I’ve been looking for the perfect Alaska experience to replace my many years of adventure boat trips in Southeast Alaska (our owner/captain has retired), and finally, after months of research, luck, and recommendations from several trusted and knowledgeable friends, I have found that experience. As always, I look for quality experiences and best value. The lodge severely restricts the number of attendees (so no jostling with crowds), and I’ve been on a waiting list for six months, finally scoring a slot for up to six other photographers plus me. I’ll be offering equipment advice ahead of the trip and shooting techniques while we’re there. If time permits, we’ll do individual or group critiquing. For this adventure, we fly in the morning by bushplane (bushplane transport included in fee) from Anchorage to the Lake Clark National Park area, one of the most beautiful corners of Alaska. The region teems with wildlife. We stay in a home-like setting, with all modern amenities (including terrific food, with accommodations made for special dietary needs) and a sweeping view of a tidal inlet. And then for four days right after the long summer solstice (it never gets truly dark) we’ll be photographing brown bears. Experienced guides well versed in bear behaviors will be with us throughout our excursions. We’ll also be making a boat trip to nearby islands loaded with nesting puffins, colorful birds nicknamed “sea clowns.” Often, sea otters frolic in nearby waters.
The bears here are especially photogenic, as many have light brown fur coats. Also, if there are cubs (and we’ll be there at the right time of year for newborns), they sometimes like to ride on Mama’s back. This is also the time when male bears vie for dominance. The bears, although wild, are fairly acclimated to humans, as they are not hunted in this area. I’ve been photographing both brown and black bears for 20 years. Last time I looked in my files I had about 12,000 images of bruins, although they’re not from this part of Alaska. These beautiful animals–always to be respected–have their own personalities.They’re a joy to watch and photograph. We don’t work with blinds or viewing platforms.
For folks who may have some mobility or other health issues, there’s an ATV pulling little trailers that gets us out to the prime bear viewing areas. Even so, walking is involved, sometimes in mud. Rain can be expected, so it’s important to bring raingear and comfortable rubber boots. The lodge provides boots in most sizes. Summer temperatures are typically in the 50s and 60s F.
Here are a few more details about getting to/from the lodge: As for the timing, the floatplane will leave Anchorage on the morning of June 27 at 9 AM, so you need to arrive in Anchorage the day before and overnight. There are a cluster of hotels near the Lake Hood Airstrip, including the Courtyard Marriott, the Lake Front, Alex Suites, and Puffin Inn. The plane leaving the lodge on July 1 would depart at 10 AM and arrive back in Anchorage by 11:30 or so. So don’t book a plane out of Anchorage earlier than say 4 PM on the 1st. Most guests actually overnight in Anchorage on that last day, in case of a weather delay. While rare, it does happen about 10% of the time.
As of December 15, only two spots are left.
I’m requesting a $950 deposit when you sign up, and then the balance of $2700 due May 1, 2020.
Many thanks to Rich and Lori Rothstein for their amazing images.