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1ANGELCAT

Fortress of the Bears - Sitka

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Have any of my fellow HAL cruisers been there ? 

Did you consider it worthwhile?

 I’m looking at a tour that also goes to the Raptor center or perhaps just going on my own to the Bears.

TIA

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We went there on our last tour.  We found it to be worthwhile. The bears were quite active while we were there. We didn't take a ship tour though. We found a driver on the pier and had him take us there among other sites. We ended at the Raptor center and walked back to the ship from there. 

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I thought it was well worth the trip! I didn't book anything in advance. Once off the ship we found a shuttle that went to both. We went to fortress of the bear first then the raptor center. We walked back from the raptor center since it wasn't far and we wanted to take in some of the scenery. 

Will be on another Alaskan cruise next year and am planning to head back and see how the place has changed in the last couple years. 

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I went there on a tour that also went to the raptor center.
You don't see the bears in the wild. They were in very large concrete enclosures, with very high sides. We had to climb up some stairs, then were able to look down on them. It was worthwhile, especially considering they were rescued, but don't think it's anything like watching the Brooks Falls webcam.

 

I found the raptor center very interesting.

You can easily do both sites on one outing.

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We did "birds, bears, and barnacles" tour through HAL a few years ago. The taxi driver we later took to the ship told us she could have done it for us for less. So yes, you can pick up an impromptu "tour" on your own. 

 

The bears were OK. It isn't terribly interesting--you just look at the bears, no program of any sort, but you do have "guaranteed sightings." I think the large enclosures were once used as water tanks. 

 

The raptor center is excellent, with a good program with a handler and one or more of the birds. There's a raptor center (rescue/rehab not tourism site) near me. The man who runs it is VERY opinionated and when we mentioned that we were going to see the raptor center in Sitka, he talked about how good they are and the excellent care they take of the birds that come to them. So I liked knowing that my visit (and gift shop purchases) was supporting something more than just a tourist attraction. 

 

The "barnacles" part of the tour was the Sitka Sound Science Center, which has an aquarium and a salmon hatchery program. Good explanation of the hatchery.

 

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We did Birds Bears and Barnacles in May. Good tour. The bears are under construction but still interesting. I think there will be more of a "program" when the new building is finished.

 

 

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We did this as Sea Otters, Raptors and Bears, Oh My!  It was a great excursion with HAL and I am planning on doing it again in July.  Fortress of the Bears was a fascinating way to observe rescued bears.  We have been to the Raptor Center a few times and enjoyed it.

Karen

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Alaska law does not permit orphaned cubs to be returned to the wild so the Fortress of the Bear gives the cubs a new lease on life.  Eventually, the bears are sent to zoos.  The blacka and brown bears are in separate areas that are designed to replicate their natural habitat.

 

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I was there last June and it was OK.  I preferred The Raptor Center.

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My family of nine did the Otters/Raptors/Bears HAL tour and loved it. We saw more whales and more *active* whales on the Allen Marine boat ride than on the "scientific whale watch" at Juneau, and several rafts of otters (although you don't get as close to them as the whales came to us!).

 

We all LOVED the Fortress of the Bears, several of whom were also quite active, doing things like swimming and playing with a salmon, batting at a 'tether ball' that has fish or food of some kind that falls out. They have several ways to feed them that are more active than just food in a dish, to keep some of their wild traits honed. I think there are people lobbying to change the law about releasing rescued cubs and here they are trying not to accustom the bears to linking FOOD with PEOPLE.

 

The Raptor Center was our least favorite part, but by then the drizzle had gotten a bit heavier! Not to say it isn't well done and informative, and probably the closest you will ever be to an eagle or several types of owls. If you are there in August, there is a forest trail that bridges a creek with salmon running (I think chum salmon) -- it was the only place where we saw bank-to-bank fish! as the salmon run in Ketchikan and other places was really slim last year.

 

Five of us are booked on a [Princess] Alaska itinerary that will visit Sitka in June 2020. Having read this thread, I'm thinking of the otter (and whale) boat from the ship, and then a taxi to the Fortress! 

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On 5/27/2019 at 6:04 PM, 1ANGELCAT said:

Have any of my fellow HAL cruisers been there ? 

Did you consider it worthwhile?

 I’m looking at a tour that also goes to the Raptor center or perhaps just going on my own to the Bears.

TIA

We go there every single time we're on an Alaska cruise that goes to Sitka.

The work they do is extraordinary and they give these amazing creatures a second chance as Alaska law says if they are wandering through town they can be killed.

They've made big changes to the grounds over the last few years that we are eager to see the next time Alaska is calling to us.

While it may be a bit cliche, we found being there to be inspirational and life changing.

Definitely go when you are there. I hope you find it as incredible as we have on numerous occasions!

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On 5/28/2019 at 8:54 AM, Loreto said:

We did this as Sea Otters, Raptors and Bears, Oh My!  It was a great excursion with HAL and I am planning on doing it again in July.  Fortress of the Bears was a fascinating way to observe rescued bears.  We have been to the Raptor Center a few times and enjoyed it.

Karen

First time we went was this tour. The Sea Otter Quest is also incredible. We easily saw over 1000 animals between numerous whales and puffins, other wild birds, eagles and a "raft" of easily over 500 otters. Then to have the raptor center and Fortress of the Bear AND it was a perfectly clear blue sky in Sitka which isn't too common... 

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22 hours ago, crystalspin said:

I think there are people lobbying to change the law about releasing rescued cubs and here they are trying not to accustom the bears to linking FOOD with PEOPLE.

 

Fortress of the Bear is helping to lead that charge.

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As others have said, this was wonderful.  Did the otters, bears, and raptors oh my through the ship.  Would do it again if we go back to Alask.

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I took the shuttle into town . 

Once there sign up for a bus ride to the fortress of the bear and raptor Center for $10.00 from Tribal Tours, Paid the entrance into the Fortress of the Bear for $15.00.  The guy from Tribal Tours returned an hour later.

Then dropped people off at the raptor Center.   I have been there several times so I just stayed on the bus.  I don’t know how much the raptor center admission is right now.  

 

The raptor center is awesome.  Fortress of the bear depends on the weather and how much action is going on.  Saw eagles up close watching for left overs from the bears dinner.

 

Alaska is so conducive of weather and found waiting to get transportation once into town much more enjoyable than a large tour.  On one trip to Alaska, I booked barnacles, bears and birds and it poured down rain.  In the pouring down of rain there was not much action at the fortress of the Bear.

 

 

 

 

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We went a couple of years ago and I loved it.  It is an enclosure but the bears looked happy and active and playful.  We took a taxi there and back and I think it was less than $10 each way.  We also did the Sea Otter excursion and it proved beyond expectations, as well as whales, sea lions otters etc we even saw two bears on the beach - unfortunately we couldn't get too close to the beach in case the boat got tangled up but we stopped for a few minutes and watched them from a distance. 

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Suggest private tour or taxi to these sites.  Afterwards, you can explore the town on your own.  It's a little slice of historical Russia.  Architecture interesting.  Enjoy.

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The Fortress of the Bear and Raptor Centers are both good but our favorite shore excursion in Sitka is a boat ride with Paul Davis of Gallant Adventures.  He takes you right to the wildlife - whales, sea otters, Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Puffins and sometimes bears.  We have been with him twice now and really like it both times.  His web site is http://www.gallantadventuresalaska.com/

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