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How long at Katmai?

West Palm Beach...
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How long at Katmai?

I need to decide how long to stay at Katmai Campground. I have reservations for 3 nights, but I am wondering if two nights will be enough after all. We should arrive about 12 the first day and will have that afternoon and evening, the next day, and at least the morning of the last day to bear view and take photos.

I know it is busy the middle of July so I want to have plenty of time to take photos and have to consider the possibility of inclement weather. My DH is interested in bear viewing, but I am into taking photos. Strictly amateur. I could send my DH to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes for a day if we stayed the 3rd day. Perhaps two nights is enough for even me.

I have to make other reservations and this is holding me up. This is the beginning of 10 days in Alaska. I can still fit in what else I want to do one way or the other. Thanks for your input on this. Sorry, I can't seem to link my original itinerary and there is so much extra discussion about other topics on it I did not want to add this question to the end.

fti
MN
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1. Re: How long at Katmai?

I would definitely keep the three nights. Weather, bear jams or other situations could prevent you from getting to the platforms and/or from ideal photo conditions.

I remember my last day there (3pm flight). I was out and moving to the platforms by 8.30am. The main falls platform was not full even by the time I left at 11.30am. Finally as I was walking back, two walkers in the other direction told me that there was a "bear jam" and no one could cross for over 2 hours. Get into one of those situations and it severely limits your bear viewing on any one day.

Also, if you have had enough photography the first two nights, you can also go on the Valley of 10,000 Smokes tour. I didn't do it last time but would like to do it sometime.

And if you have time for everything else, why not spend 3 nights at Katmai?

John

West Palm Beach...
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2. Re: How long at Katmai?

Thanks John, but I made a mistake about fitting everything in. I was not thinking clearly about my last day nor reviewing my itinerary again . Since I leave in the wee hours of the morning, my 11th day is totally spent traveling.

Considering that I had further discussions with my DH who thinks he will see more than enough bears in Katmai on days 1 and 2. He can't even imagine any more. He is still "open" for the possibility, if it must be.

If I stay a 3rd day in Katmai then I will need to forgo the 8-10 hour trip out of Whittier into Prince William Sound for wildlife and glaciers( I am not sure about the Icy Bay add on yet. I am already going on the Kenai Fjords 8 hr. wildlife cruise the day before although feedback seems to indicate that doing both are not repetitive. Is a 3rd night in Katmai needed or worth forgoing this 8-10 hour trip?

I have re-typed my proposed itinerary graciously arranged by Manitoba_Mapl. She is so amazing that I have not changed much, just chosen what I hope to do in each stop.

Day 1: Arrive Anchorage

Day 2: Flight to Katmai Campgrounds, arrive approx. 12

Day 3 Katmai all day

Day 4 Flight from Katmai back to Anchorage ( most likely p.m.)

Get rental car: Possibly tour some in Anchorage (Native Heritage Center) if arrive early enough. Leisurely drive to Whittier with scenic stops along the way. Possibly evening hike to exit glacier. Overnight Seward- Most likely B&B. If we keep option of 3rd night in Katmai open, this would have to be camping. (We are not really campers but camping due to cost at Katmai).

Day 5 Seward: Kenai Fjords 6 hr. Wildlife Tour (either 8am for more wildlife? or 11:30 departure. Then Ididaride or Sealife Center

Possibly drive to Whittier overnight.

Day 6 Whittier ( Would delete this if doing 3 nights in Katmai) Full day 8-10 hrs wildlife and glacier tour with Sound Eco Adventures

Day 7 Drive to Denali- Stop at Wasilla for supplies then maybe stop at Idadarod HQ. Stop at Talneeka for flightseeing trip. Visit visitors center and displays in Denali (overnight)

Day 8 Denali shuttle (overnight)

Day 9 Denali shuttle ( either overnight here or drive to Talkeetna for overnight?

Day 10 Drive to Matanuska Glacier with a glacier hike? Drive to Anchorage for 2 a.m. flight home.

Thoughts, suggestions are welcome, Thanks!

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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3. Re: How long at Katmai?

Re: your itinerary. If you arrive about noon at Katmai, bring some snacks with you and leave them in the food locker either in the campground or bring some to the food locker near the ranger station. Have the lunch at the lodge and fill up. Then go to the bear viewing platforms and plan on being there until the evening. Do *not* go back to the lodge for dinner. Everyone else does so you will almost have the entire platform to yourselves. Head back in early evening or as long as you can hold out without food.

Similar idea for the next day. Then Day 4, you need to get your gear to the pick up area by 9am. Get it there even earlier and head right to the bear viewing platforms. Start your return to the other side of the river about 2-3 hours before your flight so you have plenty of time in case of a bear jam. Have some snacks ready again for when you return from bear viewing.

You could overnight in Whittier but really not much there. You might consider Girdwood (backtracking by 1/2 hour) and have an early start the next morning to Whittier.

John

West Palm Beach...
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4. Re: How long at Katmai?

Thanks John for the tips.

So do you think pushing a 3rd night at Brooks camp is better than going on the all day Sound Eco Adventure tour?

The tour looks and sounds great, but I am wondering about 10 hours on the water following a 6 hour Kenai Fjords tour the day before. I love taking photos though.

fti
MN
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for Alaska
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5. Re: How long at Katmai?

>>So do you think pushing a 3rd night at Brooks camp is better than going on the all day Sound Eco Adventure tour?

I can't say that one is better than the other. Tough choices.

>>The tour looks and sounds great, but I am wondering about 10 hours on the water following a 6 hour Kenai Fjords tour the day before. I love taking photos though.

Are you locked into a 10 hour tour? Has someone else already booked that tour for that day and that is the only option? Otherwise, Gerry has lots of other options.

I tried taking a tour with Gerry at Sound Eco Adventures a couple of years ago but it just didn't work. It was very early in the season and his boat was still in the maintenance shop. But I am hoping to go with him in 2011. I think the small boat is a huge advantage for photography. It is unique in that the Kenai Fjords tour emphasizes marine wildlife whereas the PWS tours emphasize glaciers. Though there is some overlap.

The best advice I can give is the more diverse your excursions, the more chances you have for good photo ops. Some days are better than others. I remember being at the Wonder Lake Campground in Denali talking with other campers who saw a bear and cub right next to the bus. I never saw that. But then I saw some things that they didn't.

I wish I had an easy solution for you but I don't!

John

West Palm Beach...
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6. Re: How long at Katmai?

Thanks. Yes, there are other options for shorter tours. The icy bay add on looked appealing for the glaciers and the possibility of whales. I am not sure if that is part of the ten hour tour listed on his schedule or something else.The ten hour options include half and half equal emphasis on glaciers and wildlife. That would make the decision of which option to choose easier since I'd like to see whales and other wildlife and glaciers too. I don't know just what I will see in Kenai Fjords either. I think I might book it and pay a cancellation fee if I change my itinerary. I do like the looks of the boat for taking pictures. Decisions, decisions. Thanks for your input. I am getting diligent about my bookings now (It's about time). Car has been booked for awhile.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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7. Re: How long at Katmai?

Capt Gerry is a marine biologist and an outstanding host. His boat only holds six passengers and we really enjoyed it when we toured with him in Summer 06. We saw lots of wildlife in the water, including humpbacks. We did the icy bay add-on which was wonderful. Hearing the glacier calve and dumping tons of ice into the bay was really spectacular. I would highly recommend his tour!

8. Re: How long at Katmai?

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