"bLog means boring-Log"
day 13 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
we woke, up put our stuff into the car and drove to the restaurant for checking out. there was a family there sitting out on the veranda, it seemed they were taking a hike today. we got inside and had a little breakfast consisting of muffins and coffee. then we had a little chat with the owner of this entire complex, and he told us he had built every single building here by himself, over many many years. now that was impressive, because the cottage we stayed in really looked like it was built by carpenters. and he told us he was far from finished, so there will be more new buildings over the next few years. incredible guy, respect.
then it was time to get to our bear watching experience at the martinselkosen
wildlife centre in pirtivara.
we arrived there at 15:30 o'clock and were greeted by michael, a friendly guy from lower styria. we still had to wait a little for another couple to arrive who would join us tonight. but besides the swiss couple, it was just us. how exciting.
as soon as the group was complete, we got in a big atv and were driven to a nearby parking lot. there was another car, and dogs were barking in the distance. michael told us, most likely it is russians (the border is only 500 metres away) who are training their dogs for the bear hunt, as hunting season will start soon - poor bears. michael called at the office to inform border patrol, so they can handle this situation.
then we walked about 1.5 kilometres to the forest hides. michael asked beforehand if it was okay for us to pick one of them too, as we previously were going for the swamp hide. with us being at the forest hide too, it would all be easier for the staff to coordinate this experience, from carrying lunch packages to picking us up. also michael recommended the forest hide to us after a little discussion with what we wanted, and what gear we had, with focus on focal length, camera model, and lens speed especially. so we agreed, as all we wanted was to spot bears, no matter in which hide. and if it makes life easier for the guys, we had no problem with choosing the forest hide.
soon we came by the big main hide (which was for around 20 people and looked quite luxurious), where about 15 bears were scattered around and cute fluffy little bear cubs were climbing and hanging on trees, and playing around. the rest of the bears was just watching in curiosity. silently we walked on, avoiding eye contact - those were our instructions from the staff to stay out of trouble. at the forest hide there were three hides; the swiss couple picked the left one, we picked the middle one. inside it was like a finish sauna. we were ordered to keep the door locked and stay quiet at all times. once locked in, michael and janni, the other staff guy, left, the first bear appeared.
then came all kinds of bears[007-320]. old bears, big bears, even bigger bears, and even bigger big bears. it was like each time a new bear shows up, it is way more massive and bigger than the previous one.
and the bears were seeking the snacks michael and janni had hidden in front of our hides, so the bears would come close and stay near the hides. once a treat was found, it was eaten right away, with lots of noises and even more pleasure - a lot of smacking and drooling.
by now we were very glad to have not chosen the swamp hide, because when walking to the forest hide we saw the swamp hide, and it was in direct sunlight all day and night long. so inside the swamp hide it must have been even hotter than in the forest hide - and in our hide it was already close to unbearable (uhm, no pun actually). within the first ten minutes of staying in the small hide i was already totally soaked in sweat. after a few hours we noticed the swiss couple was opening their door when no bears were in sight, so we tried the same. we got a slight cooling breeze, and it was soooo good. fresh air and a little cool down, we were so happy we did not even mind the mosquitoes that came along with each draught. the doors from both hides were closed, as soon as a bear approached the area.
inside the hides there was not much space. there was a very narrow and small dry toilet, a bench that was convertible to a bedding surface, two sleeping bags, and a small chair. then there were the openings in the walls, each with shutters and a net to hide the cameras and photographers from the bears (although i think it is more likely bears will smell you anyway), and bean bags to position the camera on top of it. there would have been openings for tripod plates too, but we did not use them, as we were more flexible with the bags.
soon all my memory cards - that is a 16GB, and two 2GB cards - were full, and i wanted to copy them to my laptop so i could erase them from the card to continue shooting, when i noticed i forgot my card reader in the car. thanks brain, and thanks canon for only allowing compact flash cards in my camera model; if i only could use sd cards, i could easily copy them with the built-in card reader from my laptop.
so i hooked up the camera with an usb cable hoping i could mount it as a mass storage device, but to no avail. i was so desperate i even booted into my windows partition which i keep for gaming stuff, and hoped i could copy the stuff there via usb - and thankfully it worked. so i was copying the files from camera to my windows partition, then booting to linux again to move the files to linux, to have enough space on my windows partition for an eventual second round of moving pictures. puh, lucky me. i was really relieved this had worked.
at some point a mother bear with two bear cubs appeared on the glade. all three of them very careful and cautious to avoid the many big male bears that were already around. the cubs were very cute and fluffy, most likely the ones we saw in the afternoon when walking from the car to the forest hide. they were also enjoying the snacks for a while, when suddenly all three of them got on their hind legs, and then ran away. as we assumed, a big bear was coming nearer. later we saw the bear family again, and again after a while they fled the scene after mama bear got on her hind legs. pretty impressive to see how large and enormous the bear really was, once it was standing tall.
after several hours of watching bears, i came to the conclusion that bears are like cats: they are cute, look pretty cuddly, and all they do is eat, lie around, and occasionally get up to make mischief. only they are much bigger than cats, and probably more dangerous. i was quite glad the thin walls of press board were between us.
although if a bear really would have wanted to examine our lunch packs, it would have been no obstacle for them. but the staff had already thought of that and put all the food in sealed plastic containers. they also added a thermos flask full of coffee. still we thought it was more safe to have our snacks only when no bears were around. this way we also would not miss any bear action.
the bears were active and around until approximately 00:30 o'clock, then they all disappeared. after waiting for a while and no bears showing up, we went to sleep, to get a little rest. since it was so hot and tight in the hide it was not very restful, but at some point we must have dozed off.
at around 04:30 o'clock i was woken up by the noise of a bear climbing a tree[312-320] to get some treats hidden in the trunk, but this one also left as soon as he got all the treats collected. so we went back to my plank bed too, but woke up at around 06:00 o'clock again. then there were no more bears until 07:00 o'clock; too bad. that was when michael picked us up, and drove us back to the headquarters.
all in all i shot over 1200 pictures this day, resulting in 32GB of data (i had to copy via windows a second time this night). i skimmed the pictures several times, sorting out the blurry ones, then reducing the double ones, so finally around 320 made it to the gallery. there were many more pictures that would have been usable for the gallery but i really tried to reduce them to the ones i really liked the most.
so this was our stay at the "forest hide" accommodation in pirtivara, with a way too hot day at 32°C and no clouds. yet, it was an awesome and unique experience - bears are simply amazing.
track for day 13