Duration & Dates
5 days (4 nights)
25th to 29th April 2024
Arrival & Departure
International flights to Kajanni, Finland
Wonderful picture opportunities
Exclusive use of professional hides
Full board accommodation
Fully escorted by local guide
Fully escorted by UK photo guide
Members price £2,480 TBC
6 people per tour per 1 guide
Any visa's required
The Eastern border of Finland with Russia is home to the magnificent European Brown Bear. This normally shy and reclusive mammal, comparable in size to the Grizzly, roams through these beautiful forests in the search of food. It is to this quiet corner of Finland that our tour will take you in search of these magnificent mammals. 2024 will be Wild Arena’s 20th year at this amazing site and we regard it as one of Europe’s true wildlife highlights.
Our ‘Brown Bear Spring Awakening’ trip is special not only because we are exclusively using the smaller professional grade hides, but also because we are visiting very early in the season to maximize our chance of seeing the Bears in snow! This is an awesome and exciting time to visit just as the first Bears are emerging hungry from hibernation. The already wild landscape can be enhanced by the early season weather making for some dramatic opportunities.
We will spend 3 nights at a regular feeding site, which the bears have been visiting for nearly 30 years. Our unique ‘professional grade’ trip is traveling out early in the season to maximize our chances of capturing the Bears in unusual conditions with bare trees and a high probability of snow on the ground. The lodge we are visiting has a number of small ‘pro' grade’ hides in both open and forested locations and we intend to place each photographer in a different hide on the 3 nights of photography (2 nights in the small hides and 1 night in the main hide). The pro' hides are designed for 2 photographers but for space, comfort and privacy we will only have 1 photographer at a time in each hide, on each night. The 1 night in the larger hide is useful as you will be accompanied by your guides, giving lots of opportunity to talk about the Bears and photography techniques.
Each purpose-built hide is complete with comfortable seats, bunk bed, a simple toilet facility, heater and draw-string camera viewing holes, which will allow us to photograph the bears when they are close but in safety. The small hides are checked and moved each winter to ensure that the landscape they overlook is at its most beautiful and pristine and April should be perfect for invoking a true sensation of harsh wilderness in our images.
The bears are likely to visit each of the hides during the evening, overnight and early in the morning for the food that will be carefully placed by our local guides. There is even the rare but tantalizing possibility of spotting Wolverine or Wolves that might also be drawn close by the food at this lean time of year, truly an amazing sight!
To maximize our chances of getting the best pictures we will stay overnight in the hides so drinks and snacks will be provided by our hosts for everyone. After leaving the hide in the morning we’ll have a hearty breakfast back at the Forest Lodge and then spend the days at leisure before we re-enter the hides again for a further 2 nights of fantastic photographic possibilities.
During the days there will be plenty of chance to get some rest and to photograph in the ancient northern forest surrounding the lodge. Possible subjects include the wildlife that visits the Lodge feeders such as Bullfinch, Siberian Jay and Northern Red Squirrel. The Lodge has extremely comfortable rooms with hot showers and superb home cooking so everyone should be well looked after during their stay.
The trip will be escorted by our highly experienced UK photographic guide, who will work in conjunction with the local rangers to get the best opportunities from the trip. The guide will also be able to spend time, during the trip, to help guests improve their photographic skills with a careful briefing, camera advice and reviewing ongoing results.
Key subjects for the week should include:
Our aim for this tour is the elusive European Brown Bear but we would also hope to see Raven, various small birds, Red Squirrel and maybe even Wolverine or Wolf.
Our trip is based in Eastern Finland at the Martin Selkonsen Remote Forest Lodge. This small, family run wildlife lodge has well-appointed rooms (priced for single occupancy in this tour), wonderful dining room with open fire, sauna facilities and options for walks in the magnificent forest surroundings
(D) Depart UK for Kajaani via Helsinki. You will be met by your guides at Kajaani airport and taken by mini bus to The Remote Forest Lodge for late afternoon and a chance to settle in to this wonderful wilderness setting. Dinner and a welcome briefing.
(B,L,D) Breakfast. Optional guided walk, in surrounding forest. Late lunch/dinner followed by a Bear photography presentation and briefing session by your Wild Arena guide. We will also decide on which of the professional hides everyone will be positioned in. We will then move to the hides either in vehicles, on foot or possible using snow mobile trailers if conditions permit. The evening will then be spent photographing any attending bears. The group will then be walked out of the hides the following morning.
(B,L,D) Leave hides at 7am and back for hearty breakfast. The day can then be spent at leisure with a chance to catch up on some sleep. There is also opportunity to photograph the varied visitors to the garden feeders (Red Squirrel, Siberian Jay etc) Late lunch/dinner and then a repeat of the evening/overnight hides session as per day 2. We will rotate the group over the 3 nights of photography so everyone spends each night in a different hide
(B,L,D) Leave hides at 7am and back for hearty breakfast. The day can then be spent at leisure with a chance to catch up on some sleep. There is also opportunity to photograph the varied visitors to the garden feeders (Red Squirrel, Siberian Jay etc.) Late lunch/dinner and then a repeat of the evening/over night hides session as per day 3
(B) Leave hides at 7am and back for hearty breakfast. Late morning transfer by minibus back to Kajaani for return flight to London Heathrow.
Please note: – The itinerary is provisional and subject to change depending on local conditions. Not all wildlife mentioned can be seen well at all times of the year & some activities mentioned may not always be available.
Meals included are as shown – B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Who should attend
Anyone who has a love of photography and the outdoors. Photographic experience level is not an issue with such a small group size, so we are just looking for a willingness to learn and try new ideas!
Wild Arena Tours are not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.
Fitness level: You will need to be able to walk a few miles with your camera bag, over rough terrain
During this week of photography, we hope to teach you techniques for low light and nature photography including, the creative use of shutter speeds and apertures, capturing the moment, telling a story, and making the most of the conditions.
The experience from Wild Arena, which was almost ‘one on one’ due to our group size, was second to none.
Although there are no guarantees of what might be seen because you’re in an environment trying to watch wild animals, value for money (it is a considered purchase) it was one of the best experiences of my life. Would I go again, most certainly!! Thank you Wild Arena.
Dan April 2015