Info & FAQ
This page contains important information for visitors. Check out the instructions, especially if you’ve never been visiting wildlife watching and photographing hides before!
Travelling to Kuusamo
You can travel to Kuusamo by air, car, train and bus or a combination of these. The fastest way is to fly.
Kuusamo offers a wide range of accommodation options. Kuusamo is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Finland. You will find top class hotels, large and small cottages, rental apartments, spa hotels, secluded cottages by the lake, cottage villages, etc. For more information on accommodation, please visit www.ruka.fi or contact us.
Kuusamo and North Ostrobothnia have a cold continental climate. We have long Arctic winters, with snow on the ground for about 200 days a year from October to mid-May. In summer, it is usually reasonably warm, but some days in mid-summer can be very hot.
The midnight sun season starts in Kuusamo at 14. June and ends 29. June. but between 23. April and 21. August, the nights are bright. Even though the sun sets at night (except for the midnight sun season), it doesn’t get completely dark even at midnight. There may be enough light to photograph and observe all night long!
- March: temperatures are below zero, 0… -25 degrees Celsius. Day length is 13 hours.
- April: temperatures can be above 0 during the day, but -10…-20 at night, with a day length of 17 hours.
- May: the snow melts away in mid-May, with temperatures of -5… +5. The ground can be very wet. There are 21 hours of daylight.
- June: +Daylight is 24 hours.
- July: +21 degrees, 21 hours of daylight
- August: +16 hours of daylight
- September: +6 degrees, 13 hours of light, autumn colors season, nights are already dark, first northern lights for the autumn can be seen
- October: 0 degrees, 12 hours of light, first snow, chance of northern lights, day getting shorter fast
Guarantee for seeing animals
We work to ensure that our customers see as many different animals as possible. However, animals do not follow any schedules and we cannot guarantee that they will be seen or photographed every time. Nature and weather conditions can be very surprising and difficult to predict. However, in our experience there is a 99% chance of seeing a bear during your visit! If you don’t see any bears during your visit, you can come back another day free of charge!
Your safety comes first
IMPORTANT INFORMATION! Read before you visit!
- Watching and photographing bears is safe and easy from our hides!
- Children are welcome, but the minimum age is 10 years. Bears will not come if they hear noise or loud talking. It can be a good idea to have some entertainment for children, e.g. book or videos on your mobile or tablet + headphones.
- We recommend that all visitors have valid personal travel and/or leisure accident insurance.
- Taiga Bear Kuusamo Oy has liability insurance against accidents. Our liability insurance covers damages caused by any wrongful act of Taiga Bear Kuusamo Oy.
- You are allowed to move outside only with our guides. Our guides will take you to the hides and bring you back to the car parking area. You can use the toilet or change from one hiding place to another during your visit, but please inform the guide in advance. In all situations, you must stay behind the fences!
- Follow all the instructions given by our guides.
- We are visiting a protected wilderness area. Be respectful for nature, do not litter!
- Feeding bears and other animals is strictly forbidden!
- Talk very silently, whispering is recommended. Bears and many other animals have very sensitive ears. Loud speaking or noise will scare animals away.
- Do not use flash light when taking photos.
- Please come unscented! It is important to avoid using strong perfumes or aftershave during your visit.
- We are located in a remote area, about 50 km from the nearest health centre. In case of emergency, it may take some time to get help. Please inform our guides in advance of any health issues that may affect your visit. For example. heart disease, severe allergy (especially to fish) or epilepsy. All our guides are first aid trained.
- Drinking alcohol and smoking on the premises is prohibited.
- Do not leave pets in the car park or take them with you to the viewing area.
- If you are coming by car, do not leave unpackaged or strong-smelling food in the car.
What to take with you
- The most important thing is to take a smiling face and a happy mind with you!
- Dress for the weather. The weather can change quickly. Summer days and especially nights can sometimes be chilly. An extra warm layer of clothing can be a good idea.
- Wildlife observation takes place inside the viewing buildings. We walk along an easy path for about 400 metres from the car park to the hidden hooks through the forest. The path can be wet in spring and rainy weather. Make sure you have suitable shoes for a short walk in the forest.
- Take your camera with you. You’ll get great photos of bears, birds and other animals, and your mobile phone is also great for taking pictures. There is a separate checklist for camera equipment.
- Fully charge your camera and phone batteries before your visit. There is no electricity on our site.
- If you wish, you can bring your own snacks, e.g. sandwiches and beverages. You can also buy a snack from us, e.g. small snacks, coffee, tea, chocolate bars and beverages.
- We accept the most common debit and credit cards at our stalls.
Useful information for photographers
Checklist for photographers
- Camera body or bodies. You can use more than one camera at no extra charge if there are slots available. Tip! Take a test shot before your trip to make sure the camera works, has power and a working memory card!
- A superzoom camera such as the Sony RX10, Nikon P900, P950 or P1000 is also ideal for shooting.
- You can get very good photos and great videos with your mobile phone.
- Take extra memory card and spare batteries with you!
- Camera head, e.g. a ball head, video head or gimbal head. We have video heads that you can borrow if you need.
- No tripod is needed, you can mount the camera head on a metal plate with a 3/8″ bolt or shoot from the top of a bean bag.
- The best lenses for photographing birds and bears are telephoto and super telephoto lenses. For example 120-300mm, 100-400mm, 200-500mm, 150-600mm, 300mm, 400mm, 500mm etc.
- Teleconverter can be useful if you have one, especially when shooting birds at a distance (1.4x, 2.0x, etc.)
- Lens cleaning cloth especially when the weather is cold or wet.
- Power bank and battery charger.
- Don’t take a drone with you. Drone flying is not allowed due to the no-fly zone (we are only 2 km from the Russian border). We also don’t want to disturb animals.
About our watching and photographing hides
Observation buildings (hides)
- We have 2 buildings, one with 6 photographing slots and one with 8 photographing slots.
- The viewing buildings are located about 380 metres from the parking lot.
- The path through the forest is easy and there are no significant differences in altitude.
- Our customers are inside and the mosquitoes are outside. You don’t need mosquito repellent!
- Two outhouse (toilets).
- The mobile phones work reasonably well on watching area but the 4G/Data connection is sometimes poor depending on operator. We will build a WIFI connection during the summer.
- We have two beds in each building (4 in total) and you can spend the whole night in the stalls if you wish (book an overnight stay).
- In our second hideaway we have a gas heater for the cold seasons.
- Portable stove (gas).
- You can buy snacks, chocolate, candy, water, drinks, coffee and tea. Payment can be done by card.
FAQ – Frequently asked questions
Q: Is it dangerous to view and photograph bears and large carnivores?
A: No. From our watching buildings, it is safe and comfortable to observe and photograph these animals.
Bears and other wild animals are naturally fear of humans, it’s very rare to see them in nature. But all big wild animals can be dangerous in some situations, so it is very important that all our visitors follow the instructions of our guides.
Q: Is bear and wildlife watching a suitable activity for children?
A: Yes!!! Children are always welcome, but it is important to remember to be as quiet as possible when watching bears. Bear watching is not suitable for children under 10 years old. It’s a good idea to pack some entertainment for the kids, e.g. movies on your mobile phone or tablet, and headphones so that they will not get bored. It is not possible to leave the the watching area one by one without guide before the rest of the group. Excessive noise will drive bears away and spoil the participation of others.
Q: Is the activity physically demanding?
A: No. The distance from the parking lot to the hidden hooks is about 400 metres. The path is very easy to walk, and there are no significant differences in altitude.
Q: Do I need an expensive system camera to get good pictures of bears?
A: No, you can take really good pictures and excellent videos with a mobile phone. Our hides allow bears to get quite close, and you can take high quality pictures of bears with your mobile phone’s camera. If you want to take pictures of birds such as ravens, hawks and eagles, you may need a camera with a zoom lens. Birds may not dare to come as close as bears.
Q: What animals can be seen
A: Bears, ravens, gulls and sea eagles visit us every day. If you are lucky, you may see a moose, a wolf, a wolverine, an eagle. falcons (e.g. northern goshawk or the black kite) and other predator birds. You can also see other smaller birds, such as tit birds, Siberian jays and woodpeckers. In May and June you can also see migratory birds.
Q: Are the animals trained or educated?
A: No. All the animals that visit the site live wild in the wild and the site is part of their natural habitat.
Q: What kind of road goes to the bear watching site? Is it suitable for camper van?
A: The roads from Kuusamo and Ruka are mainly asphalt roads up to the village of Vuotunki. The last 14 km from Vuotunki to Kuntijärvi is a reasonably well maintained dirt/gravel road. You can easily get there by normal car or campervan.