Alaska Brown Bear and Puffin Safari 2024

July 4–9, 2024

Brown Bears and Puffins in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Lake Clark National Park is 4 million acres of pristine wilderness, roughly twice the size of Yellowstone. Accessible only by boat or small plane, Silver Salmon Creek Lodge is located along a rich coastal section of this spectacular park in the heart of coastal brown bear habitat. Coastal brown bears are a larger cousin of the grizzly bear, which is another brown bear.

Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, with its prime access to coastal brown bears in their natural habitat, is an extremely desirable destination for photographers from all over the world and reservations are hard to come by—this trip is limited to six guests only. The lodge is rustic but comfortable, and the meals are fabulous!

This is a rare and unique opportunity to spend time close to these majestic animals. This is not a location where we’ll shoot from a bus, as in Denali, or from a platform, as in Brooks Falls. We’ll be on the ground as close as you can safely be! The bears have become habituated to small groups of people, which allows for incredible photo opportunities.

Early July is when new cubs come out for the first time, so we should have amazing opportunities to photograph these adorable newcomers. Often, bears are right out in front of the lodge. But we’ll also walk or be transported by our onsite guides via ATV-pulled carts to where the bears are grazing in tall grasses, digging for clams, playing in the surf, chasing salmon, nursing, or wrestling each other.

In addition, we’ll take a half-day tour by boat over to a puffin rookery. At this time of year, we should be able to photograph adult puffins bringing small fish to their young. We may also find bald eagles, black-legged kittiwakes, black oystercatchers, parakeet auklets, common murres, trumpeter swans, otters, and harbor seals.

The Silver Salmon Creek area boasts stunning scenery, and we’ll have the opportunity to take short hikes. Canoes and kayaks are also available for guests to use.

We’ll share and critique photos and practice post-processing techniques at the lodge during down time and any weather delays. Wayde will be available all day to help you achieve the best photos possible.

4 Nights

5 Travelers

Activity Level

⬤ ◯ ◯ ◯ ◯

$6,020

(No single supplement)

Itinerary

Fly into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Check into your hotel.

Meet at Wiiliwaw Rooftop Restaurant (or similar) at 7:00 p.m. for dinner and to get to know one another.

Highlights

  • Arrival in Anchorage
  • Group dinner

Meals

  • Not included

Accommodations

  • Not included

Hotel shuttle/Uber/cab to Lake Hood small aircraft airport. At approximately 9 a.m., we’ll depart in our small planes to the Silver Salmon Creek Lodge. Upon arrival around noon, we’ll check in, get familiar with the grounds, have a bear briefing by the lodge staff, and then head out for our first bear excursion!

Highlights

  • Stunning views during our small aircraft flight into Lake Clark National Park
  • Orientation to lodge
  • Instruction by lodge staff regarding protocol with animals
  • Excursion to photograph coastal brown bears
  • Image review to make sure everyone’s gear is performing as desired

Meals

  • Breakfast at your hotel (not included)
  • Lunch and dinner at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge

Accommodations

  • Silver Salmon Creek Lodge

Important Notes

In Alaska weather varies greatly. We may encounter achingly beautiful, clear skies, a lightly overcast cloud cover, or heavy rain. We’ve experienced all in every month of summer. The days will still be wonderfully long, and we may experience all weather phases within a matter of hours. There’s no time of year that guarantees optimal weather, but we’ll make sure to be prepared for any conditions and use any down time constructively, practicing photo editing and post-processing techniques.

Wildlife, too, can be unpredictable, so there’s always a chance the bears may not be around. The likelihood of this is small, however. In the five years we’ve guided tours to SSCL, it’s never happened.

The lodge does not sell alcohol, but we’re welcome to bring our own. We’ll get a beverage order from everyone prior to the trip and fly your beverages out with us.

Morning, afternoon, and evening excursions to seek bears. The lodge staff helps us decide which one of these days will be best for taking our boat tour to the puffin rookery.

Highlights

  • Multiple excursions daily to see coastal brown bears
  • Photography and post-processing instruction
  • Group-share and review of images
  • Hiking, canoeing, and kayaking (optional)
  • Boat trip to puffin rookery
  • Incredible food

Meals

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge
  • Alcohol available only if ordered prior to the trip

Accommodations

  • Silver Salmon Creek Lodge

We’ll leave Silver Salmon Creek Lodge early in the morning in small aircraft, back to Anchorage. We’ll arrive at Lake Hood at approximately 1:00 p.m. (Lake Hood is close––approx. 5 minutes––to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.) The trip officially ends today after our arrival in Anchorage.

Meals

  • No meals included

Accommodations

  • No accommodations included
Note: All activities are weather-dependent; if poor weather keeps us inside, we’ll practice photo editing and post-processing techniques.

Packing Lists

Recommended

  • Camera body (DSLR, mirrorless, compact)
  • Memory cards
  • Telephoto lens for wildlife photography. 400mm or greater.
  • Wide-angle lens for landscapes. At least 24mm or wider preferred.
  • Batteries & chargers
  • Laptop or tablet for downloading images, preferably with image processing software installed such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Lightroom Classic.

Optional

  • Tripod
  • Optical lens filters (for wide-angle and mid-range lenses): neutral density filters, graduated neutral density filters, circular polarizers, UV filters. Questions about these? Just let us know and we’ll help you out!
  • Second camera body
  • Adjustable shoulder strap or camera clip for walking with camera
  • Cable shutter release or remote shutter release
  • Lens cleaning kit
  • Microfiber cloths for cleaning/drying lenses
  • Waterproof covers for camera bag, cameras, and lenses
  • External storage drive for backup
  • Spare batteries
  • Spare memory cards

Because the weather can change so quickly, layering is a good strategy for Alaska in every season! Breathable, moisture-wicking underlayers, long pants, warm top layer, and waterproof hiking boots are all recommended. 

  • Fishing waders or high waterproof boots if you have them
  • Rain jacket and rain pants
  • Longsleeve shirts (breathable, moisture-wicking recommended over cotton)
  • Lightweight breathable long underwear (moisture-wicking synthetic recommended over cotton)
  • Comfortable outdoor pants
  • Waterproof hiking/walking boots
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Umbrella
  • Toiletries
  • Ziplock bags or dry bags
  • Headlamp
  • Water bottle

FAQs

The deposit to hold your spot on the tour is non-refundable provided that the tour runs as scheduled. For this reason, we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance will often cover unexpected trip cancelations, delays, lost luggage reimbursement, and other travel-related expenses that may arise unexpectedly (policies vary). Should the tour itself be canceled for any reason, we will do our very best to refund any deposit amounts that have not already been forwarded to secure airfares or hotel accommodations.

There are no long treks built into our itinerary. We walk in wet and boggy marsh grasses and along the beach in order to find good vantage points for photographs, but we will not be hiking or trekking over any great distances or for long periods of time.

The daytime highs this time of year range between 50 and 65. We’ve also seen 70s this time of year at the lodge, so be sure to have layers. Weather varies greatly in Alaska. We may encounter achingly beautiful, clear skies, a lightly overcast cloud cover, or heavy rain. We’ve experienced all in every month of summer.

  • 4 nights accommodation at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Flight to and from the lodge and Anchorage
  • Park entrance fees
  • Private naturalist guide
  • Private photography guide
  • Airfare to/from Anchorage
  • Meals not noted in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance (We HIGHLY recommend travel insurance!)
  • Guide gratuities (any tips are earned and not expected)
  • Personal equipment
  • Costs for changes to your itinerary for reasons beyond our control

Meet Your Guide

Wayde Carroll

Principal and Photography Instructor