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Finland - Just Brown Bears!

Tour Code: FIN02

Join us for a long weekend (or mid-week) Brown Bear-watching holiday amongst the fine taiga forests that straddle Finland's border with Russia.

4 days from £1095(inc flights) Land Only Price: £795 SRS: £120 + an optional 0-day extension


This exciting short break, running throughout Finland’s summer months, takes you to a wonderful wilderness centre in the heart of Scandinavia’s taiga forests on the Russian border. Here you can spend one or two nights in a specially constructed hide to watch Brown Bears, one of Europe’s most impressive and elusive mammals. This tour benefits from the light northern summer nights which permit long hours of wildlife watching. Over 20 individual bears a night have been enjoyed on occasions – with a dozen animals on view at once – from large powerful males to newly emerged cubs. Photographic opportunities are superb and the forests are also home to Siberian Jay, Waxwing, Brambling and owls. There is even a chance of Wolf or Wolverine for the fortunate few!

  • The best opportunity to view Brown Bears in Europe
  • Special Family & Photographic departures offered
  • Over 20 different Bears a night enjoyed by past tours
  • Watch them from a comfortable log-cabin hide (with beds & toilets)
  • Superb photographic opportunities
  • Moose, Roe Deer & Red Squirrel are common
  • Birds include Siberian Jay, woodpeckers & breeding waders
  • Extend your tour to search for Wolverine, Wolf, Beaver or Flying Squirrel
  • Escorted by a local Finnish naturalist guide

Food

Two main meals per day, plus snacks.

Accommodation

Comfortable wilderness guesthouse with shared facilities; overnight bear-watching from a log cabin with seats, mattresses and shared toilet facilities.

Brown Bear (Paul Marshall)

Brown Bear (Paul Marshall)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Oulu and transfer Wilderness Centre

Day 2/3 Brown Bear-watching & birdwatching, Wilderness Centre

Day 4 Transfer to Oulu and fly London

This exciting 4-day tour, running throughout Finland’s high summer months, includes a 3-night stay at a wonderful Wilderness Centre, lying in a quiet taiga forest along the Russian border. Here, you have the option of spending one or two nights in a specially constructed log cabin that has been designed as a bear hide. The departures listed above are split between two wilderness lodges, Martikselkosen Wilds Centre and Boreal Wildlife Centre. Both are located in eastern Finland, a stone’s throw from Russia and are surrounded by endless tracts of uninhabited taiga forests, home to the full assemblage of Europe’s top predators: Brown Bears, Wolves, Lynx and Wolverine.

Ever since our first visit to this region back in 2001 we have been amazed by the number of Brown Bears visiting the sites each night. Up to 20 individuals have been seen over the course of a single night at Martinselkosen Wilds Centre, sometimes with 10 or more present at one time! Whilst fewer individuals are generally seen from the hide at Boreal Wildlife Centre, multiple Bear sightings are typical on most summer nights, and both Wolf and Wolverine are being recorded fairly regularly here too! Being just south of the Arctic Circle, this region enjoys virtually continuous, 24-hour daylight during the summer months and it is certainly light enough to view the Bears throughout the night, should you choose to do so. Watching the interaction and social hierarchy of the Bears is fascinating. Huge stern males wander through from time to time scattering the smaller animals as they go. By mid to late June the first mothers appear with their cubs (the cubs are born during the winter months and stay close to their mothers for over a year), whilst playful independent youngsters come and go throughout the night and single females forage timidly. During the course of the night, all forage, scratch, climb, sniff, scrap and play — displaying all the endearing characteristics which make Bears and their cubs so universally popular with humans!

For most of the period of observation the Bears are likely to be at 10 to 30 metres’ range from the hide. However, at times they approach much nearer and a closeup view of an adult Brown Bear is a neverto- be-forgotten highlight of the tour. Although nothing is guaranteed in the world of wildlife-viewing, we have an excellent chance of seeing these magnificent creatures, provided that silence is observed within the hide.

As well as afternoon and night-time Bearwatching from the hide, you will have the chance to walk amongst and enjoy the forests, mires, small lakes and brooks of these peaceful and remote spots, either in the company of your guide, or independently. On the small lakes amongst the forest, Black-throated and Red-throated Divers breed; Rustic and even Little Buntings may be found by the lakesides and around the mires, whilst deeper in the forest you may encounter such specialities as Black and Three-toed Woodpeckers, Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit. There are few species of diurnal raptors in this part of Europe but, by keeping an eye skyward, Honey Buzzards should be seen, and there is always a good chance of seeing a Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk or Hobby. In the heart of the forest, resident Capercaillie, Black Grouse and Hazel Grouse are shy and elusive, but those that are quiet and patient enough may be rewarded. Whooper Swans, Red-breasted Mergansers, Goosanders and Common Cranes are other denizens of the north that may be found breeding on the Finnish lakes and mires, though they are not necessarily to be found in the vicinity of the Centres. The more obliging and sociable bird groups of these Finnish taiga forests are the northern thrushes (including breeding Fieldfares and Redwings), tits and finches (Chaffinch, Brambling, Siskin, Redpoll, Scarlet Rosefinch, Crossbill and Parrot Crossbill amongst others).

Although the Brown Bears are our primary objective, many other mammals inhabit the taiga and, although they are all shy and elusive (especially when there are Bears in the vicinity!), such species as Elk, Wolverine, Wolf, Pine Marten and Beaver are also occasionally observed.

Two young bears (Pierluigi Cullino)Brown Bear (Pierluigi Cullino)Brown Bear cubs (Abby Grainger)Brown Bear (Pierluigi Cullino)Willi the reindeer (Thomas Mills)Our lodge (Thomas Mills)Rosebay Willowherb (Thomas Mills)Wild Blueberries! (Thomas Mills)Toadstool (Thomas Mills)Capercaillie (Ari Saaski)Flying Squirrel (Ari Saaski)Ural Owl (Ari Saaski)Black Goruse (Ari Saaski)Wolverine (Pierluigi Cullino)Curious bear (Thomas Mills)Back scratching (Thomas Mills)Our hideInside the hideBrown Bear climbingBear at sunrise (Pierluigi Cullino)
D.S.
South Yorkshire
The experience of being so close to the bears was a memorable one, especially with there being so many families visiting the site, so worth paying that bit more for a short trip.
S.D.
West Sussex
Plenty of tasty food supplied and local guides were wonderful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. A long way to go for a weekend, but worth it.
M.C.
Nottinghamshire
Time spent at Martinselkonen Wilds Centre was excellent. The viewing of bears and other wildlife was very good and the tour guides friendly and knowledgeable.
D.D.
Hertfordshire
The trip was everything we hoped for and more.
E.L.
Liverpool
A great trip - wonderful views of bears, cubs and their antics, plus birds and the wolf on the last night.
H.K.
Edinburgh
Vegetarian food was excellent, with care taken to put veggie sandwiches in the hide both nights.
S.D.
West Sussex
Plenty of tasty food supplied and local guides were wonderful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, a long way to go for a weekend but worth it.
S.T.
Somerset
I was amazed that we saw so many bears - up to 12+ at any one time. The highlight for me was seeing all 11 cubs at the same time, and watching the interactions between the different bears. Thank you for a wonderful experience!
J.R.
Surrey
Amazing trip. Absolutely loved it!
A.F.
Cleveland
The accommodation was excellent. We could have not wished for better and very close sightings of the bears. It was truly a wonderful experience.
F.N.
Somerset
This trip was better than my expectations. Our guide was very good and helpful. The hide, although basic, was comfortable and we were able to get a good night's rest ready for the next day and night.
J.K.
Surrey
The accommodation was much better than I expected from the brochure - they have built a new chalet at the centre and we all had lovely rooms with excellent shower rooms (en suite). I was amazed at the number of bears we saw - over 5 hours each night of constant bear activity - wonderful!
K.R.
Lancashire
The trip was excellent, with loads of bears (20+). The leader was fantastic - friendly, knowledgeable and has excellent interpersonal skills. Excellent!
G.R.
Devon
I went to photograph Brown Bears - job done! Managed to get some excellent pictures. It was a great couple of days at the centre.
S.C.
Derbyshire
Eleven bears the first night and thirteen the second! The only problem was when to go to sleep! We saw close views of Ural and Great Grey Owls, Red Squirrels on the bird table, and Musk Rat at the lake, and 80+ birds. A great way to spend five days.
A.P.
Dorset
Our Naturetrek guide was excellent - his knowledge extensive, his manner excellent and thoughtful.
Mr & Mrs B.
Hertfordshire
(The hide) was really wonderful and the whole point of the trip. It was incredible to see so many bears and watch them coming back and forth during the night.
N.& V B.
Lancashire
We both enjoyed a wildlife holiday of great intensity and richness.
M. & J.S.
Berkshire
Generally, an excellent trip.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Thu 21st May 2015 - Sun 24th May 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 4th June 2015 - Sun 7th June 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 18th June 2015 - Sun 21st June 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 2nd July 2015 - Sun 5th July 2015

YES

£1395

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1095 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Mon 13th July 2015 - Thu 16th July 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 16th July 2015 - Sun 19th July 2015

4

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 23rd July 2015 - Sun 26th July 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Sun 2nd August 2015 - Wed 5th August 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 6th August 2015 - Sun 9th August 2015

7

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Thu 13th August 2015 - Sun 16th August 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Sun 16th August 2015 - Wed 19th August 2015

YES

£1095

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: BorealMore info

Visiting: Finland

Detailed tour map

View tour reports +

Tour Extensions

If you wish to prolong your holiday we offer the following extensions.

Boreal

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Julie Lacey
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

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Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

The experience of being so close to the bears was a memorable one, especially with there being so many families visiting the site, so worth paying that bit more for a short trip.
D.S., South Yorkshire