July 16, 2014

Kenai Fjords National Park Tour

I have so been looking forward to writing this post about our
 
 Kenai Fjords National Park Tour
 
It was probably the highlight of their trip in Alaska and if I had another chance, I would so experience it again!
 
Like I mentioned in my previous post, we left Denali National Park and Preserve Tuesday. On our way to Seward, Joshua calls at lunch and informs me that tomorrow (Wednesday) would really be the best day, weather-wise, do book an excursion.
Up until this point we have had awesome weather, but later in the week, it looked like rain, rain, and more rain.
But whatcha gonna do? It is Alaska, ya know!
 
So we called Kenai Fjords and booked the National Park Tour for the next day, Wednesday, for the 11:30 tour. We wanted to have the chance to sleep in a little!
 
Kenai Fjords National Park Tour is actually a water cruise tour that takes us from Seward's Harbor down around the peninsula and up to Aialik Glacier.
Aialik is pronounced "I-Alic".
And the boat literally took us feet away from the glacier - but you'll see more of that later on!
 
Along with the glacier, the water tour would take us to areas with high wildlife spottings in hopes to see some wildlife we may not see everyday. And boy it did not disappoint! 
 
Before I start, let me explain what a fjord is. A fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. Kenai Fjords got it's name since it is on the Kenai Peninsula, covers more than 669,984 acre on the Kenai Peninsula, and nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, which is a main feature with Kenai Fjords.
// Tomorrow's post will be about another glacier of the Harding Icefield - Exit Glacier //
 
 ^^ On our way to the harbor // Ready to head out! ^^


As you can see, when we got out on the bay, the wind definitely picked up!
 
Our first wildlife spotting took place near Humpy Cove, near Fox Island. The tour guide mentioned this is where bird watchers love to come, and I don't doubt that. Here, you saw many types of birds - and noticed a little stink as well. All part of the fun!
 

And on this cove as well, we were able to spend a little time with puffins and sea lions. We got to see two different types of puffin - the tufted puffin and the horned puffin. The sea lions were actually Steller Sea Lions and they were everywhere in this area.
See if you can spot the picture with the biggest Steller Sea Lion ever!
 




      ^^ Yep, look at that guy! He is huge!!!!!!
 

 
 
As we cruised along, it wasn't just the water that caught our attention. We rode by huge mountains and cliffs that were just so surreal. We kept saying we felt like we were in Jurassic Park. In Denali, we were hoping to view a Dall Sheep, but that never happened. So when we spotted a few mountain goats, we thought they were basically the same thing, so we were happy.
 
 
If you notice that tinyyy little speck of white in the middle of the picture. Yeah, that's a mountain goat. It was pretty cool though, because we saw at least four of them. I guess I just need a better camera.
*hint, hint Joshua!*
 
As we left Humpy Cove, I noticed we were going around Cape Resurrection and Barwell Island.
Seriously, my grandma and I were like map phenes always wanting to know where we were.
Anyways, this area was pretty cool because it showed old army bunkers left over from World War II. Remember that post about our trip to Homer and we read about Japan's invasion of Alaska during WWII? Yeah, the U.S. Army had bunkers at the top of this island to ward off enemy attack. Now of course, birds have taken over, but cool nonetheless.
 
 
So after we left Cape Resurrection and Barwell Island, we headed out to open water on the Gulf of Alaska. As we were making our way to the edge of Aialik Cape, the guide noticed a pod of dall porpoises up ahead. These porpoises sometimes lead boats and swim alongside the boats. This was our guide's hope. So we all headed outside, and sure enough, dall porpoises swam with us for a good fifteen minutes. It was awesome!
 

So by now we had seen sea otters, sea lions, multiple species of birds, a few mountain goats, puffins, and dall porpoises. My mother kept saying how all she wanted to see were some whales. Isn't that the only reason why you take these cruise excursions anyways?!
And not even 10 minutes after she said that, the guide spotted our first whale siting.
It was a mama and a baby humpback whale.
 
 
Notice that first picture of the blowhole. The guide mentioned that the adult will shoot out it's blowhole around 250 mph. Blows your mind!
 
And not too much longer after we had spotted this mama and baby, another two came around the corner. How lucky did we get?!
But how many pictures of blowholes do you guys really wanna see?
 
Total, we saw these four whales in the Gulf of Alaska. After the whale spottings, we made our way up around the Aialik Peninsula and started noticing ice in the water. That can only mean one thing - the glacier is near!
 
^^ Outside and ready to spot it! // We are getting closer! ^^
 
 ^^ Titanic, anyone? // Posing by the Glacier! ^^

^^ Mom and Kenny ^^

 ^^ Group shots - but missing Grandma! ^^
 
What a site!
 
 
 I mentioned earlier about how we knew we were getting close when we saw the ice chunks in the water. You step outside and all you hear is a snap, crackle, and pop. This sound was made from the compacted air leaking from those ice chunks in the water.
 


 
And if it wasn't the snap, crackle, pop sound you heard - it was the loud, thunderous sound of ice breaking off the glacier into the water. I couldn't believe how loud it echoed!
 
 
^^ Enjoying the view // Holding glacier ice they had scooped out of the water ^^

^^ Mother and Daughter // Aialik Glacier Selfier ^^

 
It was hard to fathom such beauty in just ice! Before we knew it, we had been there 15 minutes and it was time to head out. Such a wonder to look at.
 
Not far from Aialik Glacier, the guide told us that a smack was up ahead. We all looked at each other and thought, "What in the world is a smack?" So of course, we headed out to take a peak and all we saw was this:
 


Turns out that a smack is a collective name for a group of.. wait for it.. jellyfish!
The guide said to look right over the ship's handles to get a better look at the smack. It was amazing. I had never seen so many jellyfish!
 

I would not want to get in those waters!
 
I mean isn't this cruise tour great so far? Like it could get any better, right? I bet you all are wanting to come visit Joshua and I now just to take this tour - and I don't blame you!
But it did get better!
 
As we made our way out to the Gulf of Alaska again, we spotted another whale. This time it was all by itself.
 

If you look at the very back of the picture, above my grandma's head, you will see a black dot. That's the whale. Who gets to take pictures with whales everyday? I had to post it!
Also, excuse my weirdly, rounded shape head. It's the jacket...
 
Why this whale spotting was so good though was because we actually got to see it's tail. The two whale spottings before just had them near the water's surface so they could breath easier. A whale doesn't show it's tail every time it breathes. It only shows it's tail if it is going back down for a longer period of time. Well, it just so happened that this is exactly what that whale did.
And if I had been more prepared, I would have gotten a better picture of the tail. And by more prepared, I meant I would have had my zoom on. I wasn't.
 
Haha! I promise the tail is that black dot in the middle of the picture!
 
If I was more prepared though, it would have looked something like this:
 
 
Yes, my mother took a picture of the guy's picture so you could actually see what it looked like. Again, husband, I need a better camera! My blog followers aren't getting the pictures they want to see!
 
So once the whale went in the water like that, we knew it would be awhile before he came back up for air, so we headed back to shore.
 
What an awesome experience with the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour! We saw everything we wanted to see, plus some!
I would highly, highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting the area.
 
Can you tell we had a good time?! All that excitement would wear anyone out!
 

2 comments:

  1. Amazing! Do the one out of Portage if you get a chance, it's fantastic and equally as eye pleasing. The 26 Glacier Cruise. And they sell margaritas made with ice they've scooped out of the water. By the way, had no idea it was called a smack. So cool!

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    1. Yeah.. sounds like we will definitely have to check that one out!

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