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Explore an open bird habitat where eagles fly free, as well as stunning examples of Russian Colonial architecture, captivating native tales and the ancient rain forest of Alaska’s oldest National Park. On this tour, Sitka’s Russian, Tlingit and American culture, past and present, comes alive. On a brief panoramic drive through the historic district, see Totem Square and Castle Hill—site of the 1867 purchase and land transfer ceremony of Alaska from colonial Russia.
You’ll also pass the Alaska Pioneer Home, the Russian Bishop’s house and the World War II seaplane base Fort Ray. Discover the Alaska Raptor (Bald Eagle) Center, staffed mostly by volunteers who rescue the birds, provide rehabilitative care for them, and hopefully release the birds back to the wild. After your introduction to the facility, you will see the fascinating bird-on-a-glove presentation. View the clinic, outside deck habitat area, and the eagle flight center.
Photograph the birds throughout the grounds. At Sitka National Historic Park, wander through the lush forest along scenic paths where totems depict the rich culture of the Tlingit people. A short optional walk includes topics such as edible and medicinal plants, the life cycle and traditional uses of various salmon species, and rainforest ecology. Discover the park’s Visitor Center featuring local Native artists along with both ancient and modern displays, and view a fascinating audio-visual presentation on Sitka’s history.
Next you’ll experience authentic Tlingit stories and songs during a visit to a traditional-style clan house built. Your tour concludes with the transfer back to the ship, or you may choose to be dropped off in town.
Note: The tour includes admission into St Michael’s Russian Cathedral, should you choose to explore on your own before or after the tour. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers.