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The Great Alaskan Grizzly Photo Adventure: Homer to Katmai

8 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
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Day 1: Homer, Alaska
On your arrival in Homer, a scenic town of 5,000 located near the bottom of the Kenai Peninsula, a transfer is provided to our hotel. Known as “the end of the road,” Homer is the most southerly point on Alaska’s contiguous highway system. Depending on timing, you may be able to explore some of Homer's highlights on your own this afternoon. Options include the Pratt Museum, showcasing the natural and cultural history of the Kachemak Bay region or the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. 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 you may have a chance at the town harbor to see fishing boats unloading their catch—an exciting opportunity for photographers. Tonight, meet your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner.
 
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 float plane from Homer to Katmai this morning where we'll meet our privately 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 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 a dozen 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 float plane 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.
 
Note:  Most float plane flights will depart Homer for the Ursus in late morning and return to Homer mid-afternoon. The exact times will vary according to weather and other logistical factors.
Map
All This Included
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!
  • 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
  • Photograph giant Alaskan brown bears—the world's largest coastal grizzlies—at very close range, in a truly wild and remote setting that's inaccessible by road or air 
  • Coastal cruising aboard our private small ship 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, and get amazing photos from just feet away!
Accommodations
Homer: Land's End Resort
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.