I have been looking over my shore excursion options for my early September sailing and am interested in either the Traitors Cove or Neets Bay Bear watch/Flightseeing options. Has anyone done either of these to know if they are worth the extra $$ over the standard Misty Fjords Flightseeing excursions? I know that wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed, but is the scenery on land awesome?
We go on 7/25 and have signed up for the traitors cove bear watch, we can't wait. We went to Alaska two years ago, but it was earlier in July so this was not available. I'll try and repost when we get back that may give you enough time to change your mind if you want. My husband and I are real animal lovers, and I must admit that I was disapointed with that aspect of our trip last time. We did see wildlife in Denali, and a few off the train to Fairbanks. The only other bear we saw was on the flightseeing tour out of Juneau to Taku lodge with a salmon bake, i guess the black bear was looking for his salmon lunch and was quite persistant about being served !!! we got several great photos.
Thanks Jan! The Traitors Cove Bear Watch was the one I was most interested in too. I did my first Alaskan 2 years ago as well...in Sept. Are you doing one of the Northbound or Southbound cruises that sails into or out of Seward. If you love wildlife and Seward is on your itinerary, might I suggest one of the Kenai Fjord/Resurrection Bay cruises. I went on a half day one two years ago as a post-cruise option. I didn't see bears, but there was plenty of other wildlife to see. Lots of different seabirds, whales, Dahls porpoise, sea lions, sea otters and eagles. Since I am doing a southbound this time, I am going up a couple of days early and taking one of the full day Kenai Fjords tours. I also am paying the rather exhorbitant price for a one-way car rental between Anchorage and Seward so that I can drive the Seward Highway at my leisure. The cost will be worth it to me. It really isn't very exciting to me to the Dahl sheep on the cliffs above the highway or see Beluga whales in Turnagain arm from a motorcoach. I am an amateur nature photographer...and want to stop and get out one of my telephotos and bring some "real" souvenirs back home with me.
I have been to Neets Bay and Anan. Both had excellent sightings for me going end of August. But last Sept by the end of the first week in Sept Traitor's cove was only sighing about half their trips. SO be certain to check on sightings a week or so before you leave and ask for perhaps a daily log be sent to you via email? Then if they are slacking off perhaps you can switch to a Misty Fjords flight? As for the flights- the bear watching was not NEAR as scenic as the Misty fjords flights and is more "transportation" than sight seeing. I have done both so this is first hand information.
It is important to TAKE TOURS if wildlife is a priority, brochures are GREATLY enhanced and not realistic. Binoculars are necessary. For the best wildlife viewing opportunities take the SHUTTLE to Eielson in Denali Park. I have also seen a lot of moose in Kincaid Park in Anchorage and from trails at the Eagle River Nature Center. Bulugas aren't that common. Stop or call the visitor center and see where they are? If they are down the inlet - they aren't going to be in the Arm.
My opinion only but I would NOT book a Traitors Cove in July- peak is mid August and you are just too early for any sure sightings- Anan is MUCH better, which would be my only choice at that time.
Here is a description of the areas from Island Wings
Anan Creek Bear Viewing Observatory
From July 4th to August 31st you can experience a once in a lifetime trip and visit the world renowned bear observatory at Anan Creek. Fly along the beautiful waterways of the Tongass National Forest to Anan Creek which hosts one of the largest pink salmon runs in Southeast Alaska. The presence of the salmon draws a large dinner crowd, including both black and brown bears, seals, river otters, mink, marten and eagles.
Anan Creek is staffed by the US Forest Service personnel at the trailhead and also at the bear viewing platform. You will be transported by floatplane to the trailhead at Anan, and once there will receive a briefing from a U.S. Forest Service Park Ranger. After the briefing you will hike up the half mile trail along the river to the bear viewing platform. From there bears can been seen & photographed while fishing. The salmon are the true stars of the show as they make their way against a massive waterfall.
Throughout your stay at Anan you will be escorted by our bear guide. Island Wings is the only air service operating out of Ketchikan that offers fully guided service to Anan Creek Bear Viewing Observatory. All other operators provide transportation only. This trip is a total of 4 hours. No food or camera flash is allowed on the trail and comfortable shoes are recommended. Visitation to Anan is by permit only and is highly limited. Restricted permits were established to protect the bears and their habitat. It is wise to book early!
Trip Includes: 40 minute flight each way, 2.5 hours at Anan Creek Bear Viewing Observatory and Bear Guide
Season: July 4th through August 31st
Price: $400 per person
Traitor's Cove Bear Watching Observatory Tours
Between August 15th and September 30th you can visit the bear observatory at Traitors Cove. Fly by floatplane along the beautiful waterways of the lush Tongass National Forest across Revillagegedo island to the to a US Forest Service maintained trail and the Margarite Creek Bear Viewing observatory platform.
Bears can be seen as they plunge into the rushing water to retrieve their meals of wriggling salmon. This is a perfect opportunity to photograph Alaska's real fisherman in action! In addition to bears feeding, you will also see Bald eagles picking up scraps left by the bears and of course the real stars of the show, the salmon, as they battle their way upstream to spawn. Your journey will be accompanied by a naturalist who will provide information of the flora and fauna along the way. Combine a short hike, beautiful scenery and a magnificent wildlife experience in one trip.
This is a three hour guided tour that includes a floatplane flight, a 1 mile drive by van on a US Forest Service road and a short hike along a boardwalk trail to the viewing platform. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring plenty of film! The US Forest Service restricts access to Margarite Observatory by permit. As a result, only small numbers of people have the opportunity to visit this beautiful site so book early!
Tour Includes: 20 minute flight each way and 2 hours & 15 minutes at Margarite Creek
Season: August 15th through September 31st
Price: $275 per person
Karen is this an excursion that you booked on your own ? I know that it isn't offered by our cruise line. We did go into Denali last time and we did see wildlife there. I love the beautiful scenery of Alaska, but we were a little disappointed last time with fewer wildlife sightings than I expected.We vacation in Jackson, Wy about everyother year and so far I haven't found any place that compares. How would I go about booking this other bear excursion if I wanted to do it instead?Linda, our cruise is a 10 day round trip out of San Francisco, so we won't get up that far this time, thanks for the info though.
Thanks for the info Karen! I will be contacting the tour companies to see about getting logs of bear sightings in Ketchikan. When I went in September 02, lots of people on the cruise that I was on reported actually seeing lots of bears on the various tours. I am an amateur nature photographer and ALWAYS have binoculars in my photo treker backpack along with my long telephoto lenses. As for wildlife area in the Anchorage/Seward area, I have a couple of nature photographer friends, one in Seward and one in Anchorage who have promised to let me know where the best photo ops are during the time I am in that area. My friend in Anchorage has even offered to take me to some of his favorite spots for Dall sheep. He has some beautiful shots of them as well as other wildlife...all taken in the Anchorage area.