Things may soon be changing at Hallo Bay for bear-viewers - come enjoy more observation freedom before new rules go into affect. Photo taken in Hallo Bay, 2007 by Scott W. Michael.
I and my wife Janine are taking a group of bear-enthusiasts to Katmai National Park, Alaska to observe and photograph the great coastal populations of Ursus arctos as they fish for salmon and interact with one another. We are taking a group of up to eight bearophiles (we have limited space as a number of spots are already taken) on a six day/five night trip (from August 22nd to the 27th, 2008) and a four day/three night trip (from August 28th to the 31st, 2008). I have had the good fortunate to be part of many fantastic wildlife adventures in my life, but none has compared to my trips to Katmai!
The trip will be led by the bearman extraordinarie John Rogers (owner of Katmai Coastal Bear Tours). John has been plying the waters along the Alaskan Peninsula for decades and knows the bears of this region like no one else. He is the man that all the documentary and film crews use when they are looking to get great footage of Alaskan brown bears. Ursid Guru Brad Josephs will be guiding us out to observe bears every day. You will never meet anyone that loves and knows brown bears, or the local natural history, more than Brad. He is a very competent guide that stresses the safety of his clients as well as the bruins he has come to know so well. He is keenly aware of the needs of wildlife photographer and will do all he can to get us in situations to catch amazing photos of the star of the Katmai show. That said, he will never compromise the health of the bears.
If you love bears, you must experience Hallo Bay. During the peak of the fishing season, dozens of brown bears gather here to catch chum and silver salmon as they make their way from the sea, back into freshwater. With the high density of bears in the bay, one also is likely to observe some amazing ursid interactions. One professional wildlife photographer I met (whose gallery walls were adorned with photos of animals from around the world), said Hallo Bay was the most exotic place he has ever been in his life! Last year, there were loads of spring cubs at Hallo bay (at least three mothers with two to three cubs each). Those youngsters that survived the winter will be playful little yearlings this summer and there may be more younger cubs around as well as some females that are regular visitors of Hallo Bay were observed mating last spring.
The Alaskan officials are about to put restrictions in place that will limit where bear-viewers go in Hallo Bay. Human observers will be confined to viewing pads. It appears as though this may be the last year (2008) that photographers/viewers have unhindered access to the bears in Hallo Bay. While these restrictions will be good for the bears, they will certainly make it more challenging to get great photos without very long lenses and will take away some of the excitement of having the bears all to yourself!
I want to encourage you to come and join us in late August on our bear-viewing adventure. If you love bears, you have to do it at least once in your lifetime! (If you want to see just how awesome a trip to Katmai can be click here and watch my original Katmai Bear video from 2006.) If you are interested in being apart of this amazing adventure, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.