Finland is probably best known for its bear watching, and there are now a few locations where one can see wolverine too, but can you throw in wolf as well? Quite simply this is the only place in Europe where this is possible!
There are three primary locations where the hides are based. One is an open piece of marshland, which is the perfect spot for both bear and, if you are lucky, wolf activity. Then there is a hide set on the edge of a raised piece of forest, an ideal spot for wolverine encounters. Finally there is the pond, a truly beautiful location, with stunning reflections and you never really know what might turn up.
Now then, there is a bit of an art to getting comfortable for hide photography in Finland’s Taiga forest – be prepared for every type of temperature imaginable. It could be warm enough that you feel like you are sat in the tropics, alternatively it might be cold enough to be a cold English winter’s day. Whatever the weather, it all pales into insignificance when you get close to the incredible wildlife.
On this trip we were treated to some wonderful sightings, albeit a little short-lived at times, but the final night of the trip (at the pond) really provided the wow factor. We were only in the hides for around three hours, when we were presented with some of the finest wildlife encounters I have ever experienced as a wildlife photography guide. Firstly, a large, healthy bear strolled in towards us and he really was the perfect subject. We were spoilt with some wonderful photographic opportunities and at times the bear was only ten yards away. In fact, more often than not he was too close to fit in the frame!
However, the bear was not the highlight of the evening, which in most cases he most certainly would have been. The stars of the evening, and the tour for that matter, would appear shortly after the bear made its way back in the depths of the forest. I noticed a little movement out the corner of my eye, there was a light shape on the edge of the forest … my heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be, surely my eyes were deceiving me? There on the edge of the marshy clearing, some 100 yards away, was the distinctive shape of a white wolf. I dared not say anything, just in case it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared only moments before. It was then that another shape appeared. Seemingly the first gained confidence from this and started to approach the hides. 50 yards, 40, 30, and then only 20! The size, the sheer size of a wolf, we were all watching in complete awe. The light was fading and there in front of us was one of the most elusive of all Europe’s wild species, a predator that has been persecuted for centuries.
To put an encounter like this into words is nearly impossible, quite simply nothing can do it justice. No video or photograph can truly capture the magic, but for those on the trip I am sure the moment will live long in their memories.