Which qualities do you need to come with me?
During lectures I've been asked again and again, which qualities were necessary to survive in bear territories? My response always is:
But first things first:
- Lack of sportiness
- and the ability to deal with the small defeats of daily life
Patience is the most important feature, especially if it does not work as planned. This includes dealing with the small defeats of everyday living.
Indeed, it is an important feature in the wildlife observation to react flexibly in unexpected situations and small problems (e.g. bad weather, flight delays, flight cancellations, a small number of bear encounters). In these situations only one thing counts: Dont' be down in the mouth, but focus on the next day.
Please don't expect any servant or porter - in Alaska the only thing that rules is nature!
First of all everyone is responsible for themselves, but a group has to stick together as well!
This means that for example at hikes of a maximum of four kilometers (duration: approx. one hour) the slowest determines the speed of the group!
Of course you can walk on your own during a period of bear watching, but it also makes sense to stay as a group/small group together. So you should be able to slowly walk for a maximum of 3 to 4 km with luggage (water, soft drinks, rain gear, materials for photos and / or film). Of course the group can pause at anytime they want to. Robust footwear and/or boots (except perhaps in Katmai National Park) are also important, as you can watch bears on the beach, in the forest or on the grass: you have to be prepared to walk even outside of paths.
During the bear watching you normally sit in one place for several hours, for example on a tree trunk or on a blanket on the lawn. You have to be quiet during the bear watching, otherwise the bears are timid and might run away.
To protect the bears (not from us) we are not allowed to get closer to the bears than 50 metres (100 metres for mothers with children). The bears are used to this safety distance and therefore behave completely natural.
If the bear is coming to us you have to stay calm and be ready to take the best photos you have ever dreamt of!
(For further information also check: "How safe is the bear watching").
But what about anxiety and the lack of sportiness?
Well, no matter how athletic you are, any brown bear is faster and stronger than you!
Anxious people (which I am!) are cautious and prudent. I would have been able to improve some of my photos if I had been closer to the bears, but my lack of sportiness and anxiety prevented me from that! What I want to tell you is that false heroes are unwanted in nature!
Even for people with handicaps, at least the trip and bear watching in Katmai National Park is suitable. (Several wheelchair users took fantastic photos!)
Please contact me, so we can talk about everything else!