Wild Brown Bears – Finland
8th – 13th June 2018 – 1 Place Left
Tour Leader: Tom Way On Behalf Of Natures Images
Along the Finnish and Russian Border lies an area of land as empty and wild as it gets in Europe. Amongst this taiga forest roams one of Europe’s most impressive and threatened predators, the Brown Bear. Waiting in our specially designed hides that offer swamp, forest and meadow habitats on a summer evening when darkness hardly falls, a snap of a twig can be heard and there in front of our hide is this magnificent animal only a few feet away. Large dominant males are an awesome sight but the females with young are a joy to behold, especially the playful antics of the cubs. In 2011 we were also lucky enough to photograph a nesting Great Grey Owl which along with the more regular Red Squirrel and forest birds offers plenty of rewarding daytime options as well.
Day 1: Travel to Kajaani airport in Finland (we will advise you on our flight recommendations) where we will be met by our Finnish host for the 2-3 hour transfer to Martinselkosen which will be our base for the duration of the trip. We’ll arrive too late for any hide based photography for the bears this evening.
Day 2: Our body clocks will take some adjusting as it will be light for 24 hours and after the long day travelling the day before I suggest you use this spare day to relax, ready for our first nights encounter with the bears. Breakfast and lunch will be served at certain times and I will advise once there.
Dinner is around 3.30pm and then we get ready for the short journey to the bear hides. We have exclusive use of 4, 2 man hides for the bears and each hide offers completely different images so a good mix is what we are looking for. The forest hide is set in the pine trees and the activity lasts all night long here as this is the first port of call for many of the bears, it is a beautiful setting and with a bit of luck young cubs will be around and they make great shots when they climb the trees to escape the large males. The swamp hide can also attract females with young cubs and the setting again is beautiful especially if the bears stand in the cotton grass. At one point three years ago we had 14 bears feeding in this large expanse of swamp. The pond hide is a fantastic location and on still evenings you can get reflections as the bears are fed around the edges of the pond.
Days 3-5: Each evening follows the same routine and after dinner we transfer to our chosen hide for the night’s photography. We have to be in the hides by 5.00pm so by now we will be well into our routine. You will spend 1 night in each of the 3 hides and then the other night will be in 1 hide you have already been in. At the end of each night we will be escorted from the hides at 7.30am and back to our base for a deserved breakfast. It can be very tiring as the first thing you want to do is download your images and make sure they are safe and of course have a quick look. I recommend that you take a portable downloader into the hide as when you get a quiet period this vital work can be done then. You can have a couple of hours with the bird feeding station if you want it is your choice. I want to have an image review each day; it can be tiring during the day so if you want to opt out of these you can again it is your choice.
Day 6: After our final night in the hide we’ll have time to shower and breakfast before returning to Kajaani airport for our flights home.
Our accommodation is clean and comfortable with all bedding and towels provided so you simply need to bring yourself. Please let me know if you have any special dietary requirements. In terms of clothing you’ll obviously need plenty of warm and weather proof clothing. e vast majority of your time will be in the hides but the weather is unpredictable in Northern Finland and it could be cold. You won’t need serious arctic gear for this trip but the following are very much recommended – a good pair of strong waterproof walking boots, good waterproof over-trousers. For the top half it’s very much a question of having several layers – like a thermal type vest, t-shirt, thin jumper, eece and then a waterproof coat with a spare jumper or 2 at hand as well, dependent on how the night goes – you’ll know your own cold thresholds but it really is a question of building it up in layers. A good hat and some ngerless mittens/gloves are ideal; sleeping bags are provided in the hides and at quiet times you can snatch a couple of hours sleep. We are provided with co ee and sandwiches but you may want to take chocolate bars or biscuits to nibble on through the long night because you are in the hides for 14 hours. Once you are in the hides there is no going out to the toilet so be prepared to use a small chemical toilet. e weather is di cult to predict at this time of the year it could be cold or it could be very warm, if the latter then you must look into buying some good mosquito repellent; most good camping stores sell good stu nowadays and also the mosquito nets/hats can be very useful as well. It is also worth bringing with you some anti-histamine tablets in case you get bitten by the mozzies. We might be lucky and escape the mozzies but you are in a northern boreal forest and they can be a bit of a pest at peak times!
In terms of camera kit you’ll need the longest lens you have (300mm or 500mm + convertor would be my recommendation/choice) and then some supplementary lenses for other opportunities such as a 24-70mm for landscapes and de nitely an intermediate zoom (70-200 or 100-400) so that you don’t miss anything. You’ll get the chance to decide what you want/need each evening so you won’t be burdening yourself with it all of the time either but the distances to the hides are not far. Regarding camera support tripods are not ideal in the hides because of the space they take up but there are superb devices to attach your tripod head to the shelf, so make sure you can detach your tripod head if you want to use these. Tripods though do come in handy if you want to work on the small bird feeding station. Bring plenty of compact ash cards with you as well because if you get a good evening you will take a lot of images. During the mid-day breaks we will have a chance to critique and look at individuals ’ so feel free to bring anything you’d like to share on either a laptop or memory pen/CD.
Cost Includes: Airport transfers, accommodation, all meals, use of hides.
Cost Excludes: International flights and sundry items.
If you have any questions at all about this trip please do not hesitate to get in contact with either Tom (07876 333787) or the team at Natures Images (01952 411436). You are able to book this trip directly through this link: http://www.natures-images.co.uk/holiday/wild-brown-bears-finland-2018/
All images on this page are courtesy of Natures Images