Specially designed for wildlife lovers, this small group holiday focuses on exceptional bear viewing in two of Alaska's prime grizzly locations. Far off the beaten track, spend time on Kodiak Island before cruising the coastline of Katmai National Park for truly close encounters with the world's largest coastal grizzly bears.
- Chance to see wolves, whales, sea lions, otters and bald eagles - and of course, grizzly bears!
- Very small group size and a remote setting allows for exclusive and personal wildlife encounters
- Boat-based exploration ensures flexibility to maximize bear viewing opportunities
This unique holiday offers one of the most intimate bear-viewing experiences in North America. Travelling in a small group of just 8 people, accompanied by a renowned and highly experienced naturalist guide, you will fly from little-visited Kodiak Island to the remote Katmai coast. Cruising the coastline you will not see any viewing platforms, cruise ships or buses filled with day-trippers, but instead will find wild and isolated beaches that you will share only with the grizzlies.
These Alaskan brown bears – the largest coastal grizzlies in the world – can be spotted feasting on spawning salmon as the fish swim upriver, digging for clams or munching on sedge grass at the water's edge. You may see them playing, mating or interacting with wolves, or simply ambling along the beach.
Your home for 4 nights is the converted research vessel Natural Habitat Ursus, providing a comfortable base that is ideally suited to exploring the scenic waterways of Katmai National Park. With a flexible itinerary you can cruise to where the bears are, navigating shallow water close to shore to watch bears foraging on the tideflats. Heading ashore by zodiac, you will walk along the beaches of Katmai - your small group size offers the opportunity for closer encounters with the bears without disturbing them.
You will also spend 3 nights on beautiful Kodiak Island – known as Alaska's 'Emerald Isle' for its lush valleys. In addition to discovering the island's fascinating history and strong Russian influences, you will also cruise its rocky bays in search of sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and whales.
NB: Departures also available from Homer.
Itinerary & Accommodation
- Day 1: Kodiak
- Arrive in Kodiak, gateway to Kodiak Island. Time permitting you may wish to explore independently, before meeting your fellow travellers this evening for an informal orientation dinner.
- Day 2: Kodiak
- Today you will explore Kodiak Island's coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a private boat trip. A cruise to Kodiak's protected inner islands, past tidal pools and offshore kittiwake rookeries, may reveal sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and occasionally whales. You will also explore the historic town of Kodiak, with a mix of activities that may include visits to the Alutiiq Museum, Fort Abercrombie, Russian Orthodox Church, fish hatchery and research centre, aquarium, local microbrewery and a drive up Pillar Mountain for fantastic views over the shoreline and sea.
- Day 3: Kodiak - Kukak Bay - Hallo Bay
- Take a floatplane (weather permitting) from Kodiak to Kukak Bay. The plane will pull up right alongside 'the grizzly ship' – the Natural Habitat Ursus, your floating home for the next few days. Cruise slowly along the coast towards Hallo Bay, where coastal grizzlies, or brown bears, are commonly found foraging for food. Travelling by boat offers the flexibility to cruise to wherever the bears can be seen, following them from bay to bay.
- Days 4-6: Coastal Katmai
Over the next couple of days you will explore the wild coastline of Katmai National Park, in search of close encounters with Alaska's grizzlies. These are North America's largest land predators, with adult males weighing up to 900 pounds. As you cruise just off the coast, you may spot bears dotted along the shoreline. Board the Zodiacs for a closer look or go ashore to explore on foot. It's not uncommon to find grizzlies in large numbers; previous trips have encountered as many as 30 to 40 bears at once.
The bears are likely to be very active too as they strive to fill up on enough protein-rich food to prepare them for a long winter in hibernation. Watch as they fight to capture salmon in their jaws, trying to seize spawning fish as they make 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 at the water's edge. Depending on the time of season, you may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore, as well as other wildlife such as wolves and birds.
- Day 7: Katmai - Kodiak
- After an unforgettable cruise you will return to Kodiak by floatplane for a final overnight stay at Kodiak Inn.
- Day 8: Kodiak
- Your wildlife adventure ends after breakfast today.
Please note that this itinerary is subject to change; floatplane flights between Kodiak Island and the Katmai Coast are dependent on weather conditions. A degree of flexibility is essential in Alaska's remote wilderness!
A variety of accommodation is included in this holiday. Please see 'Other Information' for further details or contact us.
Prices & Dates
Price from £7,161 per person based on twin share or £7,392 per person based on single** occupancy
**Due to space limitations single occupancy is not available onboard the ship.
Departures - From Kodiak
21, 25*, 29* June 2018
03*, 07, 11, 20*, 24*, 28 July 2018
01, 05, 09*, 13* August 2018
Departures - From Homer
22*, 26, 30 August 2018
03, 07*, 11* August 2018
Return flights from Kodiak to Kukak Bay ● 3 nights accommodation at Kodiak Inn ● 4 nights accommodation aboard the Natural Habitat Ursus ● All meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 7 ● Drinking water ● Services of Expedition Leader, boat crew and local staff ● Airport transfers on arrival and departure, Kodiak Island ● Hip waders for shore excursions (please advise shoe size) ● Permits and entrance fees
Return flights to Kodiak, & associated taxes ● Tips, gratuities and personal expenses ● Alcoholic beverages ● Travel insurance
* Special Photo Tour: For departures marked with an asterisk (*) the primary mission is to safely capture close-up images of Alaska's enormous brown bears. These departures will have a bigger focus on photograpghy and guests will have the opportunity to learn and practice new techniques. The pace of these itineraries will be unhurried, allowing guest time to capture the perfect shot.
We strongly recommend allowing additional nights in Anchorage pre and post your adventure, as flights can be susceptible to weather delays. Our team of Alaska specialists will be happy to advise on extension options in and around Anchorage.
Group size: around 8 pax
Natural Habitat Ursus
The 'grizzly ship', the Natural Habitat Ursus, was originally built for the U.S. Army for patrol work in the Aleutian Islands and later transferred to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for use in research and monitoring. It has since been converted and comfortably appointed for custom marine charter use, and it remains an ideal vessel that is perfectly designed for exploring these waters. The Ursus is 73 feet long with a deep displacement hull, a very seaworthy design with a high bow and a fine horseshoe stern. It carries a full complement of modern, state-of-the-art navigation and safety equipment.
Inside, the ship is intimate and simple yet offers ample space and facilities for our activities, accommodating a maximum of eight guests in four cabins with upper/lower bunks. Guests share two toilets and two showers. The Ursus also features a well-lit galley and dining space, small library, computer, DVD and CD player.
A central element of this adventure is the shore excursions that take place in Zodiacs carried on board. Waders are provided to keep your feet dry on shore landings.
Please note: on occasion it may be necessary to use an alternative, similar vessel
Kodiak Inn, Kodiak
Ideally located in downtown Kodiak overlooking beautiful St. Paul Harbor, the Kodiak Inn provides a comfortable base from which to explore the island. This simple property offers basic, clean rooms with private facilities, pillow-top beds, free WiFi access, microwaves and mini-fridges. A restaurant can also be found on site. A courtesy van is available during set hours for airport transfers.
Land's End Resort, Homer
This property enjoys a fantastic location on the beach, at the very tip of the famous Homer Spit and is within walking distance of the lively small boat harbor where fishermen are constantly unloading the day's catch. Rooms feature views of Kachemak Bay with one king-size or two double beds, a full bath, satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, coffee maker and private deck.
How to book
So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.
We will always offer the best price available at the time of booking and guarantee no surcharges - see our 100% Guarantee for full details.
Speak to a specialist: 1-844-584-0668Book this trip
Our team of Travel Specialists have extensive first-hand knowledge of our destinations and are passionate about travel.