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Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

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Houston, Texas
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Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

Has anyone taken a bear viewing trip to Katmai National Park with Homer Air ? WOW -- looks amazing. I have always been afraid of small planes and vowed to NEVER get in one but after reading about this trip, it has me reconsidering my fears. Sounds amazing to be able to witness bears in their natural habitat and it sounds like July is a great month for it.

Just curious of anyone's experience who has done this. I hope these planes are safe and take every precaution. Ugg -- still dread the thought of it -- but to see the bears and knowing it may be my one chance for such an awesome experience.

Would also like to hear if it's worth $600 / person for the full day bear viewing (more like 3 hours actually spent there). I'm sure the flight would be absolutely amazing as well as far as seeing Alaska from the air.

Hope y'all are doing good. Thanks so much!

fti
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1. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

Where in Katmai National Park would they take you? Usually it is either the Katmai coast or Brooks. Brooks is peak in July and September.

Though the day trips are OK, I personally think you get much more bang for your buck with overnight trips. I know that Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark NP is something like $600 for the day or $800 for overnight. For the extra $200 you get something like twice as much time bear viewing.

Overnight in Katmai is a bit more complicated. Tent camping at Brooks is by far the most economical and easiest. Staying in one of the basic cabins is $300/person or more in July.

The problem with day trips to Brooks is that you might encounter a "bear jam" and end up with very little bear viewing time at the platforms. Only you can decide but if it were me I would try to get more than 3 hours on the ground. Leave in the morning and fly back late afternoon and try to get 6 hours on the ground minimum. You can take your own food (contrary to some vendors who say not). You just need to keep it in a bearproof storage area (and eat in designated areas).

Las Vegas, Nevada
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2. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

You can learn about people's bear viewing experiences by reading thru trip reports. You'll get first hand accounts of which vendor they used, when they went, where they went, and where they flew from. Great photos too. Last year's reports will probably provide more results, altho look at the end of 2010 as well.

There is also an informational thread all about bear viewing on the Alaska forum under Top Questions.

.

Houston, Texas
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3. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

Thank you, yescanada! I am fairly new here so I have a lot to learn. The trip reports sound interesting.

fti - GREAT information. The Homer Air website says they take you to the beach. You have given me a lot to think about. I have a friend that told me the Brooks Camp was the end all so I just need to figure out how to get there. I'll also look into the overnight options.

Thanks so much!

Adirondack, New York
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4. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

I agree with yescanada. You need to do your initial research. I would suggest NOT going with any company which offers 3 hours of viewing for a price of about $600.00 Is there really any company that would dare to offer only three hours of viewing and charge $600? We took many bear watching trips from Homer but never watch bear for only 3 hours. Unfortunately, the company we were traveling with is not in business any longer but if I had to go with another one it would be Bald Mountain because they are in business for a long time. Sadly I saw them combining groups from two planes so there was no intimate bear watching experience but maybe they don't do that all the time? I wrote extensively many times about bear watching day tours so I won't repeat again but you have to ask many questions. Prepare a bunch of questions and call several companies directly. Then compare answers and make your own choice.

Edited: 10 August 2012, 14:24
Houston, Texas
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5. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

Thanks Places. I didn't realize with my initial excitement it would be only two hours actually with the bears. I guess part of the expense covered the amazing things they show you from the hour for the 1-1/2 hour trip to Katmai -- but I will have to search out other options because I was actually hoping for a full day -- at least 6 - 8 hours where I could see bears.

Also, these platforms out there -- like at Brooks Camp -- are they connected so you can walk around a large area? I have read about "bear jams" and I guess that's from the people crowds.

After I finalize my accommodation (very soon), I'll start my research on the bear viewing as I'm sure they book up far in advance as well.

Thanks so much!

fti
MN
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6. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

I am not sure I would be finalizing lodging until you get your bear viewing settled. Why have lodging in Anchorage when you later realize you should be in Soldotna or Homer for a bear viewing flight? Lodging is what you book LATER.

Re: bear jams. It has nothing to do with people. It is when bears are on the psths that you would use to get around. Bears have the right of way. So if a bear decides to sleep on the trsil, you wait.

Houston, Texas
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7. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

WOW -- truly a different world!!! Ok -- thanks for explaining that.

I'm staying in Homer (and Seward) -- not Anchorage unless the flight arrives at midnight as it appears it might. Then only one night in Anchorge maybe.

Looks like bear viewing and fishing are the two big things to do in Alaska so I will have to plan accordingly. I hope to also fit in some whale watching and I believe there are also some trips to see the glaciers up close.

Thanks for the advice.

Lake Tahoe...
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8. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

My wife has been on my case regarding Bear Viewing in the next couple of weeks. If we go it will be with Bald Mountain Air. They leave from Beluga Lake and only require about 1/2 mile walk. As for small planes, this is Alaska. Surely, you wouldn't want to take a 737 over there. The only big planes here is the Coast Guard out of Elmendorf practicing touch and go.

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

I know but those small planes make me nervous. They go down a lot more often then 737's although I wouldn't expect to take a 737 within Alaska.

I was trying to plan a trip which would avoid the bush planes altogether but after reading about the bear viewing trips -- I'm ready to sacrifice my worries for the chance we would survive the adventure.

I'll go check out Bald Mountain Air.

Thanks!

fti
MN
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10. Re: Bear Viewing Trips with Homer Air

>>I'm staying in Homer (and Seward) -- not Anchorage unless the flight arrives at midnight as it appears it might. Then only one night in Anchorge maybe.

First of all, I was only using the cities as an example. Secondly, I think it would be a mistake for you to arrive in Anchorage in the evening and try to get to Seward or Homer the same day. As I have said often, this is a "rookie mistake." The Seward Highway is one of the prettiest drives in the country. So for the sake of "getting to my destination" you drive right past this beautiful area with few if any stops just to "make time." It is your trip, but it is truly a mistake. Spend the first night in Anchorage unless you arrive at 2pm, relax, get over jet lag, do some things that evening in Anchorage and take your time driving along the Seward Highway. Often it takes me 5-6 hours just to get from Anchorage to Seward, even having done the drive many times. Just so much to do and see.