Alaska: A Swiss Perspective
Aboard the Fast Ferry that runs from Valdez to Cordova, Travel Guide Publisher Scott Graber had the pleasure of meeting two young, adventuresome women from Switzerland who made their dream of visiting Alaska a reality. The following story outlines their planning, trip itinerary and impressions from the three-week visit.
It has always been my dream to travel through Alaska – and finally in the summer of 2008 the dream came true!
Two years earlier I started looking for someone who was also interested in visiting the beautiful state of Alaska with its wide-open landscape, abundant wildlife and unaffected nature. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to find someone with the same interests, enough time for a longer vacation and – not to forget – who could afford such a trip.
But I gave it another try and asked my best friend what her plans for summer vacation were. At that moment she didn’t have any, so I told her about my dream. Christa was excited and very interested to come with me to Alaska.
Soon we went to a travel agency which specialized in traveling through Canada and Alaska for further information. We were entranced by everything the agent told us about the North country – its animals, inhabitants and landscapes. She recommended that we start our trip in Whitehorse, in order to see the Yukon Territory in Canada
A few weeks later we held in our hands the flight tickets and voucher for a truck camper, which was our choice to travel in. Now we could not wait to start our three-week trip through the Yukon and Alaska.
From the travel agency we got a detailed route plan listing some of the most popular or important things to see on our trip. We also got a travel book and a lot of tips and addresses, road maps and flyers, so we had a lot of information to study in advance and during our travels.
At the end of June we flew into Whitehorse. An orientation is provided for European travelers arriving there, which included an overnight stay. Refreshed, we first needed to pick up our truck camper. Everything was really well organized, and the people were very friendly. Then we were ready to start!
Driving with a camper is an adventure in itself. It’s a great thing to have everything with you – the fridge, bed, all your stuff – and best of all, you are independent.
We drove more then 4000 kilometers (about 2500 miles) in three weeks – that’s quite a lot! Since we wanted to see as much as possible of the country, we usually drove further almost every day for a few hours, but we were rewarded with beautiful views and fantastic landscapes.
We drove spectacular highways, past awesome glaciers like Worthington, a half hour’s drive from Valdez and Child’s, about an hour from Cordova. We also saw many gorgeous lakes and rivers like beautiful Kluane Lake and the famous Copper River. We passed through many small towns and visited thriving cities like Anchorage. We experienced a great boat trip in Kenai Fjords National Park, where we watched whales, sea otters and hundreds of sea birds. Last but not least, we went on a great bear watching trip in Lake Clark National Park, on the western shores of Cook Inlet.
We took hundreds of photographs to keep all those fantastic moments fresh in our memory and to share some of our beautiful experiences with family and friends. We also met people from all over the world and had many fascinating conversations.
Unfortunately, our vacation passed very quickly and we had one last long driving day back to Whitehorse to return the camper and catch our plane home to Switzerland. With countless impressions we left the country of our dreams and look forward to returning one day.
For travelers who may be interested in pricing a trip such as ours, we are providing the following breakdown: at the time we traveled, the Swiss Frank was about par with the US Dollar. Altogether we spent about $8000 per person, which included gas, food, insurance, souvenirs and so on.The flight from Zurich to Frankfurt, Germany to Whitehorse and return cost $2,500 each. The truck camper rental for three weeks was $2000 per person. Three days/two nights at the Silver Salmon Creek Wilderness Lodge for our bear-viewing excursion ran $1200 each and the various ferries we took came to about $400 per person, including the vehicle.
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