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The Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter: Kodiak to Katmai 2019

8 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices
Day 1: Kodiak, Alaska
On arrival in Kodiak, you are met and transferred to our hotel. Depending on your timing, you may be able to explore some of the island's Native and Russian history on your own this afternoon. Options include the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, St. Paul Harbor, Baranov Museum, Alutiiq Museum and Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Our grizzly adventure officially begins this evening, when you meet your fellow travelers and our local guide for an informal welcome dinner and orientation.
 
Day 2: Kodiak Island
Today we explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a 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 our sense of an intimate encounter with nature is palpable as we glide through the rockbound coves. We'll also spend time 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.
 
Day 3: Kodiak / Katmai—Board Natural Habitat Ursus 
Our day begins with a classically Alaskan pursuit: a floatplane flight from Kodiak to Katmai to meet our private chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus. The plane pulls up nearby, and we disembark to board the vessel that will be our floating home for the next several days. The 73-foot Ursus originally gained fame as a deep-sea 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 "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 our guests comfortable marine wilderness accommodations. The Ursus (which means "bear" in Latin) cruises slowly along the coast, where we commonly find coastal grizzlies, or brown bears, foraging for food. Since we are mobile, we can cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay.
 
Days 4–7: Bear Viewing in Coastal Katmai
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, just yards 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 dot the shoreline. We 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; our previous trips have seen as many as a dozen of 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.
 
We watch as they fight to capture salmon in their jaws, trying to seize spawning fish making 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 our visit, we may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. On our other Alaska trips, we watch grizzlies from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai we are on foot, carefully wandering the area in our small group under the cautious guidance of our Expedition Leader. In addition, it is not uncommon for our groups to frequently see wolves and observe their interesting interactions with the bears. As a result, this trip offers a wildlife encounter that will thrill you beyond expectation. On Day 7, we plan to return to Kodiak by float plane.
 
Day 8: Kodiak / Depart
Our Alaska adventure comes to a close today as we depart from Kodiak. We recommend that travelers book an afternoon flight out in case inclement weather prevents us from flying back to Kodiak on Day 7 as planned. 
Map
All This Included
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. Our private chartered boat, the Natural Habitat Ursus, is ideally designed for our Alaska adventure cruise, offering an exclusive opportunity to follow the bears along the shoreline as they fish, dig for clams and amble along the beach. Ashore, we have an even closer vantage point as we watch on foot with our guide from a careful distance. The bears could not be more nonchalant about our presence! Here in Katmai National Park, experience this rarest of encounters with Ursus arctos in all its untamed majesty.
  • Round-trip float plane flights
  • Accommodations
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day
  • Beer and wine on board the Ursus
  • Safe drinking 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
Highlights
  • You won't believe how close you'll get to giant brown bears—the world's biggest coastal grizzlies—in a wilder setting than anywhere else on Earth...safely on foot!
  • Cruising just offshore aboard our private chartered ship allows unparalleled access for bear watching, in the most intimate of contexts
  • View bears foraging on the beach as we walk ashore in the careful company of our naturalist Expedition Leader, whose bear expertise adds immeasurably to your experience
Accommodations
Kodiak: Kodiak Inn
Cruising: Cabin onboard M/V Natural Habitat Ursus
Pre and Post Add-ons
Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari
See more of wild Alaska on an intimate small-group adventure to Alaska's best wildlife spots, including the brown bears of Brooks Falls, Kenai Fjords and the backcountry wilderness of Denali National Park.
13 Days / Jun - Aug, From $10895
 
Exploring Alaska's Coastal Wilderness
A small-ship voyage through the narrow channels and fjords of Southeast Alaska's storied Inside Passage—meet wildlife up close in the company of top naturalists.
8 Days / May - Aug, From $5990
Notes
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 8 Travelers
  • Not Included: Travel to and from start and end point of the trip, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, airport and departure taxes, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), optional travel insurance and required medical evacuation insurance.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate to Difficult. This small-ship-based Alaska adventure cruise requires a moderate level of physical fitness in terrain that can be difficult to navigate. At times, travelers must walk at least two miles to reach the daily bear-viewing location, in varied conditions that may include rough, uneven terrain, shallow water, and walking through mud while wearing chest waders (which can feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable)—while carrying all of your own gear including camera equipment. In order to maximize bear-viewing opportunities, we may spend long days ashore, returning late to the ship for dinner. Once at the bear-viewing site, physical activity is quite limited. We may spend several hours in essentially one spot with little movement, sitting on low stools or buckets. For safety reasons, it is not possible to split the group, for individuals to return to the ship early or to stay in one place while the rest of the group moves. Transfers between the Natural Habitat Ursus (our small ship) and the float plane, and to the smaller boat we use to access shore, 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. Travelers must be of sound health and able to maintain a positive attitude in a wild and remote setting.
  •  Arrive in Kodiak/Homer in time for a 7 pm welcome dinner and orientation on Day 1. Exact times of our flights between Kodiak/Homer and the Natural Habitat Ursus vary according to weather and other logistical factors. We are scheduled to return to Kodiak/Homer on Day 7. You are free to depart from Kodiak/Homer anytime on Day 8, but we strongly recommended choosing a flight in the afternoon in the unlikely event that poor weather prevents us from returning by float plane as scheduled on the itinerary. Should travelers be required to remain in Kodiak/Homer longer than anticipated due to inclement weather, either before, after or during the trip, they will be responsible for their own expenses.
  • 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.