The cost of a viewing trip depends primarily on the costs of transportation and of lodging, if you
overnight there. (Most of the overnight cost is likewise dependent on costs of transporting what the
lodge provides to you -- food, lodging, etc.)
Road-accessible locations -- e.g., Russian River on the Kenai Peninsula, Chilkat River near Haines, or
Salmon River near Hyder -- are cheapest, but often offer the poorest viewing, because the bears are
likely inundated by tourists and subject to sport hunting, if not to a year-around "predator"
extermination program. So you will likely see few bears, for relatively short periods and will have a
high risk of not seeing any at all.
Good likelihood of being able to view bears that trust people enough to allow you within photographic
range, for hours at a time, usually requires traveling to a remote location that is accessible only by
boat or airplane.
No matter which tour company you choose, per person fares for 1 person and up to 50# of camera
gear and other luggage average $350 - $750, depending on distance traveled and duration of stay.
For example, a "half day" tour might include a 1 hr trip in each direction plus 2-3 hours on the ground
viewing wildlife. If you travel by boat, the cost will likely run around $350. If you fly, expect to pay
$550 - $750. Some trips include lunch; others don't. Many tour companies prefer half-day tours so
that each guide or pilot can make 2 trips per day. However, some will extend your on-the-ground
time up to 6 hrs (total tour around 8 hrs) for a total fee of $550-$900.
Or, for an additional fee, you might be able to overnight in a lodge near the viewing site. The longer
you say, the cheaper the per-day cost, since the lodge has to cover only one round-trip flight. Lodges
where you stay in a tent (e.g., in a so-called "Weather Port") average around $1000 to $1200 per night
for 2 or 3 nights, or around $1400 for a single "night" (i.e., for 24 hrs, starting when you leave the
city airport or marina and ending when you return there. If the lodge you stay in is a building or is a
ship anchored along the coast, the accommodations will be much nicer, but could also cost a couple
of hundred dollars more per night.
If you camp out, you don't pay the lodge costs; but you do pay additional costs of transporting your
equipment and supplies.
Getting what you pay for
and why it costs what it does
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|Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave. Soldotna, AK 99669
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