Overnight tour tops Mount Fuji at dawn

The Smart Traveler

December 04, 2005|By NEW YORK TIMES

I need an English-speaking guide who will just take me up Mount Fuji in Japan. Every company I have found has the climb as part of a larger package.

Mount Fuji, the 12,388-foot volcanic mountain about two hours' drive southwest of Tokyo, is open to climbers during July and August. An estimated 200,000 people make the ascent then.

JTB Sunrise Tours (800-235-3523; jtbusa.com), offers an overnight climb accompanied by a tour coordinator, mountain guide and English-speaking assistant.

The tour departs from Hotel Keio Plaza Tokyo and travels by bus to about 7,545 feet up the mountain. Around 12:30 p.m., the group begins a hike of about 5 1/2 hours to 9,547 feet. After dinner and a rest in a mountain hut, the group sets off again about 11 p.m., arriving at the summit in time for sunrise.

The descent begins at 5:30 a.m. and takes about four hours.

On the return to Tokyo, there is a stop at the Yamanakako Spa.

The price for this year's two-day Mount Fuji climb was 34,900 yen, about $290. That price included dinner and a box breakfast.

Prices for 2006 have not been set.

Our family wants to visit Alaska next year on a combination cruise and bus tour, since we thought we'd see more by coach than by rail. Do cruise lines offer such packages?

Fiona Brosnan, an account coordinator at the Alaska Travel Industry Association, travel alaska.com, said both the Holland America and Princess Cruise lines offer land tours by bus. She said that perhaps the most popular route is Anchorage to Denali National Park, but noted that you can get there by either bus or train.

The railroad trip takes twice as long as the bus - eight hours - because the rail line does not always follow the road, going deeper into the wilderness and so is more scenic.

You might find the most choices through Gray Line of Alaska (800-544-2206; graylinealaska.com). It is owned by Holland America and the site lists a number of optional tours that can be scheduled before or after your cruise.

Mark Mumm, director of sales and marketing for Gray Line of Alaska, said Holland America's 10 bus excursions - found at hollandamerica.com under "destinations" and "Alaskan & Yukon cruise tours" - went through Dawson City or Beaver Creek, in the Yukon Territory, and include a Denali tour.

Fares start at $1,299 a person double occupancy, plus taxes and fees, for a three-night cruise and seven-day land tour through Skagway, Whitehorse, Beaver Creek, Fairbanks, Denali and Anchorage.

The three- to eight-night extensions to Princess cruises all include a rail trip. But some use buses to get to places like Kenai Wilderness Lodge (an extra $549 a person) or to Talkeetna, near Denali ($499). See "extending your stay" under "destinations" at princess.com.

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