An isolated wilderness, Alaska is home to some of the world’s largest national parks and most pristine natural beauty, and it beckons as an adventure destination for those willing to forge through its wild terrain. By Austin Mann and Haley Beham
This past June, travel photographer Austin Mann explored the raw nature of Alaska, armed with his Sony A9, iPhone 7 Plus and the new Apple iPad Pro 10.5. Mann stayed at the remote Winterlake Lodge, accessible via floatplane or helicopter or dog sled, and its sister property, Tutka Bay Lodge, which is accessible primarily by boat. Both properties are family owned and you can feel it in the details and care taken by the staff. Because of their remote setting, the staff is more like family, and guests are treated like family, too. Here, Austin shares his journey in his own words.
The untamed landscape around Winterlake Lodge is rich with wildlife and outdoor activity. From there, you can go fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, paddle boarding, canoeing and hiking. You can also take a helicopter up to the glaciers to see where the Iditarod dog sled teams train and learn how to race the dogs.
In the middle of the summer at Winterlake Lodge, you can board a helicopter and fly up to a glacier. Up here you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and even mush the dogs (aka ride and lead a dog sled all over the glacier). The lodge provides all the equipment you need and makes the whole experience super comfortable.
The beauty of Tutka Bay Lodge is in its intimate atmosphere. With only six guest cabins, there’s a high level of service and the itineraries are flexible. On this particular evening, there was some whale activity reported, so everyone who wanted to see the whales jumped in a boat with Gus, the guide manager, and cruised to the locations where the whales had been seen. It was a rainy, cold evening, but inside the boat, we were warm and comfortable, and the staff provided everything we needed from parkas to boots.
From Tutka Bay Lodge, you can go on a bear viewing adventure in Katmai National Park. To get there you fly in a small plane to an undisclosed location in the park and land on a black beach. There’s no airstrip which means the experience with the bears is primitive and raw. In fact, this location is so secretive, the pilots hide the planes so no one flying overhead can find it. After landing you set out with the pilots, who are also guides, and hike around the peninsula to view the bears. At times, we were as close as 30 feet to a bear, but we still felt safe.
A portrait of a young coastal brown bear in Katmai National Park. At one point this curious bear started walking towards our small group. It was fascinating to watch our experienced guides stand their ground and literally speak to him—almost like a pet dog. After a while, the little fella turned around to go play with his friends instead.
“I’ve adventured all over the world many times but was profoundly moved by the unique, vast beauty I experienced in Alaska—there’s nothing else like it in the world.”
A couple sea kayaking in Tutka Bay.
Pro Tip! Layer up for a busy day of hiking in the wilderness. The mornings are chilly, but afternoons are comfortable. –Catherine Brown, Luxury Travel Expert
Winterlake Lodge is open from June 1st to October 1st and from January 20th to April 30th. Tutka Bay Lodge is open May 1st through September 15th. Both properties are unique to the Alaskan frontier. For those seeking the next great adventure, Alaska is a destination waiting to be experienced.
Our Suggested Itinerary: Alaska Adventure: Wild Frontiers // 9 days, 8 nights through Anchorage, Iditarod Trail, Kachemak Bay State Park, and Girdwood
To book your Alaska adventure, contact your Luxury Travel Expert.