I bet you anything you have never seen brown bears like those in
Katmai National Park. Maybe you have never seen a brown bear? You
havenít? Perhaps you consider seeing a brown bear in the wild a
dream that could never come true? I know exactly what you mean. For
the first 25 years of my life, spent mostly in Spain, it would have
never occurred to me one day Iíd see a bear, brown or any other
color, for that matter.
But then I moved to England. Yes, I know, England is home to even
fewer bears than Spain; in fact, the last one died at the hands of a
man from Radnage, a little town in Buckinghamshire, a few centuries
back. However, the few savings that my modest wages as a translator
allowed started piling up over the years and... one day, I decided
to cross the big puddle: Canada and Alaska could not be as far as
they tried to make out on the map.
Against all odds predicted by family and friends, it was almost done
sooner than said. Heading north along the famous Sea to Sky Highway
in British Columbia, my first bear ever, dressed in a gorgeous,
shiny coat, black as coal, was busy devouring clumps of the freshest
spring greens by the side of the road, gluttonously and totally
oblivious to the seaquake it had just sparked in my life.
Thus, in little over three years, I found myself drooling from
excitement at the sight of the magnificent polar bear in Churchill,
Manitoba; watching close-range interactions of Ursus americanus, the
black bear, in northern Minnesota; enjoying the beginning of summer
with the grizzly of the Khutzeymateen in British Columbia, and the
end of the fall and the salmon runs with its brother, the brown bear
of Knight Inlet, much further to the Canadian south. All these
experiences were a dream come true. I was ecstatic and on the verge
of addiction Ė the more I tasted, the more I wanted; my enthusiasm
became healthily sickly. Now, during the summer of 2005, a trip with
Katmai Coastal Bear Tours along the coast of Katmai National Park
has finished me off.
When I arrived in Kodiak, Alaska, in the middle of August, I didnít
know what to expect. Sure, the idea was to get to see some of the
biggest brown bears in the world while they go about their business,
i.e. eating, sleeping, playing, and generally trying to stay alive.
I wasnít sure how many I'd see or how often Iíd get to see them, but
I soon realized that with John Rogers and Katmai Coastal Bear Tours,
the question is not how many or when, but at what speed you can take
in what's around you. If you are like me and it takes some effort
from your part to actually believe you can be happily sitting on the
beach, surrounded by brown bears of all sizes, ages, and color
combinations, youíre gonna have some trouble introducing a pinch of
mundane realism to your stay on board. Watching bears on the coast
of Katmai National Park goes beyond the concept of spectacular.
To all this, you have to add the wild, overwhelming character of
Alaska, the incredible natural setting of the Katmai coast, and the
presence, constant and irresistible, of the North Pacific. The
experience with Katmai Coastal Bear Tours is simply unbeatable.
I have no doubts you will find your cabin extremely comfortable, the
bathroom just as good as the one at home, and the dining area and
kitchen homey and sparkling. Oh, yes, the kitchen! I canít start to
tell you whatís cooking in that kitchen! You will struggle to find a
culinary urgency that cannot be satisfied, be it whim or necessity.
And the time you donít spend eating, sleeping or relaxing, you can
spend learning as much as you are able or willing to absorb. Guests
have access to a select range of books and videos on ursine matters,
although, come to ask me, the crew are the best encyclopedia. They
are eager to exchange views, share knowledge, and tell you the
stories and anecdotes they have gathered during their many trips
along the Alaskan coast.
Anyway, youíd better prepare yourself properly for this because this
is a bear watching and learning experience unlike any other and
around the clock. And when you get back home, youíll find yourself
unable to sleep. Before, you didnít quite know how to turn those
dreams into bears; now, the bears don't step aside to let the dreams
take over. Before you know it, you'll be just like me, planning your
next trip with Katmai Coastal Bear Tours. I bet you anything!
See Ana's Photos
HERE and HERE
June Bears |
| August Bears
| Ana's Story