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.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.