I have been lucky enough to visit some incredible places in my life and I must say that Kodiak Island in Alaska ranks as one of the best trips I have ever been on. I feel that the words ‘spectacular’ and ‘amazing’ just don’t do it justice. This place is so much more than that – it’s truly incredible and a once in a life time opportunity. Like a lot of wonderful and once in a lifetime opportunities this part of our Alaska trip was pretty expensive – however not as expensive as a cruise! We started by flying over to the town of Kodiak on Kodiak Island. We were staying at our guide’s house in town, so that helped to cut down costs, but most of the hotels and motels are not too expensive. It’s a pretty small town (the largest on the island) and has all the necessities, including the best brewery I had ever been to – Kodiak Island Brewing Co. The local vibe of this place was fantastic and the beer was great, plus they allowed dogs inside.
The town itself has a few other attractions like two pretty good museums and a fantastic Japanese restaurant, called Hana, overlooking the harbour. While walking around this harbour we saw two huge (read giant) Sea Lions frolicking in the water. A great introduction to the wildlife that Kodiak Island has to offer.
The next day we hopped into a float plane for the first time, to take us across to Aleut Bay on the other side of the island. The float plane ride was a brilliant and exciting experience in itself. Aleut Bay would be our base camp for the next 4 nights while we explored the area with our guides Harry and Brigid Dodge (Kodiak Treks) and their Labrador Loyal. We got a fantastic flying day and were able to see a lot of the island from above, including some bears.
Our base camp on a small island in the bay was incredible, with our own little cabins that had wood burning fireplaces. The main lodge, where Brigid cooked up the most delicious meals, was rustic and charming and we loved it. We had one wild weather day where we managed to chill and read our books, take a banja (steam room), and watch the wind and rain batter our windows from our tiny, warm cabins. It was pretty idyllic really.
Harry and Brigid had a boat that they took us out on a few times to go wildlife spotting and we were lucky enough to see hundreds of sea otters. Yes, hundreds. And they were so gorgeous, chilling on their backs and always looking like they had been caught doing something they shouldn’t. We also saw a lot of Bald Eagles everywhere we went which was pretty exciting too. Other wildlife we saw included a lot of birds and harbour seals, not to mention the spectacular scenery.
The highlight of our time on Kodiak Island was taking the boat out to the National Park where we went camping for a night. From our campsite we walked into the bush in search of Kodiak Brown Bears. These bears are the biggest in the world (yes, even bigger than polar bears) and we got to see A LOT of them. September is the salmon run where the millions of salmon in the area make their way into the rivers to spawn and die. This causes a feeding frenzy for all the surrounding wildlife. The bears were basically just gorging on salmon and it was incredible to watch them up close fishing and playing around. We saw a lot of mums with cubs and lone males wondering around, as well as one giant male who actually looked like a hippo. We kept hidden and a couple of times actually got a little too close for comfort, like when we almost (accidentally) walked into a den with 4 sleeping bears – luckily we made a fast and silent retreat and they didn’t wake up. But our guides were experienced and we felt pretty safe. We spent all day just walking and observing these incredible creatures.
While in Aleut Bay we got to go salmon fishing which was an Alaskan dream for us. Luckily not all salmon breeds spawn at the same time so we were able to go fishing for silver salmon. These salmon were well fed and huge and we managed to catch a lot of them in a pretty short amount of time. We then also tried our hand at Halibut fishing but were far less successful. That night we gorged on barbecued salmon, salmon sashimi and even tried salmon roe which was interesting. Added to this was a few Dungeness Crabs given to us by a neighbour up the bay. It was the ultimate seafood feast and made all our dreams a reality.
Our time on Kodiak Island came to an end too fast and it was really hard to say goodbye to such a beautiful part of the world as well as our fabulous guides. I could not recommend Kodiak Treks highly enough and would recommend them to anyone wanting a real adventure and experience in Alaska. Cost wise the whole 5 nights and 6 days on Kodiak Island was about US$1,770 (NZ$2,570) per person, that includes everything – all accommodation, activities, food, float plane etc.