GETTING THE MOST OUT A MORNING IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK SOUTH RIM

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Racing across the U.S. to see as many sights as possible isn’t always the best thing to do with kids on a road trip. There is a lot to see in the state of Arizona. No matter if you are passing through or on a cross-country road trip  across the country a stop at the Grand Canyon is a must. Even if you only have  a morning to check it out.

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Start out your Grand Canyon adventure on the South Rim pull into the parking spot outside of Yavapai Lodge in the park. This will be your home for the night. 

EL TOVAR ON THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK SOUTH RIM

El Tovar Hotel is the place to stay in the Grand Canyon. As one of the Fred Harvey Company hotels opened in 1905, it is still considered one of the top park lodges in the nation. You might get lucky enough to snag a room before it is booked up, but if not, you could have breakfast there. 

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HOPI HOUSE AT THE GRAND CANYON


7 Tips for Hiking In The Grand Tetons

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Article By Jeanne

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There are many reasons to hit the trails, one of the biggest is the amount of tourists drastically decreases when it requires hiking. You can hike the 4.8-mile hike to the Amphitheater Lake, which takes about 6 hours round trip including stopping for amazing photo ops & to catch your breath. If you plan on taking  similar hikes  in the Grand Tetons like this,  here are 7 tips for hiking the Grand Tetons trails.

Hiking In The Grand Tetons National Park

Hike Early


The earlier you start your hike the better, for several reasons. The earlier, the less tourist you’ll encounter on the trails. The sooner you hit the trails the more time you will have to stay out on the trail before you have to head back before dark. The earlier your start the cooler the temps are, which may be a plus or minus to you. Hit the trails at 8:30 a.m. you will be chilled at first, but within 10 minutes you will be warm and feeling great.

Don’t Trust the Park Map


The park map that the rangers give you at the park entrance is fine for driving but not ideal for hiking. The map covers too large of an area to give you the true scale or details of the hike. For example, on the hike to the Amphitheater Lake  the park map shows only 3 switchbacks, when in reality there are at least 50.

Bring A Snack & Pack Lunch


 After hiking for miles, your body will be craving some energy. I suggest packing more than you think, you may end up having a snack half way up and then enjoying lunch at your destination and then having another snack half way down. That is exactly what happens with most hikers. Pack apples, peanut butter sandwiches, and some pretzels. You might be the only people at Surprise Lake for your  lunch stop,  and you couldn’t ask for a better place to sit and take in the Grand Tetons.

Bring Bear Spray


No, I am serious! Bears are real and they are really in the Grand Tetons. Better too be safe than sorry, carry bear spray. You’ll see signs all over the Grand Tetons telling you to “Be Bear Aware” and to carry bear spray. The Park Service also recommends attaching bells or other noisemakers to make sure you don’t startle a bear as you hike the Grand Tetons. 

1 Liter+ Of Water Per Person


Depending on the length of your hike will determine how much water you should bring. On a 10 mile hike, you should each carry  1 liter, all of which you will consume. before you get back to the car. You have to remember you are at 6,500 feet above sea level at the start of the hike, and the elevation increases to as high as 10,000+ feet on many hikes in the Grand Tetons

Don’t Hike Alone


Hiking with someone is safer for many reasons! If you can don’t hike alone, but if you must make sure to bring enough water and supplies that you’ll need. It’s also a good idea to sign the trail log (where available). You’ll probably pass other hikers along the trail and you should be fine hiking in the Grand Tetons. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

Wear Layers of Clothes


You might be hitting the trails when it’s 30°F (0°C) if you leave in the morning. Visting in the first week of September  the temps will be in the 30’s most mornings. Once you start moving and the sun comes up you’ll warm up fast, in the summer months expect temperatures in the 70-90’s. On most  hikes you will take off almost all of our layers as you are heading up. However, when you have reached your destination that is an elevation of 9,000+ feet, you will be throwing your sweatshirt back on because it will be  chilly.

Bring Your Camera


The views you will find along the hiking trail and at your final destination will be one you will want to capture. Make sure to pack your camera, double check your battery life & make sure you memory card is ready to make some memories. The Grand Tetons are very photogenic.

Now go lace up your hiking shoes and hit the hiking trails in the Grand Tetons. Happy Hiking!

Your Vacation Gurus Travel Agency. 

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10 Places You Must Visit In Thailand

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Article Contributer Lena Blos

With its dazzling white beaches, its lush, tropical jungles and fascinating cultural sights, Thailand remains one of the most intriguing countries. We have explored its regions and compiled a list of the most beautiful places in the country.

Pai

Located about 100 kilometers from Thailand’s biggest northern city, Chiang Mai, Pai is arguably one of the most magical villages in the country and is especially popular with backpackers. With its relaxed atmosphere, cheap accommodation and numerous spas, there’s hardly a better refuge than the mountainous area of Pai. A range of waterfalls and hot springs in the surrounding area are just waiting to be discovered. What better way to do so than going on a trekking tour or bike trip along the curvy roads? The culture retains strong Burmese influences and many hill tribe people continue to live in small mountain villages close to Pai. Apart from offering some of the best vegetarian and traditional food around, Pai is also a popular destination for fans of yoga and meditation, with numerous retreats and schools. Albeit increasingly popular with tourists, Pai retains its magical essence and offers secluded spots in which visitor can experience their journey to its fullest.

Koh Tao

While ranking among the more touristy islands, Koh Tao still offers one of the most relaxed and dazzling settings in the country. While many travelers make their way to the bigger neighboring islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao attracts numerous divers and visitors looking for a more tranquil ambiance. You can hardly find a more beautiful scenery than the spotless white shores and magnificent, turquoise waters around the island. If that weren’t enough, the color palette of the island’s sunsets can’t be described in words. Due to the easy accessibility of diving sites and the marvelous, diverse underwater world, Koh Tao is one of the best places to plunge yourself into the warm waters for snorkeling or to acquire your diving license. Hikers can explore the coastal jungles and marvel at the beauty of Koh Tao. End your evening here by enjoying the catch of the day alongside a fruity cocktail.


Koh Jum

Koh Jum is one of the last secluded islands in the country and is conveniently situated between Krabi and Ko Lanta Yai. The laid-back atmosphere of this place, which is home to no more than 3000 people, will make it hard for anyone to leave its shores. Surrounded by the dazzling blue waters of the ocean, the island’s shores are mostly rocky but a handful of beaches offer spots for sunbathing and a splash. Koh Jum only houses a handful of bars and restaurants and the ambiance generally tends to be more low-key. For those looking to get off the touristy, beaten track, this place provides a welcome respite and immediately enchants any visitors that touchdown on its shores with its tranquil atmosphere and friendly population. The starlight nights and nothing but the sound of the waves will fulfill all nature lovers.


Ayutthaya

Located about 50 kilometers from Thailand’s bustling capital, Bangkok, lies Ayutthaya, once considered the world’s most impressive city. The ruins of the ancient site have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be marveled at in their full glory. Ayutthaya itself was erected upon an island between the Chao Phraya, Pa Sak And Lopburi Rivers. The kingdom of Ayutthaya retained importance throughout the region for 417 years and reached its military, cultural and financial height in the course of the 16th century. Once serving as the capital of the Thai empire, the city was home to more than 400 temples and other architectural masterpieces. It was finally conquered and destroyed by Burmese invaders in 1767. Due to relentless efforts, the remnants have been largely restored and give visitors an insight into its former grandeur and beauty.


Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most significant cultural hubs, housing hundreds of ancient temples and sights. The capital of the former Lanna Kingdom has its own charm and is particularly popular for outdoor activities such as trekking, rafting or elephant camps. In recent years it has become the home for a large yoga and health community and delights its visitors with a multitude of vegetarian places to eat. If that wasn’t enough, the range of national and international restaurants here provides some of the best food in the country, from the traditional Khao Soi to quality French cuisine. Numerous daily and weekend markets sell handmade artifacts and touristy trinkets and street stalls around every corner will allow you to get a taste of authentic Thai food. Make your way up the mountain, home to the city’s most dazzling temple, Doi Suthep, and marvel at the panorama or stroll around the old city and the Ping River. It is impossible not to fall for Chiang Mai’s magical charm. 


Railay

The Railay peninsula not only offers marvelous beaches but is also a true paradise for rock climbers, providing opportunities for different levels of experience. Located close to Krabi, in the Andaman Sea, Railay or Rai Leh has a more laid-back atmosphere to it than most places in the region. Numerous reggae bars and cozy beach huts are increasingly attracting a mixed crowd of backpackers and other tourists, all looking to while away the days on the lush beaches or to explore the tropical jungles. The dazzling mountain panorama of Railay makes it one of the most special islands in the country and it can be accessed only via boat or ferry. Additionally, the island is home to a number of lagoons and caves which are waiting to be explored.


Phanom Rung

Phanom Rung is probably the most impressive and significant of the Khmer temples that can be found in Thailand. It was restored to its original splendor over the course of 17 years and has recently been under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Site organization. Made from sandstone and laterite, it was constructed in the Angkor style from the 10th to the 13th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. Built on top of a spent volcano during the reign of King Suriyavarman II, it stands as a dazzling symbol of the peak of Angkor architecture. Due to its precise solar alignment, the sun bathes all 15 sanctuary doorways around four times a year. During the April alignment, the complex sets the scene for the impressive Phanom Rung Festival, including traditional Brahmin ceremonies and scenic light shows.


Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is widely considered one of the most fascinating northern cities in Thailand and is home to a variety of cultural monuments and natural sights. The city was founded as far back as the seventh century and served as the first capital of the Lanna Kingdom. It is closely located to the Golden Triangle, a border area on the Mekong River where Thailand, Laos, and Burma meet and which was once an important site for the opium trade. Visitors can explore numerous ruins and shrines or embark on a hike through the mountains in search of the remote hill tribe villages. Perhaps the most widely known attraction is Wat Rong Khun, also called the White Temple. Constructed in unconventional and modern designs by the architect Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is one of the most dazzling in the country. For those looking to learn more about the heritage of the Lanna Kingdom and the lifestyle of northen Thailand, Chiang Rai is well worth the trip.


Koh Mak

While welcoming an increasing number of tourists, Koh Mak has managed to retain its cultural values and Buddhist essence. It remains one of the last authentic spots in the country. Home to 10,000 palm trees, a tree fishing village and charming temples, Koh Mak is located about 40 kilometers from the mainland, resulting in a secluded atmosphere. Apart from a few resorts and restaurants, the place is largely untouched, making it one of the best-kept secrets of the country. A nearby Marine Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore its surrounding sea life and additionally there are watersport activities on offer such as windsurfing or padding. If you have had enough of relaxing on the beach, go on a hike through the tropical jungle or jump on a bike and explore the island. Koh Mak is one of Thailand’s most relaxed spots.


Phetchaburi

Phetchaburi can easily be accessed from Bangkok and is considered one of the oldest settlements in the country. Dating back as far as the eighth century, the city is one of the cultural highlights of any trip to Thailand, but it rarely sees large crowds passing by. The city is home to numerous historic buildings from the 12th century, from magnificent temples to Khao Wang, the Royal Palace. Phetchaburi thrives on agriculture which is reflected in its extensive traditional markets, selling local goods and spices. Few tourists make it to the sleepy city, allowing it to provide an authentic insight into Thai culture and lifestyle. For nature enthusiasts, the province provides lush, tropical jungle areas and magical cave shrines. Unlike other areas, Phetchaburi survived the downfall of the great Asian empire remaining largely untouched. This is why it is often referred to as the ‘Living Ayutthaya’, enabling visitors to inspect century-old preserved relics.


Enjoy!!

Yourvacationguru!!




Utah & Arizona’s National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

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Starting in Salt Lake City and ending in Las Vegas.


Highlights: Arches National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Park, Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon National Park

Utah and Arizona hit the jackpot when it comes to National Parks and natural wonders. We have outlined an extensive road trip itinerary for exploring Utah. There are so many natural wonders to see in this part of the USA. If you love alien landscape, rich red rock and hiking then this is the road trip for you.


Itinerary:

This itinerary can be done in one week or expanded up to two weeks if you want to spend more time exploring each park or in Las Vegas at the end of the trip. You can start this itinerary in Salt Lake City and end in Las Vegas or do a round trip from Las Vegas.

Start in Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Natural History Museum and Antelope Island State Park

Moab – Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park

Page, AZ – Via Monument Valley Najavo Park, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon tour

Grand Canyon – Grand Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon, UT – Bryce Canyon National Park at sunset and sunrise

Zion – Zion National Park

Here’s Where Budget Travelers Actually Go On Vacation

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Article Contributer Anne Daly

Some places are farther away than others — meaning the plane ticket is more expensive — but they’re all still amazing budget destinations overall. We highly suggest you steal these affordable itineraries.
1. Croatia


The American dollar is very strong there. “I stay in a beautiful villa with a pool on the coast of Croatia for about $23 (20 euros) a night. Food and alcohol is also very cheap. There are a lot of beautiful beaches on the coast, and the water is fantastic. Google it … the water looks that great in person!”

2. Kraków, Poland


It’s clean and safe, with tons of fascinating history. Exceptionally affordable, too: Most meals cost less than $5, and the beers are super cheap!”

3. Marrakech, Morocco


Stay at Kaktus Hostel in Marrakech, and it’s only $7 a night. The staff is  so friendly, and makes  delicious breakfast for everyone each morning. A three-course meal for three people in the medina is  under $20. This is an incredible country to explore, and will not require a huge budget!”

4. Prague, Czech Republic

“It’s like being in a fairy tale with cheap booze and food. Stay in an awesome Airbnb.”

5. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina


Spend  7 days roadtripping down the Blue Ridge Parkway, camping in national parks and forests the entire time.  Camping, hiking, and eating under the stars and engaging with travelers from all backgrounds is  well worth the less than $20 a day that you will pay  for lodging.

6. Macedonia


For any Western traveler, this country is as cheap as it gets! The best place is Ohrid Lake. In summer, you can party on small beaches in Gradiste hidden under rocky cliffs, with DJs on every beach and super cheap bars. It’s definitely still a hidden treasure! Ohrid also has a beautiful old town dotted with historical churches. It’s hard to find meals that cost over $6, and drinks are cheap and plenty.”

7. Istanbul, Turkey


The city has something for everyone, and truly lives up to its reputation as the cultural and geographical ‘bridge’ between Europe and the Middle East. Its prime attractions are all either free or cost about five to seven dollars, and lodging is affordable and centrally located. It’s also connected by clean, cheap, safe, and efficient public transit, and bartering for souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar means you can get that kitshy potholder your mom will love for three dollars. Plus, there are ferries that locals use as we would city buses.”

8. Guatemala


Most hostels are $10 or less, and you can find nice, budget-friendly private rooms if that’s more your style. Exposure to Mayan culture in Guatemala is second to none, where substantial portions of the population still speak a Mayan dialect as their first language. It’s also a great place to study Spanish and buy [affordable] handicrafts if that sparks your interest. Visit the ruins at Tikal, and Lake 

9. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee


 Hicking  in the Great Smoky Mountains for a week . Its incredibly beautiful and peaceful, and the views are spectacular. Tent camping and grilling out most meals will  save you  hundreds!”

10. Curaçao


Curaçao in the Caribbean has amazing snorkeling, cheap Airbnbs, and the groceries are super reasonable, too. Plus, the locals are awesomely friendly. Make sure to splurge on a day trip to Klein Curaçao (little Curaçao) for shipwrecks, an abandoned lighthouse, and, if you’re lucky, an amazing sea turtle encounter.”

11. South Dakota


“It’s actually an incredible vacation spot! Going to a rodeo is super cool, pow-wows are genuinely beautiful, and the landscape itself is gorgeous, too. There are lots of [affordable] sights, like Custer State Park and Badlands National Park, to explore. 

12. Vietnam


Yes, the ticket was pricey — but you barely spend any money while you are there! There’s fresh food for less than a dollar; You spend at most  $10 on an expensive meal. The beaches are beautiful, the people are accommodating, and you’ll be able to experience life across the world without cringing at your bank account.

13. Bocas del Toro, Panama

Certainly not as cheap as Southeast Asia, but when you factor in the cost of a flight and length of time to get there from North America, you still come out ahead. It’s got cheap drinks and day tours, very reasonably-priced private accommodation and hostels, and water taxis to the surrounding islands.

14. Montevideo, Uruguay


Montevideo in Uruguay! It has great , restaurants, bars, and clubs, friendly people, and cheap everything.

15. Portugal


Both Porto and Gaia! have  a fully furnished apartment for just under $900 for three weeks. Live and eat like a local; it was wonderful.

16. Umpqua Hot Springs, Oregon


“It’s completely free to camp, as long as you don’t park in the lot. Gas is usually very affordable in Southern Oregon as well. The pools have over 80 natural minerals, making it the cheapest soak around! The other visitors are usually very friendly, and there are many camping spots next to the rushing river.”

17. Kootenay National Park, Canada


“Super cheap if you have a travel trailer, or are cool with tenting. Kootenay is just as beautiful as [much more touristy] Banff, but there are almost no tourists — which is awesome when it’s a busy travel year.”

So you see? Going to an amazing place without breaking the bank really isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Now get out there!

Enjoy!!

Yourvacationgurus!!

Cool Things to See in Big Bend National Park

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Article Contributer James Stafford

Big Bend National Park in West Texas’s Chihuahuan Desert exceeds 800,000 acres. To put that into perspective, the park is bigger than Rhode Island. Big Bend boasts breathtaking desert landscapes, hundreds of bird species, dozens of reptile species, buildings dating back to the 1800s, artifacts dating back 9,000 years, and animal fossils dating back to the Cretaceous Period. The park also includes these  exciting features.



The Window Trail

The Window Trail is a path leading to a V-shaped canyon called the Window, a perfect vantage point for sunset-viewing. The hike towards the Window is downhill all the way; the hike away from the Window is especially strenuous. The backdrop is one-of-a-kind, though, and the desert peaks magnificent to behold.



 Boquillas Canyon Rapids 

Boquillas Canyon offers a whitewater rapids expedition you’ll never forget. It‘s a 33 mile-long trip down the Rio Grande, and includes two nights of camping out beneath a canyon rising 1,200 feet. The experience is mystical.

 Langford Hot Springs

Sitting in Langford Hot Springs, situated adjacent the Rio Grande, is like sitting in a hot tub, but even more refreshing. The waters of these springs are about 105 degrees Fahrenheit; the springs were formed by volcanic activity.

 Emory Peak 

Emory Peak is the highest point of the Chisos Mountains, a mountain range completely contained within Big Bend National Park. And you can scale Emory Peak via the Emory Peak Trail. No climbing gear is necessary, but you should be cautious the whole way up. You should also watch out for mountain lions.


Castolon Historic District

The adobe buildings of the Castolon Historic District give guests a taste of an earlier era. This section of the park was once home to a U.S. Army camp and to an encampment for Mexican refugees during the Mexican Revolution. The Castolon Visitor Center houses exhibitions related to both camps.

Chisos Mountains Lodge

If you’re looking to spend the night inside Big Bend but aren’t quite up to roughing it, the Chisos Mountains Lodge provides luxurious accommodations. The only lodge inside the park, it’s open all year long, and lets you stay in either a room or a cottage. And because Chisos Mountains Lodge is perched at an elevation of 5,400 feet, every room offers views that seem to stretch on forever.


Old Ore Road

Old Ore Road is 26 miles of unpaved scenic glory. This road served as a transport route for mining companies at the start of the twentieth century. Motorized vehicles have long since replaced the mules, however. Be sure your camera’s ready to go: Old Ore Road provides countless terrific shots of the mighty Chisos.


Sam Nail Ranch

Big Bend was once home to many a homesteader; the land resembled a John Wayne movie. One of those brave and hearty settlers was Sam Nail. Nail arrived in 1909, amassed 15,000 acres in the ensuing years, and departed in 1946. Today Nail’s former ranch is a place to sit beneath a willow or a walnut tree, admire the hummingbirds, and reflect upon the beauty of it all.
 The Colima Warbler

The Colima warbler is a mostly brown or gray bird , about 4.5 or 5 inches in length, with a yellowish-orange tail and white circles surrounding its eyes. The male Colima warbler also has a splash of orange atop its head. This bird nests on the ground, and is native to an area that extends from central Mexico to southwestern Texas. Each year between April and September, however, the Colima warbler can be found in the Chisos Mountains, and nowhere else in the world.

The Stars

Big Bend is far from city lights and sources of air pollution. As a result, the starfields visible from the park are stunning: The stars are vivid, sharp, and shaped like diamonds.


Enjoy!’

YourTourGuru 

5 Really cool (and cold) things to do in Alaska

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Article Contributer We Travel
Alaska = love! In case you didn’t know yet,  people can’t stop talking about it. Not when giving a presentation about it for work, not when talking about travel with random people and not even when they see it on one of the many shows at Discovery Channel or National Geographic.  

Ovevr the past years, people have written quite a lot of posts about their favorite US state. However, this one, in which we tell you about 5 really cool and cold things to do in Alaska is very popular. 

1. Glacier flightseeing

When in Alaska for the first time fly up in a bushplane to find a place for a bush camp near the Knik Glacier. If  you have never been in a bushplane before (or, in fact, any other plane smaller than a Boeing 737) you will be in awe by the whole experience. Flying over the glacier, seeing all the immense crevasses and bright blue lakes from above… Within an hour you will be  back at your cabin, trembling from excitement and the great experience you just had. You just can’t go to Alaska without doing one!

2. Seakayaking at Columbia Glacier

Probably one of the coolest things to do in Alaska is kayaking between the icebergs of Columbia Glacier. Kayaking between giant icebergs that calved off Columbia Glacier truly is something magic and not scary at all. 



3. Glacier hiking

Nothing beats glacier walking in Alaska. At least, not at Root Glacier. In the spring its less crowded there in fact you might be the only person on the glacier.  While in New Zealand a group of at least 10 people step onto the glacier every 15 minutes or so. You will see the giant Stairway Icefall and hear the ice creaking. 



4. Glacier cruising

For those who are less adventurous and those who want to see wildlife, make sure to go on a glacier cruise. Not talking about the massive Holland America ones here, but the small boat trips that you can take for a day trip. 



5. Camping at a glacier

Just imagine wanting to be really cool and deciding not to bring a tent, but just your sleeping pad and bag to a wilderness camp at the mouth of a glacier. Then imagine falling asleep, which is quite a challenge because it’s cold and it doesn’t get dark. But then, when you are finally asleep, the most amazing cracking sounds begins and you can hear a giant tear breaking up parts of the glacier. Ice hits the water, you hear the waves break on shore and then there’s an incredible silence. You get up, trying to witness what’s happening but then realize you can’t see it because your contact lenses are in the bear proof bin you brought because the fluids you use for them are perfumed. That is a glacier camping experience. 

I’d promised you cool things to do in Alaska and I told you cool (and cold) things, no? Glaciers cover 3% of Alaska and therefore you shouldn’t miss out on them when you’re there. After seeing many glaciers in Iceland, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, I can truly say from the bottom of my heart that none of them have glaciers that are as amazing as they are in Alaska.

Bear viewing in Katmai National Park. 

The bears that live here are the real deal, the big brothers you see on Nat Geo tv and that will eat you if you are incredibly unlucky. Bear viewing right in their natural habitat is an event of a lifetime. It’s impossible to describe the feeling when those big, furry giants are walking past you at less than a 10 meter distance. Just brilliant!

 

Well, I hope I encouraged you to go and see Alaska. I know, it’s expensive and for some of you it’s far far far away, however, believe me when I say it’s totally worth it. Ever minute and every penny!

YourTourGuru