Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

With more than 130,000 square miles of land to explore, the European nation of Finland is renowned for its sprawling pine forests and high concentration of lakes, and all of these scenic natural features play host to a massive array of native Nordic creatures. While the national capital of Helsinki is a particularly popular tourist destination, the northern reaches of the country are well-suited for ecotourism, with no shortage of seasoned tour companies offering escapes to the most remote depths of the nation.

While the Eurasian brown bear was once common across Europe, habitat fragmentation and encounters with humans have extirpated the subspecies from much of the continent, yet Finland’s native population is still going strong. In the modern era, the animals are most easily spotted during a trip to the country’s heavily-forested eastern border—an excursion that Ruka Safaris is perfectly equipped to deliver. During the summertime, the company offers forays from Iisakki Village into the deep countryside, providing access to a specialized cabin that’s perfect for spotting Finland’s native bears in their natural habitat.

Gray wolves, moose, and wolverines are just a few of the land-dwelling creatures that roam the Finnish wilderness, but in the southeastern reaches of the nation, the iconic Lake Saimaa is home to a particularly fascinating aquatic species. Known as the Saimaa ringed seal, this curious creature is one of just three extant freshwater seals found on earth, with just over four hundred individuals calling the lake home. For those wishing to catch a glimpse of a Saimaa seal in the flesh, SaimaaHoliday Oravi operates tours from May to September, providing guests with an opportunity to spot these adorable mammals during a seal safari.

When it comes to fauna across Finland, the nation’s native mammals serve as a particularly prominent draw for ecotourism, but they’re far from the only warm-blooded creatures thriving within the country’s borders. Thanks to its many marshes and lengthy coastline, Finland has also developed a prominent birding scene, offering a wide array of avian species to spot during a visit.

For those wishing to stick close to Helsinki, Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park is rife with native seabirds and waterfowl, while top-tier birding destinations like Liminka Bay and the Kvarken Archipelago can be found further north along the Gulf of Bothnia coast. If you’re searching for an experienced guide to aid you in exploring the wild side of Finland, Taiga Times offers a wide range of multi-day national park excursions, with destinations ranging from the heavily-forested Isojärvi National Park to the swampy Salamajärvi National Park.

Though Finland is subject to frosty temperatures in the winter and massive swarms of mosquitoes in the summer, this storied Nordic nation is home to a truly spectacular array of activities for visiting wildlife lovers. Whether you’re hoping to spot vagrant bird species mid-migration, watch powerful brown bears battle for dominance in the heart of the forest, or catch a glimpse of one of the world’s few freshwater pinnipeds, it’s tough to find a more charming ecotourism destination in all of the European Union.

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