Forrest Rowland was a wonderful guide. He is extremely knowledgeable about birds and always takes the time to consider the wants, needs and priorities of the group. He works with his group to form a common goal. He was extremely professional and he had a remarkably positive attitude. His enthusiasm was infectious and admirable, as was his perseverance in finding us any species that we wanted and which was possible to see. Forrest is personable, humorous, and extremely generous and kind-hearted. I am so grateful to have met him.
This tour is offered in partnership with High Lonesome Birdtours.
No Alaskan experience is complete without travelling through Denali & Kenai. This tour is by far the most diverse offering in this dramatically scenic region. Activities include a boat ride through Kenai Fjords for auklets, puffins, murrelets, whales, Sea Otters and Orca, and exploring the Denali highway for Smith’s Longspur, Arctic Warbler, Rock and Willow Ptarmigan, with excellent chances of bears and wolves. We then search the lush forests around Anchorage and Seward for American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Varied Thrush, Pine Grosbeak and more; certainly a grand finale to our Alaskan adventures.
Please note: these prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.
Trumpeter & Tundra Swan, Red-throated, Common & Pacific Loon, Kittlitz’s, Marbled & Ancient Murrelet, Red-faced & Pelagic Cormorant, Horned & Tufted Puffin, Common & Thick-billed Murre, American Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope, Golden Eagle, Northern Hawk-Owl, Gyrfalcon, Long-tailed Jaeger, Rufous Hummingbird, Arctic Warbler, Boreal & Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, Northwestern Crow, Townsend’s, Blackpoll, & Wilson’s Warbler, Pine Grosbeak.
Arctic Fox, Grizzly Bear, Gray Wolf, Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep, Sea Otter, Humpback Whale, Musk Ox.
Boreal & taiga forest, tundra, mountain ranges, lakes & shorelines, Pacific Coastal Rainforest, islands, pelagic waters.
Mostly mild; can be colder on the boat trip.
Generally easy with some moderate walks.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Aleut and Eskimo cultures.
Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage
After arriving in Anchorage, we will all meet at the Coast Hotel at 18:30 for our first dinner together. We will be dining at Orso, a favourite of Anchorage residents. After dinner, we’ll then do a bit of birding around Anchorage, so be sure to bring your binoculars. We’ll check Westchester Lagoon where we usually find Hudsonian Godwits and Short-billed Dowitchers in breeding plumage along with nesting Red-necked Grebes. Other expected species include Arctic Tern, Mew and Bonaparte’s Gulls, Greater Scaup and many others. Nesting Pacific Loons can usually be found in the Anchorage area as well.
Day 2: Depart for Denali Highway
We’ll start the day at 6:30 with a Continental breakfast at the Coast, after which we’ll depart for Denali Park. An amazing recent development on today’s route was the massive wildfire locally known as the “Sockeye Burn”.
We will make sure to take some time to seek out two recent-burn opportunists that are seldom encountered outside of such areas: American Three-toed Woodpecker and Black-backed Woodpecker.
Last year’s Alaska birding tour was very successful at this site indeed, finding cooperative breeding pairs of both scarce species! Eventually arriving in the town of Talkeetna, we’ll break for lunch. We should arrive at our lodging outside the park about 16:00. Once we’ve checked in and had a bit of a break, we’ll enjoy dinner in the little village outside of the park. Our lodgings for the night are in the beautiful and charming cabins of Tonglen Lake Lodge, where Great Grey Owls have recently taken up residence, nearby.
Day 3: Full day birding Denali Highway
Following breakfast this morning, we will then commence our explorations of the area. First, we’ll search for Smith’s Longspur, after which we’ll drive back along Denali Highway in order to access some high country for several birds that are more likely to be seen here. Rock Ptarmigan, Whimbrel, American Golden Plover, Long-tailed Jaeger, Northern Wheatear, American Pipit, Grey-crowned Rosy Finch (uncommon), Lapland Longspur and Arctic Warbler are among the birds we might see. In addition, this is the only place we have seen Wolverine in our 16 years of coming to the park.
Day 4: Depart for Denali Highway
Following another early breakfast today on our Alaska birding tour, we’ll hit the road for the spectacular Denali Highway. This is a great place for viewing the region’s wildlife, and we’ll make numerous stops along this 135-mile dirt road that parallels the Alaska Range. We should see Trumpeter and Tundra Geese, Surf Scoters, Red-throated and Common Loons, Barrow’s and Common Goldeneyes, Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson’s Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Bohemian Waxwing, Boreal Chickadee and Two-barred (White-winged) Crossbill. We’ll have a packed lunch along the way, eventually arriving at Tangle River Inn in the late afternoon where we will check in prior to enjoying dinner.
Day 5: Full day shuttle into Denali Park
After a very early continental breakfast this morning on our Alaska birding tour, we drive to the park headquarters in order to transfer to our park shuttle. We’ll be taking the Eielson shuttle, an 8-hour journey affording outstanding views of the park and its surrounds, not to mention the local birds and wildlife. Not that we are bound to the shuttle, since it’s permissible for group members to get off the bus and walk if you wish (Guides, however, are not allowed to do so because the park will not permit anyone other than their concessionaires out of the shuttle). Some of the birds we’ll be looking for include Long-tailed Jaeger, Golden Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Willow Ptarmigan, Northern Hawk-Owl and Northern Wheatear. Mammals are usually fairly abundant and possibilities include Grizzly Bear, Wolf, Moose, Lynx, Caribou, Red Fox and Hoary Marmot. Along the way, we’ll enjoy a packed lunch, and expect to return in the late afternoon. Dinner tonight will be enjoyed at the incomparable 229 Parks.
Day 6: Depart for Anchorage
After breakfast this morning on our Alaska birding tour, we depart for our return journey to Anchorage. A Great Grey Owl nests every other year along the route, and we’ll stop and take a look as this should be the year that the nest is active. We’ll also keep our eyes peeled for other birds along the way as well as breaking for lunch en route. Time permitting, we might even make a quick run up Hatcher’s Pass, near Anchorage. Last year’s group made time for a brief search for White-tailed Ptarmigan at this site, and were successful, finding a female incubating eggs! Arriving in Anchorage in the late afternoon, we will check in, followed by a scrumptious meal downtown.
Day 7: Depart for Seward
We depart this morning after breakfast for Seward. We might make stops at Potter’s Marsh to look for Horned Grebe and Rusty Blackbird, or along Turnagain Arm to search for Beluga Whales and Mountain Goats. Other birds that can be found en route include an incredible array of species particular to what is considered Pacific Northwest Rain Forest. Species possible include Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, Pine Grosbeak, Townsend’s Warbler, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Sooty Fox Sparrow, and the stunning Steller’s Jay. We will check into our accommodations near Seward’s quaint harbour area. Thereafter, we will enjoy a couple of hours at the Sealife Center in Seward. The exhibits are great, and they have many seabirds. We’ll round off the day with another great dinner, this time at a local eatery called Apollo’s.
Day 8: Full day boat trip into Kenai Fjords NP
After a quick breakfast in town this morning on our Alaska birding tour, we will head to Seward Boat Harbour to board a small boat. The only rough water we could experience might be a stretch of about 45 minutes into the Gulf of Alaska as we head to the Chiswell Islands, so if you think you need it, you should take motion sickness pills just after we board.
The seas are usually moderate at most, but it’s best to be prepared. We’ll spend about 7 hours on the boat, with lunch on board. Birds we hope to see include nesting Bald Eagles, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Red-faced and Pelagic Cormorants, Parakeet and Rhinoceros Auklets, Marbled, Ancient and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, and Black Oystercatcher. If lucky, we might also see Sooty or Short-tailed Shearwaters and Fork-tailed Storm Petrel. Marine mammals are abundant and we hope for sightings of Humpback and Killer Whales (Orca), Steller’s Sea Lions and Dall Porpoise. Following what should be an exciting and rewarding day, we’ll then enjoy dinner at Ray’s, famous for their exquisite cedar plank salmon.
Day 9: Depart for Anchorage where the tour will conclude
After an early morning check out of our cabins, we will do a bit of final birding around Seward for Rufous Hummingbird, Northwestern Crow, and Pacific Wren.