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Adventures / Kayak Journeys

Kayak and Wild Camping Expedition in the Alaskan Wilderness

Power yourself along the wild coast of Alaska on a majestic journey teeming with wildlife, finding awesome camp spots as you go

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Trip Ref #10256

Adventures / Kayak Journeys

Kayak and Wild Camping Expedition in the Alaskan Wilderness

Power yourself along the wild coast of Alaska on a majestic journey teeming with wildlife, finding awesome camp spots as you go

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

United States

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days

SEASON

Jun-Sep

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Anchorage Airport, Alaska

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Wild camping

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

This is a wild expedition. Along with good fitness, you'll need a love of serious adventure and for taking the elements as they come

Paddle past emerald waters, alleys of icebergs, towering glaciers and cascading waterfalls while surrounded by snow capped peaks

Hike though coastal rainforest and set up dreamy wild camps on secluded beaches for evenings around the campfire

Eyes peeled for orcas, humpbacks, bald eagles, bears and rafts of sea otters. Soak up the smorgasbord of wildlife in the Prince William Sound

Included

Guides

Experienced, English speaking expedition guides

Accommodation

2 nights in a hotel in Valdez, 5 nights wild camping

Meals

All your food while on the expedition

Transfers

Airport transfers between Anchorage and Valdez, boat transfers for the expedition

Equipment

All your kayaking and camping equipment

Permits

National Forest Service and Alaska State Park Fees

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

Logistics

Starts

Anchorage Airport

10:00

Ends

Anchorage Airport

15:00

Transfers

Your host will meet you at Anchorage Airport at 10:00 on day 1. If arriving in Alaska on day 1, make sure to book a flight that arrives at Anchorage before 10 am. If you are already in Anchorage, your host can collect you at your accommodation ready for the transfer to Valdez.

On day 8 you'll depart Valdez at 09:00, arriving at Anchorage Airport at approximately 15:00. We recommend you book a flight that departs no earlier than 17:00.

Travel options

There are various flight options into Anchorage, with regular departures from Seattle and Vancouver which connect well to long haul flights in and out of North America.

Sadly, there is no rail connection to reach Alaska through Canada, though you are able to road trip there along the pan-American highway. If you have time on your hands and fancy taking a scenic route to the start of the trip, it is possible to reach Valdez by ferry from Bellingham in Washington State, north of Seattle.

What about all the carbon?

We mitigate 4x the carbon generated by all our customer flights annually through our partnership with Cool Earth.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 6

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Breakfasts and dinners around the campfire at your camp spots out in the wilderness are a real highlight of the trip. Your guide will orchestrate the meal times, however everybody will muck in to help fuel the adventure with as much fun and deliciousness as possible. Breakfasts will vary between eggs, potatoes, cheese, fruit, oatmeal, pancakes and yogurt. Lunches depending on the day of the expedition will be bagels with lox salmon, various soups and pastas, sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and plenty of fruit and snacks such as trail mix, beef jerky, and energy bars. Dinners will be fish tacos, steak wraps, pasta dishes or other tasty and hearty options to keep you energised.

Vegetarians and food allergies can be accommodated on this trip. Please let your host know in advance as any dietary requirements must be known in advance of the expedition to allow for adequate preparation.

What is the accommodation like?

Wild camping

On days 2-7 you'll be wild camping in the Alaskan wilderness, an absolute highlight of the trip with total solitude in one of the most beautiful and wild parts of North America. The camp spots are on beaches and moraines and each spot is one that your host knows well and has set up camp at previously. All the camping equipment is provided by your host; twin-share tents, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, camp chairs, a mess tent, and cooking facilities. You'll muck in with putting up and taking down camp, prepping food and doing the dishes; all part of a proper wilderness adventure.

Valdez

In Valdez before and after the expedition, you'll stay at the Harbor Inn, a quiet hotel on the waterfront with all the usual amenities and short walk into town for Valdez' selection of restaurants and bars. You'll have a big breakfast here on day 2 to fuel the start of your adventure. Depending on availability, you may stay at Mountain Sky Hotel & Suites in Valdez before and after your expedition.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own room in Valdez at the start and end of the trip, an optional private room upgrade can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability). Unfortunately for practical and safety reasons, solo tents are not offered on this expedition.

Day 1

Welcome to Alaska

Driving

6hrs

Touch down in Anchorage and meet your guide at the airport. Have a quick stretch of the legs before settling in for the 6-hour drive over to the coastal port of Valdez. The journey is a beautiful one as you make your first forays deeper into Alaska, past the imposing Chugach mountain range and along the Matanuska Valley. There is always something to look at all the way to Valdez, and your host will pull over a few times for a scenic lookout and a stretch of the legs. On arrival at Valdez you can check in to your hotel and get some well-earned rest, the adventure starts in the morning! Your host will give you a 10-litre and a 20-litre dry bag to pack your personal gear for the expedition this evening so that you're all set for the morning.

Day 2

The journey begins

Kayaking

3-4hrs · 6km

Hiking

1-2hrs · 4-6km

After a quick introduction to sea kayaking by your guide, load up the kayaks and the expedition gear onto a water taxi and bid farewell to civilization. Reaching a landing beach where the gear is unloaded, you'll hop in your kayak and the journey begins! The afternoon is spent exploring the upper bay of Shoup Glacier Marine State Park, an area packed with sea otters, seals, and rookeries of black-legged kittiwakes. You'll also have your first up-close experience with a glacier. Arrive at your camp spot and pitch up ready for your first night out in the wilderness. You'll have time to explore the area on foot with a short hike before dinner and an evening around the campfire.

Day 3

Into the wild

Kayaking

7-8hrs · 20km

Waking up for your first morning out in the Alaskan wilds, tuck into some breakfast and load up the kayaks as you head south. Paddle out of Shoup Bay, through the Valdez Narrows and push on through into Valdez Arm. The scenery starts to open up as sheer green cliffs and snow-capped peaks frame the emerald waters. Paddle along the dramatic coastline, watching waterfalls cascade down from the cliffs. Reach tonight's camp spot at a beautiful bay flanked with rainforest and high peaks. In the evening you can paddle into "Bear's Kitchen" to look out for the bears who come here to feed on salmon.

Day 4

Wildlife spotting in Heather Bay

Kayaking

8-9hrs · 25km

After a tranquil evening in Sawmill Bay, venture out again for a relaxing paddle along another stunning stretch of wild coastline. If the weather is friendly you'll continue on around Point Freemantle, heading towards possibly the best camp spot of the trip. Today is a full day of paddling, taking you into Heather Bay, a well-protected slab of emerald water that a variety of sea mammals and birds call home. Intrepid kayakers often see huge rafts of sea otters here. Set up camp on a beautiful beach with expansive views over towards Prince William Sound. Head out on a late afternoon hike through the rainforest to explore this remote spot on foot before settling in for more stories around the campfire.

Day 5

Paddle through glacial ice

Kayaking

4-5hrs · 10km

Hiking

1-2hrs · 2-3km

A more relaxed day today as you begin with a push on to explore Heather and Columbia Bays, observing the drifting ice of the Columbia Glacier. The paddling is easy-going, taking in the scenery of Prince William Sound, with towering peaks and giant icebergs all around. There are some good easy hikes to enjoy later in the day. Again there is a diverse array of wildlife to keep your eye out for. Tonight's camp spot is on the moraine halfway up Columbia Bay.

Day 6

The journey continues

Kayaking

4-5hrs · 9km

Hiking

1-3hrs · 2-5km

A lighter day today and you journey further up Columbia Bay along the coastline towards the Great Finger Camp, a prime spot at the opening to upper Columbia Bay. With a few days in the wilderness under your belt, you'll be an expert wildlife spotter by now, keeping a lookout for leaping orcas, listening for whale spouts, and waving hello to sea otters; a constant companion on this expedition. Stretch your legs this afternoon with a hike through coastal forest, across moraines, and with sweeping views of Columbia Bay and it's glaciers.

Day 7

Thunderous glaciers at the finish line

Kayaking

5-6hrs · 15km

Enjoy a final breakfast in the wild before you head off for the culmination of the past week's adventuring. Back in the kayak, you'll reach the upper end of Columbia Bay; a thunderous amphitheater where the glacier's various faces spill out into the sea. Paddling here is one of the most surreal experiences, moving around freshly carved ancient ice, with cracks of thunder overhead each time the glaciers calve, echoing around the bay as if a storm is right above you. The icefalls cause the dead calm water to subtly move as the icebergs creak and curious harbor seals pop up for a glimpse of the kayak-dwelling imposters. After soaking up this epic end to the adventure you'll land on a nearby beach, enjoy one last hike and a spot of lunch before loading the kayaks onto the motorboat ready for the victorious cruise back into Valdez. A hot shower and a cold beer in a bar beckons.

Day 8

Bid farewell to Alaska

Driving

5hrs · 300 miles

After a well-earned sleep in a real bed you'll need to pack up early and hop in the van ready for the drive back to Anchorage Airport where you'll bid farewell to your host. Arrival at the airport will be around 15:00, we recommend you book any onward flight to depart no earlier than 17:00.

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.

What's included?

  • Tandem sea kayaks
  • Spray vests
  • Paddles
  • Pogies (neoprene paddling mitts)
  • Life vests / PFDs
  • Rubber boots
  • Dry bags
  • All camping and cooking equipment - tents, stoves, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, tarps, camp chairs

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack (can be left in Valdez with items for after the expedition)

Clothes

  • Good quality, dependable waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Warm, comfortable layers for evenings at the camps - avoid cotton as it is heavy and slow drying
  • Comfortable hiking trousers
  • Lightweight hiking shoes
  • Several pairs of wool or synthetic socks
  • Buff or headscarf
  • Light, packable down or synthetic jacket
  • Light, packable fleece jacket
  • 2 pairs of wool or synthetic gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Thermal layers for any cold nights out camping

Other

  • Sunglasses
  • Sun cream with a high SPF and lip balm with UV protection
  • Water bottle
  • Personal toiletries (please bring biodegradable products)
  • Microfibre towel
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Binoculars
  • Headtorch for trips from mid-July onwards

Optional

  • Sleeping bag (if you prefer your own, your host does provide one within the trip cost)
  • Sleeping mat (again, if you prefer your own. One is included by your host)
  • Eye mask (very little darkness in Alaska from June to mid-July)
  • Compact, packable fishing rod and equipment

This is a wild and active expedition. You'll be on the move for the majority of each day; kayaking, hiking, and helping set up and take down camp. Good fitness levels are required, though the trip is suitable for both experienced and novice kayakers alike, with no previous kayaking experience necessary. On top of a reasonable level of fitness, perhaps more importantly you'll need to have a head for serious adventure and feel comfortable being on a remote expedition for 6 full days. You'll be as out in the elements as its possible to be - this is what you came here for! You'll be camping in a remote rainforest environment where the weather can become harsh, with varying sea conditions, tidal swings and some big distances to cover in the kayak. You are in the hands of expert wilderness kayak guides who know the area intimately and can adjust the route and timings according to the conditions.

Each morning the aim is to be paddling by 9 am and then rolling into the next camp spot around 4:30 pm, but of course, this is in a perfect world. In a highly dynamic environment where weather, tidal swings, and sea states are ever-changing, plans can and do change! There may be days that the group needs to be up and away earlier, there may be some mornings where you can have a lie-in. You'll be paddling with a fellow adventurer in double kayaks.

Typically you'll stop somewhere around midday between camps each day for a lunch break, and possibly a small hike, depending on the terrain and if you prefer to get your legs moving while out of the kayak. You can simply relax and soak up the wilderness views at lunch. Going on small lunchtime hikes is less of an option on the longer paddling days.

The longer hikes mentioned in the itinerary are done after reaching camp. They are variable in distance, depending on your energy levels after the days paddling, so you can do as much or as little as you like. You are free to just relax at the camp, or even do some fishing if you have brought a compact rod with you.

While your guide will lead the expedition, choose camp spots and cook meals, this is a participatory adventure so everyone will muck in putting up and taking down camp, and help with the cooking and doing the dishes.

Each guest will twin share a 3-person tent between 2 people. Your host tries not to have anyone camping solo, due to the limited flat ground at the wild camp spots. Also, pretty much all of Alaska is bear country, so camping solo is not advised. Bear safety and various precautions are practiced throughout the trip.

Yes. On 24th March, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil into the Prince William Sound. At the time, it was the worst oil spill in US history (since superseded by Deepwater Horizon). More than 11,000 Alaskans worked tirelessly throughout the region to restore the environment, and although for many years after the spill the marine ecosystem was severely affected, 3 decades later the vast majority of species and habitats are considered to be recovered. These include many of the wildlife highlights of this trip; sea otters, harbor seals, bald eagles, pods of resident orcas, and Alaska's famous populations of sockeye and pink salmon. While out on the expedition, you won't see any clues that an environmental disaster has taken place here decades before, and the area feels very much like unspoiled wilderness. The spill is a dark part of Valdez and Alaska's history and one of many footnotes on fossil fuels' detrimental impact on the natural world. However, seeing this place 30 years on with nature having recovered is a powerful experience and testament to the natural world's capacity for self-healing, with a little help from communities along the Kenai peninsula who came together to clean up the spill and push for policies which will prevent another event like this ever happening again in Alaska.

There is so much to see and do in Alaska, and this expedition concentrates purely on the coastal region around the Prince William Sound, so there are myriad other options for places to visit before or after this trip. Your host is based in Valdez and is able to book extra nights at the hotel there before or after the trip - see optional extras. Due to the distances involved, your host is unable to offer private transfers from Anchorage to Valdez and back for those who aren't using the included group transfers on day 1 and day 8, however they can advise you on the various travel options within the state if you need to make your own way to or from Valdez.

Anchorage is a relaxed and welcoming city, so if you're looking to arrive before day 1 to soak up Alaska's biggest city you can go about easily booking accommodation independently, along with transfers from the airport. Remember to let your host know that you will already be in Anchorage so they can arrange to pick you up on day 1, alongside the 9am group meet-up at the airport.

Tips are not included in the cost of your adventure, and tipping in the US is customary. You should budget 10-15% of the price of the tour per person as a suggestion for your guides on the adventure. We also suggest you budget extra spending money to cover tips while dining out in Valdez.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Drinking water is carried along the route by the guides with plenty of refill points from glacier streams at the various camp spots. Your guides use camping filters to purify the water where necessary, although many of the streams and waterfalls in the area do not need filtering. You should bring along a reusable bottle or two to refill as you go and keep with you in the kayak.

Temperature-wise, Alaskan summers are pleasant and similar to many parts of northern Europe. Average temperatures from June to August will see highs of 16°c / 64°f and lows of 8°c / 46°f. The marine environment you are paddling through is very cold, so the water, icebergs and glaciers will make things feel chilly at times. Evenings at camp will be a little chilly, but not terrifyingly so, and you'll be well equipped for warm nights out camping.

As with many remote wilderness areas, the weather can come in and change things very quickly. Heavy rainfall can happen in this area so you need to be prepared for this on an expedition of this type. It's important that you bring with you genuine, 100% waterproof jackets and trousers for this eventuality. Your host strongly recommends that you re-treat the outside of your waterproofs with a new waterproof coating (DWR) before the expedition.

Yes, your host has a base and office in Valdez, the launch point for the expedition. You can store your luggage there on the morning of day 2, collecting again on the evening of day 7.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.

"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

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