Standard Tour Dates: Wednesday 15th – Saturday 18th May 2024 (Joensuu to Joensuu)
Standard Tour Price: £1,450pp plus flight
Extension Tour Dates: Saturday 18th – Sunday 19th May 2024
Seal Extension Price: £399pp
Estimated Flight Price: London to Joensuu approx. £300 return
Deposit: £350 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £50 – £100
Minimum Number: 4 people
Maximum Group Size: 6 people
Mammals: Wolverine, European Brown Bear and Eurasian Elk. Possibility of Wolf if we are lucky!
Saimaa Ringed Seal for extension.
Birds: Red-breasted Flycatcher, Capercaillie, Black-throated Diver & possibly Great Grey Owl or Ural Owl
This tour is designed specifically to see Wolverine and to give some exceptional photographic opportunities. Regardless of whether you are a photographer or simply happy watching the wolverines, the hides we visit give fabulous and very close views of what is usually a particularly difficult mammal to see in the wild. The time of year is good for Wolverine activity and although not the peak time for Brown Bear, we usually see an animal during our stay. See videos from our previous tours below.
ACCOMMODATION: 3 nights in Finland or 4 with extension
Night 1 Lieksa Hotel (and morning of day 3 to rest), plus 2 nights in Wolverine/Bear hides. Hides have shared long-drop toilets.
Inclusive Meals: Dinner on day 1 through to Breakfast on day 4. Evening meals whilst in the hide are of packed lunch style.
Extension: 1 night at comfortable lodge beside lake and breakfast on morning of day 5.
Previous Trip Reports
Videos from previous tours
DAY 1: Arrival – Kontiovaara Region
Joensuu airport is a wonderfully small, rural and quiet airport and it is only a drive of around 1.5 hours to the Wolverine hotspot! On arrival, we will travel to the town of Lieksa and our hotel. If flight times allow, we will venture out for a drive locally looking for Eurasian Elk and a chance of Ural Owl. Overnight Lieksa Hotel
DAY 2: Patvinsuo National Park – Wolverine Hides
We will spend the morning visiting the Patvinsuo National Park which is just a 45 minute drive from our hotel. Whilst birding this forest we have chances for Red-breasted Flycatcher, Black-throated Diver and outside possibilities of Owls dependent on the breeding season. After lunch, we will take a short drive of around 30 minutes to Keljänpuro Lodge and our first evening in the Wolverine hides. All of the hides give excellent opportunities to watch wildlife from the comfort specifically built cabins. They are well designed for photography in a natural environment and wolverines are fed throughout the year and are regular visitors. Brown Bear is also an occasional visitor at this time of year, though we have always been successful. If we are extremely lucky sometimes Wolves visit as one did during our 2017 tour. Overnight wolverine hide
DAY 3: Wolverine Hide
Following a full night in the hides, we will return to our hotel in Lieksa for breakfast and take time to rest before meeting for lunch. We will then check out of our hotel and return to Keljänpuro Lodge where we can store our luggage safely before entering the hides for the final night. Once again, we will be be on high alert for mammals as you just never know what may appear and when! Overnight in wolverine hide
DAY 4: Transfer to Joensuu
We will leave the wolverine hides early in the morning. Basic shower facilities and saunas will be available to use at the nearby Keljänpuro Lodge. We will then have breakfast at the lodge and depart for our transfer to Joensu airport where the tour concludes or you will continue to Lake Saimaa for the Seal extension.
SAIMAA RINGED SEAL EXTENSION
After dropping any group members at Joensuu airport, we will then continue our journey by road for approximately two hours to Lake Saimaa where we will book into our accommodation and have lunch.
We will then take a late afternoon trip on the lake with a local guide to look for the beautiful but endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal.
The Saimaa Ringed Seal was separated from other ringed seal populations after the last ice age. Since then, it has adapted to living in fresh water. There are currently around 360 seals in Lake Saimaa. May and June are the best months to find the seals because after the ice melts from the lakes, the seals like to bask on the rocks in the spring sunshine, and shed their fur.
DAY 5: Lake Saimaa to Joensuu
After an early breakfast we will return to Joensuu for a mid morning flight to connect with flights back to the UK.
Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides
Leaders: Wise Birding leader and local guides
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms at hotel, 2 nights in wolverine hides, breakfast, lunch and evening snacks in the hide, all entrance fees, ground transport and services of leader.
Seal Extension includes: 3 hr boat trip, overnight accommodation and breakfast.
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water and any airport/visa fees
Single Supplement: £90 for Lieksa hotel plus £50 with Seal extension
Transport: Minibus throughout tour
This tour is very easy and involves very little walking. The walk to the Wolverine hides varies from 20 -100M through forest. Walking in Patvinsuo National Park will be short distances not far from our vehicle.
Climate: Changeable weather from warm to hot and cool and wet!
Tour Start Point: Joensuu airport, Finland
Tour End Point: Joensuu airport, Finland
Suggested Airlines: Finnair