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NEW! Finland - Bears and Wolverines

A great opportunity to see and photograph some of Europe's rarest mammals

2025 Dates
  • 27 May - 01 Jun 2025
Duration6 Days
2025 Price
Price TBC
2027 Dates
  • 26 May - 31 May 2027
Duration6 Days
2027 Price
Price TBC
Max Group Size12
More Info

New for 2022 - The Grand Tour of Finland and northern Norway! See holiday overview for details.

This holiday offers wonderful prospects to see both Brown Bear and Wolverine, with excellent photographic opportunities.

Brown Bear is the largest predator in Europe, with males reaching up to 300 kilos in weight. Bears begin feeding when they wake from hibernation in April, and feed on just about anything, including fish, mammals, berries and beetles. We take you to an excellent site to observe these unforgettable and surprisingly agile creatures being baited at close quarters, offering amazing views. Brown Bear are nocturnal, so we enter the hide in the afternoon and emerge again the following morning. By staying in a comfortable especially designed hide, you have best chances of seeing and photographing the animals, which are sometimes just metres away! We include two nights in the bear hide to enhance our chances, and at times Wolverine and even Wolves visit this site.

Wolverine is a solitary and rare animal, which looks like a small bear with a long tail. Always on the move, they are found in Europe only in northern Finland, where there are 270 - 300 animals, Sweden, Norway and Russia. Individuals roam from our selected site in Eastern Finland to many miles across the Russian border,  and again we spend two nights in this location, entering the hide in the afternoon and emerging again next morning. With wild Wolverine baited in front of the viewing hides we have excellent chances, and it is not uncommon to encounter several individuals during a night, though animal numbers vary between empty nights and several visits. Brown Bear is a regular visitor, and Wolf and Lynx have on occasion been seen and photographed here.

Watching wild Brown Bears and Wolverines is an unforgettable experience, and there are few places in the world which offer this opportunity!

Birding during the holiday is largely incremental, usually people stay up almost the whole night waiting for mammals, and don't go to sleep at all, so rest is definitely needed during the days! Also we are in areas where there really is not much bird activity, though possible species include Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Black-throated Diver, Siberian Jay, Pied Flycatcher, White Wagtail, Common Redstart, Waxwing, Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Siskin and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Red Squirrels visit some locations.

This holiday does not involve long walks or much physical exertion, though please be aware that late, long nights are a major ingredient of the holiday, your body-clock will need to adapt!  Please also note that hide accommodation is basic, as are lodgings in Viiksimo, and not en-suite. This is necessary to place us close to the animals, and we expect to be warm and comfortable!




Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

Day 1: Arrival
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly from London Heathrow (or Edinburgh) to Oulu via Helsinki, and meet our local Guide. Our hotel is nearby, and if time allows after check-in, we will enjoy some local birding. Overnight Airport Hotel, Oulu.

Days 2 and 3: Viiksimo
Participants from our 'Finland birding in spring' tour join this holiday in the morning, accompanied by your Heatherlea Guide. We make the four hour transfer to eastern Finland  by minibus, arriving in Viiksimo by noon, and check into our accommodation at Boreal Wildlife Centre, where we really are in the middle of Finnish wilderness!

For these two days we follow the same programme twice, taking early dinner around 15:00 hrs before heading for the cabin hide to look for Brown Bears and more. The viewing cabin is located on a shallow slope and the feeding point itself is in a boggy depression. Windows give excellent views and are situated at a good height, with some openings for camera lenses below the viewing windows. The cabin is excellent for general views of bears and for obtaining photos of the animals with their natural habitat in the background. Outdoor snacks are provided for the hide stay, including sandwiches and usually yoghurts, cookies, tea/coffee and water. There are simple dry toilets inside the wildlife hides. There are also bunk beds, sleeping bags and pillows for resting. The watching hides are quite comfortable but basic.

We return to warm breakfast in the next morning and have a proper rest or do some local birding during the day. Birding will be incidental, though possibilities include Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Black-throated Diver, Siberian Jay, Pied Flycatcher, White Wagtail, Common Redstart and sometimes Waxwings. Breakfast, dinner and accommodation for two nights is at Boreal Wildlife Centre in Viiksimo, a simple and straightforward lodge that used to be a border patrol station. Rooms sleep one or two people, we use them either as single or twin rooms with shared facilities. Unfortunately there are no hotels nearby, and the driving times to the closest would simply be too long. You should consider this as an adventure which brings you closer to wildlife, at the expense of some normal comforts!

Days 4 and 5:  Lieksa
We drive to Lieska after breakfast, and check into our final hotel of the tour. We repeat the same programme over two days to maximise our chances with mammals, taking an early dinner, then transferring in daylight to the Wolverine hide in Kontiovaara. Here there are excellent facilities for Wolverine watching, in comfortable log cabins in the animal’s natural environment. Wild Wolverines visit the site virtually daily, and though we can be unlucky, usually there are several individuals to be seen. Brown Bear, Wolves, Lynx and Red Fox have occasionally been seen and photographed too. Again, hides are quite comfortable but basic. Snacks are provided for the hide stay, including sandwiches and usually yoghurts, cookies, tea/coffee and water. There are simple dry toilets inside the hides. There are also bunk beds, sleeping bags and pillows for resting. We return to the warmth and our breakfast after each hide night, and have a proper rest or do some local birding during the day. Birding is again incidental here, though a feeder at the hide can produce Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Siskin, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Red Squirrel. Overnight for two nights at Hotel Puustelli in Lieksa.

Day 6: Depart
After breakfast at Hotel Puustelli, we leave for the airport and our flight to Helsinki and onwards.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

* scheduled flights between London Heathrow and Oulu, via Helsinki, including all airport taxes.

* ground transportation as outlined including all transportation in Finland in a modern air-conditioned vehicle.

* accommodation and all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals and mealtimes will vary on days involving bear/wolverine hides.

* the services of your leader/s.

* entrance fees to parks and reserves, and tips to hotels and restaurants.

* The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more ...

What's not included in your holiday price:

* personal insurance, most alcoholic drinks and other personal expenses, optional tips to the driver and local guide, and any other costs not specified as 'included'

More holiday information:

Accommodation is in comfortable hotels or guest houses with all rooms en suite. The exception is at the Boreal Wildlife Centre, where accommodation is basic and not en-suite. Full details from website links or from our office.
Hide facilities are quite comfortable but basic. There are simple dry toilets inside the hides. There are also bunk beds, sleeping bags and pillows for resting. Please should consider this as an adventure which brings you closer to wildlife, at the expense of some normal comforts!
Food Breakfast is continental style. Fruit juice and tea or coffee is usually available. Picnic lunches will be provided by your guide, and will include a variety of local produce plus soft drinks. Evening meals are generally local dishes; Finnish ingredients match that of food just about anywhere else. Meat dishes may include beef, chicken and pork, and fish figures prominently on Finnish menus – naturally enough for a country that boasts over 60,000 lakes and over 2,850 miles of seashore. Berries and mushrooms, the bounty of the country’s seemingly endless forests, are also vital elements. In the hides, snacks are provided including sandwiches and usually yoghurts, cookies, tea/coffee and water. Vegetarian and other diets are welcome.
Walking is generally light/moderate. There will be some uphill track and road walking, though generally an average level of fitness is required.
Weather The weather will most likely be quite warm and summery, but chilly mornings and nights are possible. It should be mainly dry but some showers of rain are possible. Average temperature range at this time of year is 10 – 15°C but may rise to as high as 25°C. 
Insects There may be mosquitoes at this time, so a good repellent is recommended.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London Heathrow.
Photography There may be excellent opportunities to photograph mammals, though these are never guaranteed.

Your Leaders

Tero Linjama:
Tero lives in Jyväskylä, Central Finland, and has been birding since 1971. An active Tour Leader in Finland for many years, Tero has also led groups of Finnish birders in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Poland and Spain. An active member of the Finnish twitchers' society 'bongariliitto', and a member of his local birders' society, Tero is also a nature recordist, artist and photographer. 

Other birding and wildlife holidays in Finland

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248