Do it yourself

Brown Bear with cubs

During my stay in Finland I got several questions about how I arranged a trip like this. There are several ways to do trips like this in an organized way (like through Inezia Tours), but you can also organize it yourself like I did. There are a few places in Finland along the Russian border zone where there are huts with a good chance on Brown Bear. On some places there is also chance on Wolves or Wolverines. In my case I really hoped for Wolverine so I picked the hides of Wild Brown Bear operated by Ari Sääski. Here you can arrange the whole package. He can pick you up from Kajaani airport, there is a lodge (where you won’t sleep a lot at night, but it’s good to have a place for your things or a bed in daytime), there is food and drinks and it’s a nice place to meet fellow photographers. They have 14 photography hides (most of them for 2 persons) and four larger hides just for viewing. I was always alone in a hide and could pick the hide I wanted. Around 5pm you are brought to the hide, where you will stay until 7am the next morning. There are large openings for the camera and smaller “windows” just for viewing. Most hides just have camera openings only to the front, but there are also hides with openings to more sides. There are also two beds, if you need some sleep. In my case the sun set around 10pm and rose again around 4am, so there was time enough for some sleep.

On daytime there are several options: you can take a little nap or enjoy a sauna (including dip in the lake), take pictures in a hide with some bird feeders in front (e.g. Rustic Bunting, finches, tits and woodpeckers), go to the bear hides for Raven, Hooded Crow, Goldeneye and other ducks and several sandpipers or the chance on a Wolverine, take a walk in the forest (with chance on wild Forest Reindeer) or go on a beaver safari or on an excursion to find Red- or Black-throated Diver. And if you get bored in the bear hides (how can that be boring…), you can also book a space in a hide for lekking Black Grouse or Capercaillie. As you can see, there are enough things to do to keep a photographer occupied for a long time. And the different seasons bring different settings of course. In spring (April-May) there is still snow in June the cottongrass is in bloom and in August-September the taiga is in autumn colours. So it even pays to come back several time.

I’m sure at least that I’ll be back for more bears and others….

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.


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