• Encounter with a Bear

    Bears hold a revered mythical status in Finnish folklore. Sacred rituals used to be held when bears were hunted.

  • Finland’s eastern borderlands offer some of the best opportunities anywhere in the world to view wild brown bears safely at close quarters.

  • In this bear-watching spot, a bear can come as close as a couple of meters from the photography hut. There is, however, no cause for fear, since the bears never come close enough to touch the hut.

  • On bear-watching trips photographers can enjoy almost alarmingly close encounters with these magnificent and sometimes inquisitive animals. Bears are unaware of the photographer’s presence because the scent travels up the chimney and is carried away.

  • The beginning of June is bear mating season. Male bears can follow females until the point of exhaustion. Arola farm, Suomussalmi.

  • Bear cubs are born in the winter inside their mothers’ snowy hibernation dens. They then emerge to explore the great wide world in the springtime.

  • These playful cubs live at Ranua Wildlife Park in Northern Finland.

  • One of the bear necessities of life is a good back-scratch on the rough bark of a sturdy birch tree.

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Encounter with a Bear

If you go down to the woods today in most parts of Finland, a big surprise encounter with a bear is very unlikely. But for anyone keen to join an organised trip to see and photograph wild bears, the densely forested borderlands of Eastern Finland are an ideal destination.

BEAR-VIEWING TRIPS

Finland’s vast forests are home to an estimated 1,500 brown bears. Though they may roam anywhere in mainland Finland, bears usually try hard to avoid people. But on the bear-watching trips run between April and September in several localities in Finland’s Wild East sightings can be almost guaranteed (though wild animals can be unpredictable, and big game seekers should plan to spend at least a couple of nights out in the woods).

PICNIC-TiME FOR TEDDY BEARS

On a typical trip, bear-watchers are taken out to a fairly comfortable cabin-like hide in the forest in the late afternoon. They then settle down to spend the night overlooking a small clearing where tasty treats like salmon scraps or pig carcasses have been placed to tempt hungry bears onto the scene.

The local bears – and with luck also wolves and even wolverines – may come and go throughout the light northern night, enabling eager photographers to get fantastic close-up shots of Europe’s most awesome wild animals.

UNFORGETTABLY WILD NIGHTLIFE

Bears are formidable animals. Big males can weigh up to 300 kilos, and hunt large animals like deer or elk (moose). But there’s also something endearing about these huge furry creatures. Spending the night out in the forest watching a real life teddy bears’ picnic is an unforgettable experience for any nature-lover.

 

Wild & Free

To be truly free, all you need is the untouched wilderness and a touch of madness in your blood.

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