Many thanks to the numerous posters who have responded to my earlier thread last week, and helped me finalize our itinerary. Our flight tickets are now booked, and itinerary practically frozen. In the process of booking our B&B accommodations.
We are a 50's couple, avid travelers in decent shape, undertaking our first (and probably last) trip to Alaska. Intend to drive all through. Love natural scenery and vistas. The itinerary, with the questions of detail, are given below. Arriving at Anchorage on July 24th.
Day 1: Arrive Anchorage in early afternoon. Check into B&B. Collect rental car. Could anyone suggest a "light" itinerary for things to do in Anchorage ? Maybe one to two sights max, as we will be stressed out after a long flight from JFK. Overnight in Anchorage.
Day 2: Drive to Seward, taking in the sights on the Seward Hwy. Hope to do guided walk near Exit Glacier. Other suggestions please ? (Note: we are not interested in fishing). Overnight in Seward.
Day 3: Take Kenai Fjord cruise : which cruise Company should we choose ? Is Major Marines cruise decent ? (They are mentioned on the Northern Light coupon book). Should we take the 6 hr cruise or the 7.5 hr cruise ? Overnight in Seward.
Day 4: Drive to Whittier for a PWS cruise. Which cruise Company to take ? The Major Marine is the only one which offers a 2 for 1 deal on the coupon book. However, if the Phillips 26 Glacier cruise is much better, we can go for that (without the coupon discount). Are the two cruises quite different ? After the cruise, we proceed to Girdwood to spend the night. Should we consider stopping at Portage Glacier on the way to Girdwood ? Which activities would you recommend at Girdwood, aside from the tram ride (which we intend to take) ?
Day 5: Drive to Matanuska Glacier and do the Ice Fall Trek. Then proceed to Talkeetna to spend the night. This might be a long day of driving - is it doable ? Should we consider going via the Hatcher Pass while going to Talkeetna, or would that be too much for a day ? Any suggested activities for the evening at Talkeetna ? How is the Mahay Jet boat ride ?
Day 6: Do morning flightseeing from Talkeetna. Which Company is most recommended ? I note that Talkeetna Aero Taxi is mentioned on the coupon book for a 2-for-1 offer. Any suggestions on which flightseeing tour to take ? Then drive to Denali NP. Maybe spend the first afternoon doing self-drive to Savage River, or Dog Kennel demonstration, or attending some Ranger led talk/walk. Overnight at Healy.
Day 7: Take shuttle into Denali NP. Suggestions by everyone seems to be to opt for the Wonder Lake shuttle. I believe it is a 11-hr round trip. Is it really worth it, and not too tiring ? I know that we should get off at Eielson if the mountain is not out. If the mountain is visible, is it really worthwhile to go all the way to Wonder Lake ? Overnight at Healy.
Day 8: Take shuttle into Denali NP, probably to Eielson ? Would like to do some mild hikes (cannot undertake anything very strenuous, but a level hike of about 60-90 minutes can be considered desirable for us). Could someone recommend some scenic easy hikes, where we need not worry too much about bear threats ? Any other activity recommended ? Overnight at Healy.
Day 9: Drive to Fairbanks. Can spend morning in Denali if required, and delay departure to Fairbanks. Suggestions ? Do not really need much of suggestion for Fairbanks, as we will be staying with some friends there, who can guide us well about things to do. Overnight at Fairbanks.
Day 10: Sightseeing at Fairbanks. Overnight at Fairbanks.
Day 11: Drive back to Anchorage. I know it is a long drive. Would have liked to break journey, keeping Talkeetna at this stage of journey rather than earlier, but not possible for various reasons. Should we at all consider returning via the Richardson/Glenn Highway rather than the shorter Park Hwy ? Is it much more scenic, and worth the extra distance ? How much longer ? We have nothing particular to do at Anchorage on return, except to catch a very late night flight out (at midnight). Suggestions for anything else to do on this day ?
I know that's a lot of questions posted above. I do not expect any single person to have the patience to answer them all ! However, people can chip in with whichever questions they can throw light on. We would really appreciate it. We are traveling all the way from India to visit this lovely land, and would like to make the most of this trip of a lifetime; so I apologize for the large number of queries.
Look forward to your help. Thanks in advance.