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America’s Wild Spaces - Part 4 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

KATMAI is in the state of Alaska

This is the place to go for bears and flightseeing and was created in 1980.

Few places beat Katmai for bear viewing. Around 2, 200 brown bears inhabit this area of steaming volcanoes, pristine lakes, wild Pacific coast and untouched tundra. One of the park’s best places for bear watching is Brooks Camp, where the animals gather to feed on sockeye salmon in the Brooks River. Three waterside platforms offer up-close viewing. Other locations include Hallo Bay and if you go here the Hallo Bay Bear Camp is highly recommended, Moraine Creek and Geographic Harbour. Kayaking, boating and hiking are all wild and wonderful here, but flightseeing is really the only way to understand the scale of the place. Trips leave from hubs such as Anchorage, Homer and Kodiak. These trips allow you to peer into the craters of the Aleutian Range, make out vast schools of salmon and, with luck, spot bears.

What’s the best time to go? Well, the park is open year-round, however, backcountry activities are best done in June to September. The best bear viewing months at Brooks Camp are July and September; with coastal bear watching possible from June to August.

When you plan your trip remember that the Park HQ is in King Salmon, a one-hour flight from Anchorage. If you are in the area then why not combine Katmai with Lake Clark or Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge for even more bears.

HALEAKALA is in the state of Hawaii

This is the place to go for stargazing and volcano hiking

Haleakala means ‘house of the sun’ according to legend, it was on the top of this giant shield volcano that the demigod Maui captured the sun, letting it go only after it promised to lengthen the day. The park is located in south-east Maui and is made up of a lush coastal section at Kipahulu Valley and the eerie slopes of the 3, 055m dormant volcano, a cinder desert of sculptural rocks, crazy colours and hardy native wildlife. There’s a steep road up to the Summit Area, and ranger-led activities can provide more insight. However, the best way to explore is on foot, trails range from 400m ambles to overnight hikes. Wilderness campgrounds and cabins allow you to stay on the volcano which is a great thing, as the sunrises, sunsets and light pollution-free star-gazing are spectacular. Even if it’s cloudy, you might see rainbows and moonbows.

What’s the best time to go? Well the park is open year-round and the temperatures are fairly constant, but the climate is drier from April to October. Maui is a 30-minute flight from Big Island and Haleakala’s Summit Area is a 90-minute drive from Kahului Airport. Plan a two-week self-drive stay on Maui and you can see everything including the waterfall lined coast drive from Pa’ia to Hana, snorkelling with turtles at Malu’aka Beach and humpback watching off the west coast if you go from Dec to Apr.

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