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The Ultimate Guide to Kenai Fjords National Park — Best Things To Do, See & Enjoy!

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Amar Hussain

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Keri Stooksbury


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Kenai Fjords National Park is an Alaskan park located on the Kenai Peninsula. This park is a magical place filled with glowing blue ice floating in the water, lush forests, majestic mountains, and abundant wildlife. This national park is filled with wonder and beauty. Each year, an average of 350,000 adventures visit Kenai National Park to discover the natural wonders that are held within its boundaries. 

How To Get to Kenai Fjords National Park

Where Is Kenai Fjords National Park?

Kenai Fjords National Park is a national park located in Alaska on the edge of the Kenai Peninsula. The closest major city to this national park is Anchorage, which is about 126 miles away. This national park stretches over 600,000 acres of icy waters, mountains, forests, and mesmerizing glaciers.

Nearest Airports to Kenai Fjords National Park

The main airport used by visitors of Kenai Fjords National Park is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). This airport is 124 miles from the park entrance. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport offers direct flights to over 21 destinations around the world. This airport services many major airlines, including Air Canada, Alaska, Condor, Sun Country, and United. 

Flying can help you maximize your travel time when vacationing at Kenai Fjords National Park. Once you arrive, the staff is happy to help you with renting a car from one of their kiosks and prepare you for the last leg of your journey.

Driving to Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is right next to the town of Seward. The Seward Highway, AK-1, will eventually become AK-9 and will lead to the town of Seward.

This national park is about 126 miles from Anchorage, where most visitors fly in from. The drive to the park from Anchorage is not too long and is filled with spectacular sights of nature’s raw beauty along the way. The journey to the park itself is one of the highlights of a vacation to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Taking the Train to Kenai Fjords National Park

A national park vacation by railway is an experience that creates lasting memories. Alaska Railroad offers train service to Kenai Fjords National Park from Anchorage or Girdwood.

The trip allows visitors spectacular opportunities to see the wildlife and glaciers while appreciating GoldStar Service meals, luxury seating, and expert narration of the sights along the way. Traveling to Kenai Fjords National Park by train is an incredible opportunity to sit back and enjoy the sights and scenery.

Other Ways To Get to Kenai Fjords National Park

There are several other ways to arrive at Kenai Fjords National Park if you are traveling in the summer. There are several options, including private buses, van services, and cruise ships. While these options are not provided by the park service itself, there are plenty of options in the surrounding area.

Getting Around Kenai Fjords National Park

Image Credit: Izzy Majcher via Unsplash

The best way to get around Kenai Fjords National Park is by hiking or taking a form of a boat. The only area of the park that is accessible by private vehicles is the Exit Glacier area. The rest of the park is best explored on foot, by cruise boat, by kayak, or from the air.

Since the majority of Kenai Fjords National Park is water and ice, it is not one that can be explored by driving to different attractions. The National Park Service offers printable and interactive maps to help you plan your itinerary and see the different areas of the park. 

What To See and Do in Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is a massive park with so much to discover. From magnificent glaciers to incredible fishing opportunities and from kayaking to flightseeing, there’s no shortage of excitement at this national park.

Boat Tours

The best way to tour Kenai Fjords National Park is by boat. There are excellent opportunities to learn about this park and discover its beauty and wonder on the water. Boat tours provide wonderful views of the tidewater glaciers, marine mammals, and the birds that call this park home. 

There are several options for booking a boat tour to explore Kenai Fjords. Most of the tours depart from Seward’s harbor in the summer months. Reservations can be made in advance, and guests can choose from full-day adventures or half-day tours. Experiencing Kenai Fjords National Park via a boat tour should be at the top of your must-do list. This is the superior way to take in and appreciate this national park. 

Exit Glacier

Image Credit: Joshua Sukoff via Unsplash

The most popular place to visit in Kenai Fjords National Park is Exit Glacier. This is the only part of the park that can be accessed by car. Exploring Exit Glacier is a chance of a lifetime. There are several trails that lead to different viewpoints of the glacier, and rangers lead walks throughout some parts of the year, which is a great way to learn about the glacier’s history and formation. 

Exit Glacier is open year-round, but due to snowy winter conditions, the road may be inaccessible. This area of the park attracts winter sports enthusiasts as it is open for snowmobiles, dogsleds, fat bikes, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. 

This fantastic attraction also features a nature center where there are many exhibits on display, a bookstore for purchasing souvenirs, and rangers who are eager to answer any questions you may have. Exit Glacier is a stop you won’t want to miss during your Kenai Fjords National Park vacation. You’ll want to put this major attraction at the top of your adventure wish list. 


With Kenai Fjords National Park being mostly covered by water, it’s no surprise that this Alaskan park is a paradise for fishermen. 

Kenai Fjords has opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. There are endless opportunities to fish either on a boat or from the shore. Salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and Dolly Varden are several types of fish that can be caught in the park. Some popular areas to fish include the backcountry, the fjords, and Resurrection Bay.

Should you choose to fish when visiting Kenai Fjords National Park, it is essential to obtain a fishing license. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also has several regulations regarding the number of fish per day that are allowed to be caught, so you need to browse its website and become familiar with those rules.

If you love to fish, you won’t want to miss out on the amazing opportunities to reel in a fantastic catch when visiting Kenai Fjords National Park.


For a thrilling adventure and mesmerizing views of Kenai Fjords National Park, you will want to book a flightseeing tour during your visit. Flightseeing offers the ability to view spectacular sights from the air. 

There are several operators that provide tours of Kenai Fjords National Park. These tours take guests to different areas of the park to see the wildlife, fjords, and glaciers in a way that you could never achieve on foot or by boat. Flightseeing offers unbeatable views of Kenai Fjords National Park. If you are up for the adventure of a lifetime, be sure to reserve a tour during your visit.  


There are several hiking trails at Kenai Fjords National Park. From mountain trails to backcountry hiking, there are plenty of trails to explore during your visit. 

There are trails for all abilities at Kenai Fjords National Park. The only maintained trails at this park are in the Exit Glacier area. There are several short easy trails on the valley floor in this area as well as a strenuous 8-hour trail called The Harding Icefield Trail. The hikes in the Exit Glacier area will allow for breathtaking views of the glacier and the icefields.

Backcountry hiking through the wilderness is another option for hikers. There aren’t trails, and the terrain is steep, rugged, and filled with areas where scrambling is a must. If you intend to backcountry hike during your visit, it is crucial to have a well-thought-out plan for unpredictable weather and other safety concerns. 

Hiking at Kenai Fjords National Park is an adventure filled with mesmerizing sights and natural beauty. No matter if you do a short, easy trail or a difficult trek through the wilderness, this activity will be one to remember for ages. 

Visitor Centers

There are 2 visitor centers at Kenai Fjords National Park: the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center, and the Exit Glacier Nature Center. These centers are excellent starting points for your adventures in the park. 

The Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center is located at the boat harbor in the neighboring town of Seward. This center provides information about the park, an opportunity to watch the park film in its auditorium, a bookstore, and rangers who are there to answer questions about the park. 

The Exit Glacier Nature Center is located at the trailhead of Exit Glacier. This center features exhibits about the Exit Glacier area, a bookstore, and rangers who are ready to answer any questions you may have about the park. 

Both of these visitor centers offer an incredible learning experience for visitors as well as a place to purchase souvenirs to commemorate your Kenai Fjords National Park adventure. Be sure to stop at one or both of these centers during your trip. 

Winter Activities

Image Credit: Cam Fattahi via Unsplash

Winter is a quiet time at Kenai Fjords National Park, but that doesn’t mean it is a boring time. For winter sports enthusiasts, Kenai Fjords is a land of thrills and, of course, chills. 

Exit Glacier provides a host of opportunities for winter fun. The snow and cold temperatures make it a perfect place for skiing, snowmobiling, riding fat bikes, winter boat tours, ice climbing, wildlife watching, and dog sledding. 

This area is inaccessible by cars, leaving the snow untouched and perfect for winter sports. If you enjoy wintery fun, be sure to visit Exit Glacier during the winter months for endless opportunities for recreation. 

Best Times To Visit Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is open year-round, but outside of the peak months to visit, there are limited services and activities available. June, July, and August are the primary months to visit this national park.

Best Time To Visit Kenai Fjords National Park in Winter

Winter in Kenai Fjords National Park is brimming with opportunities for excitement. If you want to visit during the winter months, the best month to visit is in December. The most snow falls in December, and the park has fewer visitors, which makes it the best month for a winter visit. 

Best Time To Visit Kenai Fjords National Park To Avoid the Crowds

A quiet national park vacation is always a lovely way to explore and discover the wonders of the park. For the least crowded visit to Kenai Fjords National Park, plan your trip in September. The busy season is over in September, and the temperatures haven’t gotten unbearable yet. A visit during the month of September will allow for exploring the park at your own pace and not having to worry about crowded areas. 

Best Time To Visit Kenai Fjords National Park for Wildlife

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Kenai Fjords National Park has a variety of animals that live within its boundaries. Some of the most exciting animals to see are marine mammals, like different types of whales and sea lions.

The best month to see wildlife at Kenai Fjords is in June. It is highly likely you will be able to spot humpback whales and orcas as well as blue whales and belugas along the coast. This is also a great time to see the animals that live on the land, such as bears, puffins, and wolves.

Seeing the wildlife in its natural habitat of Kenai Fjords National Park will simply take your breath away. Be prepared to capture amazing wildlife photos during your wildlife-viewing adventures. 

Cheapest Time To Visit Kenai Fjords National Park

Travel expenses can really add up quickly, so if you are hoping to save money while traveling, you are in luck. The cheapest time to visit Kenai Fjords National Park is in September, once the crowds have disappeared. There are typically reduced rates for flights and accommodations during this time of year. Experiencing Kenai Fjords National Park while going easy on your wallet is the perfect combination for an amazing vacation. 

Annual Events in Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park has events that occur on a regular basis throughout the year, but there are some annual events that bring in visitors and locals year after year. These annual events happen both in the park and nearby.

Kenai River Festival

The Kenai River Festival takes place each year in June near Kenai Fjords National Park at Soldotna Creek Park. This is a free 2-day event for visitors of all ages. There are fun activities, live music, a beer garden, a running race, and food and art from local vendors.

A visit to Kenai Fjords National Park during the Kenai River Festival is an incredible way to connect with people from around the world, learn more about the Kenai River, and enjoy activities at this incredible river. 

National Park Week

National Park Week takes place each year in late April. Every national park in the U.S. celebrates this special week with entry fees waived and special programming. This is an incredible time in Kenai Fjords National Park, filled with workshops, activities, and special guided tours and walks. Visiting during National Park Week guarantees an exciting time and extra opportunities to learn about the history of Kenai Fjords National Park. 

Where To Stay In and Near Kenai Fjords National Park

One of the first decisions to make when planning a vacation is where your home base will be. Travelers are in luck when visiting Kenai Fjords National Park as there are many options for lodging both in the park and nearby. Let’s explore some of the different places to set up a home away from home during a vacation to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Inside the Park

There are a few options for lodging at Kenai Fjords National Park. Whether you prefer camping in the great outdoors, sleeping in a primitive cabin, or staying at a wilderness lodge, there is the perfect accommodation waiting for you at Kenai Fjords.

Exit Glacier Campground

Image Credit: Ann Whitmore-Painter via NPS

Exit Glacier Campground is an excellent option for visitors who want to sleep under the stars at Kenai Fjords National Park. The campground at Exit Glacier offers 12 campsites that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. This campground does not require reservations or camp fees.

This campground provides vault toilets, food storage, and a covered area for cooking and dining. There is also a pump available for drinking water. Camping at Kenai Fjords National Park is a unique way to be one with nature and appreciate the natural beauty of the park. 

Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge

Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge is the only wilderness lodge in Kenai Fjords National Park. This lodge is located in the midst of an Alaskan Native-owned wildlife sanctuary, so not only are visitors able to enjoy access to the wilderness, but they can also catch incredible views of the wildlife that make their home in the area.

This lodge is composed of a main lodge and guest cabins. There is a lovely dining room and lounge area, a staffed bar, a cedar sauna, and an expansive deck with rocking chairs for taking in the mesmerizing views of Pedersen Glacier.

A stay at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge doesn’t just mean amazing accommodations; it also means thrilling adventures await you. Staying here includes a wildlife and glacier cruise, hearty meals, hiking, sea kayaking, interpretive nature walks, and more. Setting up a home base at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge is the ultimate way to explore the wilderness of Kenai Fjords National Park. 

Public Use Cabins

Kenai Fjords National Park has 3 public use cabins available for visitors to choose from. There are 2 coastal public-use cabins that are available during the summer months and another that can be reserved during the winter.

Coastal Public Use Cabins

Aialik and Holgate are the 2 coastal public-use cabins. These cabins are available from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. To access these cabins, visitors will need to arrange transportation by water taxi, float plane, or charter boat.

The Aialik Bay Cabin can sleep up to 4 people, while the Holgate Cabin can accommodate 6 guests. These cabins are great options for guests who enjoy a primitive stay. There is no drinking water available or restrooms, so guests who plan to stay here will need to be prepared to use waste disposal kits and bring in their own drinking water and cook stove.

Willow Public Use Cabin

Willow Public Use Cabin is the perfect lodging option for guests who seek a solitary retreat during the winter months. This cabin is accessed by a snowshoe, dogsled, cross-country skis, or snowmobile. The cabin offers a small kitchen with a propane stove, rustic furniture, and enough beds to sleep 4 people. This cabin has electricity but no running water. Visitors will need to bring in their own drinking water or melt snow. There is a pit toilet nearby. 

The public-use cabins are an excellent way to experience the sheer beauty of Kenai Fjords National Park without all the distractions of everyday life. 

Towns Near Kenai Fjords National Park

For visitors who want to stay somewhere other than the park, there are 2 options within an hour’s drive from Kenai Fjords National Park. Each of these towns has plenty of options for accommodations, dining, and recreation.

Cooper Landing, Alaska

Cooper Landing is 53 miles from the park and is located along the Sterling Highway at the northern end of Kenai Lake. This is a wonderful place for visitors to make a home base during the Kenai Fjords National Park vacation. 

Cooper Landing is a small town with nearly 500 residents, but don’t let that small number fool you. There are plenty of places for overnight accommodations, including bed and breakfasts, cabins, RV parks, campgrounds, and several lodges. Whatever type of lodging you seek during your national park vacation, you can find the perfect accommodations in Cooper Landing.

One of the biggest draws to Cooper Landing is its opportunity for adventure. This town was originally settled by gold prospectors in the 1800s, but today this town is known for its sport fishing. Fishermen love staying in Cooper Landing for amazing fishing opportunities on the Kenai River.

Fishing isn’t the only option for recreation. The river also provides countless opportunities for white water rafting, half-day floats, and boating. The town features a historic district with buildings to explore from the 1900s and a museum to learn about the early history of Cooper Landing. Other forms of recreation in this town include hiking and biking on the scenic trails around the town. 

Cooper Landing is well worth the drive as it has unbeatable opportunities for lodging, dining, and recreation. Staying in this town during your Kenai Fjords National Park trip will leave you with sweet memories to last a lifetime. 

Seward, Alaska

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Seward is the closest city to Kenai Fjords National Park and takes only a 4-minute drive to arrive. Seward is a town that has been shaped by glaciers. It is located between majestic mountains and the oceans. 

There is a long list of accommodations to choose from in Seward. From hotels and motels to campgrounds and from bed and breakfasts to secluded cabins in the woods, there is something for every type of traveler in this town.

The restaurants in Seward are a great way to enjoy the local cuisine of Alaska. There are dozens of restaurants in this town that serve freshly-caught seafood, local produce, and wild game creations. There are also breweries and distilleries that can treat you to craft brews, local wines, and spirits. Whatever you crave, you can find a hunger solution in Seward. 

Seward has endless opportunities for adventure. This location is perfect for hiking, paddling, and wildlife viewing. For a thrilling adventure, plan to zipline, sportfish, dog sled, or a flightseeing tour, which are all available in this town. If you prefer a calmer experience, there are art galleries, boutiques, museums, and a historic downtown that can be explored in Seward. 

With its close proximity to Kenai Fjords National Park and its amazing opportunities for accommodations, dining, and recreation, staying in Seward is an ideal choice during your stay.

Where To Eat In and Near Kenai Fjords National Park

There aren’t any restaurants in Kenai Fjords National Park other than the dining room at the wilderness lodge, but this option isn’t practical for those who aren’t guests of the lodge. The best option for grabbing a bite to eat while exploring Kenai Fjords is to venture over to a restaurant in a neighboring town. Let’s explore some of the top-ranked restaurants near Kenai Fjords National Park.

Gold Rush Bistro

Gold Rush Bistro is 14 miles from Kenai Fjords National Park in the town of Seward. This restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily during the summer months. 

The menu at Gold Rush Bistro features classic American favorites like juicy burgers, loaded fries, and seafood specialties made with the fresh catch of the day. Some of the most popular menu items include the chipotle bacon burger, garlic parmesan fries, seafood chowder, and the Alaskan king crab meal. 

When visiting Kenai Fjords National Park, be sure to stop by Gold Rush Bistro for an incredible meal and supreme customer service.

The Lone Chicharron Taqueria

The Lone Chicharron Taqueria is an authentic Mexican restaurant in Steward, just 14 miles from Kenai Fjords National Park. This 5-star rated restaurant serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

The menu at The Lone Chicharron Taqueria offers favorite Mexican dishes, including tacos, burritos, tortas, and desserts. Some of the most favorite dishes include fish tacos, carne asada, street tacos, and fresh chips and salsa. 

If you find yourself needing to refuel during your Kenai Fjords National Park vacation, you will want to stop at The Lone Chicharron Taqueria for a meal that will satisfy your hunger and keep you fueled for the rest of your day.

Seasalt Alaskan Grill and Bar

Seasalt Alaskan Grill and Bar is a restaurant in Seward, the closest town to Kenai Fjords National Park. This restaurant and bar is open daily for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Starters, salads, soups, burgers, and a variety of dinner specialties are featured on the menu at Seasalt Alaskan Grill and Bar. There are also delicious desserts and an impressive menu of fine wines, craft beer, and signature cocktails for unwinding after a long day. Customers rave about the bison T-bone steaks, the fish and chips, and the seafood chowder. 

Seasalt Alaskan Grill and Bar offers an amazing atmosphere for those who want to relax and reset after a long day of park exploration. Weekends feature live music and dinner specials. For a good time and a great meal, plan to dine at Seasalt Alaskan Grill and Bar during your Kenai Fjords National Park vacation.

Seward Brewing Company

Seward Brewing Company is open 6 days a week for dinner and drinks in the town of Seward, the closest city to Kenai Fjords National Park. This locally-owned restaurant and brewery brings remarkable culinary creations and local craft beer for locals and tourists to enjoy. 

The menu at Seward Brewing Company features unique appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, fresh salads, and freshly-made wood-fired pizzas. The brewhouse serves locally-made brews, and there is also an extensive wine list. Some dishes that are loved by locals and visitors include the hot chicken sandwich, the bleeding artichoke pizza, and the fish tacos. 

Seward Brewing Company has an exciting atmosphere with incredible cuisine. This restaurant makes a perfect option for a quick bite to eat before or after your adventures at Kenai Fjords National Park.

Kenai Fjords National Park Facts

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1. A New National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park was first established as a national monument in 1978. In 1980, the park was established as a U.S. national park under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. 

2. Original Inhabitants

The people who originally made their homes in the park were known as the Alutiiq. This people group hunted and lived on the outer coast in the Kanai area. They spent their days fishing and hunting marine mammals. The Alutiiq were able to make a harsh, rugged place home for centuries. 

3. An Impressive Ice Field

The Harding Icefield is found in Kenai Fjords National Park. This icefield is 700 square miles in total and is one of the 4 major ice caps in the U.S. Exit Glacier, which is part of this icefield, is one of the top attractions at Kenai Fjords National Park. 

4. An Abundance of Animals

Kenai Fjords National Park is home to a wide variety of animals. Some of the animals that can be spotted in this park include harbor seals, sea otters, humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, puffins, bears, and mountain goats.

5. Staggering Snowfall

Kenai Fjords National Park receives an impressive amount of snow each year. The Exit Glacier area averages nearly 200 inches of snow accumulation each year. 

6. Kenai Fjords First Family

The first family in the Kenai area made their home in Seward, the neighboring town of Kenai Fjords National Park. Franklin Lowell and his wife, Mary, were the first permanent homesteaders of Seward. Many of the topographic features in this area are named after the Lowell family, including Lowell Glacier, Lowell Peak, and Lowell Point.

7. What’s in a Name?

Harding Icefield, which is partly in Kenai Fjords National Park, was named after President Warren G. Harding. President Harding visited Seward in the summer of 1923 as a part of his Alaskan tour. This brought a spotlight on this Alaskan area and resulted in the icefield being named after him.

8. A Glacial Area

There are at least 38 glaciers that flow over the land in the Harding Icefield area of the park. As these glaciers flow, they shape the land. The most significant glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park is Exit Glacier. Visitors are able to tour this glacier and explore its beauty and wonder. 

9. Big Blue Glaciers

Kenai Fjords National Park is known for its sizeable blue ice masses that can be seen floating in the icy waters. These massive chunks of ice are believed to be relics from the Ice Age. The ice appears blue because there are many layers of snow and ice from thousands of years, which casts a blue tint.

10. A Historic Oil Spill

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill saw 1,264,155 barrels of oil spilled into the waters of Kenai Fjords. This is known as the biggest environmental catastrophe of the park. This horrific oil spill killed approximately 250,000 sea birds, 300 seals, 22 orcas, 3,000 otters, and 250 bald eagles. This oil spill impacted over 1,000 miles of Alaskan coastline, 20 miles belonging to Kenai Fjords. There have been many cleanup efforts, but even after all these years, there is still oil on the beaches of Kenai Fjords National Park. 

Final Thoughts

Kenai Fjords National Park is a magical place where ice, ocean, and mountains meet. This national park is a treasure trove of incredible wildlife, majestic mountains, massive glaciers, and forests. There’s no shortage of adventure and excitement in this national park. From boat tours to mountaineering and from snowshoeing to camping in rustic cabins, there’s something for everyone at this national park.

Frequently Asked Questions

Kenai Fjords National Park does not charge an entry fee. There are many opportunities for tours and special activities, which cost additional fees, but general entry is free.

There is so much to see at Kenai Fjords National Park. The recommended trip is a minimum of 2 days. A 2-day trip allows visitors to take a fjord cruise, hike some of the trails, and see the highlights of the park.

The weather varies a little throughout the year at Kenai Fjords National Park. Visitors can expect cool or cold temperatures with snowy conditions from October to the end of April. The coldest month is January, with low temperatures dipping below 10 degrees. The warmest weather is in July when it reaches 50 degrees.

Dogs are welcome at Kenai Fjords National Park. There are many places where pets are prohibited, so be sure to check the regulations prior to visiting. Pets are expected to be leashed at all times, and owners are required to dispose of pet waste properly.

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.


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