Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Brown Bear and the Midnight Sun

Finland’s northernmost bear watching venues are in Kuusamo Lapland, in the deep forests close to the border to Russia. I will never forget the sight of the mighty brown bear in his natural environment. The bear’s are best sighted at night, so that is why the bright nights of Lapland serve very well in bear watching. I am told that it is 99% sure of seeing the fantastic brown bear during your visit to the wilds. Make sure to bring your camera and binoculars (there are a spar pair of binoculars at the hide), as the watch-out hides have large windows and provide a spectacular view of the wildlife.

We started our wildlife experience by checking in to Isokenkäisten Klubi Wilderness Hotel Kortteeri. The wildlife guide met us at Isokenkäisten Klubi, we got a snack to bring to the watch-out hide. We will spend several hours watching nature’s own show in the light of the midnight sun.

The last bit to the watch-out hide is done by foot. I had no thoughts of possible encounters with bears as we walked to the hide, I was enjoying the peaceful forest walk, we were asked to be quiet. That is the key: to be quiet, as bears will escape as soon as they sense humans nearby. The brown bear might look like a teddy bear, it has a round and a bit clumsy appearance, but it is a fast runner and a predator and like most animals, protective of its little ones. So it is wise to stay out of the way of the bears – stay safely in the watch-out hide.

We had a nice show of five (yes indeed, FIVE) adult bears, the largest is about 100 kg, according to our guide. There were also a few White-tailed eagles; I was quite surprised to spot them here in the forests of Lapland as I thought they are coastal habitants. Apparently there are about 20 pairs of them here in Lapland, they live by large waterways and there is no lack of such in Kuusamo!

Amazing! We all sat in silence, just watching these wild animals, listening to the sounds of the summer night. For many of us it was first time to see any wildlife in its natural environment. Shortly after midnight the wildlife had left us and we walked back to the car to return to Isokenkäisten Klubi. Even knowing that this walk is done safely every night during the summer season, I was looking around and hoping not to see anymore bears tonight. Actually, we had learnt during the night that silence is the most important factor in watching wildlife. Bears are shy of humans and will stay away if they can hear humans around.

I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and woke up to birds’ song late the next morning. Mmm, I look forward to a yummy breakfast and a large coffee on the terrace of Isokenkäisten Klubi. Actually, I enjoyed the peace and quiet so much, that I stayed one more night...

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