The spectacular scenery of Alaska, whales and grizzly bears. Three themes that make a trip to Alaska worthwhile. And, for Alaska fantastic weather with plenty of sunshine and only one day of rain. Mosquitoes - just a few and light-conditions, which delight the heart of a photographer.
The first part of the trip is a week-long cruise in the Alexander Archipelago, the waters around Juneau in southeast Alaska. The boat is small and cramped for eight guests, but still cozy. The encounters with humpback whales and orcas in the vastness of the sea are spectacular. Sometimes the whales come as close to the boat that one gets wet from the mist of their "blow".
In the waters in the archipelago are rich herring schools. The humpback whales use a special technique, "bubble net feeding", to catch them. By cleverly blowing air bubbles at depths of 100 m, they create a bubble net that traps their prey near the surface. Then with the grace of synchronised swimmers, the 35-tonne giants shoot with mouth wide open to the surface to devour their prey.
I can experience a special encounter with an "iceberg". Inconspicuously he drifts in the vast of the archipelago. Through the waves of the approaching boat the iceberg gets suddenly unstable and rotates. The light of the sparse rays of sunlight reveals an ice sculpture of incredible beauty. The millennia-old ice sculpture shows an "inner-life", I have never seen before.
Especially spectacular are the humpback whales, when they jump. But also difficult to photograph! You never know where they jump - either it happens too far away, or in the back or too close! A second or two and you only see the white spray.
The sea is usually calm in the archipelago and in the bays, where we anchor each overnight, it is often as smooth as glass. The setting sun enchants the landscape in a rhapsody of blue and orange.