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Kodiak Island

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Kodiak, Alaska isolated "Emerald Isle", is perhaps best known as the home of arguably the largest Brown Bears on the planet. Classified as a distinct sub-species of Ursus arctos, the Kodiak bears have been genetically isolated since Kodiak was cut off from the rest of the Kenai Mountain Range millennia ago, and have grown large on a protein rich diet of salmon.

The Kodiak bears' legendary size has however attracted big game hunters for over a century and they are understandably a lot more wary of humans than the bears of Katmai National Park. As a result sightings are harder to come by, though at the height of the salmon run bears congregate at a number of fishing hotspots in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge that are accessible by floatplane from the town of Kodiak. Early July to late August normally offers the best viewing on Kodiak. Outside of that period it is generally more productive to fly over the Shelikof Strait to one of many bear viewing locations in Katmai National Park.

Visitors to Kodiak will find that bears are far from the only attraction however. The island is surrounded by some of the Pacific's most fertile waters and giant Fin Whales are commonly sighted offshore, with Orcas also regular visitors. The island was home to the Koniag Alutiiq people long before Lord Alexander Baranof, the first Russian ruler of Alaska arrived here in 1790, and is home to their descendents to this day. Kodiak was the epicentre of the Russian expansion into North American in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the lucrative trade in fur seal and sea otter pelts that the Russians so coveted. The town has excellent museums showcasing both its native Alutiiq and Russian/American history and culture, as well as a couple of Russian Orthodox churches and the oldest Russian building in North America.

Although Kodiak in the northeast of the island is home to one of the busiest fishing ports in Alaska and the largest Coast Guard base in the United States, the island is very sparsely populated with less than 100 miles of road. Most of the island is wilderness with much of the southern two thirds falling within the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Besides Kodiak there are just six Native Alutiiq communities, inaccessible except by boat or bushplane, and with a total population of less than 800.

We offer half day fly-in bear viewing tours on Kodiak. It is also the gateway to a number of outstanding bear viewing locations in Katmai National Park on the adjacent mainland.

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