Alaska & Greenland

Alaska is a wonderfully remote and wild US state, in the USA’s furthest Northwest extremity. The mountainous terrain is home to 17 of the 20 highest mountains in the whole of America and includes the Yukon River which is the almost 2000 miles long and the third longest in the US – a magical winding river which offers some of the most dramatic scenery on any luxury tour of Alaska. There are also over 3 million lakes including the largest which is Lake LLiamna at 1,000 square miles.

The city and borough of Juneau is the capital which sits in the South of the Alaska and borders Western Canada. It is however not the most populous city in the country as further North there is the larger and bustling city of Anchorage – this will usually be the starting point for your Alaska holiday.

Alaska is volcanic and mixed in amongst the beautiful forests and landscapes are more than 100 volcanoes and volcanic fields – making for some extremely adventurous Alaska explorations. Some of these offer geographically fascinating timelines dating back more than 2 million years.

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Within the Alaskan countryside there are believed to be 3000 miles of rivers. Some of these have become legendary for their fishing potential and it is documented that the World’s largest salmon ever was caught in the Kenai River weighing in at an impressive 97.5 pounds. Kenai River and Kenai National Park offer some wild and pristine tours – all of these very rarely take you through busier areas and you really do feel as if you are at the ends of the earth. Alaska also has more coastline than the rest of the United States combined at more than 34,000 miles and is also the only state to have coastline in three different seas, Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Alaskan holidays usually involve some time spent on the river and some of one of the three oceans.

The Alaskan state sport is dog mushing which was once the primary mode of transport across the state. The Ilditarod Dog Sled Race is Alaska’s largest sporting event and attracts large crowds from across the globe – it offers a real picture of authentic Alaska, and happens every year in March and we strongly recommend you combine the timing of your luxury holiday to witness this huge event.

Alaska is also famous for its extensive range of wildlife. Most notable are the bears (polar, brown, grizzly and black) which call this state home. There are also large populations of wild bison, caribou and moose in Alaska – moose calling is extremely popular on any of our Alaska holidays. There are believed to be around 30,000 brown bears alone in Alaska which makes up 98% of the population in the entire of the US. It is believed to be the top predator in the state, and to see one is nothing short of humbling and mesmerising.

Alaska has 8 National Parks. The best known and prominent of these is Denali which centres around the Denali Mountain, the highest mountain in North America. The park in total is just over 6 million acres and covers 9500 sq miles. Denali National Park is a mix of forests, bare rocks and glaciers. Due to its snow coverage is frequently used for dog sledding, cross country skiing and snowmobiling. The park also has an abundance of wildlife including both grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou and moose. It is also believed to have 169 species of birds and 1500 species of plants. If this wasn’t enough to convince you Denali is a must see, from late August Denali National Park is also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights.

The city of Anchorage is the largest and most populous city in Alaska and is known for its cultural sights including the world renowned Alaska Native Heritage Centre which displays some of the traditions which the state is home to – a fantastic display of the culture here which is such an important part of Alaskan history. The city is a gateway to the wilderness and gives direct access to both Kenai and Talkeetna. Anchorage is also home to the Anchorage Golf course which is located on a hillside just outside and has stunning views overlooking the city. The course takes full advantage of the long Summer days and tee times range from 5am in the morning to nearly midnight in the height of Summer.

Alaska has a real range in temperatures. In central Alaska and in the city of Fairbanks temperatURES have been as high at 34 degrees C in the Summer but have been known to drop as low at -51 degrees C in the harsher Winter months.

Greenland is the world’s largest island and of Danish territory which is between both the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The majority of its land is lice however the majority of its population live on the south coast Fjords which are largely ice free. The area is just over 2 million sq kilometers however is populated by only 56,000 people, 86% of which are the native Inuit.

Greenland has a rich and diverse wildlife and these include Polar Bears, Oxen, whales, Musk and Sea Eagles. The area also benefits from an abundance of bird life and although the majority is migratory there are a still 60 different species which are permanent breeders on the island. In total there are believed to 245 different species which have been observed from the island. The largest and arguably most impressive is the white tailed Eagle which is the largest bird of prey in the world. Seals are also make up a large part of the wildlife scene here. The country has 5 different species of seal and they can be seen along much of the coastline. The coast also makes for the ideal place to see whales and the Greenlandic waters are home to 15 different species including the humpback and Greenland Whales. Late May is perceived to be the best time to spot these and they during this spring month they can be seen not far from the coastline.

Like many Nordic countries Greenland benefits from the home geothermal springs which are synonymous with this area. The island of Uunartoq is particularly renowned for these and the area which is surrounded by mountains and floating drifting icebergs makes for a dramatic spot to enjoy these naturally heated pools.

The national park in Greenland is one of the largest in the world and is often described as an untouched and raw arctic paradise. It is however due to its size and remoteness largely unvisited and often flightseeing can be the best way to explore this dramatic area of wilderness.

The country is also home to a very active dog sledding community. For thousands of years now dog sledding has been the primary mode of transport for the Inuit people. Today it offers visitors a rare glimpse into the extraordinary way in which ancient way of getting around is still so vital to the local inhabitants.

Due to the rugged harsh terrain many also look to the water as an appropriate mode of transport and both the kayak and larger Umiaq have both become crucial ways for to getting around. They are also the perfect way to explore this dramatic coastline. This increase enormously in the last wave of immigration from Canada and has been a vital source of transport ever since. Tours and cruises around the coast can be one of the best and most rewarding ways to get the most from this stunning country.

The capital City of Nuuk is on the South West Coast and is a small city which is renowned for its waterfalls and icebergs due to its location on the edge for the Fjords. The city contains almost a third of Greenland’s total population as originally founded back on 1728. Today the city is full of fashionable boutique shops, gourmet restaurants and cultural museums. The national museum is in the city and gives a powerful insight into how the country’s native people have survived for so many years in the harsh and unforgiving natural habitat.

Greenland is also home to three UNESCO world heritage sites. The first of which is Ilulissat Icefjord which joined in 2004 and is a 61km Fjord which is fed by the fastest moving glacier in the world. The Kujataa is culture site which celebrates farming in the country. Particularly within both the Norse and Inuit cultures. The latest addition is the Aasivissuit which is a vast area on the west coast of the island which has predominately been used as an Inuit hunting ground but is now becoming one of Greenland’s must see areas due to its great beauty and diverse flora and fauna.

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