Chinitna and Hallo : Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is this a floatplane or wheel plane flight?
Wheel plane: The tidal flats and beaches at Chinitna Bay are very shallow and not conducive to floatplanes. We will land on several beaches at these locations using our
de Havilland Beaver (DHC-2) on large Tundra tires.
2. Where do we meet prior to departure?
Our Chinitna and Hallo Bay bear viewing trip begins at our office at 1184 Lakeshore Drive for a pre-trip safety meeting. From there, we’ll shuttle over to the aircraft at the Homer airport for departure.
3. Do we have a guide or are we on our own?
Yes… Your pilot is your guide for the day.
4. How large are the groups?
Our wheeled aircraft holds 7 passengers plus the pilot depending on total weight.
5. What if my group is larger than 5 passengers?
We have other aircraft that we can add to the fleet on short notice to accommodate larger groups.
6. Are we guaranteed to see bears?
Yes… Our trips guarantee that you will see bears, but timing and location are important so you will need to be flexible in your choice of destination. We closely monitor bear activity at each location to give you the best possible outcome.
7. What will we see at Chinitna and/or Hallo Bay?
In the Spring, bears of all shapes and sizes are eating various grasses, and resting in the sun in the meadows and along the river. You will also find them digging clams on the beach. Cubs born during hibernation will be playful and inquisitive. Later in the summer, breeding season takes place and bears begin to fight for dominance. Late summer and fall, they begin to chase salmon up the river and will focus on storing fat for their long winter nap.
8. Will we see wolves?
Wolves are spotted every summer in the meadows and on the beaches, but their presence is unpredictable in these areas and not something that occurs daily. Have your camera ready!
9. How physically strenuous is the Chinitna or Hallo Bay trips?
This is an important question. While the hike is generally across flat ground, there are a few shallow stream crossings (requires reasonable balance) and the bears can be spread out across a large area. Expect 2-3 miles of hiking on your trip. Please notify us of any physical limitations when booking your trip.
10. How many hours will we spend on the ground with the bears?
3.5 to 4 hours is the average time hiking and photographing bears.
11. Is it safe?
Yes… Although these bears are wild, they have very little interest in humans. Our guides will instruct the group on bear/human interaction and will ensure that safe distances are maintained.
12. What time do we meet for our trip?
We have morning and afternoon trips most days. Due to the beach landing requirement, the departure times for each trip can vary a few hours based on the tide cycle. We will schedule your adventure to give us plenty of tide and time for the best experience.
13. Will we need waders or hip boots?
Yes… We will provide hip boots for you.
14. Should I bring pepper spray or a gun for protection?
No…. We do not allow our guests to bring these items on the aircraft. Your guide will carry flares and other bear deterrents.
15. Should I bring food and water?
Yes… Bottled water is a must as it can be quite warm on the west side of the Inlet. For food, avoid fish products or smelly sandwiches. Bring snack foods removed from noisy wrappers. Candy bars, trail mix, granola, protein bars in ziplock bags are a good choice. All food items must be removed from the plane during the day.
16. What else should I bring?
We recommend a good set of rain gear, bug repellent, sunscreen, a brimmed hat, extra batteries, and memory cards for your camera.
17. Anything else I should know?
Yes… Any trip via aircraft in Alaska requires a strict weight and balance manifest. We will be asking for exact clothed weights for each of the folks in your group. It is imperative that the numbers you provide are accurate.
18. What is your cancellation policy?
For Reserved Fares: Cancellation of trips any time before 60 days prior to your trip you will receive a full refund less a 10% administrative fee. After that time, payment/deposits are non-refundable. In the even we cancel a trip due to weather, safety issues, or events beyond our control, you have the option of a full refund or to reschedule on a space available basis. Due to the expense of these trips, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to cover any unforeseen circumstances. Call for updated COVID-19 Policy.
19. Northwind Aviation Standard Policies:
*To maintain safe aircraft operations and comply with Federal Aviation Regulations, NWA guests must provide our office with the precise weight (clothed body plus gear) of each person in your group. To ensure accuracy, you and your gear will be weighed at the time of check-in. If you have misrepresented your weight, and the total aircraft load exceeds the legal limitations, you may be subject to forfeiture of your seat, and no refund will be issued. We make every effort to accommodate our guests and will try to find another flight or tour option for you, but additional charges could apply. For safety reasons we have a weight limit of 300 lbs. or less.
*For bear viewing tours to Chinitna, Hallo Bay, and Brooks Falls we have a minimum age requirement of 7 years or older. For families with children under 7 years of age, please ask about our private charter bear viewing trip options.