Central Europe is still home to healthy populations of brown bears with some 4,000 to 5,000 animals.
Taking advantage of this, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia all offer some great bear tracking holidays. Here’s a few of them:
Bear tracking in the Piatra Craiului National Park in the Carpathian mountains. The area is home to the highest concentration of wolves, bears and lynx in Europe and remains an area of interest for researchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Tracking mammals on foot with an award winning expert guide Read more
This eight-day bear tracking trip in Slovakia looks very interesting indeed. You’ll work with the expert guides and rangers who lead the High Tatras bear project, you will search not only for bears, but also wolves, wildcats and more.
Bulgaria is one of the best places for watching brown bears in Europe with a population of some 600-800 bears. This short holiday offers you the chance to see bears in the heart of the most unspoilt part of the Rodopi Mountains.
Volunteer work in a sanctuary near Brasov Romania. which will enable captive bears to be re-homed in 10 hectares of forest. Where possible, young bears will be rehabilitated and returned to the wild. As a volunteer you’ll be helping with a wide range of tasks, including feeding the bears, monitoring their progress, helping at the ‘bear hospital’, maintaining fences and facilities and showing visitors around. Read more here
Further north, another bear watching hotspot is Finland. Its vast taiga forest is still home to sizeable numbers of brown bears. Read more
Bulgaria is one of the best places for watching brown bears in Europe with a population of some 600-800 bears. This short holiday offers you the chance to see bears in Bulgaria. Bear sightings are not guaranteed though they reckon you have a 90% chance of observing wild brown bears during the best periods (full moon periods are strongly recommended). An exciting tour dedicated to observing wild brown bears in their hunting territories, without fences, without human interference in the heart of the most unspoilt part of the Rodopi Mountains.
The guides use hides that are specially arranged for watching brown bears. You will spend a few hours after sunset and before sunrise or a whole night waiting for the bear to appear. If lucky we may enjoy a mother with cubs or solitary males and other nocturnal wildlife too. The bears are usually seen from 30-50 meters.
Romania offers great opportunities for bear watching and is one of the best wildlife watching destinations in Europe. Spend a week exploring the more remote areas of Piatra Craiului National Park in the Carpathian mountains. The area, clad in healthy pine forests, is home to the highest concentration of wolves, bears and lynx in Europe and remains an area of interest for researchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. We will spend days tracking mammals on foot with an award winning expert guide, as well as visiting and interacting with the traditional farming communities of the region. Read more
The guide sounds excellent:
Dan Marin grew up in Zarnesti and has been leading wildlife and cultural trips in the region since 2000. Dan was involved with the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project for three years and has lectured on conservation and wildlife issues to universities from Sweden as well as at schools in Bucharest. Dan speaks fluent English and is a licensed wildlife guide. His knowledge and enthusiast earned him the Wanderlust Guide of the Year award in 2007 and articles on the work that he has been involved with have featured in the Sunday Times and the independent amongst many others
This eight-day bear tracking trip in Slovakia looks great fun. You’l work with the expert guides and rangers who lead the High Tatras bear project, you will search not only for bears, but also wolves, wildcats and more. Accommodation is in remote mountain cottages, usually reserved only for park rangers. These cottages offer immediate access to prime wildlife areas. You will be fully integrated in this study, with access to all the latest data collected and you will also be able to track the movements of the study bears wearing GPS transmitters. You’ll also have access to the Bielskie Tatry (White Tatras), an area usually off-limits to the public and strictly controlled as a National Park. Included in the price is a sizeable contribution which goes directly to bear conservation in Slovakia. All in a all a worthwhile and fun way of spending a long week.
The vast taiga forest of Finland are still home to sizeable numbers of brown bears. Heading deep into the forest to specially prepared observation hides, the organisers aim to spot this amazing animal in its natural habitat during this exciting long weekend. You’l travel east towards the Russian border. The proximity of this area to the Arctic Circle, with resultant long hours of daylight increases the chances of viewing these predominantly nocturnal animals. Our isolated hides, located in a small open wetland area, have been adapted to maximize the chances of spotting bears, whilst balancing the needs for a level of comfort. As well as bears, sightings of elk, fox and wolverines are also possible. Trips are accompanied by a local naturalist guide.
There are a number of possibilities for watching brown bears in Finland.
Brown bear watching in Finland. Observe European Brown Bears. Sparsely populated Eastern Finland is an untamed expanse of pristine natural beauty. The vast, dense taiga forest, interspersed with lakes and rivers, offers a haven to the elusive European brown bear. Heading deep into the forest to specially prepared observation hides, we aim to spot this amazing animal in its natural habitat during this exciting long weekend.
“Exciting four-day tour, running throughout Finland’s high summer months, provides a three-night stay at a wonderful Wilderness Centre, lying in a quiet taiga forest along the Russian border. Here, you have the option of spending one or two nights in a specially constructed log cabin that has been designed as a bear hide.” Finland – A Wildlife Photography Tour Naturetrek
“Photograph Wild Brown Bears in Finland with us! See cubs climb trees when they get frightened by a bigger bear and watch huge males roam through the Taiga forest. A perfect location for a Squiver Photo Trip! Join wildlife & nature photographer Marsel van Oosten and come back with great pictures. Visit www.squiver.com and sign up for the Wild Brown Bears Photo Trip, learning the tricks from a professional.”
Account of tracking brown bears in Slovakia’s High Tatras. The High Tatras are the highest part of the Carpathian mountain range. Current estimates reckon there are about 800 brown bears in the High Tatras. Thanks to enlightened protection policies in the 1930s and the creation of Tatra national park in 1948, the bears here have survived, while in the rest of Europe the were decimated by hunting. Read about this guided tour in the Guardian