History, Heritage and Incredible Scenery on Alaska and Yukon Famil
From the scenic delights of a cruise through the Inside Passage in North America’s Pacific Northwest to a wilderness tour of Alaska’s Denali National Park, TravelManagers’ Deb Hanley had long dreamed of visiting this unique and beautiful part of the world. Holland America’s ten-night famil provided Hanley, who is a South Australia based personal travel manager (PTM) with a long-awaited opportunity to experience all this and more.
“I have always wanted to visit Alaska and cruise the Inside Passage,” Hanley explains. “The famil did not disappoint to deliver on this and much more – fascinating, historic towns like Dawson City, beautiful accommodation in unique locations, and a glimpse into the distinctive culture and heritage of the First Nation people.”
Hanley’s famil itinerary commenced in Vancouver, where she boarded Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam ship for a three-night voyage to Skagway in Alaska where, after two full days at sea soaking up the wonders of the Inside Passage, she had time to explore the tiny frontier town which served as the gateway to the Klondike gold fields. From here, her journey continued overland, first by rail on the iconic White Pass & Yukon route to Fraser, and then by coach to the Yukon Territory towns of Whitehorse and Dawson City.
“Dawson City was a real highlight for me,” notes Hanley. “It was extraordinary: a tiny little place that made me feel like I had stepped back in time, into the Wild West. It was such an interesting and pretty little place, with incredible buildings, great restaurants and such a different way of life to anything I would ever have imagined.”
That sense of being in a different era was accentuated by a cruise on the Yukon River aboard the Klondike Spirit, which is the only operating paddle-wheeler in the Yukon region. From Dawson City, Hanley took was a short flight from Dawson City to Alaska’s second-largest city, Fairbanks, where another riverboat awaited – this time a genuine 19th century sternwheeler for a three-hour experience that included a visit to an Athabascan Indian village, a bush pilot demonstration and a visit to an award-winning dogsled kennels.
“I love First Nation Art, so I was in my element browsing through the small, bespoke shops found in the Alaskan towns, and my favourite souvenir from the entire famil was a beautiful, handmade, tiny Totem pole.”
The journey north from Fairbanks took Hanley into the heart of Denali National Park – a six million-hectare wilderness of forest, tundra and mountains. Hanley had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife during a guided tour into the heart of the park, which is home to moose, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears, and on the subsequent rail journey to Anchorage aboard the McKinley Explorer.
“The McKinley Explorer rail journey was absolutely spectacular, with glass-domed carriages making it easy to soak up the scenery of my dreams. It was an incredible conclusion to my time in this stunning part of the world,” says Hanley.
During her time in Alaska, Hanley had plenty of opportunities to sample the local cuisine, and declares herself highly impressed by what was on offer.
“There is something for everyone,” she reports, “but the Alaskan King Crab was my favourite – I think I personally must have eaten around ten of them during the course of this trip, and every bite was just delicious!”
At the conclusion of the famil in Anchorage, Hanley was able to confirm that her time in the Yukon and Alaska exceeded the expectations she had fostered for so many years: “it’s an indescribable destination – simply stunning, and I loved every minute.”
“The experience has also made it much easier for me to sell to my clients and assist fellow PTMs , who I love sharing my travel experiences with – I believe everyone should visit here at least once!”