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!