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“Excellent Day Viewing Experience”

Hallo Bay Lodge Bear VIewing
Ranked #23 of 53 things to do in Homer
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Attraction details
Owner description: We offer Half Day and Overnight Bear and Wildlife Viewing Trips out to Katmai National Park from May through September. We have been guiding trips to Katmai for 26 years, and we have a perfect safety record with our experience with the bears. Hallo Bay Bear Camp is a fully sustainable wilderness camp designed to be a trend setting model of responsibility and low impact to this environment. Our guests observe the bears in their natural habitat where there are no viewing platforms or man-made trails. We limit our groups in size because it is our experience that small groups are much less impacting than large groups of people on any wilderness outing. The smaller group size intimidates wildlife less and leaves a much less impacting footprint on the habitat.
Level 5 Contributor
69 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Excellent Day Viewing Experience”
Reviewed February 13, 2010

First try to keep your schedule flexible. My original day was canceled due to bad weather. They were able to work me in two days later. I'm really glad that our trip to Homer allowed for this change.

The experience of being dropped off at Hallo Bay and seeing your plane fly away makes you realize that you are really immersed into the Alaskan wilderness. It also didn't hurt that four brown bears were in the immediate area.

We had one guide with four tourists. I felt the guide was very experienced with the bears, but not experienced at all about the mud flats.

When we first arrived the tide was out, so we took advantage by walking out onto the mud flats to watch the bears clamming. All was going well until we appeared to reach the end of the sand bar. The guide told us he wanted to walk through the swallow water mud flat. The area he wanted to cross didn't look good to our "untrained eyes" but he told us that the area to our right was really deep mud, and we should try to cross where we were, or we would have to circle back around from where we came (i.e. 15 minutes of back tracking).

Needless to say, crossing through the shallow mud flats was a very bad mistake. It took us 30 minutes to cross 50-75 feet of mud with our feet sinking in between 12-18 inches of mud with each step. After this was all over it took us about 15 minutes to recover from the physical process.

However after that adventure the rest of the day of bear viewing went very well. We had bears all around us. At one point we had a large male walk past us from about 30 feet. Each time a bear approached, our guide carefully positioned us. The one time the male was very close, I noticed that our guide had his flare in his hand.

(Note: The guides are not allowed to have firearms or bear spray!) The firearm regulation is due to the national park status, and the bear spray is due to the plane flight in and the danger it would present in an enclosed small plane.

During lunch we were treated to a beautiful sunny day with eleven bears in view. This time relaxing was the most significant moment for me. During the morning I had tunnel vision trying to get the pictures, at lunch I was able to lay back and soak in the amazing meadow we were sitting in!

Finally our flight back to Homer ended with more excitement than anyone one wanted. Shortly after take-off the engine started to miss and sputter (Not Good!). The pilot finally switch over to a redundant system and the engine stabilized. While this was unnerving, I watched as the pilot changed his route to maintain the shore line underneath the plane for as long as he could by flying up the west side of the inlet. Only after we had flown far north of Homer and the engine had run flawlessly for another hour did he finally cut across the inlet toward Homer. To me, this event showed that the redundant safety systems and pilot training work successfully.

This day was so spectacular that I still wanted to give this organization five stars, but the guide problem with the mud flats, and the hiccup with the Homer Air plane forces me lower the overall rating.

All I can say is, I hope to come back and visit Hallo Bay again in a few years, and I will not hesitate to use this company again. Next time, I plan to relax and enjoy the sites more rather than concentrating so hard on my photos.

6 Thank PhotTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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87 reviews from our community

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1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“A Visit with the Legends of Hallo Bay”
Reviewed October 17, 2009

Hallo Bay Camp is an extordinary experience of being in the Alaska wilderness with wildlife abounding! Their Guides are extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of Hallo Bay: wildlife, wilderness ethics, ecology, geology, marine life, and local history of this part of Alaska. Simply a fascinating area. The wildlife is beautiful to watch, there was complete confidence in the Guides, always feeling safe. Lodging was clean and surprisingly comfortable (all amenities) - not to mention the home cooked meals that were a tasty treat to eat after a day of wildlife viewing. The companionship of the hosts went above and beyond wildest dreams - you will truly made some new friends. Simply can't imagine why anybody would be unhappy with Hallo Bay Camp -- because the trip with them was wonderful . Also met other guests from around the world who were thrilled by the experience of seeing wildlife as it truly is in the vast wilderness that is Alaska. Some were on daytrips, and others stayed for a few nights. Sincerely hope you will have the chance to visit with them, too. Highly recommend Hallo Bay Camp!

4 Thank CaliforniaTravelnGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Howell, Michigan
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“The Amazing Town on the Tundra of Hudson Bay”
Reviewed October 12, 2009

Our trip to Churchill, Manitoba was the trip of a lifetime and far surpassed any expectations we could have ever had!

As members of our local Zoological Society, we were invited to attend a presentation about a trip to view Polar Bears and Arctic Wildlife on the Tundra of Churchill, MB. The presentation was very poorly given and their trip seemed quite disorganized and overpriced, so when we got home my husband decided to research what it would take for us to make the same trip. After days of phone calls, emails, research and comparison, we booked our trip through Hallo Bay in Homer, AK for October 30 – November 12th.

We choose Hallo Bay because they offered the most days on the tundra and a limit of 12 people on the tundra buggy, which insured lots of room to move about and plenty of seats from which to film & take photographs. They also provided the most perks at the best price. The owner, Simyra, and her group were absolutely wonderful to deal with and they gave us plenty of tips by email leading up to the day of departure. They made sure we were absolutely prepared for every aspect of this trip and there was not one thing we had to purchase along the way that hadn’t been planned for! The first part of the trip is to fly to Winnipeg and overnight at the hotel, then meet everyone at breakfast before departing for the flight to Churchill. The hotel was clean and comfortable and we enjoyed a delicious dinner and a couple of cocktails the evening we arrived. The next morning we had our “Meet & Greet” Initiation breakfast then left our hotel for the airport. The flight to Churchill was comfortable with minimal turbulence and provided us all with a beautiful view of the wilds of Canada.

From the time we landed in the frozen North until the day we left, we were greeted by the most hospitable people you'd ever want to meet! The weather was quite a bit colder upon landing and we were grateful for our heavy boots & coats purchased especially for the trip. Our first night there was Halloween so we had the extra treat of seeing the children trick-or-treating while the town was being heavily patrolled by the residents & police on the lookout for bears. Can you imagine being a child wondering if you were going to become a treat??? The police and townspeople were friendly and talkative and made us feel instantly at ease.

We were lodged at the “Bears Den Bed & Breakfast” and the owners were simply wonderful. Each morning we’d wake up hot, homemade breakfast and fresh-baked bread provided by our generous hosts and we’d fill up our thermoses and head out to wait to be picked up for the day’s Tundra Buggy ride. In the evening we were welcome to use their hot tub, connect wirelessly to their internet provider and had free use of the kitchen, recreation room and showers. They were gracious, fun and friendly hosts that made our trip even more special.

Hallo Bay books with the "Tundra Buggy" Polar Bear Tour Company because they are absolutely top-notch professionals. We were blessed to have author/polar bear attack-survivor Glenn Hopfner as our driver! He got us in the best photographic positions and didn't "push" the bears whatsoever. He was a wealth of knowledge and a genuinely great guy! We learned a tremendous amount about the bears and Arctic wildlife from Glenn and both our guides Simyra and Dave and any photography questions were quickly answered. They are true professionals and we look forward to someday taking the Hallo Bay Grizzly Bear tour on their property in Homer, Alaska.

The bears were amazing to watch and the hours on the tundra quickly passed while we watched males moving about and “sparring”. The females and their cubs were priceless and we even saw the females protecting their cubs by taking on the hungry males and running them off. We were treated to a real “National Geographic” morning on the second day. Glenn, our driver, had heard of a bear that took down a caribou at about 4 a.m. on the preserve and he took us over to where it happened. We saw a large male feeding on what was left of the large animal; a hoof, leg and antler were stringed together by a piece of fur and some tendons. He played with and gnawed it like a dog would a bone. It provided some amazing shots that we never expected to get.

The restaurants in Homer served good, hearty food with specialties like “poultine” (French fries with gravy & cheese) and the place to be seen is “Gypsy’s”. That’s where Norbert Rosing and the professionals from National Geographic & Polar Bears International hang out! They also have exceptional meals at somewhat reasonable prices. Food prices, like most everything else in Churchill, are high because everything has to come in via rail or air so it’s expected to pay a little bit more, especially for a good meal.

There were quite a few things to see in town, but our favorite non-Tundra excursion was to an observatory outside of town. We were fortunate to meet many experts and our tour guide, Dave, even knew the one that gave a comprehensive presentation on bear attacks (and the rarity of them). Our best night there was viewing the Aurora Borealis at 4 a.m. with a few members from our group; one of whom was a Virginia police officer who kept us safe by watching for bears while we photographed this awesome phenomenon.

Every aspect of the trip was a success for us and we were fortunate to make some lifetime friends while we were at it! We still keep in touch with the police officer and his beautiful wife (they even came to visit us at our home in Michigan!) and we became friends with a family of artists who live in Churchill that we plan to return to visit quite soon!

We rate Churchill 5 Stars and think it’s one of the most unique places on Earth!

4 Thank MonarchCaptures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Experience of a lifetime”
Reviewed October 8, 2009

3 of us went in the summer of 2008....and what a wonderful experience it was. The guides were very friendly and knowledgeable and the trip met all my expectations and more. The weather turned gloomy and we had to stay an extra 3 days but the staff did their best to keep us amused...the bear viewing was the highlight and we saw lots of bears in all different scenarios. Loved it!!!

1 Thank NewYorkContem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albany, New York
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Great day trip”
Reviewed January 14, 2009

Went on the "half day bear viewing tour". Great guide, small group (4 people + guide). It was very early in the season (May) and apparently spring was very late in 2008, so there were not alot of bears out yet. Still we saw 5 bears, there was never a moment when we didn't see at least one bear. Two of them were involved in courtship and accidentally walked right up to us before seeing us and turned away. Another lied down and chilled out about 50 feet away while we sat there and watched. I know it is expensive but if you have never seen wildlife like this it is worth EVERY PENNY for this once in a lifetime experience.

Thank BruceBe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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