Aialik Bay, Alaska
The rain was falling hard when we woke, but that wasn't going to deter our enthusiasm for our next adventure. An early morning start followed by a quick breakfast, before boarding a private shuttle which would take us from Kenai Riverside to Seward. We would then board a chartered water taxi to take us and about 10 other people to Aialik Bay.
This next adventure presented us with some of the most amazing scenery, wildlife viewing opportunities and plenty of land (hikes and walks) and water based activities (kayak, canoe, glacier treks).
The two hour drive from Kenai to Seward went quickly and upon disembarking from a warm van, we were confronted with icy cold wind and rain squalls. We took the opportunity between the rain squalls to check out the harbour.
The water taxi would take 2+ hours to transport us to Aialik Bay. We knew this could take longer, depending on the conditions and also the wildlife opportunities - you can expect to see whales, sea lions, mountain goats, sea otters, and other forms of wildlife on this trip. The boat will also stop close to the glacier where you often encounter whales.
It was raining, cold and windy and the seas were rough as we heavily thudded up and down over the swell on our way to Aialik Bay. Standing outside on the small deck was invigorating, with the rain and wind blowing strongly into your face.
The scenery was stunning the entire trip and when we reached this area, there were hundreds of puffins nesting in the mountains.
This was our first glimpse of Aialik Bay. The weather has eased and the bay was much calmer.
After approximately four hours travelling and stopping to watch the sea lions and puffins, we were about to dock on the beach at Aialik Bay, where we would spend the next three days exploring.
Once you dock, you become totally aware of the natural and overwhelming beauty of this place. From the beach, we had a 20 minute walk inland to our accommodation.
There are two sections of cabins, all beautifully presented and constructed from natural timbers. Every cabin backed onto the lake, where you could watch the seals and otters frolicking in the water.
From either our bedroom or our back porch, we had a view of the lake and mountains. Every night, a tiny little critter, I believe it was a squirrel, would make itself comfortable in the tree just beside our porch. It would turn up late at night and leave early in the morning.
A morning kayak across the Fjord where we saw our first black bear. Our accommodation is at the far end of this picture. It is an easy paddle from the accommodation and you can stop at the glacier on the way. Camping on the side of the Fjord is permitted, but you need to arrange to have camping gear and kayaks transported from Seward to Aialik Bay.
One morning, we opted to take the canoe across the Fjord, after which we hiked up the side of the mountain en route to an inland lake. The hike isn't difficult, but you can expect some steep sections, thick scrub and usually knee deep mud the entire hike. We had arranged to have kayaks left on the other side, so we could paddle around the lake. This is where we found some trumpeter swans.
I just loved this view, which we had from the dining room. Meals served with this view in the background....what else could you ask for...yes wildlife and there was certainly no shortage of cute and large animals.
A late evening stroll took us around the lake and back to the beach. You need to take bear spray with you, as there are black bears wandering, especially in the evening. We ended up getting stranded on the other side of the lake, as the tide had come in very quickly. This meant a rather long walk back to the beach and then back inland to our accommodation.
On our last day we took to kayaks and paddled to Aialik Glacier. You need to allow at least 5 hours for the journey. Aialik is a very actively calving tidewater glacier, and quite often massive chunks of ice plummeted into the sea below. The sound is amazing and the swell from the chunks of ice falling are noticeable. Harbor seals would curiously poke their heads through the floating ice chunks to watch as we paddled by, and we did see a black bear wander along the beach and up into the hillside as we went past. What a perfect way to experience the massive glacial ice and the soaring mountains of the fjords... from the seat of a kayak!