Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge covers about two thirds of Kodiak Island, as well as other islands in the archipelago, such as Uhanik and Afognak, famous for its red peaks as well as the entire Ban Island. Administered from offices in Kodiak, this scenic beauty contains seven major rivers and about a hundred streams. There are no roads in the park, which was established in 1941 to protect the grizzly bears from over-hunting.
There are now nearly 3,000 grizzly bears across the archipelago and these massive creatures can reach 10 feet in height standing on their hind legs. We prefer to explore here via small boat and from the ground, enabling unique encounters as we glide through rockbound coves and tread trails lined with wild flowers and Sitka spruce. The best time to see the bears is between July and September, however the whale migration begins before this in April with the grey whale, then June brings Fin, Minke, Humpback and Sei whales. Other marine mammals include dall and white sided porpoise, stellar sea lions and northern sea otters. Back on dry land, you may spot little brown bats, tundra vole, short-tailed weasel, red fox and river otter. Species such as Roosevelt elk, mountain goat, muskrat and red squirrel have all been introduced and can be spotted too. All five species of salmon are found in the waters and there are millions of sea birds, including 600 recorded pairs of nesting eagles.
The best way to explore is via small boat, offering a terrific chance to enjoy the silence, broken only by the calls of eagles. There are also some small, remote cabins and lodges off the main roads. Accessible via air from anchorage, or by ferry, there are unlimited areas to explore via foot or kayak and the hundreds of peaks, up to 4,000 foot, lush spruce forest and rugged coastline, combined with the tundra and sandy beaches to form a mysteriously unique landscape, not often traversed by visitors.
Our most popular and exclusive wilderness trip to this area is aboard our basic Grizzly Cruiser.
Tracking bears on foot and being only a few metres away is both adrenalin pumping and one of the best photographic bear viewing trips that you can experience.