Finland and Varanger Apr/May

Hi all
My girlfriend and I will be visiting Finland and Arctic Norway for the first time from 24th April to 7th May 2016 for birding and mammal-watching. We’ll be hiring a car in Helsinki and making the long drive northwards, stopping at various places along the way and trying to do as much as possible independently and cheaply (as much as one can in this part of the world!) There’s lots of great info here and on birding sites which has been really helpful in planning the trip so far, but any extra info is always appreciated. A few specific queries on the mammals:
 
What are chances of seeing Saimaa Ringed Seal at this time of year? The only advertised boat trip I can find starts only on 1st May and would work out to be extremely costly if there were only two people on the boat… (http://www.oravivillage.com/en/Activities/Summer/Safaris-and-Seal-watching) Any other options?
 
It seems as though there are a good half a dozen options for hides to watch bear and wolverine, with a slimmer chance of wolf at some as well. www.wildbrownbear.fi sounds like a potentially good option as you can have a small hide to yourself and (they claim) chances of both bear and wolverine are high in a 2-3 night stay. But many of the trip reports I’ve read seem to choose other places. Obviously it all comes down to luck in the end, but can anyone share any recent experiences at any of these places to help narrow down our choice? I’m assuming we will be on the early side for flying squirrels?
 
We intend to make it all the way up for a few days in Varanger (Norway) so any mammal tips here would also be welcome, including for cetaceans. I’m assuming Arctic Fox is rare and declining and thus a very long shot here?
 
Many thanks in advance for any help and suggestions!
 
Cheers
Andy Symes
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7 Comments on “Finland and Varanger Apr/May”

  1. Jon Hall Says:

    HI Andy, I am a bit surprised there have been no comments on this. I will post it on Facebook too and see if anything comes up. cheers

    • bustersymes Says:

      Hi John
      Thanks very much for trying. It may be that people don’t have much to add to the numerous trip reports already on the site. FYI I’m no longer thinking of looking for the seal this time around in order to spend more time in other areas.
      Cheers
      Andy

  2. markhows Says:

    Hi Andy,

    sorry been away in Israel – report to follow, my trip report from a couple of years ago is pretty much what you are proposing to do. Wild brown bear hide was good with both wolverine and brown bear. I think you will be a little early for some species such as bats and numbers of small mammals will be at a relatively low point. Varanger still had lots of snow in June when we went.

    Sorry I can’t add much to what is already on the site

    Mark

    • bustersymes Says:

      Hi Mark

      No worries, thanks for your reply. Your 2011 trip report looks useful – as you say it’s a similar itinerary. I realise we’ll be early for some mammals and migrant birds but it should still be an interesting time to go.

      Hope you had a successful trip to Israel!

      PS think we might have met once or twice (I’m in Royston so not far from you I think).

      Cheers
      Andy

  3. kittykat23uk Says:

    I stayed five nights at Kuikka Base Camp for wolf, wolverine and bears and was not disappointed! You can read my trip report here:http://safaritalk.net/topic/15280-finland-into-no-mans-land/?hl=finland


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