Brown Bears of Katmai

The last best place on Earth

Overview

Katmai National Park is one of North America’s great wildlife viewing areas. It’s here, from August into early September, salmon make their final, momentous journey home to spawn. Waiting for them are one of the world’s biggest predators – brown bears. They come from far and wide to fish and play in the teeming rivers. For this short time, they lower their territorial guard to share the land with other bears, extending this courtesy to humans. From the pools and waterfalls, where they fish for their fatty feasts, to quiet bends in the river where mothers bring their cubs to play and learn, to the wide open vista of Hallo Bay, where even the great bears are dwarfed by the surrounding mountain peaks, you’ll have an opportunity to photograph these incredible creatures in complete isolation, with nothing between us and the bears except crystal light.

Highlights

  • Wild and remote, this is the last best place on Earth
  • Lose yourself in solitude – there’s no one else here
  • Will you see bears? Yes, we guarantee it – lots of them
  • Will you see cubs? Almost certainly, as well as sub-adults and big males
  • Are you safe? Definitely, the bears welcome their human visitors
  • This is a place to immerse yourself in nature and the wilderness experience
  • With a variety of different bays and harbours, there’s plenty of diversity
  • Wolves, red fox and bald eagles are regular visitors, plus sea otters in the bays
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£7,595

per person

Location:
Alaska
Date:
24-30th Aug, 2020
Duration:
7-days
Leader:
Chris Weston
Group Size:
8
Room type:
Comfortable
Book now Gift options available > All of our safaris and workshops may be given as a gift to a loved one, friend or colleague. When purchased as a gift, we will send you a personalized electronic Gift Certificate and we promised to keep your surprise a secret!.

Walking with bears

“In the past 10 years I have made nine trips to the Katmai Peninsula to photograph brown bears. It’s the location I’ve been to the most and the place I most look forward to going to.” Chris Weston, professional wildlife photographer.

“In the past fifteen years I have made eleven trips to the Katmai Peninsula to photograph brown bears. It’s the location I’ve been to the most and the place I most look forward to going back to.”  Chris Weston, professional wildlife photographer.

Our journey begins in the staging post of Homer, a picturesque fishing town on Kachemak Bay, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, where you’ll find craft shops, art galleries, seafood restaurants and beaches, as well as plenty of photographic potential. In the evening we’ll enjoy local hospitality and a group dinner (not included in the price).

The following morning, we head to Homer airport where we board our chartered floatplane for the journey out to Katmai peninsula. Along the way, you’ll marvel at the stunning scenery. 

Our ship and crew will be awaiting our arrival. On board, there will be lunch and a safety briefing, followed by a scene setting photographic presentation from your photographic guide. We then head out for our first encounter with bears. Prepare to be awe struck by the energy of the location and your interaction with these curious, playful creatures.

Over the next few days we explore the Katmai coast, on foot amongst bears. From lush, wide open bays, such as Hallo Bay, to secret inlets known only to us, each destination provides a different aspect and perspective on the bears, their behaviour and their environment. We expect to see bears of all shapes and sizes from mothers with cubs-of-the-year, frolicking yearlings, mischievous adolescents and huge dominant males.

The action will be constant. Bears are solitary by nature, but once a year, in Katmai, they drop their territorial instincts and, for just a few weeks, gather to feast on the abundant salmon that overflow the rivers and inlets and waterfalls. The bears extend this courtesy to humans and the photographic opportunities during this time are unparalleled.

You’ll witness the different fishing techniques adopted by the bears, including harried chases through shallow water, “snorkelling” and “the ambush”. Sparring sub-adults create a must-see side show and mothers with their cubs are always close by. On past adventures it has been known for a mother to leave her cubs in the protection of the group as she goes of to fish for their supper.

As well as bears, wolves patrol the outer rim of the bays, red fox can be seen in the long grasses and bald eagles fly overhead in search of carrion.

There are few areas of truly untouched wilderness in the world today and Katmai is an exception. Wild, remote (we’re likely to be the only people around) and enthralling. This really is the last best place on Earth.

Is This Adventure For You?

This safari is perfect for anyone with an interest in observing and photographing bears. If you are not a photographer but enjoy being out in the wilderness and don’t mind spending all day watching bears then that’s okay too. We’ll be heading off the beaten track so you do need an adventurous spirit. The boat is comfortable and has private showers and heads in each room. It provide for excellent access to the remote areas of Katmai. Typically, we attract an international clientele of all age groups. There is some walking involved during this safari, a normal level of fitness is required. We will be walking on wet and muddy grounds. Expect to be in the complete wilderness. Early starts are the norm.

Itinerary

1 dayHomer to Katmai

On arrival into Homer, we will meet you at the airport for an early morning air transfer to our boat, anchored off the Katmai peninsula. Tides permitting, we begin our photography in the afternoon before enjoying dinner and a relaxing evening onboard.

2-6 daysKatmai Peninsula (B / L / D)

Over the course of the next 5-days, we explore the Katmai Peninsula photographing bears and other wildlife (but mostly bears). Each morning, after breakfast, we transfer from the boat to the mainland in a skiff. Bears are always close by, fishing for salmon, play-fighting, or simply enjoying the day. In the downtime, we sail between locations for the best bear activity, giving you the chance to enjoy different encounters and environments. We stay out until dusk, when the bears finally head for their beds, and return to the boat for a home-cooked dinner and a chance to unwind.

7 dayKatmai Peninsula - Homer (B)

In the morning, we head out for one last encounter with the bears. In the late afternoon, we fly back to Homer in time for your flight home.

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