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Photo: Sven Jacek

Family Wildlife Adventure (Estonia)

A multi-centre family-friendly tour combining wildlife watching with canoeing, hiking and bog-shoeing!

  • Guided
  • Easy-Med
  • From £/adult, £/child aged 6-14
  • Aug, 10 days/9 nights
  • Families (min. age 6)

Highlights:

  • Wetland, island and forest landscapes
  • Brown bears, beavers, moose, seals and birdlife
  • Guesthouses, camping and night in bear hide
  • Outdoor activities include canoeing, hiking and bog-shoeing
  • Includes visits to beautiful historic towns
  • Local guide with all transfers included

Description »

Natural highlights of Estonia in an itinerary especially for families

This is a wildlife holiday designed for families, with a variety of activities during the week bringing you and your children close to Estonia's nature and its rich and varied wildlife - from bear-watching in a forest hide to spotting seals from a fishing boat to swimming in a bog pool!

Picnic by a bog pool

The family-focused itinerary ensures that activities are as enjoyable for your children as they are for the adults! Photo: NE

Many wildlife tours have a focus on adults, with minimum ages or other aspects of the trip making it difficult for children to participate and enjoy.

Not so with the Family Wildlife Adventure! If you and your children have a love of animals, adventure and the outdoors, this may be the ideal trip for you!

Get ready for a week of Bears, Moose, Deer, Beavers, Seals, Canoeing, Hiking, Boating, Swimming, Stand-up Paddleboarding, Steam Trains and Bog-shoeing!

With eight days of activities, there's plenty of time to experience the diverse wildlife, historic culture and beautiful landscapes of Estonia:

Moose watching in Estonia

Moose are just some of the many animals you'll see during the week. Photo: NE.

  • Evening nature walk at Toosikanu during the rutting season for deer and moose.
  • Canoeing and hiking in Soomaa National Park, Europe's largest wetland area, with good chances to see beaver tracks and other wildlife.
  • Bog-shoeing across peat bogs, swimming in bog pools (much nicer than it sounds!) and a wildlife safari in restored Soviet-era bus to look for Moose and deer.
  • Boat trip to watch Ringed Seals and camping on the beach on the deserted island of Saarnaki.
  • The historic spa resort town of Haapaalu and preserved steam trains from the days of the Tsar.

  • Hiking and wildlife watching in Matsalu National Park, a visit to a park preserving Estonian wildlife and an evening beaver safari by boat.
  • Bear watching night in a purpose-built hide, including chances to see racoon dogs, beavers and Ural Owls.
  • A guided tour of Talinn, Estonia's beautiful and well-preserved capital.
Talinn, Estonia

As well as a week filled with animals and beautiful landscapes, there are the historic towns of Haapsalu and Talinn to enjoy. Photo: NE

A multi-centre holiday with a range of accommodation

During your Estonian wildlife adventure, you'll be staying in five different overnight locations, accompanied throughout your trip by an experienced local nature guide:

  • Three nights in guesthouse at Toosikaanu in the centre of the country.
  • A night camping on the beach on a deserted island.
  • Three nights in family-focused guesthouse on the edge of Matsalu National Park.
  • A night in simple bear hide cabin.
  • A night in the capital, Talinn, to end your adventure.
Camping at the beach on Saarnaki

Wild camping on the beach on a deserted island. Photo: NE

Transfers by vehicle, boat and ferry are included between the different tour locations, and a number of meals during the week are also included.

Itinerary »

Day 1: Arrival

You are met by your guide from Tallinn airport. Transfer is at 15.00 (you are of course welcome to arrive with an earlier flight and wait at the airport). If overnighting in Tallinn before your tour, tranfer can be offered from centrally-located accommodation. Please let us know your travel arrangements in advance.

You will be transferred from Tallinn to Toosikaanu (in the centre of Estonia, approx. 1.5 hours).

After checking in, it's time for the first part of your wildlife adventure. You head out into the surrounding forest for an evening wildlife walk to look for animals - the forest is home to many Red Deer, but Roe Deer and even Moose may also be seen.

At this time of year, in the autumn, the adult deer and the male Moose have impressive antlers, which they use for rutting - the forest resounds in the evening with their calls.

Dinner is served at the guest house.

Meals included: Dinner

Accommodation: Guesthouse at Toosikaanu.

Day 2: Canoeing and Hiking in Soomaa National Park

Breakfast followed by a visit to Soomaa National Park, the largest wetland in Europe, where you find an almost pristine network of bogs and natural rivers.

In winter, these wetlands freeze, but during its special "flood time", or fifth season, it is possible to explore the area by canoe, kayak, or traditional wooden canoe made from aspen.

You'll be travelling by canoe, through an area rich in wildlife, with good chances to see tracks and signs of beavers and perhaps even a beaver in the water! You'll make a picnic stop along the way, and in the afternoon take a hiking tour along some of the area's trails.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Accommodation: Guesthouse at Toosikaanu

Day 3: Bog-shoeing

Estonia is famous for bog-shoeing, the perfect way to explore its network of peak bogs, taking you "off the beaten-track".

Like snowshoeing in winter, bog-shoeing allows you to cross the soft wetland areas without sinking in, as you discover small lakes and pools and stop for a picnic and swim.

Return to Toosikaanu in the afternoon for free time or additional activities such as swimming and stand-up paddleboarding.

As evening falls, you board a bus restored from the Soviet era, for an evening wildlife safari to look for Moose, Red Deer and Roe Deer.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Accommodation: Guesthouse at Toosikaanu

Day 4: Relocate to the Baltic Coast to watch Ringed Seals

Today you're leaving the wetland areas to travel to the lovely coastal region of the north-west, with over 2000 islands.

From the mainland, you take the ferry to Hiiumaa, the second largest island in Estonia - during the trip, you may already spot some seals in the Baltic

On reaching Hiiumaa, you continue by fishing boat into the labyrinth of smaller islands, where Ringled Seals haul out. You land on the small island of Saarnaki, covered in juniper.

Saarnaki was once inhabited, but now only the preserved buildings of the residents remain. Here you'll camp for the night, making a campfire on the beach and enjoying the tranquility of your own deserted island!

Meals included: Breakfast and dinner (lunch is purchased independently en route during the transfer)

Accommodation: Camping (in very bad weather, a house is available as alternative accommodation).

Day 5: Flexible day on Saarnaki Island with Stand-up Paddleboarding

The morning is free for swimming from the island camp or stand-up paddleboarding in the shallow waters if you wish.

Alternatively, take a walk to discover more of this lovely small island.

In the afternoon, the fishing boat comes to take you back to Hiiumaa for ferry to the mainland (total travel time around 2 hours).

You're heading for Matsalu National Park, a few km from Estonia's west coast and a key stopover for migrating birds. You'll be staying right on the edge of the national park, at Altmõisa Guesthouse.

The guesthouse is wonderful for families, well-known for its cuisine and a great base from which to explore the nearby coast and National Park areas.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Accommodation: Altmõisa Guesthouse

Day 6: Historic Haapsalu and the beach

Haapsalu, a short drive away, is a lovely spa town, once a holiday spot for the Russian Tsars. For train enthusiasts of any age, this will be a highlight - the Tsar built a train line to connect the town to Talinn, and the steam engines and traditional station are now part of an exhibit, where you can get right up to the trains.

You'll also take some time to walk along the promenade, in the footsteps of the composer Tchaikovski, another visitor to the spa resort, before spending the afternoon on the beach, with its playground and shallow water ideal for paddling.

Meals included: Breakfast and dinner (lunch is purchased independently in Haapsalu

Accommodation: Altmõisa Guesthouse

Day 7: Matsalu National Park with Beaver Safari

Today you'll explore Matsalu National Park - a landscape of coastal meadows, reeds and islands. There is a network of observation towers as well as hiking paths to give the best chances to see some of the park's wildlife.

In the afternoon, there is a short transfer to the bay at the south of the park to visit an animal park focusing on Estonian wildlife, with 300 animals of 14 different species.

Finally, this animal-filled day ends with a beaver safari aboard a small fishing boat. Beavers are of course the focus of the trip, but you may also see moose, birds, bats and perhaps even an otter!

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Accommodation: Altmõisa Guesthouse

Day 8: Bear Watching

Today is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip, as you drive (approx. 3 hours) to Alutaguse spend the night looking for bears!

You'll be overnighting in a simple but cosy and comfortable cabin, with bunk beds, waterless toilet and viewing portals for photography.

Hopefully, during the evening you'll see at least one of the 800 or so brown bears that live in Estonia.

As well as chances to see bears, there are also racoon dogs in the area and other wildlife which may be seen.

This hide offers views out to both sides, one towards the forest and one towards a meadow and creek at the edge of the forest. In that direction, you may see beavers, moose and deer, as well as an Ural Owl starting its evening hunt as the skies darken.

Your guide has in-depth knowledge of brown bears and their ecology and will be happy to answer any questions you or your children have.

Meals included: Breakfast and dinner (lunch is purchased independently en route during the transfer

Accommodation: Bear hide

Day 9: Estonia's Historic Capital - Talinn

Your final day brings you to the capital, Talinn (approx. 1.5 hours' drive) to visit the historic and well-preserved old town demonstrating architecture from the 13th to 15th centuries.

There are wonderful views over the city to be had from the observation tower behind Rüütli Street.

Meals included: Breakfast (lunch and dinner are purchased independently in Talinn)

Accommodation: Hotel in Tallinn (normally Tallinn City Hotel, exact accommodation may be flexible depending on availabilty)

Day 10: Departure

After breakfast, you have some free time to explore Tallinn by yourself before transfer to the airport for departure.

Transfer is by taxi bus and arranged according to your departure plans, so timing is flexible.

Meals included: Breakfast

Dates»

Dates 2020

  • Scheduled tour: 18.08-25.08.20
  • Private tours: Possible on other dates by arrangement between May and September. Standard prices apply based on min. group size 6 persons. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Prices»

Prices 2020

Prices are in British Pounds and Euros. If you wish, you are also welcome to make your payment in Swedish Kronor (SEK) - please contact us for details.

Standard Prices  
Per adultGBP EUR
Per child (aged 6-14)GBP EUR
Single supplementGBP EUR

Adult price applies for children aged 15 and over.

What's Included »

Included

Accommodation:

  • Three nights in 2-person or family rooms at Toosikanu (Days 1, 2, 3). En-suite rooms with WC and shower.
  • One night camping on Saarnaki island (Day 4). All camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat) is provided (please bring own liner for sleeping bag).
  • Three nights in 2-person or family rooms in guesthouse on edge of Matsalu National Park (Days 5, 6, and 7). En-suite rooms with WC and shower.
  • One night in simple bear hide cabin (Day 8). Dry toilet and bunk beds.
  • One night in 2-person or family rooms in hotel in Tallinn (Day 9). En-suite rooms with WC and shower.

Meals:

Please let us know in advance if you have any dietary requirements.

Meals are included as per "Itinerary". Other meals available to purchase locally during the tour.

Equipment and Activities:

  • All activities as per itinerary (including applicable entrance charges such as to animal park Day 7).
  • All necessary equipment for the activities (such as bog shoes, canoes, buoyancy aids, paddles, stand-up paddleboards).

Guide:

Experienced and knowledgeable local nature guide during the tour.

Transfer:

All necessary transfers as per itinerary, including transfers from/to Talinn airport on arrival/departure and vehicle/boat/ferry transfers as required during the tour.

Not Included

  • Travel: We do not arrange flights or domestic travel, but are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey. See under "Getting There" for general travel information.
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Meals not specified in itinerary.

Good To Know »

Required

Health requirements/experience:

Good general health and interest in animals and the outdoors.

This experience is suitable for children aged 6 and above. For some of the activities, such as bear-watching and beaver safari, it may be necessary to remain quiet for extended periods to maximise chances to see wildlife.

Bear-watching night may also require staying up late to make the most of the opportunity to see the animals.

All participants should have a level of fitness enabling them to enjoy walking, bog-shoeing or canoeing for moderate distances at easy-going pace.

What makes this "Easy-Medium"?

The tour is designed for families, with a corresponding level of challenge suitable for children.

With the exception of one night camping and one night in simple bear-hide cabin, accommodation is comfortable guesthouse standard with en-suite rooms.

As a 10-day itinerary with a number of adventurous activities during the week and a reasonable amount of travelling, the tour as a whole may of course have a higher level of challenge compared to a much shorter itinerary.

NB: Perception of difficulty is very subjective. What is hard to one person may be easy for another and vice versa, depending on factors including level of fitness, age and previous experience. Weather conditions/temperatures can also dramatically affect the actual level of challenge encountered.

Equipment/clothes needed:

For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "What's Included".

A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.

NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.

Preparing for your trip:

For further reading, we also have a number of general information articles to get you ready for your trip, covering a wide variety of topics from what to do on a city break before/after your tour, advice on packing, eyewear for winter and considerations for female travellers.

Minimum number:

For scheduled tours, a minimum of total 6 persons is required for tours to be guaranteed to run.

Groups

Maximum 8 participants for scheduled tour dates. Groups of min. 6 are also welcome to book private tours on other dates by arrangement.

Eco Info

This provider has a written environmental policy.

Getting There »

Detailed information on travel options to this experience will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.

Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.

By Air:

Fly to Talinn, from where transfers are included in connection with the start/end of the tour.

Without Flying:

Train to Stockholm (Sweden) for ferry to Talinn, or train to Rostock (Germany) for ferry to Talinn.

Gallery & Reviews »

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