Bears and Wolverines between Finland & Russia

In July 2016, I had the opportunity to join an team of enthusiasts under supervision of Jan Kelchtermans (EuropesBig5, Starling), in search of brown bears and wolverines, with some extras as well.

We started the trip by flying from Brussels to Helsinki. Arrived there, we took a car and drove to Nationaal Park Linnansaari, were a boat was awaiting us to make a trip on Lake Saimaa. The purpose of this trip was to search for Saimaa seal. One of the 3 types of sweet water seals in the world. They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 320 individuals. We were lucky enough to see some of them, although the weather was not that good with a lot of rain and conditions for pictures was quite bad… Nevertheless, I’ve seen about 4 of them 🙂 During our boat trip on Lake Saimaa, we also enjoyed observing several black-throat loons, ospreys and much more…

In the evening, we started our trip to Lieksa, were we had planned some trips in search of the wolverine… there should be quite a good chance to see them here. A local called Era Eero has some spots we can use to wait for them and with success, during the evening in a hide, we saw several of those crazy creatures. I just love them… they look stupid, clumsily and absently but they are actually real predators eating everything they find.

I was able to take some nice shots of them:

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During the night in the hide, we even saw a wolf appearing on the scene
Due to the business on the spot and a tight plan, we were forced to move on to our next destination, Karelia, the no man’s land between Finland and Russia. In this location we have some good chances to find again some wolverines, but the main focus is on the brown bears… several spots like Boreal Wildlife Center, Lassi’s, and Wild Brown Bear are on the list to make some observations.

The first stop was a few nights in the Boreal Wildlife Center, once in the hide we had a full night of brown bear activity, even less then 1m in front of us… It was amazing! (below pictures taken with my smartphone as my tele was too long :-p)

But off course, next to that, I was also able to make some cool shots with the tele as well:

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During the night, a wolverine passed the walking path as well because in the morning we noticed some prints.

Next stop was Lass’s place… an amazing spot to observe wildlife. We had the chance to stay for several nights on location in search for bears, wolverines, bald eagles, black kites, and much more… the group before us was even able to witness the local wolf pack, unfortunately they didn’t pass by when we were there.

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A special picture for me personally is the following one. Extremely quite during the night (0:15) I heard some noise… Not aggressive, and not the impact that I used to hear the past nights… Suddenly I noticed 2 youngsters playing around with each other. I tried to make it a special moment through the camera as well by playing around with the aperture… The result was a ghostly moment of 2 young brown bears playing with each other measuring their forces.


It wasn’t done, yet… during the next day, we went on a trip to our next destination being Wild Brown Bear like it is called. It couldn’t have a better name off course 🙂 On our way to the north, we’ve heard about a place where there is good chance to see extremely shy forest reindeers… What do you think, we saw some 🙂


Arrived on our last spot, we prepared ourselves for the final chapture, a perfect setting with a very very good chance on brown bears:


As you can imagine, this was one hell of a trip. A perfect combination with nature, wildlife, great country and a fantastic team to enjoy this trip!

Thanks a lot.


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