Accommodations; services of professional expedition leader(s), boat crew and local staff; all meals from dinner on day 1 through breakfast on final day; beer and wine on board the Ursus; some gratuities; airport transfers on day 1 and final day; gear including chest waders for shore excursions (if you require an especially large or small size, please let us know prior to departure); all activities and entrance fees, all taxes, permits and service fees.
Travel to and from the start and end point of your trip; some alcoholic beverages; some gratuities; passport and visa fees (if any); optional activities; items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry and internet, etc.); airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes (if any); required medical evacuation insurance; optional travel protection insurance; insurance of any kind; cost of internal air, which includes all floatplane flights within the itinerary ($595 in 2019 or $695 for 2020, to be added to your invoice).
Payment & Cancellation
In order to confirm this trip, a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 121 days – 100% of deposit plus $100 cancellation fee
120 to 61 days – 50% of total trip cost
60 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost
Terms & Conditions
This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.
Arrival & Departure
The 8-day Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter begins and ends in Kodiak, Alaska (ADQ). Plan to arrive in Kodiak in time for a 7:00pm welcome dinner and orientation on day 1. Plan to depart Kodiak anytime on day 8, though we strongly recommend booking an afternoon flight for the unlikely event that poor weather prevents the scheduled return time by floatplane on day 7 of the itinerary.
Airport transfers are included on day 1 and on the final day of the trip. Exact times of the floatplane flights between Kodiak and the ship Ursus vary according to weather and other logistical factors beyond our control. Should travelers be required to remain in Kodiak longer than anticipated due to inclement weather, either before, after or during the trip, they will be responsible for their own expenses.
Most floatplane flights will depart Kodiak to meet the Ursus in late morning and return to Kodiak mid-afternoon. The exact times will vary according to weather and other logistical factors. There is a strict luggage limit of 50 lbs of baggage per person (including carry-ons and camera equipment) on floatplane flights. Hard shell luggage is not recommended. We recommend bringing a small duffel bag to pack for the few days on the boat. Any excess luggage can be stored at the Kodiak Inn or Land’s End Resort and retrieved upon return to Kodiak.
A moderate level of physical fitness is required for this small ship-based Alaska adventure, as it involves watching grizzlies on foot in open areas. At times, travelers must walk at least two miles to reach the daily bear-viewing location, in varied conditions including rough, uneven terrain, shallow water, and through mud while wearing chest waders (which can feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable). Transfers between the Ursus and the floatplane to the Zodiacs used to access the shore require the ability to make a large step up or down onto an unstable surface. For safety reasons, it is not possible to divide the group or for individuals to stay in one place while the rest of the group moves. Once at the bear-viewing site, physical activity is quite limited; you may spend several hours in essentially one spot with little movement. It is generally not possible to view bears from the Ursus. In order to maximize bear-viewing opportunities, be prepared to spend long days ashore, returning late to the ship for dinner. Travelers must be of sound health and able to maintain a positive attitude in a wild and remote setting.
Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at a 75% supplement for 2019 and 50% for 2020 of the per-person listed rate in select cabins upon availability. If requested, we will plan to match all travelers on land as well as on the ship. If we are unable to find a roommate match for you, you will not be charged the single supplement.
Families & Children
Due the expedition nature and isolated location of this program, children must be 16 years old at time of departure.
Emergency medical evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $250,000 per person. If you decline the operator’s insurance, then you must provide proof of third party insurance. Trip cancellation insurance is optional but highly recommended. Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.
This trip involves watching grizzlies on foot in unprotected open areas. While bears are unpredictable and sighting them can never be guaranteed, groups on this tour have never missed seeing them. The unpredictability of bears can also lead to dangerous situations. They are wild animals, and all travelers must heed the rules set by staff and understand that this trip can potentially present harmful situations. All travelers must take their own safety into consideration before and when joining this adventure. Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s and guides’ discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.
A Note on Seasons
In June, the world’s largest coastal grizzlies converge to socialize, mate and feast from the sea. Long, warm days supercharge the rich marine habitat, with seawater flooding into glacial river valleys to create intertidal meadows where bears congregate. These are some of the world’s most active brown bear mating grounds, with the season peaking in mid-to-late June. Play among sows, cubs and sub-adults is at its most rambunctious.
July is a month of transition. The bears continue grazing, while some sows come into estrus, offering potential opportunities to witness complex and fascinating mating rituals. While salmon runs are unpredictable, the fish often begin congregating at river mouths by late July. As mating season winds down, many large nomadic males disperse while females and their cubs loll in the rich habitat. July encounters typically include intimate time watching infants nurse and families play and graze on sweet wildflower meadows.
For coastal grizzlies, August is spent gorging on plentiful pink salmon. At Geographic Harbor and Kinak Bay, bears converge at shallow tidal estuaries to feast on fat-rich salmon. Huge, solitary males, and females with as many as three cubs, prowl the banks and plunge into cold streams, poised to pounce on unsuspecting fish.
September brings dramatic change, an optimal time for photographers hoping to capture images of fishing bears exhibiting their most fierce physical appearance in beautiful seasonal light. There is some berry grazing, but mostly the bears are fishing. By now they are largely satiated and healthy, with thick coats ready for winter. Fall foliage is red, orange and gold, and rain is more frequent.