The Alaska Peninsula is incomparably rich and rugged. In this week of adventure, we will show you two wildlife icons of Alaska’s southwest coast: walrus and brown bear. We will spend three days in the company of walrus and sea birds on the Bering Sea coast and three more days with enormous brown bears and salmon on the Pacific Coast of Katmai National Park. This unique trip offers volcanoes, beach combing, hiking, wilderness solitude and world-class wildlife viewing.
The volcanic Alaska Peninsula reaches into the North Pacific and divides the Bering Sea from the Gulf of Alaska. The Bering Sea side hosts a landscape and wildlife representing the Arctic. On the Pacific side, flora and fauna from more temperate latitudes thrive. Join us this July for an adventure in this rich and wild part of Alaska.
Katmai National Park boasts some of the highest densities of brown bears and the largest brown bears in the world. We plan to camp near these impressive animals so that we can watch them feed and interact in their wilderness home. From our camp in the flower-filled dunes, we can watch sea birds fish, observe bears cruising the beach, and watch the dramatic weather move over this wild landscape.
Our days will be filled with exploration. Tundra hiking is good, beach combing and tide pooling offer twice daily forays among the clams, chitons, anemones, and glass fishing floats. And of course there are the stunningly powerful and majestic bears which can almost always be found either on the beach or in the lush meadows near camp.
Camping on the Pacific Coast among numerous bears and formidable weather may seem a little intimidating to some. Our sturdy and comfortable base camp including a big “cook-tent” near the beach provides adequate shelter no matter what the weather throws at us. By surrounding our camp with a portable electric fence, we take some of the worry out of having an inquisitive bear investigating our gear. With our qualified guides to teach you bear etiquette and our quality equipment you will be able to relax and enjoy the weather and wildlife in one of the most remote and wild places on earth.
500 miles west of Anchorage on the Bering Sea Coast, where black sand beaches stretch beyond the horizon, is one of the most reliable places in Alaska to observe and photograph walrus. Cape Seniavin hosts hundreds, and often thousands, of walrus every summer. Large groups of bull walrus haul-out on the beach to rest between feeding trips in the rich waters of the Bering Sea. The sandy bluffs of the cape provide an ideal vantage for watching and photographing these exceptional animals as they come and go through the surf. Unlike other haul-outs such as Round Island, here the walrus can be photographed and observed from the beach.
You may choose this trip for the walrus, but you will find that the Bering Sea coast offers much more. The long beaches provide hours of beachcombing for glass fishing floats and other treasures from the sea. There are no trees on the wind-swept western coast of Alaska, but the vegetation is lush and wildflowers blanket the tundra. The long beach, cliff, clear water creeks, and distant volcanoes make this a stunning landscape. A sizable colony of Kittiwakes and Murres on the cliffs add to the already good birding. Bears roam the rivers and beaches and we can expect to see smaller creatures like foxes.
Just getting to Cape Seniavin is an adventure, involving several airplanes and a low tide beach landing. Once we arrive and set up our camp we should have the place almost all to ourselves and walrus are sure to outnumber people. It should also be noted that we will take extreme care not to disturb the walrus. Precautions will include camping far from the colony which will require us to hike nearly a mile each way to view the walrus.
Like all our base camp trips, there is as much or as little exertion and adventure as you choose. Your guides will be happy to lead hikes beyond the horizon, accompany you to watch and interpret animal behavior, or just provide nourishment and insight while you find your own enjoyment in the wilderness. We will take great care not to bother walrus or bears and will always prioritize your safety and the safety of wildlife over good photos.
This is an exceptional wildlife trip, but it is not for everyone. The Alaska Peninsula is infamous for harsh weather, high winds, and fog. Air travel is more likely than not to be delayed. Flexibility and a relaxed attitude are as important as good rain gear.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guides this afternoon for a pre-trip meeting in King Salmon, AK. Time and location TBD. Lodging on your own.
Weather permitting our flight down the Alaska Peninsula departs in the morning. We fly over the great volcanic spine of the Peninsula and then into the steep fjords of the Pacific Coast. After a bit of reconnoitering, we land on the beach near to where we plan on camping. The mountains are close, vegetation lush, and (with luck) there are bears everywhere.
We have 2 full days to explore and enjoy the Pacific Coast and the bears who live here. We may see bears fishing the creeks, grazing the sedge meadows, or scouring the tide flats. When not entranced by the bears, we can hike up the valley, explore down the beach, or pick a nearby promontory for views of the rocky coast and storm lashed Pacific.
Wake to the sound of breakers and Kittiwakes. After breakfast we pack camp and await the return of our pilots. We fly over the peninsula and down the Bering Sea Coast scanning the beaches, observing the fishing fleet, catching glimpses of volcanoes and marveling at the enormous wilderness below. By mid-day we should be on the beach near the walrus colony. After setting up camp we can investigate our surroundings, climb the cape and enjoy the wind and walrus.
Weather and wildlife will guide our activities. We will camp nearly a mile from the walrus colony as to not disturb them. The day will start with a hike down the beach and across the tundra. Walrus can be observed from the beach or we can climb to the top of the bluffs for sweeping views up and down the Alaska Peninsula. Below, the walrus should be resting and bellowing. When not watching walrus or sea birds, we can wander the beach and tundra, enjoying this remote and unique landscape. Our weather-worthy camp turns the storm ravaged coast into a home away from home and allows us to focus on the wildlife we have come to see.
A last walk on the beach before packing up and listening for the plane. Weather permitting, we fly up the Bering Sea Coast to King Salmon arriving late in the afternoon. Lodging in King Salmon on your own.
Scheduled and charter flights beyond King Salmon, Alaska
Professional guide service
Wholesome, delicious, and mostly-organic food while in the wilderness
Weather worthy camp, including stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filters, electric fencing, expedition cook tent, etc.
Repair and safety equipment including satellite phone, first aid kit etc.
Select Rental Gear is available from Arctic Wild.
Non-camp lodging (lodging in King Salmon is on your own)
Non-camp meals (hotel and meals if/ when there are weather delays are your responsibility)
Personal clothing and footwear.
Gratuity for guide(s).
Though the temperatures should not be extreme, we can expect wind and storms and sun and rain and fog, possibly all in the same day. The area is known as the “birthplace of the winds”. Travel delays due to weather are likely. Rain is assured.