Clients on the group flight travel to Anchorage today and will be transferred from the airport to the hotel in downtown Anchorage. Land Only clients are advised to meet at the hotel.
This morning we travel to Anchorage airport for an internal scheduled flight to Homer. From Homer we board a small plane for a charter flight to our base camp in Katmai National Park, taking in views of the Katmai coastline on the way. The flight is very scenic, passing active volcanoes, glaciers, crater lakes and meadows. On arrival in Katmai we are met by our guide, wildlife photographer Phil Sanfilippo, and settle into our base camp, located on the fringes of the highest concentration of bears in Katmai National Park. A safety briefing will be conducted on arrival, discussing bear safety, food storage, procedures in the camp, and other important matters. After settling in we should have some time to enjoy our first exploration of our wilderness surroundings.
Day 3 - 7
For the next five days we will explore the Alaskan wilderness as we hike, observe and photograph Katmai's Coastal Brown bears in their natural habitat. Our schedule is flexible, taking into account the location and behaviour of the bears, the weather and the wishes of the group. This is a wildlife photography tour with a strong emphasis on capturing images of the bears at close range. Led by our naturalist guide, our time will be spent hiking to the best spots, wading in rivers, walking along the coastline and waiting in position to capture the most authentic images. In addition to Brown bears there are also wolves, foxes and eagles in this area which we should have time to photograph as well. Brown bears exhibit seasonal behaviour and so the focus of the trip will depend on the month of your departure: In June we have the opportunity to photograph the courting and mating rituals of Katmai's Brown bears, as eligible sows make their way to the meadows to be courted by huge boars often willing to brawl for mating rights. At this time of year the bears are feeding on sedge grasses, wild celery, mussels, dungeness crab and carrion, and we should have sightings of bears digging razor and butter clams from the tidal flats. In August, salmon start to fill the rivers and streams and well groomed bears will be feeding on up to 5 different species (Sockeye, Silver, Chum, Pink - even years only - and King). At this time of year we may also see bears feeding on roots, berries and possibly carrion. The top fishing spots are at stake as the dominant Brown bears face-off to protect the best spots along the river. Photographic opportunities are likely to include bears pounding salmon, confronting each other, posturing, jawing and actual brawling. In the evenings we return to our base camp to warm up over a home-cooked meal and sometimes even a small fire. In the summer months, there can be 16 hours or more of daylight, so it's possible to see bears from camp.
This morning we return to Homer via small plane, ready to connect with our scheduled flight back to Anchorage. We will say our goodbye to Phil, our guide, today. Please note that because we are using a small plane to get in and out of Katmai, our schedule is determined by the weather conditions in the area. If there are weather difficulties we may need to arrive or depart from base camp either earlier or later than anticipated and this may affect the overall schedule, possibly even cutting into our time at base camp. This is a last resort but please be prepared for this and ready to adapt as necessary. Once back in Anchorage, we transfer to our downtown hotel and are free to visit one of the local restaurants for a final group meal.
Those on the group flights are transferred to the airport in time for their return flight. Land Only clients are free to leave at any time today.