Brown Bears of Katmai National Park

In Summer

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Katmai National Park and Preserve is one of North America's great wildlife-viewing areas. Katmai was declared a national monument in 1918 to preserve as a living laboratory its cataclysmic 1912 volcanic eruption, particularly the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The intervening years have seen most of the geothermal activity die out, but an equally compelling attraction prompted the expansion of this area into a 4.2-million-acre national park and preserve in 1980—the awesome Alaska brown bear.
"If you are looking for a trip to see Alaskan brown bears (grizzlies) look no further. Brooks Falls is the place to be in July. We saw as many as 20 bears within 100 yards at the same time. They are everywhere and the photo opportunities are fantastic."
- D. Enos

The Brooks River, in the heart of Katmai, is without a doubt the most accessible location in the world for photographing these magnificent animals. During the latter part of June and all of July a massive sockeye salmon run in the river attracts the bears, which come from the surrounding countryside to feed on the fish as they return to spawn after spending three years in the North Pacific. The bears, intent on fishing, give us the opportunity to photograph them in a variety of habitats, from a beautiful waterfall where they forage for jumping salmon to a quiet bend in the river where mothers can bring their cubs. Other viewing platforms, built at the waterfall and at two additional strategic locations along the river, expand our bear photography potential and increase the number of people able to visit the platforms at one time. Walking one mile along a woodland trail attains access to the legendary Falls Platform.

Cabin accommodations at the Brooks Lodge offer bear photography literally outside your cabin door. There is a pleasant lodge and dining room for relaxing after a great day in the field.

For more information on this trip, check out this trip report in the Photo Safaris blog.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Jul 2)

We meet in our Anchorage hotel lobby at 6:30 PM for orientation and dinner. (D)

Day 2

Fly to King Salmon and continue by floatplane to Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. After a ranger-led safety discussion, we begin encounters with the Katmai wilderness. (BLD)

Days 3–4

Our days are spent in serious pursuit of photography, with bears as the primary subject. Most are seen singly or in pairs—except at the Brooks Falls where several may fish at once. Occasionally a mother and cubs can be seen and photographed, or a couple of very large and extremely handsome males put in an appearance. We also spend some time focusing on leaping salmon, lichens and mosses, verdant ferns, blooming wildflowers, a variety of birds—and maybe even a moose. Informal discussions about the best ways to capture the dramatic action and sometimes complex exposure problems at the river are held—both on location and back at the lodge. (BLD)

Day 5

After a final morning of bear photography—the exact time depending on flight schedules—we return to King Salmon and Anchorage. (BLD)

Day 6 (Jul 7)

Participants may depart at any time today. (B)

The trip to Katmai to photograph brown bears was absolutely terrific—it exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend this tour.
—J. Torre

Photographing bears in their natural environment is exhilarating. Especially when the tour leader exclaims that the photo you got of a salmon just about to enter the bear's open mouth is a 'screamer'!
—D. Wisler
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Brown Bears of Katmai National Park

Jul 02, 2017 - Jul 07, 2017

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa or MasterCard. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of entire trip fee
100% of entire trip fee

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Brown Bears of Katmai National Park
  • The world's most accessible location for brown bear photography
  • Cabins are just minutes from the three key bear-viewing platforms
  • Bears are habituated to human presence
  • Shoot the bears catching salmon at the falls—like no other place in the world
Jul 02 - Jul 07, 2017
Fee: $4,495 from Anchorage, Alaska
Deposit: $500
Limit: 14
Tour Leaders
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