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Posts posted by whale-watcher

  1. Even if the daily forecast is favorable, the hourly forecast can vary a lot


    Here is a site I use:




    There is talk of a "mini event" this evening...due to what is called a coronal hole.


    Last week's lights were seen as far south as virginia, Iowa, and Utah so you don't necessarily need to be in Alaska to see the aurora. I would recommend signing up for one of the notification services if you live in the northern tier of states. The attached photos were ImageUploadedByForums1435779950.462344.jpg.6dc66607d0ff8ba51467d7f925a9b2f0.jpg


  2. There was a BRILLIANT display across the northern us and Canada on June 22 this year. We had a spectacular show in Minnesota with lights covering half the sky and wonderful corona formations overhead. The lights were visible in Washington state and BC that night as well...I saw many images posted on the Facebook aurora hunters page. The Kp level peaked at 8.66, but we can usually see the lights when the level is 4.66-5 or higher, and I would imagine this is the case for northern Washington state and the Vancouver BC area


    The trick is to be away from city lights and far enough south that there are at least a few hours of complete darkness. Last week's show was bright enough that we could see it before civil twilight, but that is unusual.


    Remember that long term aurora forecasts are very unreliable. I signed up for a notification service that sends me a phone alert when conditions are favorable for aurora but usually there is only a 30-60 minute advance warning. There are many other factors that can affect the forecast.


    The last year or so has been spectacular in northern MN...we also had a MAJOR display on St Patrick's Day, and many minor displays as well


    Good luck!

  3. AMAZING. northern lights show over northern USA tonight. If you are anywhere in the northern us or southern Canada get outside! Obviously won't be visible in most of Alaska but perhaps cruisers still in Vancouver or Seattle can see the show. Good luck!!!

  4. Sightings more common in certain locations, such as around the mouth of glacier bay, certain locations near Juneau, the Lynne Canal approaching Skagway, and Snow a Passage N of Ketchikan. Be out on deck scanning with good binoculars (I prefer 8x42 and high optical quality for use on a moving ship), and don't expect immediate sightings...you have to invest a lot of time. You could have luck in other locations as well.

  5. There are so many great options for touring between anchorage and Whittier...we enjoyed the crow creek mine, the Alyeska tram, scanning for beluga whales in turnagain arm, the alaska wildlife center, and the portage glacier boat tour and visitors center. Doing all of this requires a rental car, but it was one of our favorite days, well worth the expense.



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  6. Yup...this an expensive option but makes the best use of your time. We thought it was well worth the extra expense



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  7. We spent two days and did not regret it. There is a great (but expensive) restaurant at the top of the tram called 7 glaciers; amazing views and food.

  8. Very well said whale-watcher! And you would bring up my dream pair of binos, the Swarovision 8x32s, but I'm not ready to spring over $2,100 for a pair *yet* ;)


    I am going to try the Nikon SE 8x32s (as soon as they are off back-order) to see what kind of quality the Swaro's would bring me over my Vipers and see if the difference is in my future!


    I have a number of birding friends who actually prever the Nikon SE's to the swarovskis. I am using a pair of Zeiss FL that I found on eBay for less then half of retail; not as good as some of the alternatives, but good enough that I cannot justify the huge pricetag of the SW's.

  9. I actually bring two pairs of binoculars for cruising: a larger pair that I use when I am on wildlife viewing excursions or on the deck or balcony scanning for wildlife, and a compact pair that I keep with me at all other times, even in the dining room on formal night (you never know...).


    I personally feel that you should buy the best quality bins that you can afford. High-end 8x32 binoculars can offer superior clarity and brightness and better sharpness as resolotion than larger but lower quality optics, but are much ligher and more comfortable to use. For compact binoculars (8x20) this is even more important (I prefer the compact Leica ultravids).


    Exit pupil size can be important for twilight or dense shade situations, but for most wildlife viewing on the open ocean a larger exit pupil does not always translate into superior image. Lens and coating quality is just as important (if not more so).


    I have done a lot of pelagic birding, and prefer 8x bins to 10x bins for wildlife viewing from a moving or vibrating ship.


    High end binoculars (unlike high end cameras or electronics) do not go obsolete. My 30 year old pair of Zeiss dialyts are still a pleasure to use, and in retrospect were one of the best purchases I even made. If money is no object, my all around favorite pair of binoculars, hands down, are the Swarovski swarovision 8x32. One look through these and you will be spoiled for life.

  10. Does Blue Nile provide a security guard during the tour regardless of the group size? From the posts here, it seems like they would provide security for big bus group of people and not for the smaller groups. Did anyone in a smaller group have security too? and what is the size of your group? Thanks for sharing!


    We were there in 2009. We did not have an armed guard for our group of four (and also did not request one or feel the need for one at that time); just a driver and guide. All tours did depart port at the same time, and traveled to Cairo via armed caravan (a requirement of the government at that time).

  11. Hello whale-watcher

    Did you pay extra money for a pyramid view room?

    We did, but not a huge amount. We spent very little daylight time at the hotel...we stopped there briefly before heading the sound and light show in the evening, and left early the next morning to drive to Dashur, so really did not spend any significant time looking at the pyramids from our room :)
  12. We're considering using Nile Blue for an overnight. Which hotel did any of you stay at? They gave us two prices, one for a Five Star, and one for a Four Star hotel This is the only question they haven't answered yet. We're trying to decide between Nile Blue and Ramses. Thanks.


    We stayed at le meridian in a pyramid view room...it was fine, although if we return I would consider the mena house

  13. we used them last November, and were very pleased with our tour. We were able to arrange an itinerary that suited our needs, and had a very memorable two day excursion. The van was comfortable, and guide and driver were both excellent. Big plus for us...ability to pay by credit card, so we did not have to carry large sum of cash with us. We would use them again if we return to Egypt.

  14. Absolutely true! However, sometimes there are special things that we want to see that are not in the usual prepared tour packages, so it is always good to deal with a company that is flexible and will accommodate those requests too.


    I agree...if you are going all the way to Egypt, you should make sure you see the things that are important to you, and not settle for the standard tour if it does not meet your needs. We all have different likes and priorities, and my idea of a perfect excursion may be very different from yours. I personally prefer to minimize the shopping stops, so would never leave the itinerary entirely up to my guide.;)

  15. We used a different operator, but opted for an EARLY start the second day so we had time to visit Dashur (partly based on reviews posted here, including Mike's). The red and bent pyramids, although smaller, are located out in the desert and lack the annoying and distracting crowds and vendors found in Giza.


    We did climb into the tomb in the red pyramid (just our family, carrying flashlights...it was an AMAZING experience to be down there alone, in the dark and quiet).

  16. I do not recommend renting a car in Israel. They do not have speed limits on any of their roads and the people drive like maniacs. I am not kidding about this. Plus all the signs are in Hebrew so it will be almost impossible to find the streets that you want to turn on. They only have 2 lane roads in most areas and motorcycles cut between all the cars to get to the front of the line of cars. No one gets tickets for the way they are driving. You are taking your life into your own hands when driving there.


    What you have posted is ridiculous and very incorrect. We rented a car for a week and had absolutely no problem driving in Israel. The roads are well maintained and all signage is in Hebrew, Arabic and English.


    I agree with cruciangal... The roads are well marked, most with tri-lingual signs, and we did not experience any of the traffic issues (now Athens and Cairo were another story). Parking in popular and congested city centers can be an issue, however

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