A brown bear seen in the forests of Sweden.

A brown bear seen in the forests of Sweden.

It was September and the day before my dad’s 70th birthday and as my present to him I had given him an experience to watch bears in the wild and invited my mum to come along too. Not far from my home town in Sweden, there is a small wooden cabin in the woods. Previously, I had contacted Wild Nordic about staying there one night in hope of seeing the bears and waking up bear watching on my dad’s birthday. After a drive into the deep Swedish woods we got out of the car and started walking on a small trail. From now on only whispering allowed. We arrive at a small, rustic and cosy cabin. Perfect! One room was made for watching the bears and the other for sleeping. The guide left us alone. We were very excited.

"There was something big and dark moving behind the trees!"

While waiting for a bear to arrive (they do about 85% of the times) there were plenty of other wildlife there to watch. A red fox made a quick visit, squirrels were getting ready collecting food for the winter and lots of birds were feeding near the cabin in perfect shooting distance for the camera. The Eurasian jay was my favourite to watch. Suddenly a common buzzard landed on a log not far away. It was nice to be able to observe it at such close distance without disturbing it. But, still no bear. Would it come today?

The Eurasian jay is a beautiful bird that is always fun to observe.

A common buzzard with sharp eyes, beak and claws.

Then suddenly! “There was something big and dark moving behind the trees!” We all looked. “There it is again!” And sure enough, there he was. At first we just saw glimpses between the trees, but he got closer and closer and in the end he was walking just outside the cabin. He even stood up posing next to a tree, like a model, and my camera was rattling. For several minutes he stayed around seemingly minding his own business. It was like we were not there at all. When he finally disappeared down a different trail there was no mistake of the joy in the cabin. It was difficult to stay in whisper mode. As darkness fell, he came back once more. It was a mystical feeling seeing his large dark silhouette moving outside. When we couldn’t see anything outside anymore, we went to bed.

Finally, there he appeared from between the trees.

As instructed by the guide, we got up before dawn and started looking out the window. I whispered “Happy Birthday” to my dad. Then, two bears appeared and were playfully chasing each other back and forth around the cabin. What a show! What a success! When the bears were long gone there were a knock on the door. The guide had arrived. We went back to their office where we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast and told stories from last night and morning. I was already longing to do this again, maybe in the middle of the summer when there is light all night long. Or, possible in the winter when the snow lies deep. Then the bears are asleep but both white-tailed eagles and golden eagles visit.

As a perfect model, the bear stood up against a tree and looked towards us.

I want to thank Wild Nordic and their very professional and friendly staff for this experience. And I think that for my dad, this experience was a much better gift than any gadget I could have given him.

It was a wonderful experience getting close and personal with this bear.

See more photos in the Sweden Gallery

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