Bear Glacier Humpback

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel Leave a Comment

A humpback whale dives in front of Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

A humpback whale dives in front of Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

With the arrival of wonderful weather to correspond with the amazing whale activity we have been seeing lately, I just had to get back out there.  I have to say thanks so much to Doug and Val for a wonderful evening of pizza, whales and friends!

Blue Ice

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 5 Comments

Iceberg in front of Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Iceberg in front of Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

I’m going to resist calling this iceberg cool  🙂 – really is was awesome!  All sorts of wonderful patterns and colors, we circled it in the boat about 5 times taking photos and videos of this beauty!

Bubble Net Feeding Humpbacks

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 6 Comments

Humpback whales bubble net feeding, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Humpback whales bubble net feeding, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

I’m back from my Kenai Fjords National Park photo tour.  The bad news, we had pretty bad weather – well, really bad – it rained the whole time and clouds and fog obstructed what is normally an amazing view.  Cold and wet seems to be the theme for this summer in Alaska.  I have dreaded a trip like this and knew along the coast it was just a matter of time.

But, fortunately we still had a great trip!  We saw numerous humpback whales including one that repeatedly breached.  The highlight was seeing this group of humpback whales bubble net feed, more on that later.  We also saw orcas, sea otters, sea lions, Dall’s porpoise swimming with the boat and great glacier activity.  We had some of the most cooperative puffin I have seen out there and were able to get close to them perching and flying.  And fortunately my group had a wonderful attitude about the weather which is really the key to a successful trip in Alaska.  The right attitude is the key to a lot of things I think.

So what is bubble net feeding?  It is an amazing behavior in which the whales dive deep under an area with small fish.  In a cooperative dance, the swim their way to the surface in a circle while blowing out a string of bubbles.  As these bubbles rise to the surface, it confuses the fish who swim to the center of the circle of bubbles.  At this point the whales rise up from the surface in the middle of the circle with mouths wide open filling them with fish!  In many of my photos you can see numerous fish jumping at of the whales gaping mouths as gulls dive in for a free meal.  In this photo you can’t see any fish – but it also didn’t have any bright, white distracting gulls so I thought I would share it first.

I have seen this behavior in Southeast Alaska.  It was believed this was the only place it took place, but in recent years this group has been seen feeding this way around here.  Last year I think they were only in the area for a couple of weeks.  This year they have been around off and on much longer.  Some people have speculated that these whales may be transplants from Southeast, I don’t know if anyone really knows.

Alaska Whales, Eagles and Bears – photo tour

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 2 Comments

Mountain Goat in Cataract Cove, Harris Bay, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Mountain Goat in Cataract Cove, Harris Bay, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

This huge waterfall dumps straight into the ocean and is one of many places we visit on my Kenai Fjords photo tour.

All my workshops and tours are sold out this year except for this one which still has room.  I’m surprised, as this is maybe the best of the bunch!  So, if you want to see whales, eagles, bears, puffins and amazing scenery, check it out:  Kenai Fjords National Park photo tour.  

Note, there has been a date change.

Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 8 Comments

Canoes in front of the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, Pedersen Lagoon, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Canoes in front of the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, Pedersen Lagoon and Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Some good friends invited us along for an over-night trip to Aialik Bay on their fishing boat, as they were going to deliver some large water tanks out to the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge.  Now doing an overnight trip with good friends sounded like a great time, but it even got better!  We were actually able to stay in our own cabin at the Kenai Glacier Lodge on the shores of Pedersen Lagoon, and were joined for dinner and breakfast by Kirk Hoessle who not only owns this remote lodge, but is the owner of Alaska Wildland Adventures, a company that has been offering unique Alaska travel packages for many years now.

First a bit of history.  Years ago before I had a blog I would write an occasional piece for my website.  Back then I wrote one about my favorite place where I selected Pedersen Lagoon / glacier area as my favorite place.  Today, it is definitely still one of my favorite places.

So I must admit I was concerned when we were contacted by a developer looking to buy images of the area for a financing proposal to develop a lodge on a piece of private in-holdings within the National Park – the wrong development could really ruin the area.  That deal came and went until finally Alaska Wildland Adventures came along and leased the land.  This was good news as Alaska Wildland is an Alaska based (Girdwood) travel company with other lodges in the state and a reputation of doing things right – if it had to be developed, they were an excellent choice.  They ended up building Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge a few years ago and I was eager to finally see in person how it turned out.

So how did they do?  Frankly, they couldn’t have done a better job!  I have always been pleased that you couldn’t see any sign of the lodge from Aialik Bay, but even from within Pedersen Lagoon the shoreline cabins are barely noticeable.  The cabins have “peak a boo views” through the trees as they sit just back from the shoreline.  This not only hides the buildings, but has maintained the historic paths used by the local bear population, and I think almost enhances the view as you feel like you are part of the forest looking out at the lagoon and glacier.  They made every effort in keeping every tree possible, they even went to great lengths to protect the mossy ground cover by using special mats to move the limited equipment around the site for foundations.  Really they couldn’t have done a better job!

The wonderful development is exceeded by the actual operation.  Wonderful food, very friendly staff and nice, clean cabins and lodge.  They offer a wide variety of activities including canoeing, hiking and kayaking.   Like most nice remote lodges in Alaska that have to get by with a 100 day season, it isn’t cheap, but when you consider the price includes boat rides meals and activities, I think it is a good value.  To stay in such comfort in such an amazing remote location looking at the amazing scenery and wildlife is an opportunity that I definitely highly recommend!

 

Alaska Photo Tour – whales, eagles, bears and glaciers!

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Kenai Fjords, Photos, Travel 1 Comment

    Photos all from Kenai Fjords National Park and / or Seward, Alaska.

Photos all from Kenai Fjords National Park and / or Seward, Alaska.

Imagine waking up anchored in front of an amazing tide water glacier – a glacier you watched and heard calve large ice bergs through out the night!   Off to the side is a beach where we often see bears walking to and from the nearby salmon stream.  Passing by us is the occasional harbor seal or bald eagle.  And, all this is surrounded by magnificent mountains.    And, this is just one morning of an amazing 3 day trip!

At other times during this trip we spent hours hanging out with whales – we did that on numerous occasions.  Or, we spent time with sea otters or at sea lion haul outs.  At one point we spent time at an island full of nesting puffin and numerous other sea birds.  We stuck the bow under a water fall that plummeted hundreds of feet down a granite cliff straight into the ocean.   Another night was spent in  spectacular Northwestern Fjord.

I could go on and on as this is really an amazing trip.  Did I mention the nesting bald eagles, the other active glaciers, waterfalls and amazing scenery?

I offer the only overnight photo tour into KFNP where you are accompanied by a professional photographer who can offer tips and suggestions and will make sure we are at the best places for the best light.  Not only this but I am the least expensive overnight option available.

To learn more, check out this page: Kenai Fjords Alaska photo tour scroll to the bottom to see more photos from the trip and of the research vessel I use.  You can feel free to contact us with further questions.  If you would like to see more photos of the place the Travel Channel named one of the 10 natural wonders of the world, here are more photos:  Kenai Fjords National Park photos.