Summary : Nature puts on few displays as arresting as Alaskan brown bears feeding on summer’s bounty. These bears—the largest coastal grizzlies in the world—gorge on spawning salmon as the fish swim up the rivers that pour onto these wild beaches. Your boat, the Ursus, ideally designed for your Alaska adventure cruise, offers an exclusive opportunity to follow the bears along the shoreline as they fish, dig for clams and amble along the beach. Ashore you'll have an even closer vantage point as you watch with guide from a careful distance. Here in Katmai National Park, experience this rarest of encounters with Ursus arctos in all its untamed majesty!
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography
On arrival in Kodiak, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may be able to explore some of the island's Native and Russian history this afternoon. Options include the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, St. Paul Harbor, Baranov Museum, Alutiiq Museum and Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Your grizzly adventure officially begins this evening, when you meet your fellow travelers and your expedition leader for an informal welcome dinner and orientation.
Today, explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a half-day private boat trip. A cruise up a fjord to Kodiak’s protected inner realm, past tidal pools and kittiwake rookeries, may reveal sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and occasionally whales. Kodiak is remote, not often visited by travelers to Alaska, and your sense of a unique encounter with nature is palpable as you glide through the rockbound coves. You'll also spend a half-day touring historic Kodiak, with a mix of activities that may include visits to Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, a local fish hatchery, aquarium, and/or a drive up Pillar Mountain for sweeping views over the shoreline and sea.
Take a floatplane (weather-contingent) from Kodiak to Katmai to meet your ship, the Ursus. The plane pulls up nearby, and you disembark to board the vessel that will be your floating home for the next several days. The 73-foot Ursus originally gained fame as a crab fishing boat called Time Bandit, which plied the storm-tossed waters of the Bering Sea and was featured in the Discovery Channel TV series "The Deadliest Catch." The vessel was later transitioned for research use by the National Park Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Since retrofitted for custom tourism charters, this veteran of wild Alaskan waters now offers guests comfortable wilderness accommodations. The Ursus (which, of course, means "bear" in Latin) cruises slowly along the coast, where coastal grizzlies, or brown bears, foraging for food are commonly seen. Cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay.
Though you have likely seen footage in nature documentaries of Alaskan brown bears in the wild, nothing prepares you for the drama of an actual encounter with these magnificent beasts, just yards away. They are North America's largest land predators, and an adult male can weigh 900 pounds. Cruise just off the coast, where bears dot the shoreline. Go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It's not uncommon to find massive grizzlies in great numbers; previous trips have seen as many as 30 to 40 of them at once. And far from dozing lethargically, these bears put on quite a show in their efforts to fill up on enough protein-rich food to prepare them for a long winter in hibernation.
Watch as they fight to capture salmon in their jaws, trying to seize spawning fish as they make their way up the streams that flow into the tidal area. As omnivores, they also dig for clams in the sand and browse on sedge grass. Depending on the time of your visit, you may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. Other trips watch grizzlies from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai, you are on foot, carefully wandering the area in a small group under the cautious guidance of your Expedition Leader. In addition, it is not uncommon for groups to frequently see wolves and observe their interesting interaction with the bears. As a result, this trip offers a wildlife encounter that will thrill you beyond expectation. On Day 7, plan to return to Kodiak by floatplane.
Your Alaska wildlife cruise comes to a close today as you depart from Kodiak. It is recommend that travelers book an afternoon flight out in case inclement weather prevents a flight back to Kodiak on Day 7 as planned.
Departure dates are subject to change without notice. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to confirm departure schedule before purchasing air tickets.
This Alaska adventure requires a moderate level of physical fitness. Travelers must be able to walk at least two miles in varied conditions including rough, uneven terrain, shallow water, and through mud while wearing hip or chest waders (which can be awkward and uncomfortable). Transfers between ship and floatplane to a smaller boat require the ability to make a large step up or down onto an unstable surface. It is generally not possible to view bears from the Ursus. In order to maximize bear viewing opportunities, you may spend long days ashore returning late to the ship for dinner. Travelers must be of sound health and able to maintain a positive attitude in a wild and remote setting.
Medical Evacuation Insurance is mandatory for this trip. Note that the cost of a medical evacuation policy will be added to your tour invoice. If you wish to decline this coverage and opt for a different carrier, you will need to provide other proof of coverage including your insurance company’s name and contact number, and your insurance policy number.
The Expedition Leaders are among Alaska's premier naturalist guides, as well as superlative wildlife photographers who are gifted at sharing photography tips and guidance with guests.
Round-trip float plane flights; accommodations as per itinerary; meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day; services of an expedition leader, boat crew and local staff; airport transfers on Day 1 and final day; gear on loan (chest or hip waders for shore excursions); permits and entrance fees; taxes. Subject to change without notice.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip; alcoholic beverages on land; gratuities; passport and visa fees; optional activities; items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.); airline baggage fees; airport and departure taxes; optional travel insurance; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Suzanne Kiser (NHA)