Fishing Bear Camp

Photograph brown bears fishing red salmon

    • Best location to see and photograph brown bears fishing red salmon
    • Watch brown bears dive for salmon right in front of you
    • See up to 40 bears each day
    • Private camp to maximize time with bears
    • 5 days, 4 nights

Our Private Bear Camp photo tour is my favorite tour of the year. Imagine camping in one of the most beautiful destinations on earth, with spawning red salmon, glaciers, and dozens of brown bears. Spend sunrise to sunset in the field to capture all the amazing NatGeo moments that will unfold right in front of you. It’s a tour that will transform you and forever change your relationship with bears.

We take care of everything. With 2 seasoned bear guides and an electric fence around our campsite, we put your safety first in everything that we do. With our expert bear knowledge, we will put you in the best position to take the most amazing photos. From the golden hours to everything in between, you will experience these magnificent brown bears like few others. It’s like being invited to the greatest party on earth. Come with us to Alaska and see for yourself how amazing bears can be!

Tour Highlights: Brown bears fishing right in front of you

2024 Dates:

* August 8-12 (full)

* August 12-16 (full)

2025 Dates:

* August 8-12 (space available)

* August 12-16 (full)

Tour Leader: Zac Mills & Scott Stone

Group Size: 7

2024 Price: $4,895 USD

2025 Price: $5,495 USD

Price includes: Floatplane, meals, guiding, and accommodation

Accommodation: Camping

Start/End: King Salmon, Alaska

Fitness Level: Active

WATCH OUR VIDEO

REASONS TO CHOOSE THIS TOUR

Brown bears diving for red fish: Expect to see many brown bears diving for vibrant red sockeye salmon right in front of you. This unforgettable experience unfolds right before your eyes, leaving you speechless in the face of nature’s breathtaking beauty.

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. 

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 King Salmon, Alaska. Please plan to arrive in King Salmon 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 King Salmon, Alaska

Our photo tour starts in King Salmon in Alaska. Please plan to arrive at least a day early. Accommodation for this evening is not included in the price of the tour.

Day 1 • Flight to Fishing Bear 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.

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 King Salmon

We rise early for our final day of bear viewing, savoring these last moments. We have scheduled the float plane for an approximate pickup at 2pm, though please note that this timing is subject to change based on weather conditions. We aim to ensure a safe and timely departure and appreciate your flexibility in accommodating any necessary adjustments due to the weather. For those continuing their journey to Anchorage on this concluding day, we recommend booking the final Alaska Airlines flight at 6:30pmfrom King Salmon 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.

King Salmon

WHAT’s INCLUDED?

• Photography instruction
• Return flight from King Salmon to camp

• All meals and drinks
• All camping gear

WHAT’s NOT INCLUDED?

• Flights to King Salmon from your home
• 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.

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?

We are likely see ptarmigans and an array of shore birds.

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 King Salmon?

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?

We typically walk between 4-8 miles (6-12 kilomters) 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. Since we will be on foot in the wilderness, we must prepare for the elements, including wet conditions. Rain gear and rain coverings for your camera equipment are a must. In addition, you must wear chest waders, which will make the whole experience so much easier and enjoyable.

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.

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.

THE BEST BEAR EXPERIENCE

When you come on this tour, two things will happen. First, you perception of bears will change forever. Second, all other bear photography opportunities will not seem the same. The close access we are afforded in this location opens the door to near-limitless compositions. Tight portraits, environmental shots, fishing behavior, amazing light, mother and cubs, big dominant males, play fighting, it’s all possible.

August is the best time to visit because it coincides with the annual sockeye salmon run, where the creeks glow bright red from the schools of salmon. At this time, the bears will eat upwards up 20 salmon each day to put on as many calories as possible before the harsh winter months.

The bears are acclimated to humans from decades of benign interactions. In this environment, we give the bears right of passage and we are rewarded by being accepted as an observer into their amazing world.

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH BROWN BEARS

We have the flexibility to structure our day as we wish. Depending on the weather, we may be out all day until sunset, or come back to camp in between. This schedule ensures we are maximizing our time in the field. The bears can be found all over, from fishing for salmon on the creek to traveling across the tundra. 

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 from Homer

  • Wildlife Viewing Cruises: Take a wildlife cruise in Kachemak Bay to observe marine life, including otters, seals, sea lions, and a variety of seabirds. Some tours also offer the chance to spot whales and porpoises.
  • Bear Viewing Excursions: Join a guided bear viewing tour to Katmai National Park, where you can witness brown bears in their natural habitats as they fish for salmon or graze in meadows.
  • Hiking Trails for Wildlife Observation: Explore hiking trails such as the Bishop’s Beach Trail or the Grace Ridge Trail for opportunities to observe local wildlife. Keep an eye out for moose, eagles, and other land-based creatures.

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.