There I was, sharing a small log cabin deep in the Taiga forest, close to the Russian border, with six relative strangers…. certainly an unusual way to spend a Saturday night!
Earlier, we had enjoyed a delicious but very early dinner at three in the afternoon! An hour later we were climbing into a vehicle with everything we would need for spending the night in a hide, there’s no popping back to the lodge if you have forgotten something! After a short drive, we trekked for a couple of kilometres in silence, through the forest, accompanied by our guide, Mica. The scenery was lush, trees were bursting into leaf at the start of the Finnish spring and the air was incredibly fresh. The ground, carpeted with years of accumulated layers of moss and leaves, gave the impression you were walking on sponge.
Eventually we arrived at the hide and settled down for an exciting night ahead. The hide itself is very comfortable with coach style reclining seats, placed in front of narrow but wide windows giving you a 180 degree view. Below the window is a shelf for cameras, and beanbags are supplied for avid photographers. Drawstring openings provide access for long lenses and clear shots of the bears as they roam into view.
As we enjoyed a cup of coffee, Mica described, in hushed tones, as all noise must be kept to a minimum, the life cycle of the bears. He was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the local wildlife. We then sat in silent anticipation wondering how long it would be before we would glimpse our first bear, but we didn’t have long to wait. Within half an hour, three, two year old cubs came gambolling down the hill, passing just metres in front of the hide and continued on their journey.
It was a fantastic and thrilling first sight, but just a taste of what was to come. In total, 17 different Brown Bears came to the area around the hide, some were mothers with one or two year old cubs that amused us by playing and climbing trees, while the adult males were only interested in the females. The bears continued to delight us well into the small hours and were always visible due to the light northern nights.
When I could keep my eyes open no longer, I retired to one of the bunk beds for a couple of hours. When I woke up, a very large and beautifully marked male bear had wandered into view and everyone’s eyes were already glued to the windows.
Finally, around eight in the morning, we packed up our belongings and returned to the guesthouse for breakfast. It had been an incredible night and the bears that inhabit these picturesque forests had in no way disappointed us. My fellow hide-mates, who no longer seemed like strangers, definitely agreed too.
For further details of our Bears in Finland trip please Click Here