Gelmond Geo Tours – Alaska trip planning and travel services
Let the experts help you put together a once-in-a-lifetime trip and explore Alaska, one of the most special places in North America
Ofer Gelmond’s first visit to Alaska was on a backpacking trip, right after his military service. “I think it had something to do with a TV nature documentary…” says Ofer, who’s been coming back to Alaska ever since: once as a traveler, then as a dog handler for a professional dog musher, and finally, as a graduate student at the University of Anchorage, where he earned his master’s studying the impact of earthquakes on the evolution of fish in the Gulf of Alaska. Today, Ofer is the owner of Gelmond Geo Tours, a Tel-Aviv based travel business which specializes in customized private trips to Alaska and West Canada (Canadian Rockies and Vancouver). "We have a team of seven employees, all of them are well travelled in Alaska and very knowledgeable about the region. We organize trips for the independent traveler and also offer guided small-group tours in Hebrew (up to 12 travelers). Our guided trips start in Seattle and end in Anchorage, or vise versa."
What's special about your trips to Alaska?
The common connotation for "Alaska" is a cruise, but Alaska is much more than that, and a luxury ship provides a very limited means of seeing it properly. Our focus is personalized self-guided tours that allow our customers to go alone to the most special places in this wonderful state. We typically look for locations outside the main tourist areas. For example, many of our clients spend extended periods of time in the fjords of Southeast Alaska, at the small and beautiful fishing towns, where cruise ships only pass but do not stop. This is an amazing area with dense rain forests, hiking trails, spectacular tidewater glaciers and of course, plenty of wildlife .
Our customers will typically spend a few days in each town, during which they tour the area with small local companies. Most itineraries include adventures such as a bear-viewing tour, where you get to stand just a few feet away from the bears, a day cruise up a beautiful fjord using a small boat, or sailing up a wild river that ends in a spectacular glacial lake. We personally know the local staff that runs the tours (professional and nice!). These are amazing experiences, and a wonderful way to see what Alaska has to offer.
On our trips we place great emphasis on personalization: you can choose an active itinerary which will take you rafting, kayaking and trekking, or you could go on a more relaxed trip based on short walks and siteseeing, whichever suits you. Of Course, we also do our best to fit the accommodation level, type of vehicle, schedules and the pace of the trip to the travelers requirements. No two trips are alike
Guided or independent tour?
We offer a choice between guided group tours and independent tours where we build the route, take care of all the ground services, and prepare a detailed trip portfolio for our customers. The advantage of an independent trip is in our ability to tailor the trip to the needs of the travelers. Alaska is the perfect destination for such a trip because everything is in English, and the local suppliers are very reliable. The advantage of a guided group tour is in having a designated guide that handles all the logistics and also explains and enriches the experience. Our group tours are limited to a maximum of 12 people, so the atmosphere is relaxed and intimate. The small group size also allows us to reach special places and include activities that cannot be done with large groups. This is also a great way to meet friends and travel with good company.
Why Alaska? I have great views in Seattle and even bears and salmon…
Alaska is one of the last places on earth, where large areas are still kept in their most natural and primary state. Some of the parks are so big, you could fly for hours and not see any roads, bridges or powerlines. The landscapes, mountains and glaciers are of a magnitude not seen elsewhere. Sure, you could see bears in Yellowstone or in Yosemite, but it’s usually done from a car in a a traffic jam. It’s a totally different experience in Alaska, where you sit next to a waterfall just a few feet away from ten full-size bears, hunting salmon in utter indifference to the your presence.
Local folks in Alaska are super friendly, and casual conversations are typically accompanied by fascinating stories about harsh winters and crazy wildlife encounters. A visit to the small towns of Alaska is a special cultural experience, even for those who have lived in the US for many years. And finally, if you live in Seattle, you are only a short and inexpensive flight from this amazing experience which is a great advantage.
Alaska with Kids?
Traveling with children in Alaska is relatively easy. The infrastructure and services are American in every way. On the other hand, the wild nature, the distances and the long journeys require some preparation. For families, we recommend a route of about ten days in the eastern, less traveled part of Alaska. It’s a beautiful part of the state, where you could find many inexpensive attractions such as Zip Line, kayaking, rafting and more. The driving distances in this itinerary are relatively short, another advantage for families with kids.
When do you go to Alaska?
The season in Alaska is very short, mid-May to mid-September. Typically July and August will have the best weather, but September can also be surprisingly sunny . From late August to mid-September you could see the fall colors at their peak, and you may even see the northern lights. Hotel availability could be pretty limited, especially the closer you get to summer, so we strongly recommend reserving flights and accommodations as early as possible.
Must see attractions
I have already mentioned the bear viewing tours, which I consider a once-in-a-lifetime experience for every nature lover and photography enthusiasts. The tours include a flight out to the remote areas where the bears can be seen. These are Coastal Brown Bears, the same biological species as the grizzly, but because their protein-rich diet (lots of fish) they reach enormous proportions.
Another experience that I highly recommend is a flightseeing tour. The landscapes in Alaska are on a different scale in terms of size, and sometimes the best way to fully comprehend what’s around you is to get up high in the air. Alaska has a relatively limited road system and a large part of the population lives in inaccessible places, so the use of small bush planes is very common. Two great destinations to go flightseeing are Wrangell St. Elias National Park, and Denali National Park (where you could even land on a glacier on the mountain’s slope). For anyone coming to Alaska, it's an experience I'm sure you will not forget. Of course, there are other options too, such as sled dog rides on glaciers, helicopter flights and more.
We want to book our trip; how does it work?
First, we’ll arrange for a meeting with one of our staff members (in person or via video-chat), where we will clarify wishes, dates, needs, constraints, etc. At the same time, you will review ideas and options. At this meeting, we also draft the itinerary .After the meeting, we will match the plan to real-life constraints such as room availability or ferry schedules, and send you an itinerary with a quote for the trip's ground services . The cost of the meeting and the itinerary preperation is $100, which will be offset from your payment if you choose to book the trip through us. Once you decide to book the trip, we will handle all the reservations and build a detailed travel portfolio that includes routes, attractions and precise planning.
Detailed planning saves you time and headaches and prevents mistakes that may cost money and aggravation. Weather related cancelations and delays? Unexpected problems on the way? We provide around-the-clock support for any issue or needed change.
Thinking Alaska this summer? It's time to talk to Ofer and the team and book a trip of a lifetime
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