This was a trip that had been in the pipeline / wish list for a long time , although you can see more species of bear in North America a short flight to Finland with its wonderful Landscapes and guaranteed success were the deciding factors .
So planning ahead and wanting to go when the weather was warmer and hoping to get shots of the bears in the cotton grass were the other considerations.
Flying from Heathrow to Helsinki and a further flight to Kajaani brought you close to Kuomo a one hour transfer got you to the Bear lodge. Great birdwatching was to be had in the vicinity with Redstarts, Crossbills, Spotted Flycatchers, Fieldfares, Redwings, Siberian and common Jays close by. The real bonus was a Black Throated Diver in full summer plumage on the lake. It was also noticeable just how many Cuckoos and Goldeneyes were there.
So onto the Bears, you are dealing with wildlife so there are never any definite outcomes. There were 26 hides to choose from with them all having differing vistas some with pools, others looking out over the Tiaga forest and others over cotton grass bog . You make your choice and go to your hide at 5pm after the briefing and get settled in for the night. Each hide contains two bunk beds, a dry toilet, glass observation slit and a host of material clad camera lens slits.
Many things were learnt via observations regular routes used by the bears through this wilderness, what habits did they have , when were the peak activity times , the light at various times throughout the night and a host of other things . It also paid to share Bearwatching duties both with your hide partner and your bed. It was the mating / rutting season so we never expected to see the new season cubs but we were treated to great views of mothers with their half grown cubs from last year. There was even one big old male on the prowl.
So many encounters followed over the six nights spent in the hides, some great food and also met some rather interesting people. It really is a place I would love to return to but probably in the Autumn time when the colours and the Bears behaviour is completely different.
To complete the trip some time was spent in Helsinki, a truly fabulous capital city with some remarkable architecture.
Watch this space as it is under serious consideration as a future venue for a Greenspaces tour.