by road. It is also one of the most accessible areas to walk on of any glacier in Alaska. Spend some time soaking up the views of the ice that formed thousands of years ago high in the Chugach Mountains. Depending on weather conditions, each day is unique due to the dynamic nature of the glacier. Hop back in your vehicle for a short drive right up to the toe of the glacier, where you’ll spend the next few hours, including enjoying lunch at a local eatery. Tonight, you’ll be staying at a lodge in Sheep Mountain – this area has very few tourists so there is no light pollution, meaning it’s the perfect place to see the Northern Lights if weather permits.
Day 4: Talkeetna
This morning is a free day, so you’re welcome to just relax at the lodge or take part in one of two optional activities – dog sledding or a helicopter flight, including landing on a glacier. If you opt for trying your hand at Alaska's official state sport, known to the locals as ‘dog mushing’, you’ll meet Iditarod racing dogs at the real racing trails north of Anchorage. Each ride consists of up to three riders hooked up to a dog sled team, led by a local Alaskan musher as your guide. Enjoy the serenity of the Alaskan winter landscape in a way that only a dog sled ride can provide. Otherwise, you might like to see Denali and the Alaska Range from above on a helicopter flight! Follow the river systems of Talkeetna across the Susitna Valley into an incredible landscape of icefalls, glaciers and snowy peaks. See the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier, mile high granite walls filled with a 4,000 foot (1219 metre) thick river of ice, the Don Sheldon amphitheater and the deepest canyon in North America. No matter how you decide to spend your day, there’s always the option of meeting up with the group for dinner to swap stories at the end, before heading out in search of the Northern Lights.
Day 5: Denali State Park
This morning after breakfast you’ll be heading to Denali National Park for a day filled with activities. First, head off on a two-hour leader-led snowshoeing experience along some of the picturesque local trails, with a break to stop and enjoy your packed lunch. After lunch, you’ll visit the Denali visitor center to learn about the nature and culture of the area, as well as the Murie Science and Learning Center for more information on the national park. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy as you please – you might want to explore Denali National Park further at your leisure for more stunning views of the wintery landscape. Then, meet up with the group for an included dinner at your hotel for the evening before the option of another opportunity to spot the Northern Lights in the surrounding wilderness.
Day 6: Fairbanks
Today is an exciting day, because straight after breakfast you’ll be driving up to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus’ house! Here it’s Christmas every day, so embrace your inner child with the chance to see inside Santa’s house, complete with an incredible range of Christmas decorations and toys. Enjoy a leader-led orientation walk of the town and have the option of stopping for lunch (or maybe just locally made sweets if that’s what you’re in the mood for!) before having the choice of a free afternoon, or the chance to take part in a reindeer walk through the birch forest. Led by a native Alaskan you’ll walk alongside your new furry friends, while learning about the adaptations that make reindeer ideal for Arctic living. After the hour-long walk, head inside to learn a bit more about reindeer while enjoying homemade cookies and drinks. Tonight, you can choose to join the group for dinner to share magical stories from your day at the North Pole, before the chance to search for the Northern Lights again.
Day 7: Fairbanks
This morning is a free morning, so enjoy breakfast when it suits you before you head for a relaxing soak in the natural waters of the nearby Chena Hot Springs resort. Chena’s water is used by people throughout Alaska, the Lower 48 and International visitors and dignitaries from every corner of the globe. Their recorded history dates to the early 1900's but there is evidence indigenous people used the water before that as well. The resort was officially formed back during the gold rush, when weary gold miners discovered that soaking in the warm waters helped their aching bodies after a day of digging. This afternoon you’ll have the option of visiting the Aurora Ice Museum, which was created using over 1000 tons of ice and snow, all harvested at Chena. The museum was completed in January 2005 and stays a cool 25° Fahrenheit (-7° Celsius) inside all year-round. This evening your group may choose to partake in a farewell dinner, before one last opportunity to spot and photograph the majestic Northern Lights.
Day 8: Fairbanks
Today your Alaskan adventure comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities planned and no accommodation provided for the night, so say goodbye to your fellow travellers and local leader. You’ll either need to arrange additional post-trip accommodation or make your way home from here.
At the time of making a reservation for your tour, we require a nonrefundable $400 per person deposit to be made on most of our trips. We understand that life happens, though, and if for some reason you need to change your travel plans, your deposit will move with you — just select another departure and we’ll move your deposit there. Just bear in mind that MOVEable deposits must be used within twenty-four (24) months of selecting a new departure. The final balance of your tour will be due sixty (60) days before the date of departure.