ATIA & Chris McLennan
Alaska’s remote Southwest stretches far across the Bering Strait, almost touching the Russian mainland and at its furthest point lying on the same longitude as New Zealand!
The 1,100 mile chain of Aleutian Islands is home to some of the most isolated communities of the western world, whilst to the north the volcanic Pribilof Islands boast some of the most densely-packed seabird cliffs on the planet.
Accessible by air from Anchorage, Katmai National Park offers excellent opportunities for bear viewing, with Brooks Falls the best place to be in July and September when brown bears gather to feast on sockeye salmon. Nearby, the wonderfully named Valley of 10,000 Smokes offers an insight into the lasting effects of the 20th century’s most violent volcanic eruption, when Novorupta blew her top in June 1912.
Another prime bear viewing destination is Kodiak Island – here the brown bears are so large (weighing up to a staggering 1,500 lbs!) that they have earnt their own special name, Kodiak bears. The island supports around 3,000 bears, as many as there are grizzlies throughout the whole of mainland USA. The bears can be seen from mid-June to early September, along with elk, mountain goats and bald eagles, all of which are protected in the vast Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.
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