We were told by friends that the one thing we should do during our time in Alaska is to take a trip to Katmai in south-west Alaska. We took the (rather expensive) plunge and headed to the famous bear-viewing destination with friends from South Africa. It was worth every penny!
We flew to King Salmon and then took a dinky six-seater seaplane to Brooks Lodge. We enjoyed spectacular views from our precarious perch among the clouds, and the new snow-free Alaskan forests, rivers and mountains were breathtaking. We also all loved the experience of the float plane taking off and landing on water.
We went on a tour of 'The Valley of 10,000 Smokes', a lunar landscape created by the world's largest volcanic eruption in 1912. On the drive there we were treated to a rare sighting of a wolverine. These creatures are supposedly extremely vicious, but all we saw was a very cute and fluffy bum running down the road in front of our bus. The walk down into the valley was incredible, and we were refreshed by the spray from the rivers carving canyons through otherwise barren land.
Each night after our tours and bear-viewing, we enjoyed some wine during the long Alaskan evenings. Since the sun didn't set while we were still awake, we 'settled' for a backdrop of a late silver dusk, gleaming off the glacial blue waters of Naknek Lake.