Go Bear Watching in Finland
Finland is home to approximately 1200 brown bears, which are mainly found in the remote north-east of Finland close to the Russian border. Travelling on an Explore nature tour to Finland you can go bear watching between April and September, before the weather starts to turn colder and the bears go into hibernation. The long northern summer means that there is between 12 and 16 hours of direct sunlight each day, plus 2 to 4 hours of twilight – all the more light for trying to observe and photograph these inquisitive giants of the forest. There is also a variety of other wildlife in Finland that you may be fortunate enough to see including owls, wolverine, foxes and elk.
Spot Brown Bears in Romania
The Romanian Bear population is one of the strongest remaining in Europe, with the Carpathian Mountains being home to about 43% of all European brown bears, which is around 6000 individuals. If you travel to Romania with Explore between May and July then you may be lucky enough to spot female bears looking for a suitable mate, and then their cubs will take their first exploratory steps out of their dens in the following spring. At the end of the summer, the bears are more active as they seek out food to increase their weight before hibernating for the winter.
Search for Bison, Eagles and Bears in Belarus
The Berezinsky National Park in Belarus was established in 1925 in the hope of providing an area that could protect and restore the flora and fauna populations that were nearly destroyed during World War II, and it is currently the only area of natural protection in Belarus. On an Explore tour to Berezinsky National Park you can experience the forests, bogs, lakes and deep rivers that make up this unusual landscape and form the habitat for a large number of animal and bird species, including half of the Belarusian population of brown bears. Whilst hiking in Berezinsky National Park, keep your eyes peeled for osprey, grey crane, golden eagle and peregrine that are regularly spotted. You may also be lucky enough to see elk, bison, brown bears, wolves or lynxes.
Whale Watching in the Azores
The Azores Islands in Portugal are famed as being one of the best places in the world for whale and dolphin watching. Throughout the year on Azores whale watching boat trips you can spot the common bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins along with sperm whales. Travelling with Explore in spring you may also see fin and sei whales and may be lucky enough to spot the giant blue whale too. Travelling to the Azores in summertime is great for seeing the Atlantic spotted dolphin, striped dolphin and pilot whales.
Search for Dolphins and Monk Seals in Madeira
The Portuguese island of Madeira is formed upon the tip of a volcano which rises around six kilometres from the North Atlantic Ocean floor. The cold deep waters off the coast make it a great location for boat cruises for whale and dolphin watching, which let you see both short finned pilot whales and other species as they pass through the region on their annual migration. On Explore holidays to Madeira between March and September you will be likely to see Bryde’s whales and sperm whales and both the common bottlenose and Atlantic spotted dolphins. The three uninhabited Desertas Islands are a Natural Reserve to protect the monk seal, monachus monachus, which favours these waters. The monk seal is considered to be the rarest seal in the world with only around 500 left worldwide; the Desertas Islands are home to a colony of 30.
Go Bird Watching in Romania
The Danube Delta in Romania covers over 4000 square kilometres and its small waterways, reedy channels and tranquil lakes are a premier wildlife sanctuary and paradise for birdwatchers and photographers alike. Vast quantities of birds congregate here, including white pelicans, red footed falcons and white tail eagles. Travel to Romania's Danube Delta with Explore during breeding season in May to witness the variety of birds which flock to the region in higher numbers during this time. The wetlands are also home to a number of mammals, such as wild boar, wild cats and jackal, although spotting these is harder and sightings are rare.
See Turtle Nesting Grounds in Turkey
Iztuzu Beach, near Dalyan in Turkey, is a narrow strip of land which forms a natural barrier between the Mediterranean Sea and the Koycegiz River Delta. It is one of the main breeding grounds in the Mediterranean for the loggerhead sea turtle and has been protected since 1988. If you're travelling to Turkey with Explore, you can visit the Turtle Conservation Centre here which assists with protecting the nests, treating injured turtles and educating the local fishermen.
See Whales and Puffins Along the Coast of Iceland
The waters around Iceland stretch from the cold Arctic Sea to the north and the warmer North Atlantic Ocean to the south. The mixing of the hot and cold sea currents along with Iceland's relatively shallow coastal waters and long summer days make it a great feeding area for whales, dolphins and an array of birdlife, which makes it the perfect spot for wildlife viewing. On several Explore holidays to Iceland there is the possibility of taking a whale watching boat trip to see harbour porpoises, white beaked dolphin and a variety of whale species including humpback, fin, minke and orca 'killer' whales. The majestic blue whale is also a visitor during the summer. On an explore trip along the coast of Iceland you can see Puffins between May and mid-August. These pretty little birds may look awkward on the ground, but they are remarkably agile in the water. They return to the same spot to breed every year, laying their eggs in spring and then feeding the fledglings for a month or two. There are a variety of other birds that you could see, including cormorants, arctic terns, eider ducks and black guillemots.
Take a Polar Cruise to the Svalbard Archipelago
Take a Polar cruise with Explore to the unique island of Spitsbergen, which is in the Svalbard Archipelago off the northern coast of Norway. Spitsbergen is at the point where the Arctic Ocean, Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea converge and so it attracts a wide range of Arctic marine life. This Explore holiday gives you ample opportunity to discover all aspects of this fascinating Arctic island. Eastern Svalbard has the highest population of polar bears in the archipelago. In Phippsøya there is a large ivory gull colony, and there are virtually always polar bears here and in Hornsund early in the season. It’s another great place for spotting bears, as ice pushed into the fjord makes an ideal hunting ground for them. There is a large population of the endemic Svalbard Reindeer in Isfjorden and in Storfjorden, if you are lucky, you might meet some of the marine mammals such as walruses and seals on your wildlife cruise to Norway.