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Give the Thrill of the Alaska Wilderness

Juneau-based Wild Coast Excursions offers experiences of a lifetime that bring groups up close with Alaskan wildlife

By Amanda Christensen

Peter Nave, owner and lead guide for Wild Coast Excursions in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, first started the company with the goal of introducing a higher level of service to Alaskan wilderness trips that are in better harmony with the state’s natural environment. This year, the flagship excursion is an exciting one—fly-in brown bear viewing.

Bear viewing in the Alaska wilderness. Jan. 25, 2024
Bear viewing in the Alaskan wilderness || Photo by Chris Miller

“We choose the locations of our trips based on the time of the season and the movement of the bears,” says Nave. “This includes some of Alaska’s most famous and historic bear-viewing sites.” The experience is available to book for private groups. Attendees can expect to go on a 30-to-40-minute seaplane ride to the remote bear-viewing site chosen, and see these magnificent animals fish, forage, and interact with each other. There will also be a choice of catered lunch options from a local cafe before returning to town. Additional excursions that planners and groups can explore include scenic flightseeing over the Juneau Icefield and alpine heli-hiking.

Seaplane in Alaska. Jan. 25, 2024
Seaplane on the water || Photo by Peter Nave, courtesy of Wild Coast Excursions

“We are the first guiding operation in Southeast Alaska to offer alpine heli-hiking,” adds Nave. “Guests get to experience the stunning ridges above the ice age valleys and fjords of the Juneau area. The alpine is one of the most beautiful and least visited environments in Alaska, and only occurs in the world’s high mountain regions.” The alpine heli-hiking trips are customizable for different groups and preferences, and require only minimal fitness levels. All guides are Alaska locals, and trips are available daily out of Juneau with the flexibility to meet groups in nearby towns. During alpine trips, attendees will experience stunning views of glaciated peaks along with the local wildlife including goats, eagles, marmots, wolves, and wolverines.

To add to the idea of experiencing the Alaskan wild in its most natural state, all of the Wild Coast Excursion trips are carbon negative through its partnership with the Alaska Carbon Reduction Fund. “The fund replaces oil furnaces in low-income homes with new hydroelectricity-powered heat pumps,” explains Nave. “This saves homeowners thousands of dollars annually, and reduces the amount of carbon our community creates. We have a net-positive impact on the environment by buying reductions for 125% of each trip’s footprint.”

For the bear-viewing excursions, groups of up to nine attendees plus one guide can fit into each aircraft. Nave notes that multiple aircraft can be used at once, however, to work with larger groups that get divided up throughout the day. “The further in advance we are contacted, the better we can work out a trip using multiple aircraft to accommodate larger groups,” Nave says. “The largest request we have had to date was for 35 guests.” For the alpine trips, Nave says the sky is the limit. Wild Coast Excursions can use several six-person helicopters at once and can arrange various types of group gatherings including alpine picnics, corporate ceremonies, and more.

Group exploring the Alaska wilderness. Jan. 25, 2024
Group exploring the Alaska wilderness || Photo by Peter Nave, courtesy of Wild Coast Excursions

“As a guide for almost 20 years, and the lead guide on almost all of our trips, I love sharing the wilderness and mountains with our guests,” says Nave. “These shared experiences bring people together and create unique connections. Our trips have the power to transform a vacation into an authentic experience, and group gatherings into something much more memorable. I never get enough of it!”