This is a pretty amazing location. Surrounded by the towering volcanoes of coastal Katmai National Park, we have a stunning backdrop for this the drama.
And dramatic it is.
In 2016 we had over 20 bears for the week, a dozen or each day. The action is pretty solid. As the tide ebbs, the bears chase the salmon in the shallows. We typically photograph sows with cubs, adult males, subadults, the works.
It’s very little known location so I don’t say where it is. But I can assure you the photography is fantastic.
We’ll set this up as we do our soldout Grizzlies in the Fall tour. We provide all your camping gear, etc. You’ll need your own outdoor clothing, camera gear, waders, and sleeping bag. I’d suggest a bag rated down to 20˚F (approx -5˚C)
Expeditions Alaska handle all your food, the cooking, camp setup, etc. We provide an electric fence for camp, and we’ll setup a small covered outhouse as well.
no longer a small tour. Space is limited.
Whoever comes along will be glad they did.
About the hiking?
Pretty easy walking, and not terribly far. Some days we might walk 2-3 miles (total), other days we might walk 1. Rarely would we cover more ground than this.
Is it buggy?
It can be, but not terribly so. By late August bugs have started to dwindle in Alaska. We’ll have some gnats, called White-sox, which can be a pain. Bring a headnet and mosquito repellent.
What camping get is provided?
Everything sans your sleeping bag. We provide robust 4-season tents, comfortable sleeping pads and a pillow, electric fence around camp, portable “outie” (outhouse), and all your food, kitchenware, etc.
Due to weight restrictions for the flights, tents are shared. 2 per person in most cases. Exceptions can be possible, so don’t hesitate to ask.
You bring your sleeping bag, your clothes, and camera gear.
Do we need waders?
Yes, you do. Hip boots are not what I advise. you want a good pair of waders and walking shoes or boots for them. We’ll send you info on that topic.
Do we have access to recharge batteries
No. This is a remote, off the grid backcountry camp.
Some folks will bring a portable solar panel and set it up in camp, but my recommendation is just to bring enough battery power to get you through the trip.
How's the weather?
Alaska weather is really all over the map. It might be sunny and 65 it might be 40˚F and raining. In 2018 we had frost 4 mornings in a row.
The Katmai Coast can rain, so be prepared. We’ll send you a full detailed info packet for what to bring.
It would bethat it’ll be cold enough to snow.
4 Different Brown Bear Tours; What are the differences?
Well, this could be quite a discussion. And it varies somewhat, year to year. Trips change and situations change really a bit more rapidly and frequently than you imagine. But this post will hopefully help clarify some of the differences between each of our brown bear tours a bit.
I’ll mention each trip and then outline a few of the factors unique to that trip as well as what some of the differences might be:
Alaska Brown Bears and Coastal Wildlife
The Brown Bears and Coastal Wildlife Tour is NOT a camping trip. On this tour we stay on board an 80′ boat and are well taken care of by Captain Chuck and his partner Olga. Great people.
You can charge your batteries, laptop, etc as well as yourself on the comforts of Chuck’s boat.
We travel stretches of the Katmai Coast, going to shore each day to photograph the bears. We typically go to at least 2 or 3 different bays, but this does depend on weather, conditions, bear activity, etc, etc.
This trip we also aim to find some other creatures; primarily marine mammals like seals and sea otter, as well as eagles. We’ve had some decent luck with wolves on this tours as well. Superb backgrounds and mountain scenery.
Hiking and difficulty level is low. This trip works well for most folks, beginners to experienced, and you do not need to be in great shape.
Departs from and returns to Kodiak, AK.
Grizzlies in the Fall Tour
The Grizzlies in the Fall Tour is the most “luxurious of those, with (limited) National Park Service services available, and some infrastructure to help your comfort somewhat. An outhouse, covered shelters, etc. It’s pretty comfortable and easy camping conditions for just about anyone. Being later in the year it is likely to be the cooler of the tours.
We spend some time in the river, but due recent park service changes and increasing visitation levels we don’t do that as much as we used to.
This trip works great for instruction and learning photography. Non-hikers and those with mobility concerns will be OK on this trip.
Great for bear portraits, cubs and great big fat bears.
Yes you can recharge you camera gear.
Excellent for camera and photography instruction and more of a workshop today.
Departs from and returns to King Salmon, AK.
Grizzlies in the Mist
The Grizzlies in the Mist Tour is as remote as remote gets, no infrastructure or services or facilities of any kind. Camping is primitive, not designated sites or anything. No outhouse, etc.
Photography is excellent. Shallow waters, smaller creeks and hungry bears combined with abundant spawning salmon equal excellent photo opportunities for bears chasing salmon. Very, very few people or plane traffic. Incredible mountain backdrops. Have had some luck with wolves on this trip, but not something I specifically promote it for. They’re a treat that appears as they choose.
Hiking is easy-moderate.
Coastal Alaska can be wet, and it can be cold; we’ve had frosts at least twice here.
You have to be battery power independent.
Departs from and returns to Homer, AK.
Brown Bears of Summer
The Bears of Summer TourGeneral Brown bear photo tours
All these tours are in Katmai National Park. None of them involve backpacking with camping gear. All can be buggy, but generally none of them are even what I would call “moderate” for bugs. Everything’s relative though.
There’s no way this kind of short post can answer al yoru questions, but hopefully this outlines most of the significant differences between each of these brown bear photo tours.
What’s Included/Not Included?
Photo Tours include the following.
* Professional Guide Service: Experience is paramount, as is a friendly, flexible atmosphere for your trip and I go out of my way to bring that to all tours. Backcountry and wilderness travel in Alaska can be intimidating for a novice and even for some intermediate and experienced folks. A qualified guide service can go a long way to minimizing problems that may come up. Customers returning for
seven eightten consecutive hiking trips with Expeditions Alaska speaks volumes for the value of a good guide. What I offer.
* Travel and Accommodations: This is trip dependent. Some trips are hotel-based, others we camp, or charter a private boat for the trip. Accommodations are included on all trips. You’ll want to see the specific trip you’re considering to see the necessary travel logistics and accommodation arrangements.
* Meals: This is trip dependent. On the grizzly bear tours, and typically on the Alaska Landscapes tour I provide all the food, etc. On the Aurora borealis tour, we’ll be in Fairbanks; food is not included in the price. The bald eagle tour is similarly so. On the coastal brown bear tour and the polar bear tour, food is included on the trip.
* Safety: Any professional guide service puts safety first. A fully qualified Wilderness First Aid certification, a satellite available for emergency backcountry service if necessary, and a backup messaging device as well. This is an owner-operated business and all participants can feel confident knowing they’re not getting an intern or inexperienced guide for their trip.
* Instruction: I’ll be glad to offer any assistance I can with photography instruction in the field. Most of these tours are not sold as “photography workshops”, but we generally spend quite a bit of time working on how we can improve our photography.
Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me.
What’s Not Included?
Expeditions Alaska do not provide the following unless otherwise specified.
b) travel arrangements to Anchorage from outside Alaska.
c) trip insurance. We suggest you call Travelex.
d) guide gratuities.
e) personal gear, camera gear, etc. But if you need something, feel free to give me a holler and we’ll see if we can work that out.
Reserving your place on a trip requires a 50% deposit. Deposits are non-refundable. All trips MUST be paid in full 45 days prior to the scheduled departure date.
If the client cancels on a trip paid in full, 90% of the price can be deferred to another trip within the next 12 months, provided that
i) Expeditions Alaska is able to fill the spot,
ii) the trip is full and
iii) 30 days notice is given.
If cancellation is within 30 days of the trip, only 75% of the fee can be carried over to a future trip. No refunds are given for cancellations within 14 days of the trip departure.
Expeditions Alaska reserves the right to cancel and/or modify the itinerary of a trip. You will be refunded your payment in full if Expeditions Alaska cancels your trip.
If weather or other factors delay or impede your trip, there will be no refund of fees. Expeditions Alaska is not responsible for any other costs incurred by the client as a result of the cancellation. Additional costs incurred through weather delays and itinerary changes are the responsibility of the client.
* May be Trip dependent. See trip details on each page regarding the terms for the photo tour you are interested in.
I have more questions
I know you do. As well you should.
I recommend starting with the General Trip FAQ page
More questions? Email me or call me if you like.
Upon your reservation I’ll send out a comprehensive trip information packet that covers just about everything and more you might imagine about your trip.