Bears, Elk and Adventure – Estonia for Family

 

Watching a wild Brown Bear from a bear watching hide from about 20 meters away is breathtaking! The silence in the cabin when we wait with the children for the bear, the crackling of branches, listening of the owl calls – feeling the adrenaline rush when the bear approaches. These emotions will not be forgotten! You will especially remember the overnight stays in the bear watching hide and in tents on a small island. 

Hardly any other European country has as many wild animals as Estonia does. We plan to observe different mammals and birds during the family trip. To discover them we take a boat trip on Beaver river, walk in a wild swamp using bog shoes, canoe down the river in the wetland and look for the seals in a fishing boat on our way to Saarnaki islet. 

At the end of our journey, Estonian capital Tallinn welcomes us. The child-friendly and charming Hanseatic town is packed with lovely cafes, thrilling museums and a long history. 

Highlights

  • Night in a Brown Bear watching hide 
  • Elk safari
  • Medieval Tallinn Old Town
  • Boat trip to watch Ringed Seals
  • Beaver safari with a fishing boat
  • Bog-shoeing in a peat bog
  • Campfire on a beach
  • Camping on a desert island
  • Canoe trip in Soomaa NP
  • Romantic coastal town Haapsalu
  • Visiting a medieval castle

 

Day 1. Arrival to Estonia

estonian wildlife Elk in Matsalu NPFlight to Tallinn • Drive to Toosikannu • Arrival to the guesthouse in the middle of the animal park • Evening hike through the forest, observation of elk, red deer, roe deer, and others.

Our friendly Eglish-speaking guide will pick you up from the airport and the adventures can begin. After settling into our accommodation, we will look for animals in the surrounding forest. While the most numerous animals will be Red Deer, it’s also home for Roe Deer and the magnificent Elk. Autumn will be the time when all the adult deer and Elk bulls have impressive antlers that they can finally put to use, as it’s the rut time. Estonia doesn’t enhance travelers only with its diverse landscapes, but also with great diversity wildlife. 

Transfer about 1.5 hours

Catering: Dinner

 

Day 2. Canoe Tour in Soomaa National Park 

Canoe Tour in Soomaa National Park • Picnic in the wilderness • Hike in the national park • Discover beaver tracks 

After breakfast, we will head to Europe’s largest wetland area – Soomaa National Park. With its vast, almost untouched bogs and naturally flowing rivers, it is one of the highlights of our family trip. Soomaa’s most well-known feature is the flood time or the fifth season, as called by the locals. During the time, the locals move only by canoe, kayak or traditional dugout canoes, which are made out of aspen trees. This opens up wetlands, which are otherwise accessible only in winter by ice. The rivers, flood plains, and wetlands are still really quaint and untouched. The wild meandering rivers flow through the habitat of beaver and as we slide silently with the canoes over the over, there’s always a chance to spot some wildlife. Canoeing is first and foremost relaxing in a natural environment and to make it even more enjoyable, we will look for a cozy spot and have a picnic in the middle of our canoe trip. In the afternoon we will walk on one of several hiking trails Soomaa NP has to offer.

Catering: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

Day 3. Bog-shoeing

Exploring a wild peat bog area • Bog-shoe hike • Swimming in a bog pool • Water activities • Canoeing and stand up paddling • Wildlife safari with a local guide

After having a tasty breakfast, we will start exploring a peat bog area in a traditional way. Namely, we will go off-track with the help of bog-shoes. This type of footwear will make sure that you won’t sink through the soft wobbling bog surface. Our adventure takes us to small lakes or “bog pools”, where we can have a rejuvenating swim and picnic. Swimming in the clean water of a bog pool is certainly an experience to remember. Bog poolIn the afternoon we will return to Toosikannu Holiday Center for some spare time and extra activities. If you want to, you can swim in the pond or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP).

In the evening we step on a restored Soviet-era bus, which takes us on a through the local landscape, where we hope to spot local fauna such as Elk, Red Deer and Roe Deer. 

Catering: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

Day 4. Baltic Sea coast and Ringed Seals

Drive to the northwest coast • Ferry ride to Hiiumaa • Small fishing boat to the haul-out areas • Watching Ringed Seals • Discover the uninhabited islet of Saarnaki • Campfire on the beach • Night in tents

Today we change our location and drive to the beautiful northwestern coast of Estonia. Last counts say that Estonia has 2222 islands, scatted all over the Baltic Sea, and today’s goal is to explore some of them. In addition, we will look for Ringed Seals, who have their haul-out areas in the nature reserve we are heading to. First, we will take the ferry to Estonia’s second-biggest island – Hiiumaa. The exciting ferry ride takes us slowly through the flat Baltic Sea and with good luck, it’s already possible to spot our first seals on one one of the islets we closely pass-by.  After the crossing, we continue with a small fishing boat, which brings us into world of islets and seal banks. Later on, we will go ashore on the islet of Saarnaki. The juniper-covered island was abandoned by its inhabitants decades ago. However, their houses, barns and the peculiar windmill have been preserved and opened to the visitors of the islet. On Saarnaki, time seems to be standing still. Who has not dreamt of camping on a desert island?

Transfer: about 5 hours

Catering: Breakfast / Dinner

 

Day 5. Desert island Saarnaki and SUP paddling

Free time on the islet • Optional: stand-up board paddling and swimming in the sea • Ferry ride to the mainland • Drive to Matsalu National Park • Footsteps of the last ice age

On the fifth day of our family vacation, there is no fixed program. If you wish, you can go paddling with a SUP-board in the shallow coastal waters or explore the beautiful islet. 

In the afternoon, the skipper picks us up and takes us back to Hiiumaa, where we will catch the ferry to the mainland. We will head to Matsalu National Park, which is one of Europea’s most important stop-over points for migratory birds. Our accommodation, Altmõisa Guesthouse, is situated a few hundred meters from the borders of the national park and just a few kilometers from the coast. The accommodation offers exceptional culinary experiences and is especially suitable for families and children. From Altmõisa, it’s comfortable to explore the beauty of the west coast during the next days. 

Transfers: about 2 hours

Catering: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

Day 6. Historic town by the sea

Drive to Haapsalu • Visit to the old train station, historic promenade and Haapsalu Castle • Afternoon on the beach

We drive to a spa resort town, Haapsalu, which was one of the favorite destinations for the Russian Tsar family. A railroad was built by the orders of the Tsar, to connect the calm coastal town with the capital Tallinn. Today, the wooden train station and the old steam locomotive remind us of those times. It’s possible to get really close to the different locomotives exhibited in the station and even touch them. This is usually a highlight for the young machine enthusiasts. In Haapsalu, we also walk along the calm and beautiful promenade, where the famous composer Pjotr Tchaikovski used to draw inspiration for his work. After the promenade, we will walk up to a medieval castle which we will examine more closely. The afternoon will be spent on the local beach, where children can play on the playground or shallow warm water. 

Catering: Breakfast / Dinner

 

Day 7. Matsalu National Park, domestic animal park and beaver safari

Drive to Matsalu National Park • Hike in the national park • Visiting Ranna Ranch domestic animal park with cows, geese, goats, ponies, horses and more • Beaver safari on a fishing boat • Watch of beaver, elks, otter, birds, and bats

Today we will get to know Matsalu National Park a bit better. With its beautiful coastal meadows, small islands, large reedbeds, and varied coast, it leaves an unforgettable impression on everyone who visits it. Besides observation towers, the national park offers several hiking trails and we plan to hike through one them. 

During the second part of the day, we will drive to the southern coast of Matsalu bay and visit the Ranna Ranch Domestic Animal Park. The park is a sanctuary for a big variety of domestic animals – there are about 300 animals of 14 species. 

 In the late afternoon, we’ll hop on a fishing boat and go on a beaver safari. With a bit of look, we might spot elk, beaver, otter, bats, and a variety of birds.

Catering: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

Day 8. Bear watching from a forest hide

Drive to the bear watching hide • Staying overnight in a cozy wooden hut • Observation of Brown Bears, Raccoon dogs, Foxes, Ural owl and Beaver

Today is the day we’ll finally drive to Alutaguse forest area, where we get to spend an unforgettable night in a simple but cozy observation hide. Our main goal is to spot at least one of the total 800 Brown Bears living in Estonian forests. Brown bear in Alutaguse

The special construction of the building allows the visitors to look on both sides. From one side of the hide, you have a view on a spruce-birch forest, where it’s possible to observe Brown Bears and Raccoon Dogs from a very short distance. 

From the other side of the hide, you have a view on a creek and a meadow, rimmed by willow bushes and forest. From this side, it’s possible to spot beavers, Elk and Roe Deer. When the sun starts setting down, Ural Owl might come to look for mice on the meadow. The cabins are simple, comfortable and clean. There are separate cabins with bunk beds, dry toilet and photo hatches for photographers among us.

Our nature guide answers all the questions. For example: what do the animals eat, how do they build their winter lairs, how do the bears deal with their youngs?

Transfer: about 3 hours

Catering: Breakfast / Dinner

 

Day 9. Medieval Tallinn

Drive to the capital • Visiting the historic old town • Exploring medieval towers, the market square and the upper town • Views over the harbor and the Gulf of Finland• Leisure time

In the morning we will drive to Tallinn to visit the historic old town, which has hardly changed its appearance for centuries. The old Hanseatic town has still the original street system originating from the 13th. to the 15th-century. Most of the 14th. and 15th-century houses are in their original size and shape. Especially the defense towers, the market place, and the upper town show themselves in their medieval shape. tallinna-vanalinn

Right behind Rüütli street is an observation platform that offers stunning views over the harbor and the Gulf of Finland.

Transfer: approx. 1.5 hours

Catering: Breakfast 

 

 

 

Day 10. Return home

Transfer to the airport and return flight (not included)

Today our family trip to Estonia ends. In the morning you have the opportunity to explore Tallinn on your own before we start our journey home. Transfer to the airport.  We recommend you to extend your holiday and explore more of beautiful Estonia. We will gladly send you an individual offer if needed.

Catering: Breakfast

Dates:

16-25.08.2020

Price:

The price for adults: 1812€
Price for children (for 6-year olds and older): 1176€

Group Size: 

6-8 persons

Tour price includes:

  • Local English-speaking nature guide; 
  • 7 nights in local guesthouses and hotels (twin rooms with toilet and shower);
  • Catering according to the program;
  • Transport in Estonia;
  • Ferry tickets to Hiiumaa;
  • Night in the Brown Bear watching hide;
  • Night in a tent or house on the islet of Saarnaki;
  • Canoe tour;
  • Bog-shoeing tour; 
  • Boat trip to the islands near Hiiumaa;
  • Boat trip in Matsalu NP;
  • Guided tour of Old Town Tallinn.

Season: May – September 

Book a tour with us: info@natourest.ee or by phone: +372 5622 5943

EU Leader Virumaa Koostöökogu (VIKO) supported Natourest Inc for buying nature observation optics and trail cameras.