- Fly from London via Helsinki to Kaajani and transfer by road to the Martinselkonen Wilds Centre, a journey of approximately two hours. Arrival at the lodge will be quite late this evening.
- Accommodation: Martinselkonen Wilderness Lodge, 4-nights on full board basis.
- After breakfast we can go for a walk in the nearby forest by way of an introduction to this ecosystem, returning to the lodge for lunch. After an early dinner, at around 16:00, we will will be driven to the drop-off point in Martinselkonen Nature Reserve, then walk nearly two kilometres along a forest track to the hide for your first overnight bear watch. Outdoor clothing and waterproof walking boots are essential as much of the ground is boggy. You should also bring a waterproof jacket and a warm fleece. The hides are unheated and may get quite chilly in the early hours of the morning, so prepare accordingly and dress in layers.
- There may be an opportunity to enjoy an excursion (at additional cost):
- Guided boat trip on Öllörinjärvi (Wilderness Lake): A popular nesting place for birds, and elk may sometimes be seen swimming across the lake. Price: approximately 60 Euros per person (minimum two people).
- Guided hike to Värikallo Cliff: A 45-minute drive to Hossa for an eight kilometre hike through a scenic area bearing signs of the Ice Age and of human habitation. Price: approximately 100 Euros per person (minimum two people).
- After an early dinner, you will be dropped off in Martinselkonen Nature Reserve, and walk to another hide for an evening of moose watching.
- On return from the hide early this morning, we have an ample breakfast back at the lodge and are then free to relax. Once again in the morning there may be an opportunity to do an optional activity in the vicinity.
- This morning it is a160 kilometres drive (roughly two hours) to Kuhmo, near Viiksimo, stopping en route to visit Petola Visitor Centre, to learn about Finland's large carnivores: brown bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine, before continuing to the Boreal Wildlife Centre. After an early dinner we move to a hide in the border zone between Finland and Russia, to view wildlife. This includes more bears and – if lucky – you may also see wolf, wolverine and golden eagle. As a special permit is needed to enter the area it’s a really peaceful place for animals. Accommodation: Boreal Wldlife Centre, 3-nights on full board basis.
- This morning return from the hide early for breakfast back at the lodge. Thereafter we are free to relax, although once again there may be an opportunity to do an optional activity in the vicinity. Tonight we sleep in the comfort of the centre in preparation for another night at the predator hide tomorrow.
- Once again in the late afternoon after an early dinner, we head back to the predator hide for your final overnight session.
- On return from the hide we have breakfast back at the lodge. Soon it is time to check out and depart for the transfer back to Kajaani airport and the return flight back to London via Helsinki.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We spend four nights at Martinselkonen Wilderness Lodge, which is located close to one of Europe's premier bear-viewing spots. The lodge is small with a highly personal atmosphere – local produce such as vegetables, berries, fish, moose and reindeer meat feature large in the meals, and in the comfortable dining room there's always a hot coffee pot to greet you.
Situated 10 kilometres from the lodge are two communal hides in a forest clearing. The hides accommodation 9-10 people and have comfortable seating, a sleeping area and a dry toilet. Other smaller, more rustic, hides are available for keen photographers. All the hides have camera ports and a knowledgeable guide is on hand to answer questions and help you to see bears and other wildlife.
Our second accommodation on this tour is the Boreal Wildlife Centre, a small complex in Viiksimo, in the middle of the Finnish wilderness. There are two buildings: the main building has a kitchen, a dining area for 32 people and a living room, while upstairs are four rooms with a total of ten beds, three showers and four toilets. Another building has three separate apartments with a total of eight rooms. Other facilities include an electric sauna, plus a traditional wood-heated sauna on the shore of the adjacent lake.
All meals are included.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Kajaani – London.
The forest around Martinselkonen offers opportunities to see woodland birds such as woodpeckers, and rare eastern species such as Siberian jay and rustic bunting.
- Black kite
- White-tailed eagle
- Tengmalm's owl
- Siberian tit
In addition, five owl species are found in the area around Viiksimo: the Northern hawk owl, great grey owl, Ural owl, Eurasian eagle owl and Eurasian pygmy owl.
There are incomparable opportunities to watch and photograph the wildlife of the forest on this small group trip in Finland.
- European brown bear
- Eurasian beaver
At Martinselkonen Wilderness Lodge, smaller, more rustic, hides are available for keen photographers.