Questions and Answers
Q: How long is the tour?
A: The tour times vary with with flight time. We are on the ground with the bears for 3 hours no matter what location. The flight time ranges from 1.2 hours to 2.5 hours round trip depending on the location where bears are active.
Q: What food, if any, should we bring?
A: Most people are so excited to see bears that they forget about food. We would encourage you to bring granola bars or other lite snacks. Sandwiches etc. are ok to bring. Do not bring fish or salmon products unless you want really up-close pictures.
Q: How do we choose the location?
A: We take into account the weather, recent bear activity and the weight of the group when deciding on the location.
Q: What is the best time to see bears during the season?
A: During late May to late June, the bears are eating grass and clams out in the open and this is when we usually see the highest number of bears. In late July the bears are eating grass and berries. Around the first week of August is when we see the first salmon arrive on the coastline. Each fish run is different and changes from week to week.
Q: How old or young do you need to be to go on the tour?
A: We suggest children to be 7 years old or older. The airplane will climb to a high altitude and it can be painful to younger children's ears if they can not get them to pop. For our older folks who would like to go, we walk a good amount in hip waders in the sand/gravel. If mobility is an issue, please call and we can discuss booking the whole plane, 4-5 seats, so that we don't mix groups of varying mobility.
Q: How much walking will we do?
A: Each trip is different depending on time of year and the day. On average we walk 3-5 miles. On lucky days we may only walk 500 yards, on tough days we have done 5+ miles. We provide water proof paints/boots called hip waders. We can cross small rivers and streams to move around the parks. There is not much of an elevation change but there is a lot of sand and rocks.
Q: What is our refund policy?
A: We will give a full refund if you cancel before 14 days. If we cancel for weather, we will issue a full refund. We will refund 50% between if less than 14 days up to 48 hours before hand. Less than 48 hours or no shows will be charged the full amount.
Q: Where do we meet?
A: We will meet you at our office located at 4470 Homer Spit Rd. Homer, AK 99603. Parking is available in front of our office or across the street for free.
Q: What should I wear?
A: We recommend dressing in layers. Bring rain coats, but rain-pants are not necessary with our hip waders on. The plane ride can be cool enough to need a hat or gloves, but I usually just wear a t-shirt.
Q: How close do you get to bears?
A: It depends. Some days we get within 10 yards, some days we get within 100 yards. But there are no fences or bears on leashes, so the distance varies with the bears temperament and passengers' comfort. We carry marine flares and other protective equipment.
Q: Should we bring bear spray, bells or firearms?
A: We do not allow bear spray or firearms on the plane for the safety of all on board. The pilot has two forms of protection and will be the first point of contact with the bears so passengers don't do anything rash.
Q: Will we be able to use the restroom in the park?
A: We ask that guests use the bathroom before arriving at our office. We do have public restrooms within walking distance of our office. In the park, there are no structures, so tall grass and possibly trees are how you become one with the bears. We have to pack out any toilet paper used, so you may want to bring a ziplock bag with T.P. if you think it will be needed.
Q: When should we arrive?
A: We ask that you arrive 40 minutes before your plane is scheduled to depart. This allows us to get boots on, weigh passengers and watch the national park orientation video at our office.
Q: What happens if the weather is bad?
A: We do our best to get you out to the park. We will weather delay as long as we can if there is hope it will clear up. We watch many weather apps that help us gather the most information to help our trip be successful. Good weather in Homer doesn't necessarily mean we can get to our destination. When we have more then one fight in the same day, we work with the first flight for as long as we can, but we also take into account when people booked, weights and if and when passengers can be rescheduled. Our goal is to get everyone out and back safely.
Q: What is the difference between Brown Bears and Grizzly Bears?
A: They are the same. They have a different diet and live in different locations but are the same genetics.
Q: If we at J Bear Tours feel that this activity is not for you, what happens?
A: If you made the choice to drink or smoke or take pills... and you are not at your full capacity to follow directions and safely view the bears. We will ask you not to go. Someone show up drunk and we did not take them, and we did not refund them. We could have sold the seat to someone else.
We have see some people not healthy/fit enough for this activity. We do not have any life saving gear on board. If someone has a heart attack, it will take time to get the proper care they need. You do not need to be at the top of your game but you do need to be able to be on your feet and walking for 3 hours. You also need to be able to climb into the airplane mostly unassisted. Wee do not refund them, we could have sold the seat to someone else.
Q: What happens if I am over the weight I gave at the time of booking?
A: We need your actual weight (fully clothed with your gear) to help the trip be a success to all who want to go. We understand your weight can fluctuate and it is up to you to report the change to us 15 days before you go. If you are 10 lbs. or more heaver and it becomes a safety issue then you may be removed without a refund. If you are 10 lbs. or more lighter and we could not book someone else you may be charged for an extra seat.