It's hard to imagine that anything could top all we've experienced so far, but for most wildlife photographers, today is the ultimate highlight of our Alaskan adventure.
Katmai National Park is home to the world’s largest population of brown bears, and it takes some effort to get here. We fly by small plane to King Salmon, then by float plane to world-renowned Brooks Lodge, one of the best places to view these coastal grizzlies in their natural habitat.
From the safety of platforms built over Brooks Falls, we photograph this classic spectacle up close, as the bears fish vigorously for salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Every photographer dreams of that iconic shot, 'freezing time' as a salmon leaps from the boiling falls into the waiting jaws of a giant brown bear—and our Expedition Leader is by your side with tips to help you achieve this compelling image!Our NatHab leader, Eric, supplemented our complementary hotel breakfast before we hopped on our Magic Bus for transfer to the very modern Ted Stevens International Airport.
A PenAir flight took us from Anchorage to King Salmon. (Best ANC-AKN flight attendant of the entire AUWPS trip.) A Katmai Air Service float plane flight got us from King Salmon to Brooks Lake. In optimal conditions, the planes land on Naknek Lake which is adjacent to Brooks Camp, but today's conditions required landing on Brooks Lake with a road transfer to the camp. (A float plane that attempted to land on Naknek this day became a sunken navigation hazard.)
All visitors to Katmai National Park lodging attend "Bear School" upon entry. At Brooks Camp, you are certainly living among the brown bears. That said, confrontational interactions are rare and maulings are once-in-a-generation events.
We settled in, lunched up, and trekked out to the Brooks Falls viewing platforms. We broke for dinner, then went back to the falls. But enough jibber-jabber; on to the pics!
Anchorage to Brooks Camp
Someone on Vimeo has produced a set of Brooks Falls brown bear videoclip montages, and it looks like they had weather similar to ours. So here's what you might have seen had you been there in person, part 1.
Grizzlies of Brooks Falls, Alaska - #1