An Alaskan cruise is not complete without a whale watching adventure! Working on the cruise ships in Alaska was one of the most rewarding times of my life, and that definitely included whale watching. Since I was privileged to narrate and speak for nearly 200 Alaskan cruises with Princess Cruise Lines, I was also able to experience at least 50 whale watching excursions. In addition, I spotted hundreds more whales from the cruise ship bridge for enthusiastic cruise ship passengers.
Where is the best place for Whale watching?
If you are in SE Alaska, Juneau is the place. Humpback whales come to Alaska to feed, and they feed in the icy waters of Stephens Passage 24 hours a day. You can also do some amazing whale watching in the Kenai Peninsula in South Central Alaska or near Hubbard Glacier. In fact, though, you may see them randomly anywhere in Alaskan waters.
Why do whales come specifically to Stephens Passage?
Alaska’s humpback whales winter in Hawaii where they breed and give birth, but they DO NOT eat. Each spring they migrate to Alaska and they are HUNGRY as they arrive. Consequently, in Alaska they eat constantly–22-23 hours per day!
When the young are born in Hawaii, they have absolutely NO blubber and the mothers weight is also depleted. Therefore, the mother whale must eat enough to feed her baby and replenish here own blubber. Humpback whale blubber is 55% fat (the consistency of toothpaste or yogurt) and the babies gain 3-5 pounds per hour.
Humpback whales feed on krill and herring. These tiny fish migrate to narrow waters, consequently, they are in this passage in abundance! Like humans, whales are intelligent so they go where the “getting is easiest.” Why feed in open ocean when all the food you can eat is one relatively small area? Continue reading Whale Watching in Southeast Alaska
College Fjord in Prince William Sound is one of the most gorgeous settings on the planet. Of all the glaciers and fjords in Alaska, College Fjord and Hubbard Glacier are hands down my favorites. Truly, there are NO words for either region. As an experienced Alaska naturalist, I urge you to move both of these sites to the Top Ten of your bucket list!
The Harriman Expedition catapulted College Fjord into the news:
Even though dozens of glaciers have been in Prince William Sound for centuries, it was the 1899 privately funded Harriman Expedition that put the region on the map. (It is
significant to note that much later in 1964, Prince William Sound made news again when it was the epicenter of the major Alaska earthquake). But notably, the Harriman one year journey was monumental on many levels. In fact, it was the expedition’s “discovery” of College Fjord that became the most outstanding geological contribution in the 20th Century. Continue reading College Fjord in Prince William Sound
Hubbard Glacier is always a BIG surprise–just like College Fjord or Africa’s Victoria Falls. Even though I was raised in Alaska within a day’s boat ride of Hubbard, I never heard about it until I became an adult Alaska naturalist. But, Wow! What a spectacular, active, overwhelming, monstrous (any more superlatives you choose) experience.
This dramatic glacier rests north of Juneau at the terminus of Disenchant-ment Bay and near the little village of Yakutat. Tglinkit Indians have inhabited the area for over 800 years. Compared to many other glaciers, Hubbard is NOT receding. And this growth brings continual geological changes to the region. Because of these changes, Hubbard Glacier claims several world distinctions. Continue reading Hubbard Glacier – Nature’s Phenomenon
Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is without a doubt one of the world’s most magnificent destinations and an absolute “thrill of a lifetime.”
Getting there is a challenge, but one that is rewarded on a monumental scale. Oregon’s Multonomah Falls and Niagara Falls are magnificent, but they don’t hold a candle to their African cousin, Victoria Falls! A visit to Victoria Falls is right up there with “Walking with Lions!”
Lemurs of Madagascar are some of the most unusual and unique in the entire world. Those of us who love to travel all have a “bucket list,” and usually we have that list prioritized. Like all such travelers, I have a mental bucket list. But, let me be honest;Madagascar was never on my list anywhere–not even the bottom ten! There are so many exotic places to
visit that I never even considered Madagascar as an option. But, in the Fall of 2015, my husband received an invitation to teach in Madagascar for eight days. An invitation is an invitation; so we happily accepted. Continue reading The Lemurs of Madagascar
Sometimes in life we do some that in retrospect we realize was a “once in a lifetime adventure.” Such was our 2016 adventure when we went Walking with the Lions! Our daughter had visited us in Africa once before and we had
escorted her around Johannesburg as well as Kruger National Park in northern South Africa. Her stated goal for this specific visit was to visit Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. When we visited Victoria Falls two years earlier, we drove a day from Lusaka to Livingstone. In 2016 we flew directly to Livingstone from OR Tambo Airport in Joburg. We arranged the flight to arrive early in the day in order to have sufficient time at the falls and still be there just one night. Continue reading Walking with Lions