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Alaska's Grizzlies: Homer to Katmai Photo Tour

8 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

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Day 1: Homer, Alaska
Arrive in Homer, a scenic town of 5,000 located near the bottom of the Kenai Peninsula. Known as “the end of the road,” Homer is the most southerly point on Alaska’s contiguous highway system. For guests who arrive by 1 pm, an informal city tour is included. Highlights may include the Pratt Museum, showcasing the natural and cultural history of the Kachemak Bay region; Norman Lowell Gallery; Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge; and/or a hike to an overlook surveying Homer’s Critical Habitat Area, 280 acres of protected state land that’s home to more than 100 bird species and provides winter habitat for the local moose population. Homer’s key geographic feature is the Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile-long gravel bar that extends into the bay. Homer is heralded as the Halibut Capital of the World, and visitors to the town harbor frequently see fishing boats unloading their catch—an exciting opportunity for photographers.
Day 2: Kachemak Bay Cruise
Homer sits on Kachemak Bay, a 40-mile-long arm of Cook Inlet, which we explore on a full-day private boat cruise. Much of the bay environs are part of Kachemak Bay Wilderness State Park, accessible only by boat or floatplane. The park, which contains wild beaches, dense mountain forests, glaciers and ice fields, has been designated a Critical Habitat Area due to the important biodiversity it harbors, and we expect to see have plenty of wildlife photography opportunities from on deck. Marine mammals frequently spotted include whales, harbor porpoise, sea otters and Steller sea lions, while on shore we may catch shots of moose, coyote and black bear. The bay also encompasses the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a fertile marine environment that’s home to prolific waterfowl and shorebirds. Return to Homer for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Homer / Katmai—Board Natural Habitat Ursus
Exciting aerial photo opportunities await as we fly via floatplane from Homer to Katmai this morning where we'll meet our privately chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus. The plane pulls up right alongside, and we disembark to board the vessel that will be our floating home for the next several days. The bear viewing begins in earnest as we cruise slowly along the shore. In this area we commonly find giant Alaskan brown bears—the world's biggest coastal grizzlies—foraging for food, and the opportunities to capture impressive close-up photos is simply remarkable! As we are mobile, we can cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay. Bring double the memory capacity you think you'll need, as you won't believe the shots you will get!
Days 4–7: Coastal Katmai—Grizzly Viewing
While we’ve all seen footage in nature documentaries of Alaskan brown bears in the wild, nothing prepares us for the drama of an actual encounter with these magnificent beasts, often just feet away! They are North America’s largest land predators, and an adult male can weigh 900 pounds. As we cruise just off the coast, bears often dot the shoreline. We go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It’s not uncommon to find the massive bears in large numbers; on previous trips we've seen as many as 30 to 40 of them at once. And far from dozing lethargically, the bears often 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. 
With cameras poised, we watch in awe as they fight to capture salmon in their jaws, swiping out at a slippery fish with talons as long as a man’s fingers. Sometimes they dig for clams in the sand or browse on sedge grass. Depending on the time of our visit, we may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. On other trips we watch brown bears from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai we are on foot, carefully wandering the area under the cautious oversight of our Expedition Leader. In addition, it is not uncommon to see wolves and to observe their interesting interaction with the bears. Suffice it to say this trip offers wildlife photo opportunities that will thrill you beyond expectation! We expect to return to Homer by floatplane on Day 7. 
Day 8: Homer / Depart
Our Alaska photo tour comes to a close today as we depart from Homer. We recommend booking an afternoon flight out in case inclement weather prevents us from flying back to Homer on Day 7 as planned. 
All This Included
A Private Ship-Based Photography Adventure into Wild Brown Bear Habitat

Nature puts on few displays as arresting as Alaskan brown bears feeding on summer’s bounty. The bears of this area – the largest coastal grizzlies in the world – gorge on spawning salmon as the fish swim up the rivers that pour onto these wild beaches. Our private chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus, offers an exclusive opportunity to follow and photograph the bears along the shoreline as they fish, dig for clams and lope along the beach. Ashore, as we walk with our experienced guide, we have an even closer vantage point as we watch from a careful distance. Here in Katmai National Park, experience this rarest of encounters with Ursus arctos in all its untamed majesty!
  • R/T flights float plane flights
  • Accommodations
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day
  • Bottled water
  • Services of NHA Expedition Leader, boat crew and local staff
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and final day
  • Chest waders for shore excursions
  • Permits and entrance fees
  • All taxes
  • Photograph giant Alaskan brown bears—the world's largest coastal grizzlies—at close range, in a truly wild and remote setting 
  • Coastal cruising aboard our private boat allows unparalleled personal access for photographing bears, as well as magnificent natural landscapes
  • View bears foraging on the beach as we walk on shore in the careful company of our Expedition Leader—get amazing photos from just feet away!
Homer: Land's End Resort
Cruising: Cabin onboard M/V Natural Habitat Ursus
Pre and Post Add-ons
Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness
8 Days / May–Aug, From $6,290

A small-ship Alaska voyage exploring the magnificent Inside Passage with an intimate number of guests in the company of top naturalists.

Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari
13 Days / Jun – Aug, From $10,295

A small-group Alaska adventure to the state’s best wildlife spots!
  • Exact times of our flights between Homer and our ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus, vary according to weather and other logistical factors beyond our control.
  • On occasion we use a different, but similar, vessel for our tours.
  • Natural Habitat Adventures will provide waders for travelers to use for the shore excursions. If you wear an especially large or small shoe size, or if you sometimes have trouble fitting boots over your calves, please let us know prior to your trip.
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 8 Travelers.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate. This small-ship-based Alaska adventure cruise 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 waders (which can be a bit awkward and uncomfortable). For safety reasons, it is not possible to divide the group or for individuals to stay in one place while the rest of the group moves. In order to maximize bear viewing opportunities, days may be long and dinner may be served late. Travelers must be of sound health and able to maintain a positive attitude in a wild and remote setting.
  • Single supplement is available in Kodiak only. Singles on the boat are not available due to space limitations.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.