Alaska kayaking wilderness adventure aboard small cruise ship

Chichagof Route
Alaska Sea Kayak Tour

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"What stands out from the trip for me is the kayaking, the incredibly beautiful scenery, the wildlife, and the good company."
~ Maureen Hennessey, Oregon

West Chichagof Route facts:

  Departs from, returns to Sitka
  Distance traveled: 170 mi. round trip
  Average daily travel: 2 - 3 hrs.
  Paddling highlight: Coastal labyrinth

Prime Coastal Labyrinth paddling area: Myriad Islands to Sister Lake
Prime Coastal Labyrinth paddling area:
Myriad Islands to Sister Lake
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On this route you will paddle through a sheltered Alaskan wilderness paradise, with the great Pacific just beyond the outer reef. Local knowledge is required to navigate the inside waters of this intimidating coast, where we seldom anchor within site of another vessel. Ocean travel required is only two separate stretches under one hour each.

We see gray whales on the outer coast until early July, and the region boasts many brown bears, sea otter, seals, sea lions, eagles, and seabirds.

Salmon crowd into the estuaries and streams in August.

Route options include the incomparably spectacular and remote Lituya Bay in Glacier Bay National Park and Icy Strait, home of humpback whales.

Paddle into isolated lagoons and through sea arches. Walk the boardwalk in the fishing village of Pelican, pan for gold at abandoned mine sites, and soak in a hotsprings. Paddling opportunities abound, and the choice of activities is yours.

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West  Chichagof  Route  Itinerary
(Note: Sample only. Home Shore tours are flexible and do not follow "milk run" schedules.)

Day 1:
After introductions, guest chart logbooks are distributed, and we depart Sitka early afternoon. We have safety orientation and travel two hours to an anchorage surrounded by kelp beds holding several sea otter families. Encountered two humpback whales just outside anchorage. Kayaking orientation, several guests choose to paddle with guide near anchorage while dinner is prepared. Others relax near hors d'oeuvre platter. Kayaker return, dinner finished in preparation for early start in morning.

Day 2:
Depart anchorage (toast and cereal available) and travel 2 hrs., re-anchor in barrier islands for breakfast. Everyone kayaks in barrier islands, with a sack lunch enjoyed during beach visit. Depart mid-afternoon, taking ocean route in calm weather to see huge sea lion rookery. Travel 2 hrs. to serene anchorage. Several guests choose to board outboard skiff for ride to shore, take walk to ocean overlook, see gray whales below. They return and join all for dinner. Crew and guests discuss next day's excursion.

Day 3:
Weather holds, so guests and guide set out on epic (but only 6 mi.) Excursion -- through a shallow tidal pass into the semi-protected ocean, through gray whales and their feeding plumes, into a tiny protected passage to a trailhead. A short hike through the rainforest, where bear sign abounds, leads to a hot springs for a relaxing soak. Then the shore party hikes and paddles to the mothership, which has moved closer, for dinner, showers, and a sound sleep.

Day 4:
Morning travel (3 hrs.) through rocky passages and fjords takes us to the tiny fishing village of Pelican, where we walk the boardwalk and take in the local scene. Captain Jim treats all to lunch in Lisianski Cafe where owner Karen updates us on Pelican's latest news. Guests check out the adjoining gift shop. Departing civilization again we travel to the inlet head to view brown bears. Guests decide not to paddle here, so we transit Cross Sound to a quiet anchorage in Glacier Bay Park for the evening.

Day 5:
Dawn comes clear and bright; so all paddlers follow our guide through sea arches on the outer shoreline and a tiny channel in the low-lying delta, with huge Brady Glacier and the Fairweather Mountains in the background. A rest stop on a broad white-sand Caribbean-like beach is a highlight. One bear is sited near the channel on the return to the mothership. One guest jigs a small halibut, and we remain in the same anchorage for a barbequed halibut dinner and a relaxing evening.

Day 6:
After an early departure we travel two hours east into Icy Strait, observing numerous pods of humpback whales. Near the Chichagof shoreline we launch kayaks to paddle amongst the gentle giants. We hear their breathing constantly, and occasionally whale song reaches us though the water. After an amazing paddle that meanders along the shoreline near the humpbacks, paddlers and mothership rendezvous and we depart to anchor several hours to the south.

Day 7:
With a smallcraft wind warning in effect, we travel down the Inside Passage to a protected series of saltwater lakes, with connecting channels, for an intriguing paddling excursion. Following our rendezvous we anchor for a leisurely dinner in a well-protected scenic anchorage.

Day 8:
We get an early start for the one-hour ocean passage and enter Salisbury Sound. We part company, with some guests fishing for king salmon and some walking the beach in search of a rumored rock carving. The fishers have better luck, catching one, which is barbecued for lunch on the way back to Sitka, where we arrive at 2:00 p.m. We say our goodbyes and transport our guests to their accommodations or the airport.

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