Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alaska - Part 3 - Grizzlies of Katmai

Sunit and I have run into bears unexpectedly twice before. The first time left us scared - we were all alone on a hike in Yosemite. The second time was jaw dropping - we saw a sow and 2 cubs crossing the road, from the safety of our car.

So it was no surprise that one of the items on our itinerary to Alaska was a visit to Katmai - home to the grizzly bear. The Katmai National Park has the largest concentration of brown bears in the world. It also provides one of the safest environs to see bears. There are viewing platforms along the mouth of Brooks river and Brooks falls and though one has to leave the safety of the platform when going from one platform to another (about a mile or more apart), this is still the best way to see grizzlies closely without any need for binoculars or zoom lens. When the salmon visit the river for spawning, about 70-80 bears congregate at the brooks falls to catch fish.

Our final day saw us making a day trip to Katmai. Our travel plans were booked through Katmailand - We had a PenAir flight to King Salmon and from there a 30 minute float plane ride to the park. While we were on a day trip I would definitely suggest that people wanting to explore should spend atleast one night at the park and preferably two. But that will require planning months if not a year in advance since lodging at the park sells out really soon (there are very few options - a campground with a 60 person limit and a lodge with a similar limit) for the months when the fish are spawning.

When we visited the park, the fish were few because of a commercial fishing day right before we came. But there were bears still coming to the falls and the river to check for fish. Atleast 2 of the bears we saw were within 10 feet from us.

Some shots of these mighty creatures ....









6 comments:

Lekhni said...

Lucky you! Two trips to Yosemite and I've not seen a single bear :(

As for the "safety of the car" part, I thought cars were safe too, until I saw a video of a bear in Yosmite breaking open the window of a parked car, jumping into the driver's seat and making off with a bag containing food!

maduraiveeran said...

Awesome pictures. I have heard from my colleageue how dangerous Grizzlies can be.

nku said...

Good pictures. Especially the grizzly waiting for the fish, worthy of some cover!

Pooja Aggarwal said...

Lekhni: Honestly its not lucky when you run into one a trail where there is no one else for miles around. And we felt safe in the car, becoz we had the option to drive off if need be.
I have seen those videos of Yosemite bears too, I believe they are too habituated to humans around

Maduraiveeran: Grizzlies are dangerous but for the most part they want to avoid humans - I would be more scared of a polar bear - they are the ones that can smell you from miles away and come to hunt you down

nku: Thanks nku...

Mridula said...

Interesting account Pooja, and lovely pictures.

Vamsee said...

Oh you are so lucky to have been there. We wanted to go to Katmai when we went to Alaska in 04, but it was too expensive.
Nice pictures and good work on the blog