Yacht Charter Alaska

We have a large extended client family headed out in July on a private yacht charter through the glacier country in Alaska. It includes a day of private fishing off ship, helicopter day trips and if they are lucky, some fresh caught fish for divine dining!

Alaska private charters should be organized well ahead of time, especially if the group numbers over 14 travelers. Arrive a day early and explore the town of Juneau by foot.

Discoverer Glacier Country  MV Safari Explorer
Nights: 7 Roundtrip Juneau, Alaska
Exploring Juneau Glacier Bay National Park Icy Strait  Chichagof Island  Baranof Island  Frederick Sound Stephens Passage  Fords Terror Endicott Arm
Included Highlights:
•    Two days in Glacier Bay National Park
•    Kayak, hike, and skiff in Glacier Bay
•    A National Park Ranger joins you for your day in Glacier Bay
•    Whale watching in Icy Strait, Frederick Sound, and Stephens Passage
•    Explore scenic coves and fjords of Chichagof and Baranof Islands
•    View stunning glaciers and listen for the “white” thunder—Dawes, Grand Pacific, Margerie, Lamplugh
•    Experience Fords Terror Wilderness Area
•    Captain’s Choice exploration of remote “not in the guidebook” places

Itineraries are guidelines and variations and the order of days will occur to maximize your experience.

Day One  Glacier Bay National Park
Accompanied by a National Park Ranger, over the two days in the park you’ll travel nearly 60 miles cruising up-bay to the tidewater glaciers of Grand Pacific and Margerie, which frequently calve huge icebergs into the bay.

If conditions permit, we’ll lower the skiffs and weave among the icebergs that have fallen from the face of the glaciers.

Enjoy an evening at anchor, and mornings paddling your kayak in the quiet of this majestic wilderness. Here in the bay are puffins and sea lions, mountain goats and bears, moose, eagles, and scenery more spectacular than any place on earth. Glacier Bay is at its best when explored by small groups with unfettered time for treks and kayaking inside the bay and wilderness areas.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a United States national park and preserve in the Alaska panhandle west of Juneau. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the area around Glacier Bay a national monument under the Antiquities Act on February 25, 1925.

Subsequent to an expansion of the monument by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enlarged the national monument by 523,000 acres on December 2, 1980 and in the process created Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, with 57,000 additional acres of public land designated as national preserve to the immediate northwest of the park in order to protect a portion of the Alsek River and related fish and wildlife habitats while allowing sport hunting.

Glacier Bay became part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, was inscribed as a Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and in 1994 undertook an obligation to work with Hoonah and Tlingit Native American organizations in the management of the protected area. In total the park and preserve cover 5,130 square miles. Most of Glacier Bay is designated wilderness area which covers 4,164 square miles.

Wildlife in the area includes both grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, moose, Sitka black-tailed deer, red foxes, raccoons, wolverines, marmots, dall sheep, Canadian lynxes, mountain goats, and cougars. Birds of this park include bald eagles, golden eagles, five species of woodpeckers, two species of hummingbirds, ravens, four species of falcons, six species of hawks, ospreys, and ten species of owls. Marine animals that swim offshore are sea otters, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins, orcas, minke whales, humpback whales, and salmon.

Day Two    Glacier Bay National Park
Enjoy another exclusive day exploring the glaciers and wildlife of Glacier Bay National Park.

The earliest traces of human occupation at Glacier Bay date to about 10,000 years before the present, with archaeological sites just outside the park dating to that time. Evidence of human activity is scarce, because so much of the area is or was glaciated for much of the period and because advancing glaciers may have scoured all traces of historical occupation from their valleys. Ongoing uplift of the land may reveal new sites that had been submerged by rising sea levels. Most archaeological evidence is from the last 200 years. The Haida, Eyak and Tlingit all could have occupied the coast until historical times, when the Tlingit came to dominate the area.

Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse was the first European to explore the Alaskan coast in the region of Glacier Bay in 1786, arriving in Lituya Bay and making contact with the Tlingit. A Russian ship visited in 1788, claiming the region for Russia. The region was later visited by George Vancouver in Discovery in 1794, during his during the Vancouver Expedition. The explorers are believed to have seen the Glacier Bay ice at its peak, which coincided with their visits. Russians were chiefly concerned with the area until the 1880s, when Americans were drawn to Alaska and the Klondike by the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. A cannery was established in Dundas Bay in 1890, and the first tourist ships arrived in 1893.

John Muir visited Glacier Bay in 1879, just prior to the 1880 establishment of Yosemite National Park, Muir’s first great cause. Muir came to Alaska to learn about glaciers as a means of understanding the formation of the glaciated landscape of the Yosemite Valley. Muir sent dispatches back to San Francisco to be published in the San Francisco Bulletin in both 1879 and 1880, eventually collecting these stories, accounts of his third and fourth trips in 1890 and 1899, and later lectures and articles into the 1915 book Travels in Alaska, promoting Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage. Muir’s writings led to the naming of Muir Glacier, then nearly 300 feet tall at tidewater and the most active glacier in the bay, after Muir.

Day Three    Icy Strait
9 am – 2 pm Fishing for (13) Jennifer, Wayne, Gene, Kelly, Reed, Wil, Rob, Melissa, Matt, Christa, Matt, Emily, Antonia. If other passengers decide to fish, we can invoice you after the trip. You may catch up to 150 pds. of fish today, most likely halibut. MAX number of fishermen is 17 people.

Today’s the ultimate day of exploration. Set your course for arguably the richest whale waters in Southeast Alaska. Keep watch for the telltale blow of the humpbacks as you scour the nutrient-rich waters in search of whales, porpoise, sea lions, and other wildlife. Join the Captain on the bridge or go on deck with your Expedition Leader.

Late afternoon, we’ll drop the skiffs and kayaks for closer inspection of the remote coastline with eyes set on shore for possible bear sightings.

This evening, take in the solitude while relaxing in the upper deck hot tub or enjoy a nightcap with your fellow yacht mates in the salon.

Day Four    Chichagof Island / Baranof Island
With no binding agenda, today you’ll cruise the waterfall coast of Chichagof Island. Marvel at the grand scenery of Alaska’s wilderness as the crew expertly guides you through those “not in the guide book” places known only to the locals. This evening, perhaps tucking away in a waterfall-laced fjord, there’ll be time for skiffing, beach combing or treks ashore, and kayaking to look for sea otters and bears before calling it a day near Baranof Island.

Baranof Island, also sometimes called Baranov Island, Shee or Sitka Island, is an island in the northern Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle, in Alaska. The name Baranof was given in 1805 by Imperial Russian Navy captain U. F. Lisianski to honor Alexander Andreyevich Baranov. It was called Sheet’-ká X’áat’l (often expressed simply as “Shee”by the native Tlingit people). It is the smallest of the ABC islands of Alaska.

Day Five    Frederick Sound / Stephens Passage
Spend the day exploring in Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage—another excellent chance to view humpback whales and other marine wildlife. Pass by Five Fingers Lighthouse and watch for playful antics at a large sea lion haulout made from dozens of rocky islets. Later, cruise picturesque bays, where evergreen forests crowd the shores.

Frederick Sound (also called Prince Frederick Sound or Prince Frederick’s Sound) is a passage of water in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska that separates Kupreanof Island to the south from Admiralty Island in the north.

Frederick Sound was named by Captain George Vancouver for Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. It was first charted in 1794 by two of his men, Joseph Whidbey and James Johnstone. The sound may also be known as the Russian transliteration Fridrikhe Zund.

The sound is a popular location for watching whales in the summer and is busy marine passageway for both Alaska Marine Highway ferries and cruise ships.

The sound is home to the Five Finger Islands Light. Stephens Passage is a channel in the Alexander Archipelago in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Alaska. It runs between Admiralty Island to the west and the Alaska mainland and Douglas Island to the east, and is about 105 miles long. Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is near the north end, on Gastineau Channel.

Stephens Passage was named in 1794 by George Vancouver, probably for Sir Philip Stephens. It was first charted the same year by Joseph Whidbey, master of the HMS Discovery during Vancouver’s 1791-95 expedition.

Day Six  Fords Terror / Endicott Arm
Cliff-walled fjords sliced into the mountainous mainland are on tap today as you slowly slip into an area widely acclaimed as the most beautiful in Alaska. With more designated Wilderness Areas than any state in the nation, the finest include Endicott Arm and Fords Terror—a pristine tidal inlet and fjord. Explore this majestic fjord by kayak or skiff, a unique opportunity indeed. View rugged ice-covered mountains gleaming high overhead and a glacier that actively calves into the ice-filled fjord of Endicott Arm.

Bounded by Canada on the east, this Wilderness is highlighted by two sheer-walled fjords, Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm, both narrow and deep and over 30 miles long. At the head of both fjords tidewater glaciers calve regularly into the sea, making a boat approach to their faces dangerous. Floating chunks of ice, some the size of a three-story building often block access to the end of the fjords, especially in summer. Permanent ice, in fact, covers about one-fifth of the Wilderness.

In 1899, a naval crewman named Ford paddled into a narrow waterway connected to Endicott Arm and was trapped for six terrible hours in the ripping tidal surge. Hence the name Fords Terror.

Rugged mountains dominate the landmass of the area with steep valleys sparkling with high waterfalls. A young Alaska rain forest of spruce and hemlock grows to an elevation of about 1,500 feet. Wildlife includes brown and black bears, mountain goats, wolves, a few Sitka black-tailed deer, and many smaller furbearing animals. Harbor seals rear their young on ice floating in the fjords, and whales and sea lions are often seen in the water. Bald eagles and shorebirds are common near the coastline.

Toast your voyage with a festive Farewell Dinner, and before turning in, your expedition team will share a “photo journal” of your trip together.

Beautiful Belize

This week doesn’t mark our first request to the unspoiled Belize, here is a look at excursions and lodging. Tropical reefs and rain forests with world class fishing, hiking, caving and Mayan sites.

The Cayo / Mountain Pine region offers a variety of high end deluxe accommodations including one of our favorites owned by Francis Ford Coppola – Blancaneaux Lodge is a great choice with good service and staff. We especially like  a couple of specific rooms: The Enchanted Cottage is a little more remotely located in terms of the rest of the property, and this accommodation includes a golf cart for guests to move between their room and the main area of the lodge. Also recommend Francis Ford Coppola’s two bedroom villa.

Blancaneaux Lodge has a private helipad and is also located opposite a private landing strip which means we can offer the option of arriving via helicopter (direct flight or with sightseeing included) or via private charter flight.

Optional Excursions ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) – cave adventure.

This is one of the highlights in the Cayo District area; transfer time from Blancaneaux Lodge to the cave is about 1hr 30 mins each way; we might be able to offer as a day trip with helicopter flights.

Description: Actun Tunichil Muknal “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” is one of the most impressive caves in the Maya lowland. Located in the heart of the Belizean Rain forest, this cave was a sacred place to the prehispanic Mayas of Belize, who first began to use the entrance during the early classic period (300-600AD). The cave system consists of a series of chambers, ending in a 300 by 50 meter Cathedral where sacrificial ceremonies once took place. Visitors to this cave have the opportunity to travel into the Maya past and witness a living museum where the human sacrifices and artifacts can be viewed in their original context. On the tour guests will drive to the trail head and trek for 45 minutes through dense Jungle in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, wading across three streams and learning about the plants and animals of the Jungle. At the entrance of the Cave guests are outfitted in the necessary equipment. Some swimming will be required and also climbing and caving activity. Guests will spend 3 hours in the cave after which they may also visit a nearby dry cave to see ancient inscriptions and hand-prints of which the origins are unknown. This is a first class caving and archaeological experience. Time inside the cave is about 3hrs.  It is completely dark and the only light comes from each visitors headlamp.

Belize’s most popular on-shore activity for cruise ships while visiting the country. In order to miss the crowds for this amazing experience, Blancaneaux Lodge offers an early morning option for all guests who wish to do this tour as a full day activity. After a 2 hour drive you stop at the Nohoch Che’en Reserve for an hour’s float along the Caves Branch River and a gentle 45 minutes jungle walk to reach the starting point for cave tubing. Each participant has a special ‘tube’ for the float, a headlamp, life vest and ‘water shoes.’ The float goes through a series of huge inter-connection caves separated by open sections where the river is flanked by high jungle.

Perhaps the most visually stunning of all Maya sites, Tikal’s five monolithic temples pierce the jungle canopy (Temple IV reaching a height of almost 230 feet) and ancient plazas, stelae and ball courts tell of a rich and powerful history when Tikal’s population reached almost 100,000. By the beginning of the Classic Period (AD 250) Tikal was competing for regional domination with Uaxactun and Calakmul and later Tikal was briefly dominated by a powerful alliance of Caracol and Calakmul from AD 562 until AD 682. From AD 682 onward Tikal flourished again under Lord Ah Cacau and continued to dominate the region into the 9th Century. Today the site is justifiably recognized as one of the archeological wonders of the Americas. Its unspoiled jungle setting within the Tikal National Park makes it a paradise for birders, nature lovers and amateur archaeologists. This tour takes an entire day, leaving the Lodge after a quick Continental breakfast and returning around 5 – 6 pm in the evening. On the return trip, you have the chance to do some shopping in the Guatemalan town of Melchor.

Add a few days visit to nearby San Pedro Island

We have a few recommendations on San Pedro Island after you fly or travel by water ferry to the island. Victoria House is a great high-end property, a larger hotel offering individual rooms as well as several villas, some with private pools.  They have a couple of swimming pools, restaurant & bar, dive shop.

Another hotel that we really like is Matachica; this is a more adult oriented property (they don’t accept children under 14yrs) and is a popular choice for honeymoons and romantic getaways.  The property comprises 31 individual thatch cabanas and one two-bedroom villa and offers a high level of service.

Important to note is that although there is a great restaurant and several easily accessible restaurants close to Matachica, the transfer into town takes about 20 mins and is by water taxi. Victoria House on the other hand is a comfortable walk, bicycle or golf cart ride away from the small island town of San Pedro.

Another attractive alternative is Cayo Espanto. Cayo Espanto is an exclusive, villa only property on a small, private island close to Ambergris Caye. Guests can choose from 7 different 1 or 2 bedroom villas – all but one have a private splash pool. Guests are given  very personalized service and privacy is of the utmost importance. All activities and meals are arranged so that guests do not come into contact with one another. All meals and drinks (except wine & champagne) are included in the rate for this property and guests are given a radio so that they can access staff.  This property is for couples that want complete isolation and tranquility. Guests can fly to Ambergris Caye and transfer to the island by boat or arrive directly to the island by helicopter.

Facilities: 7 villas, most with splash pools. Fully catered meal service and bar. Helipad Location: 20min flight from Belize City to Ambergris Caye and 20min boat ride. 30min helicopter flight. The property is designed so that you don’t see anyone else on the island. The island has no main common areas such as lounge, bar, restaurant so clients mingle with your own group.

The pools in the villas are tiny – just splash pools really and there is not good swimming from the island as it is surrounded by very shallow water for a long way out and it is very silty so you come up to your shins in silt when you walk out.

Activities: Snorkeling from Cayo Espanto and San Pedro, in general we can offer snorkeling trips, most of which are half day.  Ambergris Caye runs parallel to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef, part of the second largest reef system in the world.  Belize is home to the northern hemisphere’s largest barrier reef system and the enormous kaleidoscope of fish, sponges, crustaceans, and plants that inhabit it.

Snorkel trips are usually half day activities which can be arranged on private basis – a couple of the most popular excursions include: Hol Chan Marine Park & Shark Ray Alley, where guests will have the chance to swim alongside harmless nurse sharks and appreciate a myriad of colorful fish and coral formations.

Mexico Rocks, which is often described as a similar experience to swimming in an aquarium – this less visited site also offers the chance to see amazing coral formations, many tropical fish, nurse sharks and sting rays.

Blue Hole – Day trips to the Blue Hole are possible although they are mainly recommended for divers.  The day trip is usually taken by boat and is a trip that departs around 6am from Ambergris Caye hotels, returning around 5:30pm so it’s a long day.  Transfer time to the Blue Hole takes roughly 2 – 2.5hrs depending on whether conditions, and a minimum of 10 divers is required in order to confirm a collective departure.  The trip is usually  recommended for divers, as the amazing creatures that live within its depths can only truly be appreciated by going deep.  Snorkelers will be hard pushed to appreciate all that is on offer at the Blue Hole as they stay just below the surface of the water.

We have the option to organize day trips via boat transfers on group or private basis with dive master or with a snorkel guide.  Other options include helicopter day trips – either to simply fly over the Blue Hole or to land on a nearby caye and further explore the Blue Hole by boat (for snorkeling or diving).

The third option, if you wish to only see the Blue Hole from the air, we can arrange a private charter flight over the Blue Hole.

Trekking / Jaguar Jaguar sightings are the most sought-out of the large cats for visitors to Belize.  Although jaguar sightings are extremely rare as these creatures are not in captivity we can never make any guarantees.

A few options that we can offer: Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve, noted as the first jaguar reserve in the world this national park offers the chance for hikes in search of these elusive creatures.  The park is open from 8am – 4:30pm although the ideal time to go in search of jaguars is the early morning and evening, as they are mainly nocturnal creatures and most active during the night and early / late hours – they have a tendency to sleep through the heat of the day.  It may be possible to offer a night tour.

Chan Chich Lodge, located in northern Belize and accessible via private charter flights. Chan Chich / Gallon Jug Estate is located within the largest contiguous forest north of the Amazon basin. Conservation efforts to sustain and preserve the tri-national Maya Forest (“La Selva Maya”) are underway with collaborative efforts undertaken in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. Gallon Jug Estate enjoys a fortunate location at the heart of La Selva Maya, buffered on all sides by forest and/or protected areas. Thanks to the efforts of owner, Barry Bowen, to control hunting and other illegal activities over the past 20+ years, wildlife has thrived.

Gallon Jug Estate is also an important component in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, a regional conservation effort that seeks to link green areas throughout the region to promote biological and genetic diversity as well as healthy ecosystems. With its excellent diversity and species numbers, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists believe that the Gallon Jug Estate provides a safe haven for “source” populations to disperse to outlying areas in La Selva Maya that are more impacted by human activities.

Blancaneaux Lodge offers a “Moonlight Jaguar Quest”: As darkness covers the rain-forest, the predators start to roam their kingdom in search of prey. As most of Belize’s large mammals are nocturnal, this is your best chance to actually see them in their natural habitat. After a short drive from the lodge, our guided walk begins along the edge of the pine forest and into the jungle. At a slow and quiet pace, we search the forest for gibnuts, armadillos, peccaries, and other wildlife, including the elusive jaguar.

 Weather July to November is considered to be the rainy season in Belize when the possibility or tropical storms, hurricanes and tropical depressions exists.  The worst time is not until end of September / beginning of October and some hotels, particularly on the coast and the cayes, take the opportunity to close for 2 – 3 weeks in order to undertake maintenance, etc.One thing to note, as we can never predict the weather, is that in the event of heavy rains, some excursions such as cave adventures, may not be possible if the level of the water is too high.  Another thing to bear in mind is that helicopter flights are also weather dependent.  July / August is still a good time to visit.