Day 1: Kodiak, Alaska
For those guests who arrive by 1:00 pm, the Expedition Leader will offer a guided exploration of Kodiak’s native and Russian heritage 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 travellers for an informal orientation dinner.
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 travellers 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 centre, aquarium, microbrewery, and/or a drive up Pillar Mountain for fantastic views over the shoreline and sea.
Day 3: Kodiak / Katmai
Take a floatplane (weather-contingent) from Kodiak to Kukak Bay to meet a private chartered ship, the 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 toward Hallo Bay, where we commonly find coastal grizzlies, or brown bears, foraging for food. As we are mobile, we can cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay.
Days 4-6: 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 this tour we have an opportunity to go on foot, carefully wandering the area in our small group under the cautious guidance of the Expedition Leader. In addition, it is not uncommon for our groups to frequently see wolves and observe their interesting interaction with the bears. As a result, this trip offers a wildlife encounter that will thrill you beyond expectation. On Day 6 we plan to return to Kodiak by float plane.
Day 7: Kodiak / Home
This Alaska wildlife cruise comes to a close today as we depart from Kodiak. We recommend that travellers book an afternoon flight out in case inclement weather prevents us from flying back to Kodiak on Day 6 as planned.