Ultimate Bear Watching Holiday (Europe)
June 23 - July 3£1110 – £4295
Brown bears are one of the worlds largest and most well known mammals. But not many people will ever get the chance to see them in their natural environment. Finland offers one of the best locations in the world for watching these animals at very close quarters. The specialised overnight hides and cabins located in the forests of Finland are perfect for observing young bears, mothers and cubs and huge solitary males only a few yards away. With the help of local expert guides you can understand the life and behaviour of these bears as well as the other animals of the forest like wolves, wolverines, reindeer and elk. This tour is the most comprehensive bear watching tour in Europe and one that will have you wanting to come back here year after year.
6 Nights in Special Bear Hides
Wilderness Forest Lodges
Expert local guides throughout
All Night Bear & Wolverine Viewing
Boat Trip Across Lake Ollorinjarvi
Siberian Jay & Parrot Crossbills
Top Animals on Tour
Tour Dates: 24/6/2021 – 3/7/2021
Duration: 9 nights
Type / Focus: Bears & Wolverines
On arrival you will be met by your local guide and transferred to Lieksa where you will check-in and have dinner at your accommodation, level – 3* Hotel (Hotel Puustelli). Depending on arrival time you may be taken sightseeing around Lieksa.
After breakfast you will visit Patvinsuo National Park with its nice mires and wilderness-like nature. The National Park is an internationally important as a mire conservation and research area, with old-growth forests and waterways with sandy shores. The emblem animal of Patvinsuo National Park, the bear, which tends to avoid people and it is rarely seen, where as beavers and their dams can be seen along almost all the park’s streams. Swans, cranes and waterfowl, tetraonids and birds of prey inhabit the park making bird watching very enjoable. Birds can be observed from the bird-watching tower at Teretinniemi and bird watching platforms at Lahnasuo and Surkansuo. You will return to your accommodation, level – 3* Hotel (Hotel Puustelli) for a late lunch buffet and departing to the log hide cabins at Kontiovaara for wolverine and with luck brown bear viewing. The entire evening, the following night and part of the next morning will be spent in hides, before we return to our hotel for a proper breakfast and well-earned rest. The cabin hides are fitted with bunks and a toilet although the wildlife here is enough to keep you occupied and awake.
After breakfast and a well deserved rest you will visit Reposuo are. The Reposuo area is a valuable bird area and mire conservation site. It is situated by the village of Pankakoski. Here visitors can observe birds nesting habits or migrating birds as they pass through the area. The diverseness of mire nature in Northern Karelia is apparent in Reposuo. The terrain in the Reposuo area is surprisingly diverse. It changes quickly from open bog to ridge landscape to shoreline. During a day trip to Reposuo visitors can for example observe the areas different bird species, see the different types of mire nature there or pick berries. The mires are filled with beautiful Bog Rosemarys and other wild flowers. Visitors can observe nature without disturbing it from the Ulkkajoki bird watching tower and lookout platform as well as from Ketunlenkki Circle Trail. You will return to your accommodation, level – 3* Hotel (Hotel Puustelli) 13:00 for a late lunch buffet before our second departure to the log hide cabins for wolverine viewing. Brown bear is also possible, but not that numerous as at Viisksimo or at Martinselkonen which we will visit later in the tour. The entire evening, the following night and part of the next morning will be spent in hides, before we return to the lodge for a proper breakfast and well-earned rest.
After breakfast and rest at our hotel, we will depart to Viiksimo. Arriving around 15:00 in time for an early dinner at your accommodation, level – Forest Cabins (Boreal Wildlife Centre Lodge), in Viiksimo. The drive from Lieksa to Viiksimo will take about three hours and on the way we may encounter other mammals of the north including elk, reindeer and Arctic hare, as well as some of the bird specialities.
Maariansarkat Nature Reserve / Viiksimo
This morning you will visit Iso-Palonen – Maariansärkät Nature Reserve, located in the eastern part of Kuhmo, the area is a tapestry of small lakes, numerous ponds, pine heaths and eskers. The esker formation crossing the reserve has been an important area for the migration of the wild forest reindeer as well as providing it with a grazing ground. You will return to your accommodation, level – Forest Cabins (Boreal Widllife Centre Lodge) around 15:00 for an early dinner. Before departing for the hide cabin for brown bear and with luck wolf viewing. The animals usually start arriving around 16:00. The entire evening, the following night and part of the next morning will be spent in hide cabin, before we return to the lodge for a proper breakfast and well-earned rest. Just as it gets dusk – still with good light here this far north – the brown bears appear out of the forest. We may even catch of a glimpse of the scarce and elusive wolves that forage from across the Russian border. There will be wandering immature bears, large territorial males, and possibly mothers protecting their young cubs. The bears can be within yards of the hides for several hours, offering superb photographic opportunities.
After breakfast and a well deserved rest you will depart to search for wild forest reindeer in Elimyssalo Nature Park. The Elimyssalo Nature Reserve represents the best of forest nature that Kainuu region has to offer. It is a tapestry of different types of mires, old spruce forests draped with beard lichens, lush stream banks, and small lakes and ponds. Here are superb photographic opportunities in the Park itself and in the surrounding forests where forest reindeer move around. Afterwards you will drive back to Viiksimo for an early dinner. Tonight will be your second visit to the hide cabin for brown bear and with luck wolf viewing. The entire evening, the following night and part of the next morning will be spent in hide cabin, before we return to the lodge for a proper breakfast and well-earned rest.
After breakfast you be transferred to Martinselkonen. On arrival you will check-in your accommodation, level – Forest Cabins (Martinselkonen Wilderness Centre lodge) and have an early dinner. There is also a possible late outing in the vicinity of Martinselkonen.
Today you will have a choice of activities. After breakfast you will be taken to visit the Hossa area with its sparkling clear lakes and rivers, grand ridges and hills. There are possible encounters with domestic Reindeer and other local species along the way. Or you can have a boat trip to the wilderness Lake Öllörinjärvi. Lake Öllörinjärvi is situated just next to the Finland-Russian border. It is a unique place where water belongs to Finland but the opposite bank is no-mans land. We will make a short boat trip to the lake by a silent rowboat or canoe. We can see some Finnish-Russian border signs and Finnish border guard tower from the boat. This lake is popular nesting place for birds and sometimes you can see an Elk swimming over the lake. If we are lucky we might see some birds and animals or at least we get to enjoy the beautiful lake scenery. You will return to the lodge around 15:00 for an early dinner before departing to the hide cabin for another night of brown bear and possibly wolf viewing. The entire evening, the following night and part of the next morning will be spent in hide cabin, before we return to the lodge for a proper breakfast and well-earned rest at your accommodation, level – Forest Cabin (Martinselkonen Wilderness Centre Lodge).
After breakfast you will depart for Martinselkonen nature reserve area. This is a wilderness area with old pine forest, ponds, lakes, bogs and swamps. During the hike we are most likely see some animals and numerous birds or at least tracks of various mammals. Afterwards you will drive back to your accommodation, level – Forest Cabin (Martinselkonen Wilderness Centre Lodge) for an early dinner. Tonight is your second night in the hide cabin for brown bear and with luck wolf viewing takes place around 16:00. The entire evening, the following night and part of the next morning will be spent in hide cabin, before we return to the lodge for a proper breakfast and well-earned rest.
Today after breakfast you will be transferred to Kajaani airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in northern Finland during May and June is usually very nice during the day. The temperature being over 10 degrees C and usually between 15-25 degrees C in the day. Although the nights can be very chilly. Due to being so far north the nights are also very light most of the night.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle with an excellent driver. We have a zoologist to escort you on all your excursions.
All our excursions including guided walks, morning, afternoon and night wildlife watching and park entrance fees are also included. All cabin and hide fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes as well as comfortable walking shoes. As the nights can be chilly we recommend you bring a fleece, long trousers, scarf and a woolly hat. A water proof coat is also a good idea. Insect repellent is handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Andy medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend British Airways or Finnair as good airlines for flights to Joensuu Airport and return from Kajaani. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is www.odopo.co.uk. They are accredited by IATA which means you can book through them securly.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the any links you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
If you are a British citizen you do not need a visa to enter Finland and citizens from members of the European Union do not require visas to visit Finland either. But please check with your embassy and the British High Commission to see if you are affected by any visa restrictions
There are no health restrictions or recommendations to visit Finland but please refer to your local GP for more information if you suffer from a pre-existing condition.
Reviews of this Holiday
Caroline & Ian, Southend
Glenn McTavishstock, Glasgow