Watching bears in their natural habitat is a once in a lifetime experience. There are few places in the world that provide the overwhelming peace and tranquility offered by Alaska’s National Parks. Scenic Bear Viewing, based in Homer, can take you there in safety and comfort. Fly to a remote location in Katmai or Lake Clark National Park with just a small group and your guide and spend at least three hours watching bears fish, splash and play in the water. Then return with loads of pictures and new insights into Alaska's wild places.
You’ll fly with either Martin or Bryan in their Cessna planes that seat up to five guests each. Martin’s been a pilot for 30 years, with airline, commercial and glider flying experience. He’s been around planes most of his adult life, having served as Crew Chief on the F-15 Eagle during his time in the Air Force. Martin’s guided thousands of people on successful bear viewing adventures and guarantees that you’ll see bears on your trip. For groups up to ten, Bryan adds his Cessna 206 to the mix. Bryan is a life-long Alaskan and aircraft mechanic with over 4,000 hours flight time, including a solo trip from Maine to Alaska.
The small group size offered by Scenic Bear Viewing ensures a quiet experience where everyone has a great view and there is minimal disturbance to the bears. It’s also easier to accommodate the interests of your group and make sure all your questions get answered.
Flightseeing + Bear viewing in one trip
You’ll fly from Homer to coastal areas in Lake Clark National Park or Katmai National Park, both roadless havens where bears often outnumber visitors. Your exact schedule and location is determined by Martin, based on weather, tides and where the bears happen to be that day. On clear days, every flight offers a spectacular overview of pristine Alaska: glaciers, volcanoes (some active), mountains, meadows, estuaries and tidal flats. Views in every direction are picture perfect, leading all the way up to your beach landing, where your bear adventure begins.
If headed to Hallo Bay in Katmai, expect 60 to 90 minutes each way, flying over Seldovia, Port Graham, down into the Kenai Peninsula, and toward the Barren Islands. You can spot Kodiak Island, the second largest island in the country, and you may also see up to ten volcanoes, some of them as high as 8,000-feet in elevation. After landing on the beach, you’ll walk up to a mile to get closer to prime bear viewing.
It’s about 40 minutes each way to Lake Clark, flying over the abundant fishing grounds of Ninilchik and Anchor Point and straight across Cook Inlet to either Chinitna Bay or Silver Salmon Creek. Mt. Iliamna, a volcano that looms 10,000 feet above sea level, is the largest geographical feature on this trip. Your flight might even take you around the mountain to check out the steaming fumeroles on top.
The coastal brown bears you’ll see have become accustomed to human activity. Their habitat provides an abundance of food, from protein-rich sedge grasses to clams and salmon. They don’t associate people with food, which is important to maintain when you visit. Martin will teach you all this and more during two safety briefings: one at the hangar when you gear up in your mud boots, and one after you’ve landed on the beach.
Become a bear ambassador!
Martin has designed his bear viewing trips with an emphasis on education. You’ll learn about the plants, the wildlife, and of course the bears themselves. “I hope everyone departs with a real understanding of the bears and where they live,” says Martin. “The future success of bears as a species will depend on people understanding them. It's my sincere hope that everyone who goes on my trips leaves as an ambassador for the bears and Alaska.”
Viewing the bears playing, eating and interacting with each other is simply fascinating, and you’ll want pictures to bring back home. Combine your own shots with images Martin offers for download a few days after your trip. This is the best way to get shots of your entire group enjoying the experience. Remember to “growl” for the camera!
More about Martin and Scenic Bear Viewing
Martin has flown all over Alaska and finds the undeveloped areas in Katmai and Lake Clark to be some of the prettiest he’s ever seen. Each winter he looks forward to getting back to the unspoiled scenery, the hiking, and most of all – the bears. Martin considers bear viewing to be an important educational opportunity directly connected to their safety and survival. Children, with their natural curiosity, soak up this information, and are more than welcome on his tours. (One parent/adult per child required for safety).