Bears & Coastal Wolves

Brown bears, wolves, and the most spectacular scenery

    • Brown bears up close and with incredible scenery
    • 20-40 bears each day
    • Grazing, clamming, and fishing behaviors
    • Pristine wilderness with bears to ourselves
    • Chance to see wolves
    • 5 Days / 4 nights

Imagine a world where you have a problem of too many bears and you can’t decide whether you should point your camera to the left to photograph a mom with cubs, or to the right to photograph a mom with cubs. It’s a good problem to have and it’s a problem you will have a lot in this absolutely incredible place. With exclusive access to tons of bears, you will take bear photos you never dreamt where possible.

In this breathtaking location, expect to see upwards of 30 bears each day who are grazing, clamming, and fishing. This tour has it all: the close proximity to the bears, the stunning background of glaciers and striking peaks, and the chance to see wolves!

With two experienced bear guides, we will keep you safe and put you in the best position to take photos that stand out. Grab extra memory cards and join us on this incredible brown bear experience that is unlike any other!

Tour Highlights: Incredible brown bear photography, amazing scenery, and chance for wolves

Tour Dates:

* July 27-31, 2024

* July 27-31, 2025

Tour Leaders: Zac Mills & Scott Stone

Group Size: 7

2024 Price: $4,895 USD

2025 Price: $5,495 USD

Price includes: All meals, accommodation, and transport

Accommodation: Single

Start/End: Kodiak, Alaska

Fitness Level: Active

WATCH OUR VIDEO

REASONS TO CHOOSE THIS TOUR

So many bears: Expect to see more brown bears than you can imagine. As you navigate the rugged terrain, you will see bears grazing, clamming, fishing, and interacting with one another.

Two guides: You will have two experienced bear guides who will keep you safe and put you in the very best position to take amazing photos. 

Spectacular scenery: You will be surrounded by snow-capped mountains who provide a majestic background to the bears in the foreground. Furthermore, vast tidal flats stretch for miles, revealing intricate patterns shaped by the ebb and flow of the sea.

Chance for wolves: This location is known to have a pack of wolves that den nearby. With a bit of luck, we hope to photograph these incredible predators as they roam their territory in search of prey.

Conservation donation: As part of this tour, we make a donation to the Katmai Conservancy, who support the preservation of Katmai National Park and Preserve, its unique ecosystems, and all the wildlife who live there.

ITINERARY

The tour departs from Kodiak, Alaska. Please plan to arrive in Kodiak at least one day before the start of tour. If you need any help making your flight arrangements, please let us know.

Day 0 • Arrive in Kodiak, Alaska

Our photo tour starts in Kodiak in Alaska. Please plan to arrive at least a day early. Accommodation for this evening is not included in the price of the tour. Recommend options include: the Best Western or the Kodiak Compass Suites.

Day 1 • Flight from Kodiak to camp

After an approximate 1 hour float plane ride, we arrive at our camp. Shortly thereafter, we will have a camp orientation, a bear safety talk, and then we head out for the rest of the day to photograph bears. We will share further details about the float plane service and departure time once they are finalized.

Day 2-4 • Bears Bears Bears

For each of the next 3 days, we will wake up early and stay out late. We will do everything we can to make sure you get the most amazing photos of these majestic bears.

Day 5 • Back to Kodiak

We rise early for our final day of bear viewing, savoring these last moments. The schedule for your float plane journey back to Kodiak is tide-dependent, ensuring a safe and smooth departure. For those continuing their journey to Anchorage on this concluding day, we recommend booking the final Alaska Airlines flight from Kodiak to Anchorage. This allows for a comfortable buffer in your itinerary. Please be aware, however, of the possibility that extreme weather conditions, such as a severe storm, could potentially postpone our departure by a day. We recommend planning with this in mind to ensure a smooth conclusion to your journey.

Kodiak

WHAT’s INCLUDED?

• Photography instruction
• Return flight from Kodiak to camp

• All meals and drinks
• All camping gear

WHAT’s NOT INCLUDED?

• Flights to Kodiak
• Accommodations before/after the tour
• Travel medical insurance (required)

THE CAMP

We do everything we can do make our camp as comfortable as possible. There are no lodges in this location and we have to fly everything in and out on float planes. With a double-laced electric fence, a three-person tent for each person, and hearty meals, we will keep you safe, feed you well, and make you feel at home among bears. While we do sacrifice some of the comforts that a lodge could provide, we more than make up for it by the incredible moments that the bears give us. The camp also affords us the ability to be out photographing bears during the golden light of sunrise and sunset. Plus, the views from the camp are pretty good!

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY?

6am: wake up

6:30am: breakfast

7am: leave camp for bear viewing

9pm: return to camp

9:30pm: dinner

 

* Actual times may vary and depend upon weather conditions and the ambitions of the group. The distance and duration of the hike depend on the movements of the brown bears. We typically bring snacks for lunch.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How many brown bears will I see?

We typically see beween 20-40 brown bears each day, including many cubs.

What other wildlife will I see?

Wolves! Cross your fingers because these white wolves are absolutely striking. We will also see bald eagles, an array of shore birds, and if the bear gods are smiling down upon us, a moose or wolverine (we saw fresh tracks of both on our last tour).

What will the weather be like?

In the summer, Katmai National Park experiences cool to mild temperatures ranging from 40°F (4°C) to 70°F (21°C) or higher, with the frequent possibility of rainfall. Given its high latitude, the park enjoys extended daylight hours, with approximately 16 hours of daylight during the tour.

How do I get to Kodiak?

Commercial flights are available from Anchorage and we recommend Alaskan Airlines.

Are there luggage weight restrictions?

While there’s no strict weight limit, we do recommend traveling light to make your experience more enjoyable. Your essentials for the trip include camera gear, chest waders, wading boots, rain gear, a few changes of clothes, and toiletries.

Opting for a duffel bag over a hard suitcase is highly encouraged, as it provides flexibility and is easier to manage in varying travel conditions. The soft sides of a duffel bag make it more adaptable for fitting into tight spaces, and it can be compressed to accommodate different storage situations.

If you find yourself with items that you may not need during specific parts of your journey, the float plane office offers a convenient storage solution. This way, you can streamline your belongings and only carry what you truly need while ensuring the safety and accessibility of your additional items.

What focal range do you recommend?

Every focal range from 24-600mm can be of value. The wider perspectives are great to showcase thee incredible mountain scenery around the bears. Tighter compositions work great for portraits and for those times when we are further away. There are so many compositional possibilities that having a variety of focal length options will serve you well.

What's the bathroom situation?

There is a dedicated bathroom tent with a portable toilet device. 

Will there be cell service or WiFi at the camp?

No, there is no connectivity in this location. However, each guide has a Garmin inReach satellite communication device which allows you to communicate with your loved ones back home.

More Questions?

Send us an email and we’ll be happy to arrange a time to chat through everything with you and answer any questions you may have.

HOW STRENUOUS IS THE HIKING?

Our day is dictated by the tides, which influence bear behavior. During low tide, bears will clam and fish for salmon, while at high tide it is more typical to find bears grazing on the meadows. We typically walk between 4-8 miles (6-12 kilometers) each day as there are so many bears to see in this unrivaled location. But don’t worry, we often don’t walk for long at any given time because we keep stopping to photograph bears. You must wear chest waders and be comfortable crossing small streams.

Our approach is designed for inclusivity, and we take pride in ensuring that the pace of the hike is comfortable for everyone. We understand the significance of the experience and encourage you to relish each moment. To further enhance your enjoyment, we incorporate frequent breaks, allowing you to catch your breath, absorb the breathtaking surroundings, and immerse yourself in this special ecosystem.

COASTAL BROWN BEAR FACTS

Size and Weight: Coastal brown bears are among the largest brown bears in the world. Adult males can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, while females are generally smaller, with an average weight ranging from 600 to 900 pounds.

Dietary Habits: One of the primary food sources for coastal brown bears is salmon, particularly during the salmon spawning season. They are adept at fishing and can often be seen standing in rivers, waiting for the opportune moment to catch a fish.

Omnivorous Nature: While salmon is a crucial part of their diet, coastal brown bears are omnivores and have a varied diet. They also consume berries, grasses, clams, and carrion, depending on the season and availability of food.

Social Structure: Coastal brown bears can be solitary, but they are also known to tolerate each other’s presence, especially in areas with abundant food. During salmon runs, multiple bears may congregate at a single fishing spot.

Communication: Coastal brown bears communicate using a variety of vocalizations, including roars, grunts, and chuffs. Additionally, body language such as posture and facial expressions play a significant role in their communication with each other.

Mother-Cub Relationship: Female coastal brown bears are protective mothers, and they often stay with their cubs for 2-3 years, teaching them essential survival skills. 

BROWN BEAR CONSERVATION

Within the expansive wilderness of Katmai National Park and Preserve, coastal brown bears find a refuge with a measure of protection. Despite this sanctuary, the delicate balance is under constant threat from various challenges. Among them, looming on the horizon, are several mining projects that cast shadows over the pristine landscapes, endangering prime brown bear habitat and the vital salmon runs that sustain them. The potential ecological impact of these projects raises concerns about the disruption of critical feeding and breeding grounds. Furthermore, the vulnerability of these bears extends beyond the park’s borders, as they face the risk of being hunted as soon as they venture beyond the protective confines of the preserve. 

The Katmai Conservancy plays a crucial role in supporting Katmai National Park and Preserve through fundraising, education, and conservation initiatives. By raising funds, the conservancy contributes to projects such as habitat restoration, wildlife conservation, and infrastructure improvements within the park. Engaging in educational outreach, the organization aims to foster public awareness about the significance of preserving the park’s ecosystems and wildlife. Part of the proceeds from this tour will be donated to support these conservation efforts.

CHANCE FOR WOLVES

This is a location where wolves have been frequently seen. Though we can’t guarantee a sighting, we will do everything we can to show you the incredible white wolves that den nearby. Last year, we had the most incredible moment where a white wolf emerged out of nowhere to try to take several young bear cubs.

Our hearts raced faster and faster as the alpha female wolf approached closer and closer to the bear cubs, with mama bear seemingly unaware. Were we going to see a tragedy or mama bear protecting her cubs? Turns out mama bear knew what she was doing all along. As the white wolf advanced to within 15 feet she chased it away. The white wolf returned and she chased it away again. It was one of the those unforgettable moments that this location can give you!

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH BROWN BEARS

Read our bear photography guide, which covers practical advice on camera gear and settings, and composition tips that cater to photographers of all levels. We will have many opportunities to discus different aspects of photography when we are watching bears.

We also provide optional 1-1 Zoom sessions before the tour, detailed prompts and guidance when we are in the field, and optional post-processing sessions after your tour. We will do everything we can to help you become a better photographer!

PHOTO GALLERY

EXTEND YOUR STAY

Things to do on Kodiak

  • Wildlife Viewing: Explore Kodiak Island’s diverse fauna, including brown bears, eagles, sea otters, and seabirds, through guided tours or independent exploration.

  • Hiking and Exploration: Discover Kodiak’s landscapes by navigating its hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging backcountry options.
  • Cultural and Historical Sites: Immerse yourself in Kodiak’s history and culture by visiting museums like Kodiak History Museum and Baranov Museum.

  • Kayaking and Outdoor Adventures: Guided kayaking tours, provide opportunities to observe marine life and explore sea caves, hidden coves, and rugged shorelines.

Things to do from Anchorage

  • Chugach State Park: Explore the vast wilderness of Chugach State Park, offering hiking trails, stunning mountain views, and opportunities for wildlife spotting. 
  • Denali National Park and Preserve (via Rail or Air): Take a day trip or extended journey to Denali National Park to experience the iconic Alaskan wilderness. Choose from scenic train rides or flightseeing tours to witness the majesty of Denali, North America’s tallest peak.
  • Matanuska Glacier Adventures: Head north from Anchorage to the Matanuska Glacier for thrilling glacier trekking and ice climbing adventures. Guided tours provide a safe and educational experience on this impressive ice formation.

MEET YOUR GUIDES

Zac Mills

As a wildlife photographer, traveler, and former World Bank economist, Zac brings a different perspective to wildlife conservation. He founded the Wildlife Collective to help others become better wildlife photographers and to use their voice for conservation. With leadership roles in several conservation organizations, Zac knows first hand that working together with like-minded individuals can make a difference. A certified guide and bear lover, Zac hopes to entertain you with stories from the wild, inspire you to get involved in conservation, and to become the best wildlife photographer you can be.

Scott Stone

I spend as much time as possible in Katmai National Park, guiding bear tours for the great coastal brown bears and also with the great Kodiak brown bears of Kodiak Island. I spend most of my winters home in Montana, traveling all over the state as well as the Western states in pursuit of wildlife, landscape, astro, and aurora opportunities. Working full time, guiding, shooting, and editing leaves little time for sleep but fuels my drive to work to bring you the best of what I see and dream about. 

JOIN US FOR A TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

Why Our Photo Tours Are Different

Experience

The essence of life lies in its experiences, and it is our unwavering mission to gift you the very best of them. We strive to craft our tours with care and authenticity, making each adventure a vibrant chapter in the story of your life.

Conservation

All of our tours have a conservation focus. We will learn about the challenges facing our primary subject and ongoing conservation work. Plus, every tour makes a donation to a conservation partner.

Locations

We take you to the world’s most amazing wilderness destinations, carefully selected for their unparalleled beauty and chosen based on our commitment to providing guests with the very best wildlife experiences.

Photography Focus

We welcome all levels of photography and provide optional photography sessions before, during, and after the tour. With our hands on learning, you are going to leave our tour as a better photographer. Ask us anything at anytime!

Small Groups

We believe that small groups give the best wildlife expereinces. We do not exceed 6 clients per guide, and in most tours, the ratio will be even smaller. This ensures that you get the personalized attention that you deserve.

Best Guides

We work with the world’s best wildlife guides, who also happen to be our good friends. They are experienced, keep us safe, and put us in the best possible position to have the best wildlife experience.