Endless steppes of snow overlooked by majestic mountains beneath a sapphire blue sky, the wild top end of North America is a truly breathtaking region. The whole destination remains an undiscovered gem for travellers, rugged and marvellous it calls to those with a love for nature and a sense of adventure. Join us as we journey into the wilds of Alaska and Canada.
Perched at the very top of the continent, the United States’ largest state still remains an untamed wilderness, fierce and beautiful. It is the perfect destination for adventure lovers with innumerable hikes, mountain trails, caves and rivers to explore. Ancient glaciers glint majestically, as snow-mantled mountains soar into the cerulean sky. The deep harbors and frontier towns welcome visitors with open arms, eager to reveal their riches.
Travel around the wild state can be difficult and often required travel by seaplane when going across the interior. One of the best ways to see the best destinations is by cruise. Regent offers great itineraries which stop in some of the best waterside destinations Alaska has to offer. Along the water you can visit incredible heritage towns like Sitka; the historic capital of Russia’s Alaskan empire and Juneau, the site of three of the largest colonial gold digs in the world and a tourist must see for close to 200 years. You can also visit uniquely Alaskan towns like Ketchikan, the ‘Salmon Capital of the World’ as well as Wrangell one of Alaska’s oldest settlements and the heart of the historic fur trade that drew so many enterprising settlers to the white state.
Aside from the historic towns that are spread along the coastline, exploring Alaska by sea also gives you unprecedented access to the breathtaking natural wonders that set Alaska apart. A must visit on any itinerary is the awe inspiring Hubbard Glacier. This immense frozen goliath is over ten kilometres wide and towers above one hundred and twenty metres in the air. As your ship glides past, you’ll be able to hear the symphony of creaks and groans as it makes its slow march into the sea. If you’re lucky you may even get to see a huge chunk of ice break off and fall with a thunderous sound into the bay. Due to the nature of the site, ground tours aren’t available so jumping onboard a boat is an absolute must. If it is the natural wonders that have drawn you to Alaska then the next stop off has to be the frontier town of Icy Strait where you can stroll through pine trees as tall as skyscrapers, see humpback whales, eagles, wild salmon, black bears and more in a vibrant natural setting of the hinterlands.
If you still haven’t quite found your sea legs, there is a number of adventurous land bound itineraries that will take you through some of the best landlocked sites. One of the must visit areas is the Kenai Peninsula famous for housing the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre. This is where injured or orphaned animals are brought to recuperate in a natural setting and makes for one of the best wildlife photo opportunities in Alaska. Nearby is also the famous Redoubt Bay bear sanctuary where you can glimpse iconic moments of bears snatching wild salmon right from the fast running water.
Make the most of long days and the best weather by travelling between June and September during this time the days are long (19 hours of daylight in June) and nature is in full bloom. Sadly, the weather in this part of the world isn’t predictable. During the summertime days can be pleasantly warm, even hot, but this can be followed in equal measure by rain, fog and then sun again.
From the coastline of Alaska, it is not far to go until you cross the border into Canada and The Great White North. While the eastern half of the country offers breathtaking experiences like the Niagara Falls and cultural tastings in the capital cities, it is the western portion of Canada that truly sets the nation apart as a travel destination. With famous natural regions like the towering Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise and Banff, just one trip to the region will never be enough.
Most tours of the region start in the third largest city in Canada, Vancouver. From this historic city you can make the first step on adventures that will take you deep into the wild reaches of nature or even to the top of snowy ski fields. Nature truly takes the front seat in any holiday to British Columbia and Alberta with enormous national parks dominating the region outside of the cities. For this region much of the area is a verdant green sea of towering pine, interspersed with Snow-capped peaks, deeps blue valleys and lakes. Lake Louise is a truly must visit destination no mater your chosen travel time. In the winter it offers great access to the incredible Banff ski fields, while in the summer the valley becomes alive with kayaking, hiking and nature watching.
If you are travelling around the region, there is no better way to do so then onboard the iconic Rocky Mountaineer train. For twenty-five years this train has taken passengers right into the heart of the Canadian Rockies, giving them one of the best sightseeing travel choices in the world. Named one of National Geographies ‘World’s Greatest Trips’, the train offers five different itineraries all taking you to new and exciting places around the region. It is definitely the most unique and exciting way to get from the main airport of Vancouver through to the ski fields of Banff, Calgary, Whistler and Jasper.
If you haven’t gotten enough nature in the British Columbia region than you can also take a short plan ride deeper into the country and to the northern region of Ontario where you can visit Manitoba and its most famous residents…the magnificent polar bear. The region is truly wild and untamed but Tauck offers a highly inclusive itinerary that will get you there and back in style and comfort.
The best time to travel in Canada is similar to Alaska but will depend on whether you wanted to ski or not during your trip. If it is nature that you are after than the summer season from June to August offers the best opportunity to see the most of the country. But if you want to strap on your skis then November to March is the way to go.