Meet the Mighty Brown Bears of Katmai Up Close from Our Private Small Ship
Nature puts on few displays as arresting as Alaskan brown bears feeding on summer’s bounty. These bears—the largest coastal grizzlies in the world—gorge on clams, mussels, sedges and spawning salmon as the fish swim up the glacial-fed rivers that pour onto these wild beaches. Our private chartered small ship, the Natural Habitat Ursus, is ideally designed for our Alaska wilderness expedition, offering an exclusive opportunity to follow and photograph bears along the wild shoreline as they fish, forage and amble along the beach. Ashore, we have an even closer vantage point as we watch safely on foot with our Expedition Leader, a naturalist bear expert who knows these magnificent animals intimately. The grizzlies could not be more nonchalant about our presence! Here in Katmai National Park, experience this rarest of encounters with Ursus arctos in all its untamed majesty.
Click here to learn about our special photography departures.
Click here to learn about our special photography departures.
- Extraordinary Close EncountersYou won't believe how close you'll get to giant brown bears—the world's biggest coastal grizzlies—in a wilder setting than anywhere else on Earth...safely on foot!
- A Private Ship for Exclusive AccessCruising just offshore on our chartered ship allows unparalleled access for bear viewing and photography, in the most remote and intimate of contexts
- Guided by Expert Bear NaturalistsWatch bears fishing or foraging on the beach as we walk ashore in the careful company of our Expedition Leader, an expert bear naturalist
A Day in the Life of an Alaska Grizzly Guide
Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska
The World's Most Intimate Grizzly Encounter!
You’ve seen pictures of Alaska’s enormous brown bears lumbering over tide flats, feasting on salmon, nurturing frisky cubs. Many travelers come to Alaska expecting to see and photograph them. But the fact
is, very few will. These coastal grizzlies live in the roadless reaches of Katmai National Park, far from any cruise ship or tour bus route. Few visitors to Alaska are fortunate to get to the heart of brown bear country, and certainly not the way we do, on the ground in very small groups, as up close and personal as you'll ever safely get with wild bears! Click here to read about the "ebbs and flows" of a grizzly bear season—what sorts of behaviors and activities you can expect when. If you're looking for the ultimate Alaska bear experience, this is it!
- A Maximum of Just 8 Travelers
We charter a small ship for our Alaska adventure cruise, hosting just eight guests. A very small group is essential to approach the bears safely without disturbing them. You won't find a more intimate setting in which to observe and photograph bears, nor will you find a better guide-to-guest ratio on any Alaskan tour.
- An Exclusive Itinerary into the Heart of Coastal Grizzly Habitat
Our itinerary—offered solely by Natural Habitat Adventures—focuses exclusively on nature and bears—wasting no time in cruise ship ports and tourist towns. In fact, you can't get here by cruise ship or by road—we access this untouched wilderness by floatplane, then transfer to our private expedition vessel to explore the uninhabited coast. No standard Alaska tour package can provide these matchless bear observation and photography opportunities.
- Our Privately Chartered Ship
We're based aboard our chartered vessel, the Natural Habitat Ursus, where we are the sole guests. This converted research ship, originally a crab fishing boat that has been retrofitted to comfortably accommodate guests, is ideal for exploring the scenic bays of Katmai National Park. With a shallow draft, Ursus cruises close to the coastline, offering views of bears foraging in the meadows and clamming on the tide flats—plus we travel ashore by skiff to view and photograph them on foot. And since we sleep aboard, our route can be flexible—we follow the bears!
- Watch Bears on Foot—Often Just Feet Away!
It's hard to fathom that we can stand on the ground with Alaska's mighty brown bears at close range, getting thrilling photos from yards, or even feet, away. Yet that's exactly the amazing opportunity this rare adventure affords. When we step ashore among the bears, we are generally the only humans around—and the bears are completely nonchalant about our presence! They often wander past in such proximity that you won't even need your telephoto lens.
- Explore Kodiak Island by Chartered Boat
Remote Kodiak Island isn't typically featured on Alaska tour itineraries. But its scenic shores offer rich photography opportunities, with abundant wildlife in rockbound coves and tidal pools. On a private boat tour, we're likely to see sea lions, otters, puffins and bald eagles, and we often see whales. Look, too, for less frequently seen moose, black bear or coyotes on shore.
- The World's Finest Naturalist Guides
The Expedition Leaders on our grizzly adventures are professional naturalists and bear experts, with years of experience in the field. They know these bears and their behaviors intimately, and their depth of knowledge is integral to a successful bear safari. We take pride in employing Alaska's most qualified, dedicated and passionate natural history guides—our Expedition Leaders average more than 15 years’ experience each. They also receive additional training from WWF scientists. While our Expedition Leaders regale guests with their in-depth knowledge, they're also close at hand to ensure safety and comfort in every respect. See Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
- Photo Departures are Guided by Photography Pros
When you choose a special photo departure, you'll travel with an Expedition Leader who is not only a bear expert but a photography expert, too, with extensive experience not only capturing images of Alaska's matchless wildlife and landscapes, but sharing tips and techniques for how you, too, can come home with outstanding photos.
- A Commitment to Bears & Other Wildlife
In support of our commitment to the conservation of Alaska's brown bears and other wildlife, we've created a special website, Bears & Beyond, managed and edited by NHA Expedition Leader and bear expert Brad Josephs. The site is a showcase for photos and stories about bears and other wild animals, including wolves. Take a look, and share the link with your friends, too!
- Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Outstanding Alaska Bear Encounter
Natural Habitat Adventures offers an exclusive guarantee, which clearly states that we will meet the lofty expectations established in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
- Feel Good About the Way You Travel
We care deeply about our planet, as we know you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset—Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company.
- Natural Habitat is WWF's Travel Partner
Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our adventures. World Wildlife Fund—the planet's leading environmental conservation organization—has named Natural Habitat as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!