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Alaska wildlife tour - close encounter with a large male Grizzly Bear

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It has been a dream of ours to get up close with a male grizzly bear during our Alaska wildlife tour at Katmai national park, but when it actually happened, it was a little closer than expected.

On our first mornign bear safari from Katmai wilderness lodge, we put ashore across a small creek from a particularly handsome adult male who was taking a nap. As we set up our tripods no more than 30 yards away, he cast the occasional glance in our direction with what appeared to be well practiced disinterest, but didn’t murmur. For me this was quite a special moment as I had seen only one mature male in all the years I have been bear viewing (in Canada they are notoriously wary of humans). After a while a younger, blonde coloured bear came wondering along the beach behind us, crossed the stream in front of us, and he and the larger bear had a bit of a staring contest before deciding to ignore each other. Finally the large male roused, sat up on his haunches, had a good scratch, got to his feet, and started walking towards us. There was a collective sense of excitement as this giant of Katmai swaggered closer and closer to our viewing position - where we will stood deliberately together as one larger mass.

Our superb wildlife guide Perry seemed totally unperturbed by this turn of events and his confident manner spread to the rest of us, though I think we were all a little nervous as the bear crossed over to our side of the stream, and ambled right by us. Afterwards myself and another guest paced out the distance between our tripods and the tracks the bear had left behind. It was 50 feet (15 metres). It seemed like a lot less when he was actually there!

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