Denali National Park, Alaska.
I have always thought that our planet is a beautiful place. But I have never really comprehended nor imagined how beautiful it can be before visiting Alaska in 2012. It was my first time travelling for nature – previously it has always been for a mix of historic sites and culture plus a bit of nature but never was the entire trip dedicated to immerse myself in nature, from the landscape to the animals that depend on it.
When my dad first sounded the idea that we should visit Alaska, I looked at him incredulously. Mainly because I mistakenly thought that Alaska and Antarctica were the same thing (and I found out later on that a lot of people had this misconception). How on earth were we supposed to get there? And what is there to do besides looking at vast expanse of nothing but white?
This is the part where I’m glad that I’m such a dutiful daughter that despite thinking the idea was out of this world, I still went ahead and did some research. Of course, the first thing that I found out was that Alaska was NOT the same as Antarctica (how did I even make the connection?). I mean it was still cold, but summer seemed manageable and even pleasant. Secondly, it was not that hard to get to Alaska. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is well connected to other parts of the States and Canada. Alternatively you could take a 8-day cruise to and from Vancouver or Seattle. Which was what we did – we booked an 8-day Royal Caribbean Cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver and before the cruise we drove about 300 km to Denali National Park.
As it turned out, there is so much more to Alaska than the coldness it seems to have a reputation of. Here are my favourite moments in Alaska that hopefully will inspire you to get visiting next summer.
- The drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park may be long, but we were accompanied by the sun that never set and the mountainous range at the side.
- We had this view right outside our room. We spent a night at a cottage just outside Denali National Park, and when we stepped out from our room, we were greeted by this gorgeous view of the mountains.
- There were four seasons in a day. During our day tour at Denali National Park, we went through the scorching summer heat, cooling flowery breeze of spring, the gray and rainy autumn and the biting cold of winter with its snowfall. These two pictures were taken in the same morning.
- We came this close to a grizzly bear. Our tour guide instructed the whole bus to keep very still just in case we attracted too much attention and the bear might run away or come and attack us. I honestly couldn’t decide what would be more unfortunate. And we did not only see bears. We spotted eagles, mountain goats, moose and even wolves in the distance.
- The Alaskan Railway. So I was lying – our cruise did not depart from Anchorage. Instead we had to make our way to Seward and there was only one sensible way to go there: through the Alaskan Railway where you were getting the treat of your lifetime with breathtaking views throughout the 4-hour journey.
- Salmon, oh glorious salmon. Salmon is my favourite fish and it seems to be the staple food in Alaska, so needless to say I was looking forward to every meal when I was there.
This is no wonder, since the Salmon Capital of the World is located in Alaska.
- Playing golf at the most scenic putting course ever, and scoring hole in one while at it.
- Meeting these wonderful huskies. They were too adorable.
- Took a helicopter from Skagway to this Dog Camp. Taking the dog sleigh ride was like reliving a scene out of the movie ‘Frozen’.
- Listening to the thunderous sound of the Hubbard Glacier as the ice cracked and fell into the water. It was loud, a little scary, but fascinating at the same time. Unfortunately, the Hubbard Glacier has been receding at an alarming rate due to global warming. Time to buck up and play our part in saving the environment!
Seriously, humans may try to create the most beautiful and intricate architecture, but it will never come on par with the grandness of nature. Alaska is the perfect example of that.