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6 days - Bear Safari, Wildlife and Hiking in Finland
This self-drive itinerary takes you from North Karelia in Finnish Lakeland through the sparsely populated taiga forests of Finland. There are several national parks with their hiking, canoeing and fishing possibilities easily accessible from the route. Close to the Russian border you can participate in bear or wolverine observation tours overnight which give you a unique chance to watch and photograph these animals safely from the comfort of your cosy cabin with panorama windows.
Accommodation varies from hotel rooms to apartments and stylish cabins. Each night you will get to enjoy local delicacies, and the genuine Finnish sauna is also available on most nights.
- Genuine Finnish sauna on most nights
- Experience Karelian hospitality
- Visit the sparsely populated taiga forests of Finland
- National Parks and wildlife around every corner
- Day 1
- Arrival at Joensuu
- Day 2
- Koli National Park and Bomba Karelian Village
- Day 3
- Karelian Culture and Brown Bears
- Day 4
- Arctic Giants
- Day 5
- Nature-based activities and relaxing
- Day 6
- Depart from Kainuu or Oulu
- Start/End Place
- Destinations Visited
- 6 Days
Self-drive itinerary with hire car. Pick up is at Joensuu Airport and drop off is at Kajaani or Oulu airport.
- All accommodation in hotels and log cabins with daily breakfast
- Hire car: VW Golf or similar - manual, including free mileage,CDW & GPS with one-way fee
- Guided half-day hike in Koli
- Entry to the SPA at the Break Sokos Hotel Bomba
- Overnight Bear watching tour
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
- Meals not noted above
- If you wish to hire an automatic car, these are 'on request' and can be difficult to obtain. Please seek further advice with us
- International Flights
- Flights within Finland
Day 1 - Arrival at Joensuu
Arrive in Joensuu either with train or flight from Helsinki and pick-up your rental car.
Karelians are known for their hospitality, joy of life and music. Even unexpected guests are warmly welcomed with serving the best possible food and drink. Poem-singing used to be a way to retain and forward information for new generations. And the story goes on.
While in town, visit the Taitokortteli handicrafts quartier, Joensuu: workshops, cafe, arts, exhibitions, hand made local souvenirs.
TransportationDirect flights from Helsinki fly into Joensuu. Alternatively you can also take the train from Helsinki.
AccommodationBoutique Aparthotel Lietsu
Day 2 - Koli National Park and Bomba Karelian Village
After breakfast, head to the Koli mountain and National Park, for a guided half-day hike to explore the most photographed scenes in North Karelia. From the top of the fell, Finnish national scenery opens up in front of you over the lake Pielinen. These views have inspired artists and painters for decades. The viewing point is easy to reach from the parking place on the top and the hike can be adjusted to suit different skill levels.
Continue to Bomba Karelian Village in Nurmes and the Spa hotel where you will stay for the night. During the summer months, it may be possible to join a Karelian pasty workshop at the hotel, a Finnish delicacy enjoyed around the country.
TransportationJoensuu - Bomba ca. 150km
AccommodationSokos Break Hotel Bomba
Day 3 - Karelian Culture and Brown Bears
Continue your journey via Kuhmo to the village of Lentiira for overnight Bear Watching Experience.
Kuhmo is a small village where you can see the Finnish national epic Kalevala reflected in the architecture, events, research, museums and the food. You can learn more about Kalevala and Karelian culture at the Kalevala Information Centre Juminkeko. For two July weeks Kuhmo is full of guests enjoying the annual Chamber Music Festival which is famous and appreciated throughout the world. Here you can also visit the Visitor Centre Petola, and get to know the Finnish large carnivores: brown bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine. Here you can learn how they look and sound like, what their tracks look like and how they move.
The beautiful village of Lentiira is your next stop, and tonight you will stay at the Bear Centre viewing cabins. The probability to see a bear is high, 90-99 % depending on the month. Some evenings numerous bears come at once, and often some can be seen in close proximity to the Cabin, only a few meters away. The Bear season starts at the beginning of April with a white blanket of snow, continuing through the green summer, ending with the vibrant colours of autumn in October.
TransportationBomba - Bear Centre ca. 150km
Day 4 - Arctic Giants
For the final leg of your journey, continue to the Arctic Giant Birdhouse hotel, where you can relax in style while enjoying all that the Finnish nature has on offer.
For a long time, there have been folk tales about giants and mythic formidable men in the Paltamo and Oulujärvi region. These stories are partly based in truth, and now this beautiful hotel stylish cabins, serves as a great base for a wide range of activities in the surrounding area.
TransportationBear Centre - Arctic Giant ca. 130km
AccommodationArctic Giant Birdhouse Hotel
Day 5 - Nature-based activities and relaxing
The Kivesvaara surroundings feature a wide variety of nature trails of different lengths and challenges to suit everyone's taste. The trails vary between 2 to 15 kilometres in length. One of the nature trails leads to a place called Pahalouhos, where it is said that the giants once built their castle. You can also hop-on a fatbike to explore the trails of the giants, or try your luck at fishing. The area surrounding the Kivesvaara hill is home to several great fishing spots. You can choose between the rapids right next to a ridge, River Kongasjoki or Lake Kivesjärvi.
TransportationPotential local driving
AccommodationArctic Giant Birdhouse Hotel
Day 6 - Depart from Kainuu or Oulu
After breakfast, drop-off your rental car either at the Kajaani airport (60km) or Oulu airport or train station (130km), and continue onwards with your homebound journey.
TransportationArctic Giant - Kajaani airport (60km) or Oulu airport or train station (130km), and continue onwards with your homebound journey
All prices listed are per person, based on two people sharing a room. 2023 prices are indicative due to the current uncertainty across Europe with increasing energy and volatile fuel costs.
30 Sep 2023
For a greener option, please ask us about changing your vehicle to a 'green' car; either a diesel or a hybrid.
Interactive Tour Map
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Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. Please ensure that you have this organised as we will need to see proof of this upon issuing your tour documentation. Please contact us for a quote or visit http://www.suresave.net.au/