- We take a morning flight to Oulu via Helsinki. From here we transfer to our lodge in Kuhmo, by Kuikka Lake. Depending on how early we arrive at the lodge, we may be able to spend our first evening in the hides, although we are morely likely to settle down for a full night’s rest at the lodge.
- Accommodation: Base Camp Kuikka & photography hides, 5-nights on full board basis
- Today we can spend the day exploring the area around the lodge and make use of its boats. After an early dinner we make our way to the hides to spend our first evening photographing brown bears. The walk into the hides takes around 30 minutes over uneven terrain, but isn’t overly strenuous.
- There is usually some time to wait before the first bears show themselves, but with the long summer evenings there should be plenty of light for photography. We take it in turns to be on watch throughout the night, allowing others to rest between periods of activity.
- Tonight we try our luck with wolverines. These fierce predators are less brazen than bears, so patience is a must, and with a little luck we should encounter some cooperative individuals during the evening who provide a multitude of photographic opportunities.
- During the day back at the lodge, we can use a rowing boat to reach a beaver dam, practice landscape photography, or go for a walk on the headland around Kuikka, where there are several nest boxes for birds and a lot of berries and mushrooms, which offer good opportunities for macro photography. During our free time, we can also make the most of an opportunity to relax in the lakeside wood-fired sauna.
- The team of naturalists at the lodge will provide talks and workshops on wildlife, photography and conservation issues. Bret will also make the best of our time at the lodge to go through the photo editing process, using Lightroom and Photoshop, and demonstrating various techniques to improve our photography skills.
- Depending on our success on the previous two evenings, we can try to photograph wolves or spend time with wolverines again. Brown bears are likely to show up while we wait for wolves, so there are plenty of opportunities to get more images of them.
- After our last night in the hides we return to the lodge for breakfast and a chance to freshen up. We then transfer back to the airport in Oulu before flying home via Helsinki.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Use of photography hides
- Photography tuition from Bret Charman
- Lectures on wildlife and conservation
Our base is a traditional Finnish log house situated on a promontory in Kuikka Lake, in the middle of the forest. The lodge has a convivial, rustic atmosphere, and consists of nine rooms, each accommodating between two and six guests, with shared facilities. Amenities include free WiFi, a wood-burning lakeside sauna, rowing boats and a canoe.
14 hides in four different locations around the lodge provide opportunities to photograph bears, wolves, wolverines and eagles. Each hide can take up to five photographers; there are bunk beds in case you wish to rest during your overnight stay.
All meals are included.
Breakfasts and dinners taken at Base Camp Kuikka. Breakfast normally starts at 0900 with a large buffet. Coffee, tea and snacks are available in the dining room all day. Dinner is early, at about 1600, with a substantial three course meal. Picnic and sandwiches are also provided for the hide and on tour.
Note: no alcohol is served at the lodge, however you can buy some at a shop en route from the airport, should you wish.
Thanks to the land being directly connected to the Siberian taiga, Finland’s boreal forest is home to some charismatic bird species rarely seen anywhere else in the world. The list is long and includes ten species of owl, five species of grouse, seven species of woodpeckers and 27 species of waders.
It is also a great base to watch raptors such as the golden or white-tailed eagle, or the black kite. Spring to early summer is a great time to see migrant birds during the breeding season.
- White-tailed eagle
- Ural owl
- Black grouse
- Whooper swan
As one of Europe's last wildernesses, Finland is home to healthy populations of large mammals such as brown bear (the national animal), grey wolf, wolverine, elk (moose) and reindeer.
- Brown bear
- Eurasian wolf
- Eurasian beaver
Our base is surrounded by taiga also known as boreal forest or snow forest, a biome characterized by coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruces and larches.
Finland lacks real mountains but is composed of bedrock and the soil formed by the ice ages. The tens of thousand of lakes in Finland are post-glacial. Another unique phenomenon, land elevation, is also an effect of the glaciers.
Various kinds of peatlands are a fundamental element of the Finnish landscape. In the cool and humid climate the soil becomes waterlogged, which creates the right conditions for peatland vegetation and the formation of peat.
Finland’s biome is located in the closed canopy taiga, a combination of mid-boreal and south- boreal forest. There are about 20 indigenous tree species growing in Finland, the most common ones being pine, spruce and birch.
- Wild strawberry
- Calypso orchid
- Scots pine
- Norway spruce
Weather permitting, we can use one of the lodge's rowing boats and head out on to the lake to enjoy the scenery or look for beavers and birds nesting in the area.
Photography is the main focus of the trip, and during the long summer evenings there should be plenty of light and plenty of opportunities in the various hides to practice on different subjects with the assistance of our dedicated photographer.
The hides are set up especially for photography, and have covered camera slots, in which we place our lenses. No tripod is needed however it is a good idea to bring a tripod head (preferably ball-head variety) which we can screw to a wooden board. We take it in turns to be ‘on watch’ throughout the night, allowing others to rest between periods of activity.
In a hide, lenses of length 300-600 mm, plus converters, are most useful. Some bears or wolverines may come very close to the hide, occasionally within 20-30 metres even, but usually they will be between 50 and 200 metres away.
Walks are from ten to 500 metres, from the vehicle to the hides.
Price includes return scheduled flights London - Oulu – London.
Ground transportation will be by minibus or 4 wheel drive vehicle, with driver.
The area is fairly flat, surrounded by lake and forest, on average the altitude varies from 140 to 300 metres.
The climate in Finland is influenced by the Gulf Stream bringing warm water from the Atlantic, influencing the growth of vegetation in the taiga, unlike its neighbouring countries suffering from cold wind. Summers are temperate, although short in duration. Despite the briefness, there is a lot of light, enabling an intensive growing season.