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Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Sunnyvale, CA
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Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Hi

I am planning a day trip to view bears in katmai region.

I have the flexibility to fly from Homer to one of the bays in the region Or from anchorage to brooks falls.

My trip is planned around July 8th.

I have read through the posts and found few airline options out of homer or fly through anchorage ( on Alaska air)

Wondering...where are my chances of spotting some bear action higher ?

Which one would be more cost effective ?

If I take the trips out of homer am I missing on a the best tourist spot (brooks falls )

Flights from anchorage are $500 pp, I know trips out of Homer are around $600...

Any deals I could leverage to make the most out of this trip..?

FYI this is my first trip to AK

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Alaska
Alaska
United States
Sunnyvale, CA
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1. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Also just found out emerald air is sold out on the dates I intend to go....

So I am cud go with k bay air or mtn bald ..any other options are welcome

Manitoba, Canada
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2. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

"Wondering...where are my chances of spotting some bear action higher"

Nobody can answer that. All the day trips have a very good chance of seeing bears, but you never know what you will see on any given trip. For example, while normally there are many bears at Brooks, I read one trip report about someone going there and seeing ONE bear. The weather was bad that day, and the bears stayed in more sheltered areas. Luck of the draw.

"If I take the trips out of homer am I missing on a the best tourist spot (brooks falls )"

If you consider that the "best", then that's where you should go. It is the ONLY place you'll see bears fishing at a falls...the others will be river-fishing or clamming or grazing in a meadow. It's also the only place you can get messed up with a "bear jam": if a bear is sleeping on the path, the Rangers won't allow anyone to cross over to the viewing platforms. Bears always have the right of way. Also, the main platform (at the falls) can get crowded, so you might have to take turns (the Ranger will make everyone get off for the next group, but you can sign up to go back an hour later). At most other places, you don't have to worry about crowds.

It's up to you to contact each outfitter and ask what you can expect to see on their trip (they go different places), and then decide which is most interesting to you. Also be sure to compare the amount of time you actually get to view bears, since that can vary a lot too.

"Any deals I could leverage to make the most out of this trip..?"

I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you're willing to go on standby, I believe that K Bay offers a good discount. Of course, if they end up with a full plane that day, you'd be left standing on the runway twiddling your thumbs..... At that time of year, Talon Air out of Soldotna has bear-viewing for about $350. Again, compare with what you get elsewhere.

Good outfitters out of Anchorage are Rust's and Regal Air. Other options for either day trips or overnights are Silver Salmon Creek Lodge and Homestead Lodge (flights out of Soldotna or Homer). Natron Air offers a bear-viewing tour for $345, BUT read what you get (a brief stop on a beach to "stretch your legs"). IMO that's not bear-viewing and shouldn't be advertised as such.... There are lots of others too, I'm sure, but not that we've heard feedback about to be able to recommend them.

Be aware that some will take you bear-viewing even if there isn't a good chance of seeing bears....and even if there is a good chance of seeing bears, sometimes the bears just aren't around, or you might see only a couple. They have their own agendas.

Edited: 9:31 am, May 08, 2011
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Kasilof, Alaska
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3. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Hello again Mits81!

So, from Seward to Homer for bears. Manitoba-Maple provides some good information for you. I have no idea what your budget is, but you might want to consider one additional point. Flights to Katmai are probably going to run you $600+. Why not hope a flight out of Nikiski (by Kenai) for $350 and head over to Wolverine Creek. Do some fishing and bear watching at the same time. Alaska West Air is another great company to consider.

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Seward
Seward
Alaska
Nikiski
Nikiski
Alaska
Kenai
Kenai
Alaska
Sunnyvale, CA
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4. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Thanks both for all the info.

I am Vegeterian and don't do fishing so wud like to only join bear viewing trip..

However, which airline out of nikiski would you consider ?

Also why are their trips cheaper?

Will speak to few providerzs and let you know

Lake Tahoe...
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5. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

One thing about taking your tour out of Homer is that there are other attractions here after you have finished the tour.

There is no scheduled airline out of Nikiski. Nearest would be Kenai served by Era Aviation

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Nikiski
Nikiski
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Kenai
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Manitoba, Canada
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6. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

"Also why are their trips cheaper?"

Same as Talon Air that I mentioned...they don't fly to Katmai NP or Lake Clark NP, but go to the much closer Wolverine Creek in Cook Inlet. Also be aware that there will likely be other boats fishing there, which might be unpleasant for you to watch as a vegetarian.

Here is a good description of what you might see there: http://www.mgfalaska.com/wolverine_creek.html And while your chances of seeing bears there is good in July, they will likely come and go. The fishermen will be there throughout.....

Kasilof, Alaska
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7. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Yep. No question Manitoba is right about the number of folks at Wolverine. That said, there are both fishing folks and viewing folks there. Alaska West Air, alaskawestair.com flies out of Nikiski. Check out their website. As to why the lower price, probably in part the lenghth of the flight.

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Nikiski
Nikiski
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Kasilof, Alaska
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8. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Also, re other things to do before or after your tour, you'll be passing by Ninilchik on your way to Nikiski. Ninilchik is home to a Russian Orthodox chapel built in 1901. It's one of the most photographed buildings on the Kenai Peninsula. Additionally, if you do drive the road to the Ninilchik beach, you'll likely see Bald Eagles on the hills over looking the beach or on the beach scavenging for fish scraps. After the tour and in Nikiski, you could stop by Kassik's Brew Stop, arguably the best, but at least one of the best, microbreweries in the state. It was named the official beer for the Alaska State Fair in 2010. You would no doubt enjoy chatting with Debara Kassik, a very nice person, and classic entrepreneur who has teamed with her husband to make the business successful. Anyway, have a great time!

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Nikiski
Nikiski
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Lake Tahoe...
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9. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Touch in Kasilof - not quite. Nikiski is north of Kenai, and Ninilchik is on the Sterling Hwy south of you. As for the church you can miss the road if not watching for it. Driving south coming down the hill and before the bridge the road goes to the right. There is a sign.

There is another Orthodox church to the east of Anchor Point at Nikolaevsk. It is an interesting side trip on your way to Homer. Turn left on the North Fork Road. On way back from the village turn left on to the North Fork Road and it will bring you back to the Sterling Hwy south of Anchor Point.

Maple - regarding fishing and vegetarians, that is exactly what the bears will be doing.

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Fritz Creek, Alaska
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10. Re: Bear viewing trip....Advise needed

Lots of choices, Alaska is a complicated place to visit.

First off, full disclosure. I am involved in the Tourist Industry in Homer (I own a B&B).

Now some advise. Most decisions about travel in Alaska involve 2 things. Time and Money. If you have lots of time, and money is not an issue a multi-day trip to Brooks is great. You can fly Alaska Air to King Salmon. I would stay there at least 3 nights and take the short hop to Brooks each morning (the problem with staying at Brooks is limited availability, expensive, held captive, i.e. their food, activities etc.). If you go this route be sure to book the NPS Tour to "The Land Of The 10,000 Smokes". This trip will take up one full day at Brooks. Day trips to Brooks are generally drop jobs. Out of Anchorage it is a long flight so there is less time on the ground. And since you won't have a guide you MUST attend NSP's Safety Briefing (more time used). There are also many fishermen there. Another option for multi-day trips is out of Homer. Hallo Bay (http://www.hallobay.com/) offers both day trips and multi-day trips at their lodge. The other Day Trip operators out of Homer are: Emerald Air (http://www.emeraldairservice.com/) (I think you said they are booked though); Alaska Bear Adventures with K-Bay Air (http://www.katmaialaskabearviewing.com/); and Bald Mountain Air Service (http://baldmountainair.com/). These are all guided tours, so they take you to where the bears are, it is not hit or miss. I feel that these are the better options for day trips.

Also as noted, if you come to Homer there is a lot more to do. See The Homer Chamber of Commerce site (http://www.homeralaska.org/) for a listing of activities in Homer.

Hope that helps.

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