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Brown Bear Photography Tour Alaska by Boat

Katmai, Alaska, USA

Carl Donohue
Chuck Keim
Photography Tour with Carl Donohue and Chuck Keim
10 people maximum
6 days
Discover brown bear photography opportunities those staying at lodges won’t get to see. Navigate the coast of Katmai National Park aboard the Coastal Explorer for ultimate flexibility.

Trip Highlights

  • Navigate the coast of Katmai National Park by boat, offering ultimate flexibility and mobility for bear photography.
  • Explore some of the best locations for bear viewing in Alaska including Geographic Harbor, Hallo Bay, Kukak Bay, and Kanak Bay.
  • Being mobile for bear photography is a huge benefit offering the flexibility to move with the tides and weather patterns, the ability to photograph bears in different environments, and the freedom to look for other wildlife.
  • If we find a location that’s really ideal, we can stay there as long as we like!
  • Travel in a small group with 2 seasoned Alaskan guides: Carl Donohue, a professional nature photographer, and renowned Alaskan Captain Chuck Keim, steering the best charter boat in the business for bear viewing.

Dates

Main Trip, 10 people maximum

  • August 1–7, 2019 (10 openings)
  • August 7–13, 2019 (9 openings)
  • August 6–12, 2020 (10 openings)
  • August 12–18, 2020 (10 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

Price from $7,995
Full details

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.

Brown bear closeup portrait © Greg Downing

Discover brown bear photography opportunities those at lodges won’t get to see. Navigate Alaska bays aboard the Coastal Explorer for ultimate flexibility.

On this Alaskan photography adventure, nature photographer and Alaskan resident Carl Donohue offers for a one-of-a-kind coastal brown bear and Alaskan wildlife photo tour. Supported by the Coastal Explorer, the best Alaskan bear charter boat in the bear viewing business, with renowned Alaskan Captain Chuck Keim at the helm, you will be hard pressed to find a better team to lead the way.

Coastal Explorer boat, Alaska  © Greg Downing

Valuable Flexibility for the Best Brown Bear Photography Opportunities

From our private boat we will have the mobility to navigate the coast of Katmai National Park, exploring some of the best bear viewing locations in Alaska including Geographic Harbor, Hallo Bay, Kukak Bay, and Kanak Bay. While on our journey if we find one particular location that’s really ideal, we will have the option to stay and shoot there for as long as we want to. This valuable flexibility provides us with unprecedented opportunities to photograph brown bears in a myriad of different environments.

Itinerary

This Alaska photography tour departs from Kodiak Island with a short flight to our home for a week, a 70′ specially designed bear boat.

Over the course of 1 week, we’ll use the Coastal Explorer along with Chuck’s small skiff to move up and down the coast of the Alaska Peninsula and the incomparable Katmai National Park. You’ll get to explore the world-famous Hallo Bay, Kukak Bay, Kanak Bay, and Geographic Harbor. Without a doubt, Katmai National Park and the Alaska Peninsula offer the greatest brown bear photography opportunities in the world!

Brown bear with cub © Greg Downing

Mobility is a Huge Benefit for Brown Bear Photography

Variety

We’ll have the freedom to look for other wildlife and different backgrounds and locations, behaviors, and different bears.

Flexibility

Since we’ll be traveling by boat (rather than being stuck at a lodge), we can move with tides and weather patterns to position ourselves for the best photography opportunities. There’s simply no other way to be able to shoot in so many different locations with so many different bears in a 1 week timeframe. Nothing beats being mobile for bear photography in Alaska.

Mother nature doesn’t work on our, your, or anyone else’s schedule. So the ability to travel up and down the coast to various locations is important to a successful bear photography tour. We can rest during the day or do some sightseeing, looking for seals, sea otters, and eagles! One year we even saw two orcas.

Alaska bear with fish catch © Greg Downing

Visit the Greatest Locations in the World for Brown Bear Photography

Another advantage over other bear tours offered is the sheer number of bears here. Instead of heading to a comfortable lodge for the week, with maybe 5–10 bears around, we’ll see countless bears—possibly as many as 30 or 40! Visiting early in the season means bears are hungry, active, and they’ll concentrate on the first available food sources like coastal sedge grasses and protein-rich clams on the shoreline. There’s a good possibility of catching action shots of the bears playing and fighting. Coastal brown bears gather here in incredible numbers and the shooting will be absolutely fantastic.

Alaska bear and snowy mountains © Expeditions Alaska

Magnificent Alaskan mountain ranges provide a backdrop for this Alaska photography tour that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Towering snow-capped peaks, jagged rugged crags, a sea of rich green sedge grass, and the beauty of the Katmai coast make this a fantastic place for those ‘bears in the landscape’ shots that unequivocally declare “Alaska.”

Alaska Wildlife Photography Opportunities

While nothing in nature is 100% guaranteed, this tour will aim to photograph a variety of other species in addition to coastal brown bears. Typically, we’re able to get great photography opportunities with sea otter, Harbor seal, bald eagles, and variety of gulls and other coastal birds and, frequently (but not always) wolves. On some trips we’ve spotted orca and moose. We’ll also look for opportunities to photograph puffins.

We will plan our time to maximize our opportunities with all those species available to us. Weather and countless other factors will play into those decisions as we go.

Bald eagle in Alaska © Expeditions Alaska

Harbor seal close-up © Expeditions Alaska

Brown bear fishing © Expeditions Alaska

What Sets this Alaska Bear Tour Apart

You simply can’t beat local experience when it comes to nature and wildlife photography. On this Alaska bear tour you’ll have two seasoned Alaskan guides, one of which is a professional nature photographer, both working together to offer you the best experience in a small setting with a strict maximum of 8 participants. No other photo tour company can match this.

Leaders

Carl Donohue

Carl brings a wealth of backcountry and photography experience to this tour. He’s photographed Alaska’s coastal brown bears intensively for over 10 years now across much of the state and has solid experience with their behavior. He has also been guiding both backcountry and front country trips for over 10 years, so he’s comfortable in his role as a leader and guide. Carl is also a certified Wilderness First Responder and experienced at dealing with backcountry situations. Having experienced and trained medical help is crucial.

Chuck Keim

Chuck has been running his charter business for over 20 years now, and there’s simply no one in the business with anywhere close to his experience. He’s the person so many of the world’s foremost wildlife photographers, filmmakers, and researchers turn to when they want to do great bear photography. Chuck’s absolutely “the guy.”

Small Group Size

The maximum number of participants for this Alaska bear photography tour is limited to 8. Our small group size is fundamental to making this experience the best if can be for all participants.

Brown bear photography tour © Expeditions Alaska

As Always, Safety First

Both your own and the bears’ safety is paramount. We take the extra step to make sure your photo tour is a safe one. We pay close attention to the bears and their behavior and follow their lead on what’s OK and what’s not OK for us to do. No exceptions.

Brown bears playing © Greg Downing

What to Bring Along

You’ll want to bring your enthusiasm, your love of wilderness, adventure, good times, and a sense of wonder. In the physical sense, bring your camera gear and clothing for a week. Quality rain gear and warm clothing is essential in Alaska at any time of year. You’ll also want to be in decent shape for short day hikes and jaunts along the beach with your camera gear on your back.

A packet full of complete information including specific gear and packing recommendations will be provided to you several months prior to the tour so you can prepare.

Alaska charter flight, Katmai © Expeditions Alaska

Includes

  • Round trip charter flight to/from Kodiak.
  • Discounted lodging at Kodiak should you require staying overnight.
  • All first-rate accommodations on the boat (double occupancy) with sleeping quarters in comfortable cabins for 6 nights.
  • All home-cooked meals on the boat; food will often include fresh seafood, such as halibut or tanner crab, caught and prepared while we are on shore photographing.
  • All guiding services with licensed local guides and first responder certification.
  • All field instruction including help with camera settings, long lens technique, and anything else you’d like to learn.
  • 5 full days shooting plus 2 half days.
  • Satellite phone and emergency equipment.

Does Not Include

  • Transportation between Anchorage and Kodiak.
  • Extra nights in Kodiak or Anchorage (we can help arrange and have discounted lodging in Kodiak).

Dates and Cost

Dates

Main Trip, 10 people maximum

  • August 1–7, 2019 (10 openings)
  • August 7–13, 2019 (9 openings)
  • August 6–12, 2020 (10 openings)
  • August 12–18, 2020 (10 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

  • Trip: $7,995 (2019, 2020)
  • Deposit: $1,000

Trip Details

Dates

Main Trip, 10 people maximum

  • August 1–7, 2019 (10 openings)
  • August 7–13, 2019 (9 openings)
  • August 6–12, 2020 (10 openings)
  • August 12–18, 2020 (10 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

  • Trip: $7,995 (2019, 2020)
  • Deposit: $1,000

Travel Ratings

Moderate Activity
Intermediate Photographers
Based on Land, Sea, Air
Non-Photographers: No

Map

Leaders and Guides

Carl Donohue

“I’m a wilderness advocate, and consider my photography a critical part of that journey. I'm also a fan of the creative process, of creating, of the experience...Continue reading

Chuck Keim

Chuck Keim has been running his charter business for 20 years now, and there’s simply no one in the business with anywhere close to his experience. He’s the...Continue reading

Photo Gallery

Snowy mountain range, Alaska © Expeditions Alaska
Sea otter © Expeditions Alaska
Coastal brown bear in Katmai, Alaska © Greg Downing
Katmai brown bear in grass © Greg Downing
Katmai brown bear in grassy area © Expeditions Alaska
Katmai bear, closeup © Greg Downing
Katmai, Alaska coastal brown bear on grass © Greg Downing
Katmai brown bear with cub © Expeditions Alaska
Katmai, Alaska bears expedition © Expeditions Alaska
Harbor seals on land © Expeditions Alaska
Harbor seals in Alaska © Expeditions Alaska
Group of harbor seals © Expeditions Alaska
Harbor seal closeup portrait © Expeditions Alaska
Harbor seal closeup © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bears resting in sand © Greg Downing
Coastal brown bears playing © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bears laying in grass © Expeditions Alaska
Coastal brown bear © Greg Downing
Coastal brown bear walking, portrait © Greg Downing
Coastal brown bear, running © Greg Downing
Coastal brown bear profile © Greg Downing
Coastal brown bear standing, portrait © Greg Downing
Brown bear fishing and splashing water © Expeditions Alaska
Coastal brown bear cubs © Greg Downing
Coastal brown bear in Alaska in front of mountain range © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bears snuggle © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bears playing © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bears playing on grassy landscape © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bears drinking water © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bear with cub © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bear with carcass © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bear stands on rock © Greg Downing
Brown bear splashing © Greg Downing
Brown bear sitting in grass © Greg Downing
Brown bears play fight © Greg Downing
Photographer photographing bears from distance © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bear in grassy field © Greg Downing
Brown bear in field © Greg Downing
Brown bear in grass © Greg Downing
Brown bear in grass, portrait © Greg Downing
Brown bear fishing with catch © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bear fishing in water splash © Greg Downing
Brown bear fishing in Katmai, Alaska © Greg Downing
Brown bear fishing in Alaska © Greg Downing
Pair of brown bear cubs © Expeditions Alaska
Brown bear cub © Greg Downing
Brown bear cub standing up © Greg Downing
Brown bear closeup portrait © Greg Downing
Brown bear walking on Alaska shoreline © Greg Downing
Brown bears action photography © Expeditions Alaska
Bald eagle in Alaska © Expeditions Alaska
Alaskan brown bears © Greg Downing
Alaska photography tour © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska mountains © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska mountain sunset © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska crabs © Expeditions Alaska
Katmai, Alaska charter flight © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska brown bear fishing © Greg Downing
Alaska bears eating fish © Greg Downing
Alaska bear with fish catch © Greg Downing
Two photographers photographing bear © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska bear and snowy mountains © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska bear and riverbank by mountain © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska bear and mountain portrait © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska bear and mountain landscape © Expeditions Alaska
Alaska bear eating catch © Greg Downing
Alaska bear catches fish © Greg Downing
Alaska bear and mountain © Expeditions Alaska

Registration

To register for this trip fill out and submit your registration form. A non-refundable deposit (above) is required to reserve your spot. See the About Our Trips page for cancellation/refund policies and other important information.

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.

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