By KERRY MCQUEENEY
Too close for comfort: The tourists had no option but to sit perfectly still as the bear investigated their presence
It must have sounded like the experience of a lifetime - an opportunity to observe Alaska's grizzly bears in the wild.
However, it could have very easily come to a grisly end after one of the bears charged at this group of tourists as they sat in camping chairs - and there was not a thing they could do about it.
The group of 10 had no option but to sit perfectly still as the fearsome bear bounded over to them before circling their camp and coming in for a closer inspection.
At one point the bear even sniffed the hood of one of the tourists as he sat in his chair.
Charge: This grizzly bear bolts through the water towards the tourists... and there's not a thing they can do about it
The hair-raising encounter happened as the sightseers visited the Katmai National Park in Alaska as part of a trip to observe the animals.
They were told they would be watching a group of grizzlies 'from a safe distance' as the bears fished in a river. However they were stunned when one of them broke loose and charged at them along the water's edge.
Sitting in camping chairs, the men and women had little choice but to stay perfectly still while the 40 stone bear came within inches of them. At one stage it even sniffed the hood of one of the group.
Their guide advised none of the party to jump up or ran away as that would have prompted the creature to go on the attack.
Ferocious: The bear's razor-sharp claws are seen as he breaks away from the main grizzly group and fearlessly approaches the invaders
Instead the bear circled the group several times before wandering off when it lost interest. Larry Griffith, 59, and wife Cindy, 57, were part of the group.
Mr Griffith, from New Mexico, U.S., said: 'There were eight others with us and we were allowed four hours in two different locations to view the bears.
'We had a safety class before hand about what to do if we encountered a bear.
'All the bears were catching fish when this particular bear circled our group several times, wanting us to leave his fishing spot. This was not supposed to happen.
Coming in for a closer look: The group were advised not to run away as it could have caused the bear to go on the attack
Backing off: The bear saunters away after deciding the group was not a threat, as some of the tourists capture the extraordinary moment on camera
'Our guide said he saw this as a bluff charge, trying to scare us, which he did!
'We were all in shock but were happy that no-one in our group jumped up, ran away or screamed for their lives.
'The bear actually smelled the hoodie of one of us, then walked behind us all within three feet.
'We were all frozen and I couldn't breathe. In the end the bear lost interest or got the message and left us alone.
'It was terrifying walking back through the grass to our boat-plane. I counted 30-40 different bears.'
'We were all frozen and I couldn't breathe': The defenceless group had to wait until the bear lost interest before they could get up and leave
Dangerous: The bear circled the group several times before wandering off
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