As said in one of my previous posts, the summer has come to Alaska and is asking everyone out to enjoy and explore its outdoor activities. On the 8th of July we have booked Ice Climbing in Seward, Alaska. On the first of August we have our tickets to Paris, and I am exiting to start the new adventure. This is to give you heads up on what is about to come on the blog this following month or so.
Recently we have visited Katmai National Park. After the powerful Novarupta volcanic eruption in 1912 the park became a national monument. There are three lodges that operate with in the park and one of them is Brooks Lodge. Overlooking the famous Brooks River, which runs through the heart of the park, the lodge offers not only unique bear viewing and fishing experiences but also incredible vistas.This place is known for its large brown bears population. Also, bear-viewing platforms are available within a short walk from the lodge. In order to get to the Brooks Lodge, we took the plane from Anchorage to King Salmon. Once arrived at the airport (the smallest airport ever), a bus shuttle was awaiting to take us to the river where a float plane was ready to transport us into the heart of wilderness.After a 20 min flight over the untamed forests and lakes of Alaska, we arrived at the destination. Within few minutes from landing, a mama bear with its little ones popped out on the same beach, just few feet away from us, and rushed all of us inside the visitor center.After a brief orientation and a short instructional video, we received our bear orientation pins and were sent out to explore the bears playground. At Brooks you can either rent a lodge or book a spot in the campground, which is surrounded by bear resistant fence and it’s fairly safe. They also provide storage rooms for camp gear and food. While on the territory of the park one is not allowed to carry any type of food or snacks with them because that can allure bears and we don’t want to be associated with a food source. Also, we were told that we are in the bears’ backyard thus we have to respect them and give them space, as we are just visitors. During the stay expect no phone reception or WI-FI connection, so be ready to disconnect with the outer world. Evenings are spent around a fireplace in the lodge where people can enjoy a cocktail, coffee, or tea while playing board games or sharing their day adventures and impressions.Even though June is not yet as crowded with bears as July is, we still had the chance to encounter these massive animals almost everywhere at Brooks Lodge. This picture was taken from behind the campground’s bear resistant fence. The bears with cubs prefers to sleep on the beach because there are less chances to meet a male bear that can hurt her offsprings. Remember I said the walk to the viewing platforms is relatively short? Well it is, sort of… The distance itself is not long, but you might get stuck in the middle of your way because a bear decided to cross your path, or just hang in there… because why not, right? This picture below was captured by my husband (he was the brave one) on our way to the viewing point. While on the trail, or anywhere else at the lodge, people are asked to be bear aware and to keep the recommended distance between them and the animals (at least 50 yards from a single bear and 100 yards from a family of bears).
The bears were aware of our presence, but kept walking towards the river, periodically checking on us. And we were following their lead because our final destination was the same; Brooks Falls.After following them for about 200 to 300 yards, we finally reached the gate of the platforms. Needless to say how relieved I felt when I heard the gate closing behind my back. Even though I understood that there was little potential danger (because they have lots of fish, so they are not starving) just at their sight my knees involuntarily became weak and soft and my head .. ohh well, all I could think of was that I will find this adventure so cool and exiting once I am back in the city with no bears walking on the streets. From the viewing platform we had some fun taking pictures of bears fishing and swimming. At some point there were about 5 bears that came to feast on the salmon that runs in the river. We also had the chance to witness how mama bear was teaching her little ones to fish. While she was enjoying the water, her cubs started to become bored shortly enough. So they left…
The Katmai Brooks Lodge offer day tours to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The Valley features what is left after one of the most violent volcanic eruption in the history, Novarupta. After its eruption in 1912, the volcano went dormant leaving behind mass destruction of the valley.If you plan to visit Katmai National Park make sure to take warm clothes, hiking shoes or boots, and a waterproof jacket. If you plan to camp take extra blankets with you as nights can be cold. Also, consider booking months ahead because the rooms and camp spots are limited, but an unlimited number of people who desire to visit.
This is how a weekend in bears’ courtyard looks like. What do you think? Would you visit it if you had the opportunity?
Note: It is not allowed to carry bear spray on the airplane
For more info about visiting Katmailand and The Valley of 10.000 Smokes visit their website.