I’m offering two Alaska bear photo tours next summer; my August tour is full and I only have two spots left for my June tour. You can get all the details here: Alaska bear photography tour. If you haven’t been up close to these magnificent animals, you are in for a real treat – an experience of a lifetime that you won’t forget!
Because of their popularity, lots of people are beginning to offer similar bear tours. Often, it is people with little experience with Alaska or bears that are looking for a way to pay for a trip. I do believe I have the best bear tour available and thought I would take a minute to point out the advantages – advantages that aren’t always obvious to someone shopping for a tour. So here they are:
* I have lived in Alaska since 1976, and on the Alaska coast for the last 20 years. So when I offer advice on gear to bring, or places to visit before or after the tour, it is based on many, many years of actual Alaska outdoor experience.
* I started photographing wildlife in Alaska as a youngster 35 years ago and have been a full time photographer for over a decade. This is a great chance to ask questions and learn from someone who pretty much lives and breaths outdoor photography. This tour isn’t just a fun way to pay for an Alaska vacation – it is what I do for a living.
* We will be staying in nice, spacious, warm cabins and using a modern lodge with cell access and wifi. The food and accommodations are very nice for such a remote location, the lodge has a full time cook and a full time baker taking care of our food needs and often offering meals like fresh Alaska fish accompanied with a salad from the lodge gardens. You won’t be staying four to a room at Brooks Lodge, in a tent, or on a boat dealing with Alaska’s oceans, where you have to board a small skiff with your valuable photo gear just to access the bears. We often see as many bears while back at the lodge as we do in the field – the photo opportunities are literally around the clock. With Alaska’s challenging weather, you will appreciate a warm spacious lodge at the end of each day.
* This tour includes transportation to the lodge from Anchorage. As you compare photo tours beware as you may find many require an expensive flight to Kodiak or King Salmon that has not been included in the tour price.
* Lake Clark National Park doesn’t have the arbitrary bear viewing distances that you find in Katmai National Park. In Katmai, the regulations restrict you from approaching within 50 yards. Even if the bear approaches you, Katmai does not allow “Continuing to occupy a position within 50 yards of a bear that is using a concentrated food source”. On the Katmai National Park website they say “your chances of seeing bears are best when they gather to feed on seasonally concentrated food sources like salmon and sedge grasses.” obviously the same time and places most Katmai bear tours are typically held.
In Lake Clark, even when we are accompanied by a Park Ranger, we can let the situation and the bears dictate the distance by using common sense and our experienced bear guide – and it is often less then 50 yards especially when the bear is approaching on its terms. Seeing these beautiful animals up close is a big part of the thrill!
* Besides myself, we are accompanied by a full time bear guide / naturalist who spends the entire summer with these bears. The guide often has a biology background, and in most cases, has spent multiple summers with these bears.
* I limit the number of guests to just 6. Some tours bring 8 or more and I’m sure it is more lucrative, but I believe this is too many when photographing wildlife. As the bears move to the left or right, if the group is too big you start getting into each others way. I have found that a group of six makes cooperation easy and everyone can get the shot.
* We will visit one of the best places to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin in Alaska short of an expensive trip to St. Paul on an optional boat trip. Seeing these cool photogenic birds is a real bonus. We can watch them from shore, with cameras and tripods for an excellent photo opportunity.
* Repeat clients. Three out of the four currently signed up for my June bear trip did other Alaska tours or workshops with me last year – half were actually on last years bear tour!
* The lodge owner grew up in Lake Clark area and was one of the first people in Alaska to offer bear viewing tours. It has been a family run business since the 80′s, and they have been offering bear viewing for over 20 years. They have been operating with a perfect safety record for almost 30 years. I don’t know of anyone who can come close to their experience offering bear viewing. The owners of the lodge and their employees are some of the finest people you will meet.
If you have any more questions, you may find the answers at this link, or feel free to contact us directly. Alaska bear photo tour.