Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Group

The Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter (8 days)

Natural Habitat Adventures

Kodiak, AK, United States To Kodiak, AK, United States

Itinerary

DAY LOCATION(S) HOTEL MEALS DESCRIPTION
Day 1
Kodiak, AK United States
Kodiak inn Dinner

Kodiak, Alaska

On arrival in Kodiak, our local guide meets you and accompanies you on the transfer to our hotel, pointing out some of the sights along the way. Depending on your arrival time, you may be able to explore some of Kodiak's Russian and Native history on your own this afternoon. Options include the Baranov Museum, Alutiiq Museum, Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. All of these are centrally located in the compact town of Kodiak that surrounds St. Paul's Harbor. Our grizzly adventure officially begins this evening, when you meet your fellow travelers for an informal welcome dinner and orientation hosted by our local guide.

Day 2
Kodiak, AK United States
Kodiak Inn Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Kodiak Island Boat Cruise

While Katmai's grizzlies will be our main focus, Kodiak Island is an impressive wildlife destination in its own right, and today we explore a sampler of its wild coastal waters on a day-long private boat trip. A cruise among Kodiak’s secluded bays and rocky shorelines, past tidal pools and kittiwake rookeries, may reveal sea otters, puffins, bald eagles, sea lions and sometimes humpback and fin whales. Kodiak is remote, not often visited by travelers to Alaska, and our sense of an intimate encounter with nature is palpable as we glide through the rockbound coves. We'll also spend time touring historic Kodiak, with a mix of activities that may include a walk through the coastal rain forest at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, a fisheries research center with aquarium and touch tank, and/or a drive up Pillar Mountain for sweeping views over the town and sea, when weather permits.

Day 3
Kukak Bay, AK United States
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Kodiak / Katmai—Board Natural Habitat Ursus

The day has arrived: We're off to see the bears! And we reach them via a classically Alaskan means of transport: a floatplane journey from Kodiak to Katmai to meet our privately chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus. Our plan is to fly out late morning, but timing is flexible in the event of weather delays, in which case we'll explore a bit more of Kodiak as we wait for clouds to lift. Once we board the plane, we fly west over Kodiak's steep green mountains and across Shelikof Strait to the Katmai Peninsula. The pilot is in radio contact with the Ursus, and soon we're taxiing along the water to pull up alongside the ship. Exiting the plane, we embark the vessel that will be our floating home for the next several days.

The 73-foot Ursus was built as a deep-sea fishing boat called Time Bandit, which navigated the stormy Bering Sea in pursuit of the lucrative king crab catch. Its successor, the second Time Bandit, gained fame in the Discovery Channel TV series "Deadliest Catch." The original boat was later transitioned for research use by the National Park Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Since retrofitted for custom tourism charters, this sturdy veteran of wild Alaskan waters now offers our guests comfortable accommodations in this remote marine wilderness. The Ursus (which means "bear" in Latin) cruises slowly along the coast, where we commonly find coastal grizzlies, or brown bears, foraging for food. Since we are mobile, we can cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay depending on weather and sea conditions. Along the way, the friendly captain and staff of the Ursus ensure we're welcomed, safe and attended to.

Day 4
Kukak Bay, AK United States
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Bear Viewing in Coastal Katmai

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 yards 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 dot the shoreline. We go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It’s not uncommon to find several massive grizzlies at once. And far from dozing lethargically, these bears may 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.

The bear activity we witness will vary according to the season, weather conditions and timing of the salmon runs, but there's always something riveting to watch. We may see bears fight to capture salmon in their jaws, trying to seize spawning fish making their way up the streams that flow over the intertidal area. As omnivores, they also dig for clams and mussels in the sand and browse on protein-rich sedge grass. Depending on the time of our visit, we may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. On our other Alaska trips, we watch grizzlies from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai we are on foot, carefully wandering the area in our small group under the cautious guidance of our Expedition Leader, who offers thorough coaching in safe "bear etiquette." Sometimes we see wolves, too, observing their interesting interactions with the bears. While occasionally there may be another boat in the region, we're usually alone in the wilderness, moved by a profound sense of solitude, peace and raw beauty. This trip offers an encounter with the Alaskan wild that we trust will thrill you beyond expectation.

Day 5
Kukak Bay, AK United States
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Bear Viewing in Coastal Katmai

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 yards 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 dot the shoreline. We go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It’s not uncommon to find several massive grizzlies at once. And far from dozing lethargically, these bears may 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.

The bear activity we witness will vary according to the season, weather conditions and timing of the salmon runs, but there's always something riveting to watch. We may see bears fight to capture salmon in their jaws, trying to seize spawning fish making their way up the streams that flow over the intertidal area. As omnivores, they also dig for clams and mussels in the sand and browse on protein-rich sedge grass. Depending on the time of our visit, we may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. On our other Alaska trips, we watch grizzlies from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai we are on foot, carefully wandering the area in our small group under the cautious guidance of our Expedition Leader, who offers thorough coaching in safe "bear etiquette." Sometimes we see wolves, too, observing their interesting interactions with the bears. While occasionally there may be another boat in the region, we're usually alone in the wilderness, moved by a profound sense of solitude, peace and raw beauty. This trip offers an encounter with the Alaskan wild that we trust will thrill you beyond expectation.

Day 6
Kukak Bay, AK United States
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Bear Viewing in Coastal Katmai

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 yards 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 dot the shoreline. We go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It’s not uncommon to find several massive grizzlies at once. And far from dozing lethargically, these bears may 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.

The bear activity we witness will vary according to the season, weather conditions and timing of the salmon runs, but there's always something riveting to watch. We may see bears fight to capture salmon in their jaws, trying to seize spawning fish making their way up the streams that flow over the intertidal area. As omnivores, they also dig for clams and mussels in the sand and browse on protein-rich sedge grass. Depending on the time of our visit, we may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. On our other Alaska trips, we watch grizzlies from viewing platforms or vehicles. Not here. In coastal Katmai we are on foot, carefully wandering the area in our small group under the cautious guidance of our Expedition Leader, who offers thorough coaching in safe "bear etiquette." Sometimes we see wolves, too, observing their interesting interactions with the bears. While occasionally there may be another boat in the region, we're usually alone in the wilderness, moved by a profound sense of solitude, peace and raw beauty. This trip offers an encounter with the Alaskan wild that we trust will thrill you beyond expectation.

Day 7
Kukak Bay, AK United States
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Bear Viewing in Katmai / Return to Kodiak

One last morning is set aside for time with the bears before we plan to fly back to Kodiak by floatplane later today. Traveling in an open skiff, we head once more toward shore, looking for a glimpse of glacier atop the high mountains that backdrop Katmai's lonely bays. Typically these peaks are cloaked in clouds while evocative mists weave in and out of the bays, providing the moisture that keeps Kodiak so famously lush and verdant. Deep ash covered the region after the massive 1912 eruption of Mount Katmai and adjacent Novarupta, and revegetation in the century since comes mostly as a thick blanket of willow and alder bushes, though some stands of spruce forest thrive as well—keep an eye out for bald eagles in the treetops. Seabirds abound, too—look for kittiwakes, terns, mergansers, pigeon guillemots and black oystercatchers.On shore, we walk across the tidal flats and gravel bars, possibly fording a few more streams to find the best vantage point for a last opportunity to spend time with the bears. Inevitably, it's going to be hard to leave here. Most travelers never get such an immersion in genuine wilderness, let alone the chance to sit in solitude with some of the world's most magnificent carnivores. We're sure to come away awed by the way the bears allow us into their world, and inspired to protect their future from the very real threats of mining, climate change and other forces that may impact the ecosystem that sustains them—especially the salmon runs on which they rely.Back in Kodiak, our local guide meets us once more as we transfer to our hotel. A farewell dinner is planned at a local restaurant. Fresh seafood is always on the menu, along with other varied choices.
Day 8
Kodiak, AK United States
Kodiak Inn Breakfast

Our Alaska bear adventure comes to a close today as we depart from Kodiak. We recommend that travelers book an afternoon flight out in case inclement weather prevents us from flying back to Kodiak on Day 7 as planned. (Occasionally, weather delays may require a morning flight today from the Ursus back to Kodiak.) Several morning activity options are available in town as we wait for flight departures, however, and our Kodiak guide makes sure there's plenty to engage us.

Please note: Most floatplane flights will depart Kodiak to meet the Ursus in the late morning on Day 3 and return to Kodiak by mid-afternoon on Day 7. The exact timing will vary according to weather, marine conditions and other logistical factors.

Tour Features

Experience(s)

  • Adventure
  • Cruises & Water Tours
  • Wildlife & Nature

Description

Meet the Mighty Brown Bears of Katmai Up Close From Our Private Small Ship

Nature puts on few displays as arresting as Alaskan brown bears feeding on summer’s bounty. These bears—the largest coastal grizzlies in the world—gorge on clams, mussels, sedges and spawning salmon as the fish swim up the rivers that pour onto these wild beaches. Our private chartered boat, the Natural Habitat Ursus, is ideally designed for our Alaska adventure cruise, offering an exclusive opportunity to follow the bears along the wild shoreline as they fish, forage and amble along the beach. Ashore, we have an even closer vantage point as we watch on foot with our guide from a careful distance. The bears could not be more nonchalant about our presence! Here in Katmai National Park, experience this rarest of encounters with Ursus arctos in all its untamed majesty.

Trip Highlights

You won't believe how close you'll get to giant brown bears—the world's biggest coastal grizzlies—in a wilder setting than anywhere else on Earth...safely on foot!

Cruising just offshore aboard our private chartered ship allows unparalleled access for bear watching, in the most remote and intimate of wilderness contexts

View bears foraging on the beach as we walk ashore in the careful company of our naturalist Expedition Leader, whose bear expertise adds immeasurably to your experience

About Us

Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel & ecotourism since 1985. From our world-class polar bear tours in Churchill to our small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, our professional guides reveal the world’s most extraordinary nature sites. As Conservation Travel Partner to World Wildlife Fund and the world's first 100% carbon neutral travel company, we offer eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between!

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Please visit our website: http://www.nathab.com/traveler-resources/terms-and-conditions/



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Reviews and Recommendations for Natural Habitat Adventures

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recommend


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HIghly recommended

By: wh


Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2013

Fabulous, fabulous trip to the Galapagos. Every detail perfect. Guides exceptional. A trip we will never forget.

Belize

By: Bobbie


Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2014

We had a wonderful trip to Belize with NatHab.  We stayed in gorgeous places and had the best guide anyone could hope to have. We would definitely go with NatHab again.  Everyone in our group of 10 had been on many trips with them.  This was our first, but definitely not our last.
Travel Advisor:  Michelle Bemis

Well run operation!

By: CTAH


Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2015

We were very impressed at how NatHab ran the trip. All details were covered and everything went like clockwork. Our guide, Brad, was very knowledgeable and helpful to all. He made sure everyone was well taken care of and all needs were met. We would definitely recommend NatHab!
Travel Advisor:  Debbie Kellogg

Incredible Trip & Organization

By: Torie


Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2016

Both hotels we stayed in were great. I have some allergy restrictions and all of the food provided was outstanding and they took such great care of me. My expedition leader was fantastic. He was so passionate about his job, he was friendly and funny and always went out of his way to make sure everyone was happy and safe. The most important part, the trip itself, was everything I wanted it to be. Even though it was much warmer than it was suppose to be, between the 3 days on the rover, we saw 35 bears. We even saw 3 different kinds of fox and some snowy owls. It was quite the magical experience, especially for a Floridian. The lectures after each day were also very nice. The trip was organized and fun and I'd recommend it to everyone.
Travel Advisor:  Doria Gomez

Tanzania safari

By: Franz


Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2017

Actually we worked with East African Safari Ventures which was fantastic!
Travel Advisor:  Janie Bullard

Natural Habitat Adventure

By: Carla


Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2017

This is my 2nd or 3rd trip with NatHab and there will be many more. Professional staff, kind, knowledgeable and always there to please everyone on the trip. A great group.
Travel Advisor:  Barbi Lazarow

Greenland

By: Tammy


Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2017

I can't even begin to explain how amazing this trip was. Our guides were so knowledgeable, caring and fun. I loved the staff too! It's incredible that a basecamp was set up in such a remote area. Words can't describe the experience. All I can say is, "wow"!
Travel Advisor:  Honey Mistry

NatHab is top-notch at a reasonable price.

By: Al S


Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2017

Excellent. This was my eighth NatHab tour, and i have enjoyed them all. they carefully represent the physical level required, describe the food and accommodations accurately, all the while finding the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
Travel Advisor:  Anne Johnson

Greenland

By: greenland


Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2017

Excellent! I felt very taken care of.
Travel Advisor:  Terri Netzel

Polar Bears, Churchill Manitoba.

By: Vicki & Malcolm


Reviewed on: 13 Nov 2017

Amazing, above and beyond what we'd dreamed of or expected. Tour Guide Teresa Whipple, driver Lindsay and Rover driver Michael....excellent staff for NatHab. They all are people persons, and full of knowledge, caring and great fun.
Travel Advisor:  Coleen Noble

Exceptional tour

By: rb


Reviewed on: 28 Dec 2017

The tour leader was conscientious, thorough, pleasant to deal with, and provided a great tour experience.
Travel Advisor:  Paula Kay Eastham

Secluded Botswana

By: Cathey


Reviewed on: 28 May 2018

We were very pleased with Natural Habitat Adventures ( Nat Hab). We were met at the airport in Johannesburg. From that time on we were always met and ushered through each country's system. Our accommodations met or exceeded our expectations. The meals were very good. Our expedition leader Francis was very knowledgeable about both birds and animals. He could track wild life from the vehicle while driving along, and then go off road to find it. He was friendly and helpful. Our tour coordinator Olivia was wonderful. Her cheerfulness, helpfulness and kindness were greatly enjoyed. We saw lots of animals including everything we expected to see. It was great trip.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Hough

Borneo

By: Borneo


Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2018

Natural Habitat does an amazing job taking clients into remote areas and educating them on conservation and nature. Their leaders are amazing.
Travel Advisor:  Terri Netzel

NatHab Could not have done a better job

By: Kdg


Reviewed on: 22 Sep 2018

Great guides, well paced itinerary, good value. Will do more with this company. Way exceeded my expectations.
Travel Advisor:  Meg Harrison

Safari

By: Liz


Reviewed on: 30 Oct 2018

For the most part everything went off without issue but we never heard from the company during our month long trip to see if things were going well. We travelled to 6 different countries and many flights and road transfers. Would have been nice to hear from the organizers of the trip.
Travel Advisor:  Natasha Rhodes

Polar Bear Experience

By: DaveB


Reviewed on: 23 Nov 2018

Good expedition, deliveried on Polar Bears in their own habitat. Were able to experience and important event in a Polar Bear's lives- migation back to the pack ice.
Travel Advisor:  Gay Johansen

Polar Bears in Churchill

By: Mary


Reviewed on: 21 Nov 2018

This was a wonderful trip. All our guides and helpers were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. We had a great time and learned many things too.
Travel Advisor:  Amy Rectenwald

Polar Bear Trip

By: Deb


Reviewed on: 30 Nov 2018

They had all aspects of our trip covers. Top notch guides great acommodations. We were well taken care of,
Travel Advisor:  Amy Rectenwald
Not Recommended

should not have gone

By: sunsfanatic


Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2018

went on Town and Tundra adventure to see polar bears. cold came in early and all polar bears left before we got there so we wound up seeing 2 arctic hares and a red fox (which we have by our house). Wind chill was -50 each day. No heat in sleeping rooms in Tundra lodge, just some heat in the hallways. Have to go outside in -50 wind chill to get to lounge car and/or dining room, and to bathroom if you are in lounge car or dining. Only one of the 4 days did they use 2 rover vehicles where there were only 16 in each as advertised so everyone could have a window---maybe because there was nothing to see anyway. The night before we got a phone call from Nat Hab saying if we cancelled we would get a 50% credit on another trip. In retrospect we should have cancelled and eaten the other 50%. Not even a lecture on polar bears.Pre trip day in Winnipeg was excellent.. Charter plane flight better than expected.
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Africa Safaris Fall 2018

By: Cosmo bucket list


Reviewed on: 26 Jan 2019

Natural Habitat did an excellent job of organizing one month of African Safaris for us. Working with one operator proved to be the correct way to go and everything worked seamlessly. We travelled through 7 countries which translates to lots of connections and planning. The private conservancies were definitely the way to go to get the up close encounters with the animals. The conservancies use of local guides and giving back to the development of the local communities was great to see. The remote mobile Asilia Camps were well run and some of our favourites.
Travel Advisor:  Natasha Rhodes