Bear and Wolf Watching Tour in Finland

The Best Place in Europe to See Bears, and with Luck Wolves

Bear watching in Finland is unique. It is one of the most extraordinary tours you can do. Sitting in a hideout in the Finnish wilderness, you wait for a brown bear, possibly even a wolf, a wolverine, or other wildlife to appear. These are the best tips for bear watching in Finland.

On the border with Russia, you can experience a unique excursion. For years, the brown bear has been protected, resulting in about 1,500 bears roaming Finland's forests. Besides bears, during this wildlife tour, you can also see animals like wolves and wolverines.

The best place is eastern Finland. Particularly, the area around Kuhmo on the Russian border. In this part of Finland and Russia, most of the brown bears of Europe live. This area is noticeably rugged, as you'll see during your tour.

How Likely Is It that You'll See Bears?

You have a 90% chance of actually spotting these powerful wild animals. If there is no sighting, you often have the opportunity to go again the next day at no extra cost. During my excursion, I saw four brown bears and a wolverine up close.

Two European Brown Bears in Finland. ©Corno van den Berg

What Does the Excursion Look Like?

Various local photographers offer excursions, both for photographers and tourists. You will stay in a specially built viewing hut, located in the middle of the forest. Overlooking a clearing where many bears come. Inside the hut, there are chairs with special viewing holes that are also suitable for cameras (with large lenses). So you can take optimal photos.

During summer, it is almost light for 24 hours and you see the landscape change by the hour. Do bring a sleeping bag to be able to sleep occasionally, while someone else scans the horizon for animals. You must be quiet though, so as not to scare the animals.

Photography Tips

Despite it not getting dark, it does get dusky. If you're lucky, the bears will come early, so you still have enough light to take photos. As it gets darker, it becomes more difficult. Partly because these animals are naturally dark in colour and almost never sit still.

Telephoto Lens

If you want to take photos of the animals, you really need a telephoto lens; at least 200 mm. A 400 or 600 mm lens is even better, but also much more expensive.

Bright Camera and Lenses

It is also useful to have a camera that can take good photos in low light. In addition, you need a bright lens to make your photos sharp.

Don't Forget...

But the best tip is that you should occasionally put your camera away and look at this natural spectacle with your own eyes.