Texts and photos: Copyright Sabine Bengtsson / Perlenfaenger.com
To photograph and watch the two bear huts, you can book here and see more details:
Sweden – the land of my ancestors and also many fascinating tours, which are in the program of Perlenfänger. On the 14.06.2018 I made my way to the southern to middle part of Sweden to travel. My Land Rover (he got the name Anton from the last examiner from the check of the association for technical inspection :-)) is my home for the next two weeks. We have been exploring Europe for 20 years and spent together 430 000 km and now 3.550 km are added.
But before I reach Sweden, I make a stopover in Denmark. From a porpoise researcher, I got a tip, where I can watch the rare harbor porpoises on Funen. Once there, I search for the best place. I ask a man who just wants to get in his car. A stroke of luck, as it turns out later. Because he lives very close, where there is a good chance. Ole, his name is, even takes the time to show me the beautiful place. On the fountain is a Marsvin (Danish porpoise) shown. Also a small museum deals with the small whales. He is even pictured in the coat of arms of the city. We can look in vain for the museum and us. He tells me that his neighbor has a ship with which he goes on whale watching trips with guests in the summer. Then he takes me to the old harbor. Here is a small house, modeled on a ship’s bridge, with a telescope and a headphone to listen to the whales if they are around. I thank Ole for his kindness and the time he has taken and sit down on the jetty in front of the little house.
Ducks swim past me and when I almost want to leave, I suddenly hear the sharp sound that harbor porpoises exhale. Only 10 meters in front of me, he appears twice before diving into the expanse of the fjord. Happy about this chance encounter, I just want to go, as I still get from two Danes another valuable tip, where I can still see on Funen Schweinsale. I take this place for the return journey from Sweden.
Ducks swim past me and when I almost want to leave, I suddenly hear the sharp sound that the porpoises exhale. Only 10 meters in front of me he appears twice, before he dives into the vastness of the fjord. I am pleased about this chance encounter, I just want to go because I still get this valuable tip still two Danes, where I can still see on Funen pig sale. I take this place for the return journey from Sweden.
Then it goes to the ferry, which brings me in 5.5 hours to Vahrberg / Sweden. The first stop will be Gränna. That’s where my cousin lives. Gränna is located on the largest lake in Sweden – Lake Vättern. There I spend two wonderful days. We visit a small exciting museum. In the Polar Center in the Gränna Museum you can visit the world’s largest collection of polar expeditions of August Andrée, Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel from 1897.
On July 11, 1897, the balloon „Örnen“ from Spitsbergen rose with three men on board to fly over the North Pole. This expedition was made possible by Alfred Nobel and King Oskar, who provided the necessary funds. After three days of ballooning Andrée and his men were forced to land on the ice and their fight for survival began.
Then we enjoy fresh fish in a small restaurant that offers home-brewed beer and can even go sailing in perfect weather.
Gränna is a very beautiful place, typically Swedish with picturesque wooden houses and a peaceful tranquility. The days after are very different.
I visit two cooperation partners who have built huts in two different locations, where wildlife and nature photographers as well as nature observers have the chance to observe wild brown bears and other animals. In order to observe bears, it is important not to use insect repellent or strong-smelling creams. Otherwise, the bears smell the human scent, which greatly reduces their chances of seeing them. Also spoken only in a whisper as well as you get out of the car to make the short hike to the hut. Bears are very shy and careful!
At the first hut I meet two conservationists, who are the pioneers, for a better understanding between man and bear. They have made a beautiful book about the bears and have been offering the opportunity to spend the night in the bear hut for 20 years. There is space for a maximum of 8 participants. The operator is a talented nature photographer and filmmaker who has contributed to radio and television productions about bears and golden eagles. The way in which the lodge is managed and the construction in the hiding place, he has taken all preconditions for a successful photography into account and his attention to detail in this regard is very well thought out.
The cabin is equipped with individual observation windows, camera ports, comfortable chairs, heating and eight bunk beds. You can also order your meals from a rich buffet served at the lodge, and hot drinks are also available. A composting of eco-WC complete the setup. Although simple, the Hüttel is comfortable and well equipped and ideal for photography.
But before you go into the hut, there is a small introduction to the bears with a delicious meal. It is very important for the two of them to realize how important it is to protect the bears. There are about 1,000 illegal feeding places in Sweden to shoot bears illegally. Therefore, in coordination with 3 state organizations, they have been granted permission to make small snacks for the bears. On the one hand, it increases the chance of seeing bears so that more people understand the importance of the bear to the ecosystem and the small portions prevent bears from getting used to these places. This is completely different than in Finland. They do not want to feed the bears to half-tame wild animals. Therefore, other individuals come over again and again. Although there is no 100% guarantee to see them, the chances are very high that bears will pass by. And if, it is a unique and authentic nature experience.
At 16:00 we drive to a forest parking lot and walk 25 minutes through bear area to the hut. Already on this way we find fresh bear tracks and hair on a marker tree for bears. The next morning we are picked up again around 9:00. Everyone looks for a place, positions his camera and binoculars and then it’s time to wait and be calm …
Around 20:00 it happens. Two bears enter the stage. They are very careful and constantly look around. Due to the midsummer, it is also bright at night, so that a few more bears can watch well. They come up to a few meters in front of the hut, so that we can hear them too. It is a very intense experience! In the morning we are picked up again and after a delicious breakfast it is about 2.5 hours by car to the second bear hut.
It is designed for only 4 participants, has photo slots and windows in the floor area, so on the one hand it gives the possibility to make pictures from the ground perspective, as well as to enable families with children to see wild animals.
When we arrive there, we are also greeted warmly, enjoy a delicious lunch and then make our way to the hut. There are photo slots and small windows on three sides. The landscape is very different, as in the other hut. It is rocky and thicker surrounded by trees. Here you can also see foxes, badgers and birds. We are 3 guests and set up comfortably. First, many different birds can be seen, plus forest mice, a fox and squirrels. But around 20:00 a young bear comes and lets himself be observed for a short time. Half an hour later, we witness how he is being chased by an older bear. Both disappear in the forest and only an hour later, the young bear reappears. Visibly nervous and always on the go. After he leaves, the older bear appears. He looks around and we can watch him well. Both will appear separately in front of our hut later, so we are glad that the little bear is fine.
At night, the fox appears again and little squirrels play right in front of our eyes. The cabin is cozy and personable. As the morning dawns, the young bear comes by again and we can take good pictures of him. At eight o’clock we are picked up for a good breakfast. Here we learn once again something interesting to the bears and other wild animals.
Then I drive south, planned are some national parks. Driving in Sweden is relaxed and due to the low traffic I make good progress. A small national park with age-old trees has particularly impressed me. On a hike I find Wolfslosung. The night I spend all alone in the deep forest of the national park. Again, Sweden is exceptional. One is allowed to stay there for one night and there are toilets and tables with a fireplace in many nature parking lots. There is wood ready for use. Only once on the journey do I stand on a campsite. But the many campers with their generators and satellite dishes make noise and therefore I prefer to stand overnight in forest parking lots. It is very nice in the morning to be awakened only by the birdsong.
My other cousin lives on Öland. She is involved in plant and insect protection. Therefore, we take a tour of the island to observe rare plants, butterflies and insects. Öland is beautiful. Ancient mills that are no longer used, but preserved, line the streets.
My journey continues through different landscapes and national parks. Again and again, countless lakes appear and beautiful wooden houses. I also visit my uncle, he lives directly on the Baltic Sea in southern Sweden. By a tip I decide to leave via Helsingborg Sweden. But first I drive to the Kullerberg National Park. Located on a small peninsula, it offers breathtaking views of cliffs. The last night in Sweden I spend in a small parking lot by the sea. The Baltic Sea is warm and with my diving mask and snorkel you can watch fish and crabs. Awakened by the sun, I make my way to the ferry early in the morning.
When I reach Denmark and drive to Copenhagen, I get into the first and only traffic jam. The universities have semester breaks and together with the commuter traffic every hour it comes to a standstill on the highway. So I leave them to visit Kerteminde and then drive to the place recommended to me by the Danish couple at the beginning of the trip to watch harbor porpoises. My plan is to stand there the night with my Land Rover. In Kerteminde, porpoises are explored and visitors learn about these shy little whales. There is currently only one forest name called Freya living there. She is already 23 years old (at liberty, she is up to 14 years old) and helps researchers discover the behavior of whales. Thanks to the decoding of their language, this enabled a Kiel researcher to develop the pinger. Because the biggest threat is the gillnet fishing for them. The pinger is attached to the nets and announces in their language that threatens danger here. As a result, already 70% of the whales could be saved from suffocation in the nets.
When I reach the northern tip of eastern Funen, I experience a surprise. The area is beautiful, very hilly and is located on a Sandsteilküste. Swallows fly at high speed and many insects are observed. I sit on the edge of the cliff and look out with the binoculars for porpoises. In fact, porpoises soon emerge. First there are individuals, then I see the small whales in pairs and in the end I can even see a group of four porpoises. Overjoyed, I go back to the car. It turns out, though, that I can not park there overnight. But that does not matter to this great whale sighting. The return trip is without problems and I reach my home at night.
Conclusion: Sweden is still the destination for individualists, who likes to camp alone in the middle of the forest, should travel to Sweden at least once. About us it is possible to do observation tours to moose, wolves, bears, lynxes and beavers. Even the most lonely national park in Europe – the Sarek – is part of our tour program. We offer the chance in Northern Lapland to experience the culture of the Sami and reindeer. All Sweden tours can be found here.