Day 1: Kodiak, Alaska
For those guests who arrive by 1:00 pm, a guided exploration of Kodiak’s native and Russian heritage is offered this afternoon. Destinations may include the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, St. Paul Harbor, 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. Our grizzly adventure officially begins this evening, when you will meet your fellow travelers for an informal welcome dinner and orientation.
Day 2: Kodiak Island
Today we explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a half-day private boat trip. A cruise to Kodiak’s protected inner island, past tidal pools and offshore kittiwake rookeries, may reveal sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and occasionally whales. Kodiak is remote, not often visited by travelers to Alaska, and our sense of a unique encounter with nature is palpable as we glide through the rockbound coves. We'll also spend a half-day touring historic Kodiak, with a mix of activities that may include—depending on our timing—visits to the Alutiiq Museum, Fort Abercrombie, Russian Orthodox church, a local fish hatchery, fisheries research center, aquarium, microbrewery, and/or a drive up Pillar Mountain for fantastic views over the shoreline and sea.
Day 3: Kodiak / Katmai—Board Natural Habitat Ursus
Take a floatplane (weather-contingent) from Kodiak to Katmai to meet our private chartered ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus. The plane pulls up right alongside, and we disembark to board the vessel that will be our floating home for the next several days. The Ursus 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.
Days 4–7: 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, 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 massive grizzlies in great numbers; our previous trips have seen as many as 30 to 40 of them at once. And far from dozing lethargically, 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. We 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. 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. In addition, it is not uncommon for our groups to frequently see wolves and observe their interesting interactions with the bears. As a result, this trip offers a wildlife encounter that will thrill you beyond expectation. On Day 7, we plan to return to Kodiak by floatplane.
Day 8: Kodiak / Depart
Our Alaska wildlife cruise 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.