North America Alaska Cruise

Alaska Grizzly Encounter: Kodiak to Katmai

Many travelers come to Alaska expecting to see Alaska’s enormous brown bears lumbering over tidal flats, feasting on salmon and tending to their frisky cubs. But the fact is, very few will. This 8-day Alaska grizzly encounter is aptly named because small groups of only 8 passengers journey by floatplane and aboard the small ship Ursus into the truly bear-rich wilderness of Katmai National Park.

First, a quick Alaska bear primer: grizzly bears and brown bears are the same species (Ursus arctos), but brown bears are generally considered as those who have access to coastal food resources like salmon, while grizzly bears live farther inland and typically do not have access to such marine-derived cuisine.

The brown bears—or coastal grizzlies as they’re often called—encountered on this Alaska cruise are the largest in the world, living in the remote reaches of Katmai National Park, far from any cruise ship or tour bus route. And these are the months they will be feeding on summer’s bounty of spawning salmon. This is as up close and personal as you’ll ever safely get with wild bears! Knowledgeable guides and an extremely small group size allow guests to approach the bears without disturbing them.

The alternative, 13-day Alaska Bear Quest itinerary adds a unique day boat tour of Kachemak Bay, and a few days bear viewing on land at Bear Camp Alaska. For the ultimate land-and-sea bear viewing experience, consider this alternative itinerary, which combines the Alaska Grizzly Encounter with the Alaska Bear Camp Adventure.

Home base is the converted fishing and research ship Ursus, ideal for exploring the scenic wilderness waterways of Katmai National Park. At only 8 guests, she’s one of our favorites for private Alaska yacht charters. By sleeping aboard a small ship each night, the route can be flexible, following the bears from bay to bay. Go truly remote: you can’t get here by road or traditional cruise ship!

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Alaska trips and Alaska small ship cruises.