Finland & Romania

May 19 – June 3, 2018

Finland wildlife tour photo of a Wolverine

Wolverines frequent the boreal forests, taiga, and tundra of northern Europe and may travel as many as 15 miles a day in search of food. © Gerald Broddelez

Danube Delta birding image of a Ruff

One of Europe’s prettiest wading birds, the Ruff forages while walking or wading in wet meadows or running on open mudflats. © Gerald Broddelez

Finland bear watching image of a Brown Bear

While much of the Brown Bear’s diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots, they also eat other animals, including rodents, deer and moose. © Gerald Broddelez

Danube Delta birding photograph of a Bluethroat

A strikingly beautiful bird, the Bluethroat is named for the male’s bright blue throat, prominently shown off in aggressive encounters, as well as in courtship. © Gerald Broddelez

Finland wildlife tour picture of Saimaa Seal on rock

The endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal, named after its home in Europe’s fourth-largest lake, is one of just five remaining freshwater seal species in the world. © Gerald Broddelez

Danube delta wildlife image of Great White Pelicans

The lakes, rivers and wetlands of the Danube Delta are home to Europe’s largest breeding colony of Great White Pelicans, with over 2,000 nesting pairs. © Gerald Broddelez

Romania wildlife tour photo of house boat on Danube Delta.

Explore the lakes and channels of the Danube Delta onboard a shallow-drafted vessel, known locally as a ponton, with smaller crafts used for daily excursions. © Gerald Broddelez

Finland and Romania Wildlife Tour

Finland and Romania both exist on Europe’s edge, where the more staid influences of the EU meet the passions of Russia and the Balkans. Their cities both buzz with a new embrace of tech and design innovation. And they both possess some of the last, best pristine wild areas on the continent, with remarkably high concentrations of animals. Birds and bears will be the target of Apex’s journey through these countries, taking you from swamps to Taiga, river delta to inland sea. See rare freshwater seals, brown bears and Wolverines, and up to 300 species of resident and migratory birds on this 16-day exploration of Europe’s wild edge.

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    • Travel by Air
    • Travel by Road
    • Travel by Boat
    • Travel by Bullet Train
    • Travel by Rail
    • Travel by Dog Sled
    • Saturday, May 19: Arrive Oulu, Finland

      Arrive this afternoon into Oulu, whose city center is spread out on several islands on the Gulf of Bothnia. Oulu is one of Finland’s most pleasant cities, with a thriving student and tech community. It is also the gateway to some of Europe’s best bird watching, as much of the surrounding area is wetlands. Enjoy a welcome dinner with fellow travelers and your expedition leaders, and overnight at the Radisson Blu Oulu.

    • Sunday, May 20: Oulu

      Rise early for a full day of bird watching. Northern owls are the focus here, and expert guides have intimate knowledge of nesting sites, giving you the best chance to spot all five of the region’s key species—Great Grey, Ural, Hawk, Tengmalm’s and Pygmy. Black, Hazel and Willow Grouse are also present in the area, as well as Three-toed- and Black Woodpeckers. We will also visit Liminka Bay, one of the most significant wetlands in Europe. Mid ay is the prime migration period for waders and one of Europe’s prettiest waders the Ruff can often be found feeding and lekking in large groups. Dinner and overnight at Radisson Blu Oulu.

    • Monday, May 21: Oulu / Kuusamo

      After breakfast we will drive east toward Kuusamo, in search of rare and interesting birds that are absent in the Oulu region. Target species here include Rustic and Little Bunting, Capercaillie, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit, and Hazel Hen. Hear the marvelous sounds of displaying Little Gulls in the bogs around town, as well as Spotted Redshank, Ruff and possibly Jack Snipe. Dinner and overnight at Sokos Hotel Kuusamo.

    • Tuesday, May 22: Kuusamo / Wild Brown Bear Lodge

      After another early morning birding in the Kuusamo area, we drive southeast toward the western edge of the vast Siberian Taiga. Stopping at the many lakes, swamps and forests along the way in search of resident wildlife. Turn off the main road and head into the dense forest on the Finnish-Russian border, known for its diversity of fauna and density of large mammals. Check in to the Wild Brown Bear Lodge, keeping watch for Mountain Hare, Red Fox, White-tailed Eagles, Black Woodpecker, Northern Bullfinch and Ural Owls around the property. After dinner, head out to observation hides for an overnight, for the best chance to view Brown Bears and Wolverines up close. Late May is the height of mating season, so there may even be some performing by male bears if females happen to be in the vicinity. Dinner and overnight at Wild Brown Bear Lodge.

    • Wednesday, May 23: Wild Brown Bear Lodge

      Return to the main lodge this morning to freshen up and have breakfast. You may want to enjoy some time in a local sauna or peruse the property on foot. This evening, take advantage of the late light and set out with a guide to look for rare Flying Squirrels, Moose, beaver, Forest Reindeer and many birds, including grouse, woodpeckers and rare tits, as well as bears, Wolverines and even wolves. Dinner and overnight at Wild Brown Bear Lodge.

    • Thursday, May 24: Wild Brown Bear Lodge / Lake Saimaa

      After breakfast, load up for a full-day drive southwest to the pristine Finnish Lakeland, with its crystalline waterways, dense forests and endless skies. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Rinssi-Eversti, next to the lake.

    • Friday, May 25: Lake Saimaa / Helsinki

      Spend the morning on a boat in Finland’s largest lake, Saimaa, looking for the world’s rarest seal—the inland Saimaa Seal. An endemic species of ringed seal, the Saimaa Seal may be the most endangered pinniped on Earth, with less than 300 individuals remaining. May is the best time to see them out of the water, lounging on rocks. You may also see European Beaver and a variety of waterfowl and owls. In the afternoon depart for the quirky harbor-side capital, Helsinki, and transfer to your hotel in the vibrant Design District. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Lilla Roberts.

    • Saturday, May 26: Helsinki / Bucharest, Romania

      Enjoy breakfast before transferring to the airport mid-morning for your flight to Bucharest, Romania. Land this evening and check in to the Angelo by Vienna House Bucharest airport hotel for dinner and overnight.

    • Sunday, May 27: Bucharest / Tulcea / Danube Delta

      After breakfast at the hotel, board vans for the drive to Tulcea, the Danube Delta’s main harbor town. Stop en route at lakes and bogs to look for birds, including ever-present bee-eaters and colorful rollers. Arrive in Tulcea this afternoon, and embark the vessel, known locally as a ‘ponton,’ your home for the next four nights on the Danube. Be on deck as the ponton heads to the Central Channel. As we leave civilization behind, the first typical Delta bird species start to appear, among them Black-headed Gulls, Caspian Terns, Glossy Ibises, Squacco Herons, Pygmy Cormorants and noisy Greylag Geese with their distinctive rosy beaks. The riverine trees might hold Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers. Enjoy dinner and overnight onboard.

    • Monday–Wednesday, May 28–30: Danube Delta

      The Delta consists of over 2,000 square miles of lakes, channels, reed beds and willow stands—ideal breeding habitat for a staggering array of birds. May is the height of the breeding season, so there are sure to be memorable sightings. The route is flexible, depending on bird activity and changing access in the maze of channels. Conditions permitting, visit lakes along the Sontea Channel, where Great and Little Egrets, Grey, Purple and Squacco Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Eurasian Spoonbills, and Great and Pygmy Cormorants are frequently seen as they move between breeding colonies. Specialties include Dalmatian Pelican and Pallas’s Gull. Europe’s biggest breeding colony of Great White Pelicans—more than 2,000 pairs—is also found here, and the massive flocks of pelicans flying overhead as they move to the Delta’s lakes to feed is sure to be a highlight of the trip. We will use smaller boats to access the most hidden parts and channels of the Delta. This will allow us to have a more intimate experience with the flora and fauna and close-up views of some of the shyer resident species. Spend your final night onboard the ponton moored close to Tulcea, ready to disembark after breakfast the following day.

    • Thursday, May 31: Tulcea / Sinoe

      Transfer to vans this morning for a drive to the Dobrogea region on the Black Sea. En route, visit Babadag Forest, a Mediterranean deciduous forest that is home to many birds, including Levant Sparrowhawks, Long-legged Buzzards, Short-toed, Booted and Lesser-Spotted Eagles and Sombre Tits. Once in Sinoe, a good home base for birding in the area, venture out to watch for migrant species as they arrive off the Black Sea. On a good day, waves of herons, ibises, pratincoles, ‘marsh terns’ and waders may be seen passing overhead. This is also the best area to see the rare Paddyfield Warbler and the large Pallas’s Gull. Dinner and overnight at Grindul Lupilor Pension, on the region’s beautiful Wolf Peninsula.

    • Friday, June 1: Sinoe

      Take a full day to enjoy the area and see as many birds as possible. Histria, whose well-preserved Greek ruins attract many visitors, is perhaps the richest birding location along the Black Sea Coast, noted for its colony of Collared Pratincoles and the localized Paddyfield Warbler. Vadu is a remarkable wetland site whose muddy pools, ponds, extensive reed beds, steppe and sandy scrub attract many resident and migrating birds including Collared Praticole, White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Ruddy Shelduck and Ferruginous Duck. The dramatic limestone Cheia Gorge harbors breeding Levant Sparrowhawk, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Rock Thrush, Pied Wheatear and Ortolan Bunting. Dinner and overnight at Grindul Lupilor Pension.

    • Saturday, June 2: Sinoe / Bucharest

      This morning drive through the countryside back to Bucharest. Arrive in the early afternoon for a guided walking tour of the city’s Old Town, pretty much all that is left of pre-World War II and pre-Communist Bucharest. See the spectacular refurbishment taking place, and learn of the multiple “belles epoques” the city has experienced. Enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner this evening and overnight at Epoque Hotel.

    • Sunday, June 3: Bucharest

      Depart early this morning on international flights homeward.


    • May 19 – June 3, 2018
    • Leaders Peter Harrison, Shirley Metz & Gerald Broddelez
    • $13,970 Per Person Rate
    • $14,940 Solo Rate
    • 16 days Trip Length
    • 15 guests
    • Oulu Start
    • Bucharest End

    In additional to all tour services from arrival in Oulu through departure from Bucharest, as described in the itinerary, the trip price includes the flight from Helsiki to Bucharest, as noted in the itinerary; services of three Apex Expeditions leaders and local guides throughout the itinerary; all gratuities; plus local beer & wines at lunch & dinner daily.

    Call us to reserve your spot on this exciting expedition!

    Have a question? Call us at 206.669.9272 / 800.861.6425. Prefer online?

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    Apex Expeditions leader Peter Harrison

    Peter Harrison

    Peter is especially looking forward to exploring the lakes and channels of the Danube Delta, where thousands of pelicans, herons, ibis, ducks, warblers and other birds breed.

    Apex Expeditions leader Shirley Metz

    Shirley Metz

    Shirley is intrigued by the variety of nature to be seen on this journey, from brown bears and Wolverines to freshwater seals and seabirds.

    Apex Expeditions photo of Tour Leader Gerald Broddelez

    Gerald Broddelez

    Seeing brown bears up close from an observation hide is a fascinating experience that Gerald is excited to share with Apex travelers.

    binocular icon show facts about Finland & Romania

    A Fishy Tale of Teamwork

    Congregating each summer in the Danube Delta, the Great White Pelican lives, breeds and migrates in large colonies. They also feed in groups, often cooperatively, which is rare among birds. A group of 8–12 pelicans will swim in a U-shaped formation, surrounding and forcing schools of fish into shallow water where they are easy prey. The pelicans then submerge their heads in unison to scoop fish into their huge throat pouches. When it catches a fish, the pelican tilts its bill up to drain out the water, then swallows the fish whole.