Coastal Katmai, just off Kodiak Island, is home to hundreds of massive coastal brown bears that come to the pristine shorelines to search for fish and dig for clams in preparation for winter’s freeze. This special trip is operated from a small boat providing access to areas where very few others have been, stopping to go ashore in one of the planet’s most prolific grizzly bear areas. Alaska bear viewing does not come better than this!
Your accommodation for the cruise part will be aboard the 73-foot Ursus originally gained fame as a crab fishing boat called Time Bandit, which plied the storm-tossed waters of the Bering Sea and was featured in the Discovery Channel TV series “The Deadliest Catch.” The vessel 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 veteran of wild Alaskan waters now offers our guests comfortable wilderness accommodations.
An important part of this Alaska bear viewing holiday are the shore excursions which take place from onboard Zodiacs.
The M/V Natural Habitat Ursus, provides accommodations for up to eight guests. Ideally designed for exploring the remote waters of coastal Katmai National Park, the Ursus (Latin nomenclature for “bear”) is 73 feet long with a deep displacement hull and an exceptionally seaworthy design with a high bow and fine horseshoe-shaped stern. It carries a full complement of state-of-the-art navigation and safety equipment. Inside, the sturdy vessel is intimate and simply appointed, yet with ample space and facilities for accommodations and activities. The Ursus sleeps eight guests in four double cabins with upper/lower berths. Each cabin has a wash basin. Two bathrooms with toilet and shower are shared between the four cabins; each bathroom is connected to two cabins in a Jack and Jill layout. A large galley and well-lit dining space are the site for convivial conversation over creative home-cooked meals prepared each day by our accomplished onboard chef. Fresh Alaskan seafood, including halibut, salmon and Kodiak scallops, highlights many of the dinners. The ship also has a small library, computer, DVD and CD player on board, with a selection of regional books and documentaries.
With Ursus providing the accommodations offshore, you are able to visit some of the world’s most pristine wilderness in Katmai National Park in exceptional solitude without leaving an impact. The central element of this adventure are the shore excursions to see the bears on foot. Transfer from the Ursus to the beach in an open aluminum skiff carried on board. Frequently wet landings are made (just offshore in the intertidal area, where you may walk in water to your knees), but chest waders with waterproof neoprene booties are provided to keep your feet dry. Ocean tides of up to 28 feet, some of the biggest tides in the world, erase most of the human tracks daily.
Mrs Hastings - Travelled Alberta & BC
"We are in love with Canada"
Thank you enormously for the fabulous holiday you put in place for us. Everything went smoothly and the hotels were great. The Fairmont at Jasper were amazing - upgraded us, provided champagne and strawberries for our anniversary! Our favourite hotel was probably the Magnolia in Victoria which was just lovely - beautifully presented and such friendly and helpful staff. We are in love with Canada and would love to go back - the Rockies were literally awesome, and we also really enjoyed the buzz of vancouver and victoria. It all went far too quickly and hopefully we can return and do it all again! If so, I would not hesitate to come back to you and will recommend you to anyone I can.
Itinerary (9 Nights)
Here’s a day-by-day guide to your itinerary. Feel free to ask us to add other days or ideas and excursions by contacting us directly, so we can give you the best price.
Anchorage to Kodiak
Fly from Anchorage into Kodiak where you will be met and transferred to your hotel....
Fly from Anchorage into Kodiak where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. For those who choose to arrive early, a representative will accompany you to explore Kodiak’s native and Russian heritage. 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. Meet your fellow travellers this evening at an informal orientation dinner.
2 nights in Kodiak.
Today explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a private boat trip. Journey to...
Today explore Kodiak’s coastal waters and rocky shorelines on a private boat trip. Journey to Kodiak’s protected inner island, past tidal pools and offshore kittiwake rookeries, amid sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles and oftentimes whales. Kodiak is remote, not often visited by travellers to Alaska, and the sense of a unique encounter with nature is palpable as you glide through the rockbound coves. Also enjoy a half day tour of historic Kodiak.
Kodiak to Katmai
Early this morning take a floatplane (weather-dependent: you may depart earlier or later in the trip...
Early this morning take a floatplane (weather-dependent: you may depart earlier or later in the trip if conditions require) from Kodiak to Katmai, to meet the ship. The plane pulls up right alongside, and you disembark to board the vessel that will be your floating home for the next few days. The 73-foot Ursus offers guests comfortable wilderness accommodations. The Ursus (which, of course, means “bear” in Latin) cruises slowly along the coast, where you will commonly find coastal grizzlies, or brown bears, foraging for food. The ship can cruise to wherever the bears are, following them from bay to bay.
4 nights aboard ‘Natural Habitat Ursus’.
Katmai Park Coast
While we’ve all seen footage in nature documentaries of Alaskan brown bears in the wild,...
Katmai Park Coast
While we’ve all seen footage in nature documentaries of Alaskan brown bears in the wild, nothing prepares you for the drama of an actual encounter with these magnificent beasts, just a few yards away. They are North America’s largest land predators, and an adult male can weigh 900lbs. As you cruise just off the coast, bears often dot the shoreline. Go ashore by skiff for an even closer view, exploring the beaches on foot. It is not uncommon to find massive grizzlies in great numbers; 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. They fight to capture salmon in their jaws, swiping out at a slippery fish with talons as long as a man’s fingers. They dig for clams in the sand and browse on sedge grass. Depending on the time of your visit, you may even see bears mating or cubs gallivanting on the shore. In coastal Katmai you will be on foot, carefully wandering the area in your small group under the cautious guidance of your Expedition Leader. As a result, this trip offers a wildlife encounter that will thrill you beyond expectation.
Katmai to Kodiak
One last morning for time with the bears before a flight back to Kodiak by...
One last morning for time with the bears before a flight back to Kodiak by floatplane.
1 night Kodiak