65° 13’ 1.77” N – 29° 38’ 52.46” E
Bear Safari /
Healthy fear of bears
A healthy fear of bears is nothing to joke about. People react just as intensively as instinctively when faced with the huge predator with its massive head and pronounced hump between the shoulders. The tracks from the back paws are like a distortedly wide human foot with claws. It is here in the vast Kainuu Forest that the largest brown bear in Europe was caught. Its body weight was an unbelievable 373 kilograms. It could have broken the spine of any prey animal with a swipe of its arm, but as an omnivore it adapts its diet to the seasons – and bears like berries. Nestled in this wilderness hideout along the Russian border, the meals on offer are fish guts, animal entrails and other stinky treats – the fatter the better.
At Arola Farm, there are three comfortable and cosy huts with windows and special openings to allow photography. One of the huts is even wheelchair accessible. The guide is well-acquainted with most of the brown bears that come to the party and previous bear watchers have given them names. Brown bears are known to wander far, especially the males, but at the same time stay in their home tracts – which can cover an area of as much as 1500 km².
Several home tracts can overlap with each other. They are not defended as territory of individual loners either. You can probably also expect to see elk and hear howling wolves as an added bonus out in the hut hideout.
Arola Farm is an old home out in the enormous and sparsely-populated taiga that covers northern Scandinavia and continues via Siberia all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Arola Farm is also neighbour to the Martinselkonen Wildlife Centre, which is planned to become part of the enormous and long-planned Kalevala National Park (the majority of which will be situated in Russia). In addition to good fishing near the farm, there is also a smoke sauna (savusauna). The traditional variant that has no chimney. It is heated for hours and then the smoke is aired out.
Bear safaris are arranged from May to mid-August.
E63 north from Kajaani to the junction before Soumussalmi (101 km). Continue on route 9151 northwest (4 km) and route 912 to Palovaara (8 km). Continue on route 843 to the junction before Juntusranta (51 km) and route 9131 to Arola Farm (7 km).
No 30 BEAR SAFARI / KAINUU FOREST
GOOD TO KNOW
- Activity: Bear safari
- Location: Kainuu Forest, Finland
- Season: May-August
- Degree of difficulty: Everyone is welcome.
- Other facts: Elias Lönnrot, who is best known for composing the Finnish national epic poem Kalevala, is said to have travelled the Karttimojoki River in the Martinselkonen Wildlife Centre where Arola is situated. The river leads to Viena, where Lönnrot travelled several times to gather the runes on which Kalevala is based. In Viena, Lönnrot experiences the living runic song and the histories of its heroes.
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