Travelling in the beautiful wildeness areas of Finland can bring you in contact with a variety of mammals. For instance in the Karelia region, along the Finnish-Russian border, such enigmatic species as Brown Bear, Wolf and Wolverine can be observed from comfortable hides situated in the vast taiga forest. Why not join us on this fantastic trip.
Apart from the iconic carnivores there's a lot more to see than you might think. For example the rare Saimaa Seal, Forest Reindeer and Elk (European Moose). Exploring the primeval forests and bogs is a worthwhile trip in itself. We'll focus on bird species that live and breed in this specialised habitat of evergreen forest: Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Willow Ptarmigan, Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers and with some luck we'll find a late nesting Hawk Owl or Great Grey Owl. Expect to see waders such as Green and Wood Sandpipers calling in alarm from the top of trees, Common Cranes with their young in attendance and the numerous Ospreys that nest around Lake Saimaa. In short a trip that will produce memories that stay with you forever!
Saimaa Seal in Southern Finland
Our trip to Finland starts in the South. The boat trip through Linnansaari National Park will be the first introduction to the sparsely populated country of Finland. Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland and its huge surface area makes it the 4th largest natural freshwater lake in Europe. Furthermore Finland frequently features in the list of top 5 of countries with the most beautiful lakes in the world. On our trip to the area we'll be joined by a local guide who knows the lake well and who has indispensable knowhow to find the rare, endemic Saimaa Seal. Together with some nice birds, for example Black-throated Diver, European Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser this will be the perfect start to your holiday in Finland.
After Lake Saimaa we'll move to Lieksa where we'll spen the next few nights in comfortable hides. It's here we'll look for the mysterious Wolverine. A few years ago it was almost impossible to go anywhere in the world to see this species in the wild. Fortunately nowadays Karelia is, more or less, the best place to observe and photograph this giant member of the mustelid family. In the hides we will be seated in the front rows that have been specially reserved for us. Whilst here we will also take the opportunity to visit the nearby Patvinsuo National Park. Walks through the unique primeval forest and vast bogs will, I'm sure, be remembered for a long time.
The mighty Kuhmo and Vartius
Towards the end of the trip we'll drive north in the direction of Kuhmo and Vartius. In this borderland with Russia we'll overnight in hides situated in the middle of the territories of Brown Bears, Wolves and Wolverines. The borderland undoubtly is a region where nature knows another dimension. The vastness, remoteness and rough character of nature is really impressive. When watching from the hides be alert for the resident White-tailed Eagles or Ravens to suddenly abandon carcasses, as you can expect a carnivore to show up at any moment - a memorable unique experience. During the day we have the opportunity to rest or go on short excursions around the immediate surroundings. Our focus will change to other bird and mammal species that live here: Forest Reindeer, Elk, Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse and Three-toed Woodpecker.
Jan Kelchtermans is a guide you just want to have with you on this trip. He has done this trip multiple times and has always succeeded in finding the target species. He's the founder of Europe's Big 5 concept and loves to share his huge knowledge of mammals with people he works and tours with. As you travel along the forest roads and tracks Jan's focus remains sharp and he'll pick up birds and wildlife amongst spectacular scandinavian landscapes - a dream guide!
Book this trip
31 May 2017
Accommodation and transport
During the night we'll often stay in the hides to look for mammals, with hotel accommodation or basecamps to rest in at other times. These are of good quality and it's important to use these so everyone is sharp during the night. Transport will be by minibus to drive through Finland which has good roads.
Hiking and nature study
Only short walks will be made since most of our time will be spent in hides. All excursions are easy and accessible to everyone with basic fitness and mobility.
Experience isn't necessary, a passion for nature is!
Finland has a wonderful and temperate summer, although chilly days with rain can't be ruled out completely. The presence of numerous lakes ensures a mild climate compared to other sites at the same latitude. Mornings and evenings can prove to be chilly even at this time of the year, so warm and waterproof clothing for a variety of weather is necessary. It never gets completely dark during the night at this time of the year, being like twilight at midnight but for the rest of the day it's light and the sun is usually shining!
During this trip to Finland there will be a lot of chances to take photographs. The hides in particular provide an ideal opportunity to snap the best pictures. Keep in mind however that this trip is not a pure photography trip.