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Scenic Flight and Bear encounter

Absolutely wonderful experience! First time to Alaska for our family with teenagers. Martin gave... read more

Reviewed December 14, 2022
Awesome bear viewing

Flew with Martin to Katmai for an incredible bear viewing experience. It was just like the pictures... read more

Reviewed October 1, 2022
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All reviews bear viewing clams lake clark national park excellent pilot experienced pilot highly recommend this to anyone scenic flight outstanding experience once in a lifetime within feet remote area return flight felt safe the whole time beautiful scenery walked right taking pictures we spent hours
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Reviewed July 6, 2021

What an amazing experience. First off, Martin is an exceptional pilot. Secondly, he definitely has some sort of connection with the bears. They are at ease around him which allows you to get closer then you'd expect. I cannot say enough good things about this trip and it was worth every penny. If you are looking to book a trip to see bears, look no further.

Date of experience: June 2021
Thank 178daniellef
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed August 28, 2020

This is by far my favorite LIFETIME travel experience!!! Martin is extremely safety conscious when it comes to flying and he has a special relationship/ connection with the bears which makes it a special, intimate experience that you likely won’t get with other groups. I am still in awe of how close we got to the bears and I never felt like we were intruding on their space. The bears seemed quite happy and content digging for clams or taking afternoon naps. We saw multiple cubs being curious and playful. One of them even came right up to our guide. When we talk about our Alaska trip to our friends and family, we spend most of our time talking about this amazing tour!

Date of experience: August 2020
2  Thank ChristyLynnV
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed August 27, 2020 via mobile

We almost decided not to take this tour, as it is rather expensive when traveling on a budget. I am so glad we didn’t back out, because we would have missed the experience of a lifetime. Martin was a fantastic guide and got us closer than I ever imagined I’d be to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, while never feeling unsafe. At one point as the tide was coming in, I counted 29 bears within sight, and all just went about their business relaxing or eating clams or salmon as we walked among them. We saw another tour group who’s guide kept them about 100’ from a momma bear and her two cubs. Martin safely brought us so close (he knew these bears already) that we had to shoo off one of the curious cubs as she repeatedly came within mere inches of our group. I absolutely loved this experience, it is one I’ll treasure and remember forever.

Date of experience: August 2020
2  Thank jkempfer
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed August 18, 2020 via mobile

My wife and 2yr old son were on a trip to Homer, and on a whim I looked into this experience. The reviews from others were so good I had to sign us up—and boy were we blown away by our experience!!
Martin, the owner and guide was phenomenal. I’ve been on many small planes before, but this was the smallest—and the smoothest trip! And his knowledge and feel for the bears was second to none. We got within 10-20 feet of a mother and two cubs, but NEVER felt unsafe with Martin as our guide. And that was with our 2yr old in tow. Martin never made us feel bad about having our son with us, and the adventure was superb.
I can’t recommend this adventure enough. I have lived in Alaska for 18 years and this trip was the best of many Alaskan adventures I’ve done.

Thank you Martin!!!

Date of experience: August 2020
Thank Hike4Ramz
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed August 3, 2020

Our family flew out of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula with Scenic Bear Viewing, on July 28th, to Chinitna Bay in Lake Clark National Park. This trip was BY FAR the highlight of our entire 2 1/2-week adventure in Alaska. And that's saying a lot because we also took a day trip to Katmai National Park to photograph the bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls. More on that later.

First, Scenic Bear Viewing's owner and pilot, Martin Boland, seems to have a relationship built on respect and trust with these magnificent brown bears/grizzlies in the wild. This trip is not about platform viewing with national park rangers tightly controlling your every move. With Martin and his daughter, Samantha, we were actually on the beach and wading through the sedges often within 5-10 feet of the bears, including a beautiful sow with her spring cubs. As we watched and photographed, the mother slowly made her way toward us to take a sniff, barely five feet from our group of five. Then one of her curious cubs came over to within a foot of us and stood up in the grass to check us out. Our photos reflect their behavior toward us. It's as if Martin is a "bear whisperer." He has been doing this for years, if not decades, so the bears don't perceive him or his guests to be threats. The bears were so comfortable around us that they took a nap just 10 ft. from us after munching on an appetizer of sedges. After napping, the bear family strolled over to the shore to dig for their main course....clams.

We also captured photos of a boar brown bear, who was in the sedges when we first landed in Martin's Cessna 206 on the beach. Altogether, in the 3-4 hours of actual bear time, we witnessed at least 20 bears...about 10 in very close proximity. It's about quality, not quantity. You don't even need a mega zoom lens to get great photos here, as you do at Brooks Falls.
At one point, we sat and snacked on food we'd brought in our day packs. The bears weren't the least bit interested in our food because they are surrounded by sedges and clams. Martin's only instruction re: food was that we could not bring fish or anything that might smell fishy.

In order to photograph the bears clamming, Martin closely watches the tide schedule...also to insure we're landing and taking off during low tide, as the Cessna is not a float plane. At 68, I've never flown in a small plane and vowed I never would. This trip changed that for me. For one thing, I did my research into several companies, including accident records over the years. Martin had none, plus the flight to Chinitna Bay from Homer is only 45 minutes each way. We were comfortable with Martin because he's flown thousands of hours, including within Alaska (which is very important), and he was in the Air Force at one time. Who better to trust? He also provides waders and a life jacket and goes over safety protocol. Contrary to what I've read online, you do not walk three miles during this excursion. I guess it depends on the day and on the location of the bears. We walked less than a mile over at least 3 1/2 hours at Chinitna Bay.

We also learned a lot from Martin and his daughter about bear behavior and bears in general. In contrast, the only thing we learned was fear from national park personnel at Katmai/Brooks (our other bear trip). I understand....they're just "doing their job" based on their training. However, on Martin's trip, we never once yelled out "Hey Bear" to let them know we were approaching, or to scare them away. What does that even mean to a bear? This is OUR word for this magnificent species. My guess is that the word "bear" means nothing to bears. Forget everything you've learned or heard about bears. On this trip, we didn't stand tall with our arms raised to give bears the impression we were formidable adversaries. Instead, we huddled together and knelt behind Martin, which put us at eye level with the feeding and roaming bears. They were aware of our presence and never once growled or exhibited any threatening behavior toward us. It was a relaxing, almost surreal, excursion. We came away with the most amazing photos!

For us, spending the afternoon with Martin, his daughter Sam, and the brown bears at Chinitna Bay/Lake Clark NP was the experience of a lifetime. If you want to get up close and personal and have alone time with the bears, this is the trip. Scenic Bear Viewing's home base is the Homer airport. We drove to Homer from Anchorage; but you can also fly into Homer from Anchorage. We stayed for a couple of days in a cabin overlooking Kachemak Bay in Homer.
As other reviewers have mentioned, on the way back from Chinitna Bay, Martin flew us through the mountains over several glaciers. The scenery was spectacular and an added bonus.
We will return with more family next time, as this is THE bear trip not to be missed in one's lifetime.

When it comes to social distancing, Alaska is the ideal vacation...especially because of the absence of cruise ship tourists this season (think: about 1 million fewer people)! Yes, you need to comply with state regulations re: COVID-19 testing, but that's not a big deal and is responsible from both a health and social standpoint. Alaska is breathtaking and bear viewing is educational and awe inspiring. I would rate this experience a 10 if possible on TripAdvisor!

Date of experience: July 2020
6  Thank PLG1951
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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