Gallery: Bear watching in Ida-Viru County

Bear watching hides in Estonia's eastern counties are becoming more and more popular. If interested bear enthusiasts keep their eyes open, they might also see other animals on the territory.

"It is amazing to see such large and majestic creatures in the wild. From a safe distance, of course, but it is still impressive. They are so much larger than we are," said Lisa Rafetzeder, a nature enthusiast visiting the Alutaguse bear watching hut from Austria.

Nature tourism company Natourest offers observations in two locations in eastern Estonia with the hides formerly mainly an attraction for foreign tourists. Now, more and more Estonians have discovered their love for the king of Estonian woods.

"During the first ten years of activity, our main client base was foreign nature enthusiasts. There were many people from France, England, the Netherlands, Denmark. Over the last year, foreign tourists have not been able to visit as much due to restrictions and Estonians have not gotten to go away, which is why Estonians have also come here. The Estonians were likely the majority last year, it is about half this year," said Bert Rähni, a guide.

Nature guides have their tricks to attract the largest carnivore in Estonian forests to the observation territory. "We place a little grain and small bits of fish. And we also pour some smells so they would come and explore," Rähni said.

The huts are built in a way so that clients would feel safe. Rafetzeder said she was thinking about the door often while in the hut, but did not feel any fear for the bear.

She added that she found the bear watching hides while preparing to travel to Estonia. "A friend and I had never been to Estonia before, she has visited the Scandinavian countries. We are interested in the local flora-fauna. We thought the weather would be cool here, but no, it is not. A beautiful land, not too tourism-y," Rafetzeder said.

The bear watching trips also have a form of insurance if bears are not visible, giving clients another night at the hide.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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