Penny-saving safaris around Alaska

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of September 18-24, 1997
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Penny-saving safaris around Alaska

Penny-saving safaris around Alaska
Question: I'm looking for a place to vacation that has great wildlife viewing and, unfortunately, Africa is too far and too expensive. My wife and I have already visited Costa Rica and loved it. Do any other places come to mind?

Rick Aaronson
New York, NY
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: If your definition of "wildlife" includes large, furry ungulates and mammoth whales, head to Alaska.

Even in the middle of Anchorage chances are good you'll bang heads with wildlife, as I did four years ago when cross-country skiing on the city ski trails — I was almost trampled by a moose.

To see Alaska at its wildest, I recommend a summer river trip down the Noatak River. On this six-day adventure, you'll spend most of your time in a raft, kayak, or canoe floating the Class I and II rapids of the Noatak, through the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

Because the river is so remote, chances are excellent you'll spot caribou, wolves, dall sheep, peregrine falcons, and even a grizzly or two. If you plan your trip for late summer, you may see caribou herds 400,000 strong migrating across the Noatak basin to their wintering ground on the Brooks Range.

Though the trip isn't cheap ($2,000 to $3,000 per person), it's a bit less expensive than your average African safari. Call Sourdough Outfitters (907-692-5252), Alaska Discovery (800-586-1911), or Arctic Treks (907-455-6502) for specific trip information.

If you're thinking tropical, consider a wildlife safari in Paraguay's Gran Chaco region. Depending on the outfitter you choose, you'll be jungle trekking, horseback riding, paddling, or touring with a guide through scrub forests and palm savannah in search of macaws, red-breasted toucans, jabiru storks, butterflies, and the taguá, Paraguay’s version of a wild boar.

If you have time, you can extend your trip to visit spectacular Iguassu Falls. Offered year-round, the trip costs between $600 and $2,000. Call Safaricentre (800-223-6046) or Forum Travel International (510-671-2900) for more details.

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