View the grizzlies of Kodiak Island (the largest in the world) gorge on salmon that swim up the rivers to spawn.
Few natural sights are quite as arresting as Alaskan brown bears feeding on summer bounty. This short trip focuses on the renowned bear populations of Kodiak Island and Katmai National Parks, using a private chartered boat to reach out-of-the-way places that most visitors never see. The boat can follow bears as they lope along the shore to fish and dig for clams, and you have a fantastic vantage point while watching from a safe distance.
Day1: Fly to Anchorage
Fly from London to Anchorage, arriving the same day, and make your own way to your hotel. If time allows, you may wish to arrive in Anchorage a day or two earlier to have a chance to explore this beautiful city, lying in the coastal lowland beside a fjord, but extending up the Chugach Mountain – bear and moose are often sighted, even in urban areas. The city has excellent bird watching, several fine museums, over 200 kilometres of trails with mountain views. The wilderness and parks around the city offer more hiking opportunities – including Chugach State Park, with 50 glaciers, and the famous Portage Glacier.
Fly from Anchorage to Kodiak Island and transfer by courtesy bus to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free to settle in or perhaps see some of Kodiak’s native and Russian heritage. You may like to visit the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Centre, Baranov Museum, Alutiiq Museum, Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, where guns were readied to defend against an invasion during World War II. In the evening you’ll meet your fellow travellers for an informal orientation dinner.
Accommodation: Best western Kodiak Inn, 2-nights
Day3: Explore Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge by boat
Today you’ll explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and shorelines on a chartered boat trip. Kodiak, the largest island in the Gulf of Alaska, is rich in brown bears, whales, seals, seal lions and otters. More than 3,000 bears live in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which is also an important staging post for seabirds and wintering wildfowl whose combined population exceeds one million. In summer, plentiful food attracts nesting migrant birds; some 237 bird species have been recorded here. As well as exploring the waters by boat, there will also be some time spent on the coastal trail, lined with wild flowers and Sitka spruce trees.
Day4: Float plane to Kukak Bay and board boat
Early this morning you’ll depart by float plane from Kodiak to Kukak Bay, and board your boat, home for the next four days. The plane pulls up right alongside the boat, and then you’ll set off, cruising slowly towards Hallo Bay, where coastal grizzlies are commonly found, foraging for food.
Days5-7: Explore Katmai National Park and Hallo Bay
Alaskan brown bears are North America’s largest land predators - adult males can weigh 400-kilogrammes – and bears dot the shoreline. You’ll go ashore by Zodiac for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot, where you may even see wolves. It’s not uncommon to find massive grizzlies in great numbers; trips regularly see as many as 30 to 40 of them at once, and 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. You’ll see them catching salmon, digging for clams or browsing on sedge grass. Depending on the season, you may see bears mating or cubs playing on the shore.
Day8: Return to Kodiak
It’s time to leave the wilderness of Katmai behind and return to Kodiak by floatplane for your last night.
Accommodation: Best western Kodiak Inn, 1-night
Day9: Fly to Anchorage and onward overnight to the UK
Day10: Arrive UK
You should note: On occasion a different vessel may be used
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: from £9,895 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 daysfrom £8,395 pp
3 nights on boat (cabins with upper and lower berths and shared facilities)
The largest island in the Gulf of Alaska is rich in wildlife. The Kodiak bear has lived here for 12,000 years, and 3,000 live in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge which is also an important staging post for seabirds and wintering wildfowl. Summer attracts migrant birds to nest and feed on the plentiful food supply.
Where: Southwest Alaska
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, humpback whale, orca, sea otter, bald eagle
Excellent for: Whale watching, Bear watching
Katmai has two spectacular attractions – brown bears and volcanoes. Bears can be seen in huge numbers during the Sockeye salmon run in July, late August and September, whilst in August they can be spotted feeding on the shorelines. The Valley of 10,000 Smokes is lined with active volcanoes.
Where: Alaska Peninsula
Ideal for viewing: brown bear, moose, caribou, pine marten, orca
This major port and rail terminus lies in the coastal lowland beside a fjord, but extends up the Chugach Mountains. Birdwatching, whale-watching, wilderness adventures, panoramic mountain ranges, majestic glacier and over 200 kiometres of trails can be found within easy reach of the city.
Where: South-central Alaska
Excellent for: City stopover, Wildlife
The Copper Whale Inn is an award-winning historic bed and breakfast located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, just minutes from restaurants, shops and museums. The lounge and some of the rooms have stunning views of Cook Inlet and Alaska Range, perfect for an introduction to Alaska’s scenery and wildlife.
This itinerary is available on the following
This converted fishing boat/research vessel sails out of Katmai, and is perfect for exploring Alaska’s pristine coastal wilderness. Accommodating just eight people in four cabins, the intimate ‘grizzly ship’ offers ample space, gourmet cuisine and shore excursions by Zodiac inflatables.