Get up close with Alaskan brown bears
Join us for a small group Alaskan brown bear photography adventure in Katmai National Park. We have chartered a comfortable private yacht that will take us to the remote coastal areas of Katmai, where brown bears will be gorging on salmon as they fatten up for the winter. We’ll venture to shore daily and watch bears fish, clam, and interact up and down the rivers and streams. Often, the bears will be remarkably close, and our guide is there to ensure safety. Our small group, with only five passengers, maximizes your photography opportunities.
In addition to brown bears, wildlife is abundant in this area. We may encounter eagles, foxes, wolves, otters, and many seabirds. We may also spot puffins or whales on our journey from Kodiak.
Read more about what it’s like to be up close with the brown bears.
- A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view Alaskan brown bears up close in their native environment.
- Remote location avoids crowds and maximizes photo opportunities.
- Accommodations aboard our 58-foot yacht are comfortable, and the food onboard is excellent.
- No matter your skill level, we’ll be there to instruct you on how to get the best photos and improve your wildlife composition skills.
Aug 31–Sep 8, 2024Aug 24–30, 2025
Must be able to board small boats and walk on uneven, wet ground for up to 1/2 mile. Must also be able to cross shallow, running streams with assistance.
Day 1: Arrive in Kodiak
Arrive at Kodiak (ADQ) before 4:00 PM on this day. Air travel delays are possible, so please consider arriving early, possibly the day prior. We don't want you to miss out on trip activities.
The group will meet at our local area hotel for a group dinner and discuss the tour we are about to embark upon.
Day 2: Transport to yacht
Transport to St. Herman Harbor, board our yacht and settle into your stateroom. Join the captain and crew in the pilot house for orientation and safety briefing. Cruise from Kodiak. Along the way, we will stop at a massive puffin and kittiwake rookery. See sea lions, seals, eagles, and much more while cruising. Anchor in the calm, protected waters of one of the many protected bays of Marmot Bay or Kupreanof Straits.
Day 3: Sailing
Anchor up. We’ll have breakfast while cruising through the steep-walled shores of Kupreanof Straits. We’ll take time to view and photograph sea otters and whales and watch for bears walking the rocky shorelines at low tides. You will cross Shelikoff Strait, hopefully catching a glimpse of whales, puffins, Dahl porpoises, and sea birds. We will arrive at Katmai National Park, anchor down, and eat lunch. From there, we will launch a skiff and set off to shore to explore for brown bears and more wildlife. In the evening, we will return to the boat for dinner.
Day 4–7: Photographing brown bears
We will be anchored in protected bays. Each day, you will have two shore excursions in our 21-ft. landing craft-style boat and be accompanied by our guides to observe the bears and wildlife in their natural habitat.
The Captain will choose the bays emphasizing bear activity, weather, and tide conditions. These bays may include:
Hallo Bay – A spectacular wide open bay with large meadows and a glacial mountainous background. Bears eat sedges in the meadows and dig clams along the shoreline during low tides.
Kukak Bay – A large, deep, wide bay, the site of an abandoned clam cannery circa 1923-36, provides hiking along game trails and opportunities to photograph bears eating berries from low bushes, eating sedges along the shoreline, or digging clams. Marine mammals, eagles, and wolves may be sighted.
Kuliak Bay – A deep, narrow, scenic, and secluded bay with close bear activity along the stream and outer shoreline.
Kaflia Bay – Rocky shoreline where bears roll over and pick up rocks to find small crabs and other edibles before salmon arrive in late July.
Geographic Harbor – Deep natural harbor lined with tall basalt cliffs and visible volcanic ash fields from the 1912 Novarupta volcanic eruption. This harbor has spectacular scenery with a large open delta for viewing and photographing bears, birds, and other wildlife.
These bays have rivers or streams with salmon returning from late July through September.
These daily guided shore-based activities include a short skiff ride to the beach. They may include photography, bear viewing, wildlife viewing, birding, beach combing, tidal pool exploration, plus coastal cruising aboard Single Star. Each day’s activities are based on the current weather, tide, currents, and wildlife activity. All shore-based excursions are guided.
Day 8: Flight back to Kodiak
After an early morning shore excursion, a seaplane will pick us up for a flight back to Kodiak. Delays are frequent when traveling via seaplane in Alaska, so we’ve included one more night of lodging in Kodiak this night. We will have a farewell dinner to reminisce about our time with the bears.
Day 9: Depart for home
You can book your return flight for anytime this day.
There is no better way to experience the last frontier than on a private yacht. We’ll travel aboard the Single Star, a 58-ft yacht that lets us safely ply the waters of Kodiak and Katmai National Park. Yet we’re small enough to maneuver into small bays and passages that less agile boats cannot access. Our quarters are comfortable, and the food is excellent.
On board our yacht, the rooms are double occupancy. Each stateroom has a private head and shower. We will stay at the Kodiak Inn the night before and after our journey. Single rooms are available for an additional cost at the Kodiak Inn.
Why Travel With Us
Our small-group trips are designed for photographers, with guides who know the best locations and offer instruction to help improve your photography. Read more about why you should travel with us.
Dates & Prices
Terms & Conditions
The return seaplane flight to Kodiak is not included. The flight cost will be communicated in the summer of 2024. The return flight is estimated to be $500 USD. We will book the seaplane flight for the group and invoice you before departure.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single lodging is available with payment of a single supplement fee.
- Single occupancy lodging is only available at the hotel in Kodiak. The yacht is double occupancy.
- All transportation during the tour, excluding internal flights.
- All meals, soft drinks, water, and snacks during the tour.
- All permits and entry fees.
- Instruction, guidance, and image reviews from our expert photography guides.
What's Not Included
- Airfare to and from destination, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees.
- Return seaplane flight to Kodiak.
- Airport transfers at arrival/departure.
- Passport and visas, if applicable.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Travel medical & evacuation insurance (required).
- Trip cancellation insurance (optional but recommended).
- Gratuities for local guides & crew.
- Any accommodations or meals before or after the tour dates.
- Items of a personal nature.