Bald Eagles, Sea Otters & Coastal Wildlife of Kachemak Bay, Alaska

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For wildlife photographers, fierce bald eagles and endearing sea otters rank high on the list of iconic animals to be included in any nature shooter's North America portfolio. Homer, Alaska, the small fishing port at “the end of the road” on Kachemak Bay is our headquarters for extraordinary eagle and otter photography along the southern shores of the Kenai Peninsula—currently the very best place in North America for bald eagle photography.
"Loved my trip with you guys! Loved that the trip leader was listening to us and made changes if needed. The boat size was perfect for the number of photographers! Not WOULD...but WILL go back for sure!"
- T. Gagnon
From our base at a comfortable, upscale hotel at the end of the Homer Spit we have five full days of daily eagle and otter photography from a privately chartered boat—for six hours each day and with only five participants. This trip is virtually hassle-free with all lodging, meals, boat fees and ground transportation included in an exceptional photo tour itinerary.

We have opportunities to create a wide range of bald eagle images, including eagles in flight, diving and interacting, as well as scores of eagles perched in ancient shoreline conifers and on weathered driftwood scattered on scenic rocky beaches. The bays and quiet harbors in the area are bustling with rafts of otters at this time of year—females with their pups as well as large groups of males. Because of extensive boating activity in this area the otters are unusually unwary and allow us to approach them at close range in our boat.

Our primary goal is to create great images of bald eagles in flight. Most of our photography from our chartered boat will be handheld. This is particularly convenient as it allows for quicker camera adjustments—and ease of movement around our vessel—as we capture those dramatic flight shots. With ample time on shore, we can make tight close-up images of eagles, as well as dramatic shots of birds in flight and perched against the dramatic backdrop of some of Alaska’s most photogenic snowcapped maritime mountains.

During our extensive boat excursions, we may also encounter mountain goats, harbor seals, and a variety of birds, including harlequin and long-tailed ducks, Barrow's goldeneyes, common and red-breasted mergansers, surf scoters, black-legged kittiwakes and glaucous and mew gulls.  Moose are also commonly seen during short lunchtime van excursions from our hotel. Due to the moderating seawater temperature, at this time of year wildlife is densely concentrated along the temperate coast and is at its peak numbers. Later, in little more than a month, all of these animals will disperse to nest or mate and give birth over a widespread area and become inaccessible to most photographers.

Join us at the southern tip of the Kenai Mountains, amidst the pristine waters and rugged landscapes of Kachemak Bay, and capture truly outstanding images of majestic bald eagles and endearing northern sea otters.
 

World-class Photography with a World-class Company


Our Bald Eagles, Sea Otters & Coastal Wildlife of Southeast Alaska photo tour ranks at the top of eagle photography shoots to be found anywhere in the world. Sea otterWorking with as many as 100 bald eagles at a time or dozens of otters within sight on many of our boat trips, the possibility of creating incredible eagle and otter images is exceptionally good.  While there are many ways to photograph individual bald eagles and sea otters at various locations in North America, there are virtually none that can offer the excitement and quality of photography that this trip provides.  What sets this eagles and otters photo shoot apart from all the rest?  Plenty!

Benefit From Our Experience
We’ve offered photography tours in Alaska for more than 40 years. We have decades of experience specifically with trips to photograph bald eagles and other wildlife in the Homer-Kachemak Bay area. Over the years we’ve built strong relationships with our exceptional accommodation, transportation and service providers. Our trip offers an unparalleled photography and nature experience that stands in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of large, crowded Alaska cruises that all visit virtually the same touristy ports of call.

Great Photography—Just Steps from Your Door
We stay at the renowned Land’s End Resort located on the beach at the tip of the dynamic Homer Spit. Our location is a nature photography hotspot where eagles perch on driftwood, otters and seals drift by with the current, and our backdrop is a spectacular mountain panorama that is bathed in ever-changing light. Our accommodations are so close to the photography action that you could literally shoot some of it from your bedroom window! Our boat launch is a mere five minute drive from the resort, so we’re off to enjoy each day of photography in no time.

Small Group Size
We limit our group to five photographers and one leader.  This means there’s plenty of space for gear on our boat and in our van and it also allows us to spread out when photographing. With fewer participants we can move more nimbly and with less impact on both wildlife and habitat. Your photo leader is always nearby to help you get the best photos possible and answer your questions.
 
The Right Boat for the Right Place
We’ve chartered a newly-built boat that is an exceptional platform from which to photograph wildlife. The boat’s bow opens as a ramp (landing craft style) allowing easy shore access at remote beaches. With a shallow draft, our boat can gets us into areas where bigger boats can’t go. Its cozy heated cabin provides a respite from the elements whenever we need a break from the shooting action.

Check out Joe Van Os' trip report from our Alaska Bald Eagles 2022 photo tours
For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Feb 18 or Feb 24 2024)
Fly to Anchorage, Alaska, and continue on a short 45-minute flight to Homer on the Kenai Peninsula. Flights to Homer are operated by Ravn Airlines. We meet this evening for orientation and dinner. (D)
 
Days 2–6
We have scheduled five days of eagle and otter photography by privately chartered boat. We usually return to our hotel for lunch and a break before our afternoon session on the boat. Our schedule each day allows for flexibility due to tidal conditions or the possibility of poor morning weather. Conditions can change rapidly, from sun and clouds one minute to overcast and snowing the next.

We explore Kachemak Bay, following the wildlife on the water, along the beaches and mudflats, and at the green fringe of shoreline conifers. Action shots of bald eagles dominate our sessions, with opportunities for shooting onshore portraits of these compelling, majestic birds. We approach otters as we encounter them for portraits and with females nursing their young. Throughout our shooting days, the dramatic vistas of serrate mountains, glaciers, and lichen-encrusted rocky cliffs command the background. (BLD)

Day 7 (Feb 24 or Mar 1)
Participants depart Homer for Anchorage in time for late flights home. (B) 
 
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Bald Eagles, Sea Otters & Coastal Wildlife of Kachemak Bay, Alaska

Feb 18, 2024 - Mar 07, 2024


ENROLLMENT CONDITIONS
1. REGISTRATION
A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.

2. PAYMENTS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following apply:

Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.

If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.

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

3. TRIP INSURANCE
We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

4. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
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, including viral illnesses, 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. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

5. CONTACT SCHEDULE
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, and applicable health advisories. 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 email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to info@photosafaris.com.

6. PHOTO SAFARI TRIP FEE INCLUSIONS
Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these 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, internal tour 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, 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.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is 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 accommodation 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.

7. LOGISTICS
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 is 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, as well as 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 people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

8. RESPONSIBILITY
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy 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, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, 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 flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, 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, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit 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; 4) 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 5) 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 signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned 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.


ENROLLMENT CONDITIONS AGREEMENT & RELEASE & ASSUMPTION OF RISK
I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

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, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Bald Eagles, Sea Otters & Coastal Wildlife of Kachemak Bay, Alaska: Easy Activity Level

Van and boat travel. Morning boat departures return to hotel for lunch and break before returning to the boat for an afternoon photo session. Some “moderately rough” sea conditions may occasionally be encountered when crossing open water. Temperatures are generally near freezing requiring warm winter gear and warm waterproof rubber boots. Be prepared for precipitation in the form of rain or snow. Expect occasional snow and ice on some walkways. There are no toilets on the boat requiring landing the boat and use of "the bush."

Trip Details
Multiple Departure Dates 2024
Fee: $5,995 from Homer, Alaska
Deposit: $1,500
Limit: 5 participants
Activity Level: EasyEasy

Tour 1: Feb 18 – Feb 24, 2024

Tour 2: Feb 24 – Mar 1, 2024

Single Supplement:$760


 
 
Highlights
  • Five days of eagle and otter photography aboard our exclusively chartered boat with occasional short shore photo excursions—generally 3 hours in the morning, restaurant lunch break, 2-3 hours in the afternoon
  • Photograph dozens of bald eagles in action—flying, diving, fighting—against a classic, pristine Alaskan mountain backdrop
  • “Shoot” unwary sea otters with many females and pups and large rafting groups of males’ plus a variety of varied coastal wildlife and spectacular forest landscapes
  • No need for repacking—only one comfortable, upscale and convenient hotel for the entire trip
  • Trip limited to 5 participants
  • Trip includes all meals, lodging at Land’s End Resort, boat charter and ground transportation—no need to rent a car
 
Tour Leaders
Joe Van Os

Joe Van Os

 
Photographing the Bald Eagles of Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska is an excellent tour. These birds are majestic and photographing them is so thrilling and exhilarating. It was so much fun watching them diving for their food. I got some close ups of the birds and it was exciting to see their facial expressions. Joe Van Os is an outstanding leader. He knows where to take us and where would be a good background and light for the flying birds. Our boat is very comfortable with a little fireplace and lots of snacks and water. He helped and guided me during this tour. My first time to photograph birds in flight.I will do it again. Our local guide Brian is excellent, pleasant and helpful.
—A. Colliander