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Katmai National Park

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Katmai National Park is perhaps the ultimate environment in which observe Brown Bears, and a true wilderness where man is yet to make an indelible mark. This vast 4.7 million acre (1.9 million hectare) protected area at the base of the Alaska Peninsula is home to more than 2,000 wild brown bears, the world's largest protected population. Nowhere in the Northern Hemisphere can you come face to face with more brown bears, and safely view them at close range.

Small scale bear viewing on foot was pioneered in Katmai and 2 decades of careful management has produced a unique environment in which bears are incredibly tolerant and accepting of human observers. In many ways an inter-species truce exists in this very unique and wild corner of the globe. Bear viewing is Katmai is generally conducted on foot in a small group with an expert guide. Free from the threat of hunting and habitat destruction, the Katmai bears have learned to trust and accept humans, provided they conduct themselves in a predictable and non-intrusive manner. They will happily graze on estuarine sedge grasses or catch spawning salmon while bear viewers sit quietly only yards away.

Lying to the east if the Aleutian Mountain Range, the 500 mile (800 kilometre) Katmai Coast encompasses numerous sheltered bays where salmon begin the upstream battle to spawn, and bears gather to catch them. Some are frequented by bears only during the summer when the salmon are running, while others also attract bears in spring to graze on the lush estuarine sedge grasses, or dig for clams on the tidal flats. These bays are inaccessible except by boat or floatplane and are truly wild places where few humans have ever set foot. The bears tend to far outnumber the bear viewers.

There are also a number of bear hotspots in the interior of the park, including world famous Brooks River Falls where as many as 100 bears gather each July to catch red Sockeye salmon as they attempt to negotiate this natural obstacle, and again in September when spawned out, the salmon are washed back over the falls and into Naknek Lake. Whereas bear viewing on the Katmai Coast is conducted on foot, at Brooks Falls there are 3 viewing platforms, though bears are frequently encountered when walking to and from the platforms.

A visit to Katmai National Park is about more than just bears however. It is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife including moose, caribou, wolf, lynx, wolverine, marten, and river otter to name but a few. It is a pristine wilderness of rugged coastline, glaciers, and the towering peaks and active volcanoes of the Aleutian Range, and the experience of flying over this incredible landscape is not one you will soon forget. The park contains no less than 15 active volcanoes that form part of the famed Pacific Ring of Fire, and Mount Katmai itself was at the centre of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century in 1912.

We offer multi-day bear viewing programs on the Katmai Coast based at a wilderness lodge or permanent camp, as well as fly-in day tours to Brooks Falls and a number of locations on the Katmai Coast. Bear viewing in Katmai National Park takes place from June through to mid September, and access is by floatplane or wheeled bushplane from Kodiak Island or the southern tip on the Kenai Peninsula.

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