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Brown Bear Safari 2021 Tom Bol Photo Workshops

Brown Bear Safari - Aug 2021

We met in Anchorage and flew down to a remote lodge on the shore of Lake Iliamna. For our first day in the field, we flew to Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. Capturing images of fish jumping towards the bears and creating slow motion water images were both popular. There were plenty of hungry bears this time of year at Brooks Falls.

Slow shutter speed to smooth the water

For the next several days, we loaded into small float planes, Beavers or a Cessna 185, to fly to active bear locations. On clear days the aerial photography was stunning. We saw salmon, bears, moose and wolves from the air.

Moraine Creek from the air - look close to see salmon!
We all wore chest waders during the day to make river crossings and rainy weather easier for the group
Lake Iliamna was our home base. Most days we started by flying over the lake towards a new destination.

Brown bears were abundant in Katmai National Park. This time of year they congregate near the creeks to feast on sockeye salmon.

The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run is the largest in the world. Ribbons of salmon choke the streams, providing an all you can eat buffet for the bears.

We saw 49 different brown bears on our 5 mile hike down Funnel Creek

Mile 2 of Funnel Creek

Spring cubs were also a highlight of this trip. They waited on shore for their mothers to bring in fish. Some of them learned to do their own fishing....

We hiked 3-5 miles on the tundra every day, stopping at a scenic spot each day for a picnic lunch. Bears were not the only animals we saw.

Willow Ptarmigan on the tundra

In the age of covid we knew it was possible that one of our workshops could be impacted. We returned to our remote lodge one day to find out that several staff members tested positive for covid. We decided to be cautious and stay longer to quarantine before headed home. Thankfully, none of our group became sick and the staff only showed mild symptoms.

We were thankful that our entire group had been vaccinated as well as the lodge staff. We also made a note to always carry extra medication, flash cards and passwords in case this happens in the future.

We made the most of quarantine and continued to photograph bears daily. We appreciate the efforts at the lodge to accommodate our group and keep us out in the field.

Tundra with low bush cranberries and amanita muscari

We have two bear trips with space available in 2022: Brown Bear Safari in September and Bears and Glaciers in July. The Brown Bear Safari requires a moderate degree of fitness. We walk 3-5 miles daily with camera packs on uneven terrain. The Bears and Glaciers Workshop is an easier trip with short walks of about a mile.

We also have a few spaces available in our September online class on Wildlife Editing

Thanks for reading our trip reports!

Credits:

Tom Bol and Cree Bol