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This is an easy, relatively stress-freeholiday to a tranquil and beautifulspot in central Sweden where you willwatch for Brown Bears from what is,perhaps, the most comfortable Bear Hidein the world! To reach it you must first takea direct 2-hour flight from London toStockholm, Sweden's attractive capital cityand worthy of further exploration shouldyou have time to spare after the tour. Hereyour small group (maximum eight) willmeet your minibus driver and head northfor three hours on the open andremarkably traffic-free roads that makeSweden such a relaxing and peacefulcountry in which to travel. Your destinationis a simple wilderness lodge that occupiesan exquisite lakeside position amongstrolling, forested hills. The views from theterrace of the lodge, looking across thelarge lake, are stunning. The silence andstillness experienced here are intoxicating,broken only by the eerie calls of thebreeding Black-throated Divers that echoacross the lake and the occasional croakof a passing Raven. Five hours fromLondon, this could be a different planet.Whether or not you see any Bears, this isa magical place in which to spend time.Yet it is the Brown Bears on which you willprimarily focus on this holiday, in theexpert company of our guide and friend,Håkan Vargas. Håkan has been studyingand photographing the Bears in theseforests for many years and, with his 75-year-old father, has built a comfortable logcabin hide at the edge of a clearing in the spruce forest, just a couple ofkilometres from the lakeside lodge whichhe runs with his wife, Eva, a wonderfulhostess who will keep you well fortifiedwith delicious meals that feature manylocal, organic, forest ingredients. Thelodge is small and homely, primarilyconsisting of a cosy dining-cum-sittingroom that looks out over the lake andsurrounding hills, and is warmed on coldevenings by a splendid log stove.Accommodation is in separate, small,semi-detached cabins, set on a woodedslope overlooking the lake, views of whichcan be enjoyed from individual terraces.Each room is small and simple: just a bed,a small log stove, and a wash basin andjug of water, for this is how the locals liketo enjoy their wilderness. There are acouple of separate, Swedish-style, sharedtoilet blocks and a single shower andsauna built into a jetty and terrace that jutout over the lake. This will be youraccommodation on your first and last night(unless a second night is needed in theBear Hide, an option that will be offeredonly if you do not see a Bear on your firstnight in the hide), and from it you will beable to enjoy time at leisure - walking,birdwatching, botanising or simply pickingberries in the forest; raspberries,blueberries, lingonberries and cloudberriesare found here in abundance at the rightseason! Alternatively, you might prefer torow, canoe or fish on the lake, surroundedby Black-throated Divers, Goosanders andGoldeneyes, and keeping an eye skywardsfor a passing Golden Eagle, Goshawk orHoney Buzzard! You might even prefer toswim in the lake's clear waters, or to enjoy a sauna.On your first afternoon, and during thefollowing morning, you will be able toenjoy just such time at leisure, soaking inthe atmosphere of the place. Then, afteranother of Eva's delicious lunches -enjoyed outside, if the weather is fine, onthe lodge's spacious wooden balcony thatoverlooks the lake - Håkan will guide yougently up through the forest for an hour ortwo, to his Bear Hide. As you walk, you willneed to be as quiet as you can, but listento Håkan as he tells you a little about theBears and their habits, perhaps pointingout any footprints, or scratching on thetrees, or raided anthills! The hide is cosy,with comfortable seats and viewing slotsat the front, and comfortable beds at theback for those not prepared to sit up allthrough the night. At the far end is aseparate toilet with wash basin. You maymake yourselves comfortable . and hopefor the appearance of a Bear whilst yourever-attentive host serves you drinks anddinner. No wonder the Bears (and Bear-watchers) like this place! Realistically, a Bear sighting (unlike on ourBear tours in Finland) is not guaranteed,although one Bear a night is averaged. Forexample, in 2010 at least one Bear wasseen on 85% of the nights on which thehide was occupied. But, for all Håkan'spassion, the magic of this place to us -and we hope to you! - is not just in itswild Brown Bears. It is in the beauty of thescenery, the utter tranquillity, the richnatural history, the accessibility of this wildplace, and the charm, hospitality and thevision of its English-speaking host andhostess. 145Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Stockholm andtransfer 'Bear Lodge'.Day 2Bear Hide.Day 3Bear Hide or Bear Lodge.Day 4Transfer Stockholm andfly London.AccommodationSimple! Our wooden Bear Lodge,blessed with an idyllic and tranquilsituation, offers basic but adequatecabin accommodation; shared toiletsand shower are separate, a shortwalk away. Our Bear Hide is wellequipped with comfortable chairs,beds and a toilet. The home-cookedmeals of our hostess, Eva, aredelicious! FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. Optional walks may be takenaround the lodge. The walk to andfrom the Bear Hide is only a coupleof kilometres, but can take 90minutes or so walking slowly. FocusBears, birds and other naturalhistory.LeaderHåkan Vargas.Single room supplement£80.Web quick search: SWE04NORWAYBALTICSEAKALMARGOTLANDÖLANDMALMÖGOTHENBURGSTOCKHOLMBEAR LODGESWEDENSweden's Bears A 4-day holiday to an idyllic, rolling land of forests and lakes where we will look for Brown Bears from a luxurious purpose-built hide, and enjoy the natural history, beauty and extraordinary tranquillity of the Swedish boreal forests. Departure dates (Summer): 27th June; 11th & 25th July Cost: £795Departure date (Family special): 8th August Cost: £795Departure dates (Autumn): 22nd August & 12th September Cost: £795Brown BearLakeside lodgeBlack-throatedDiverBook direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information

It is just a short international flight fromStansted to Västerås and a drive of lessthan an hour to the tranquil andbeautiful forests of central Sweden, hometo such mammals as Elk, Wolf, Lynx andBrown Bear, all long since extinct in theBritish Isles. It is these sought-afteranimals on which we will focus during thisfascinating 5-day holiday amongst thescenic lakes and dense forests ofSweden's Bergslagen and Hälsinglandregions, in both of which these largermammals far outnumber the local human population. Our guide, Marcus Eldh, lives in theseforests and spends much of his timetracking and watching its 4-leggedinhabitants, to which he is deeply devoted.He will lead us on foot through the forestsusing only the animal trails, and will sharewith us his knowledge of tracking both Elkand Wolves and demonstrate various waysof communicating with them, some ofwhich have been used by the region'shunters for thousands of years. It is amagical experience to hear thesecreatures respond, and Marcus has hadgreat success calling to local Wolf packsover the years.On arrival at Västerås (a small airport tothe west of Stockholm with a tiny, sparklingand uncongested terminal likely to takelittle more than a few minutes tonegotiate!), we head north into the forestsof Bergslagen to the small, family-run,Udden Guesthouse which overlooks atranquil lake. This delightful guesthouse isa short drive from the Bergslagen WildlifeResearch Station. Here researchers workto conserve such species as Wolf, Lynxand Brown Bear and we will visit theresearch station during our stay to learnabout their work, and the lives of theserare and secretive predators. On our first evening we will search theforests, by vehicle and on foot, for Elk (orMoose, as it is known in north America),the 'king of the forest' and the mightiest ofall Nordic animals. With a population ofover 400,000, Sweden boasts more Elk persquare kilometre than any other country inthe world, and in these 'royal forests' it ispossible to see 20 or 30 of thesemagnificent animals in an evening, as wellas such other mammals as Roe Deer,Mountain Hare, Red Fox and, veryoccasionally, Wolf. Next day we will explore the forests of theregion, enjoying their birdlife and suchmammals as Red Squirrel. Then, in theevening, we will join beaver-guide MikaelNilsson and head out to the pristineMalingsbo-Kloten Nature Reserve wherethe Beaver is common. Here, as the daydraws to a close and dusk descends, wetake to canoes and paddle down the riversilently in search of the Beavers as theycommence their evening activities. We will spend our third day exploring theterritory of a local Wolf pack, walking in theforests and swamps of the region lookingfor signs and tracks of the pack. A sightingof these Wolves in such dense terrain is ararity but, as dusk falls, we will enjoy dinnerover the camp fire in the heart of the forestand Marcus will call to the pack andendeavour to attract a response - for thehowling of Wolves at night is one of themost memorable experiences that thenatural world has to offer! For our final night in Sweden, we will driveto the lakes and rolling forested hills ofHälsingland for a night in the comfortableBear Hide of our friends Håkan and Eva.The silence and stillness of this magicalplace is intoxicating, broken only by theeerie calls of breeding Black-throatedDivers or the occasional croak of apassing Raven. The Bear Hide is a gentlehour or two's amble up into the forest. Asyou walk, you will need to be as quiet asyou can, but listen to Håkan as he tellsyou a little about the Bears and theirhabits, perhaps pointing out any footprints,or scratching on the trees, or raidedanthills! The hide is cosy, with comfortableseats and viewing slots at the front, andcomfortable beds at the back for those notprepared to sit up all through the night. Atthe far end is a separate toilet with washbasin. We will make ourselves comfortable. and hope for the appearance of a Bearwhilst our ever-attentive host serves usdrinks and dinner. No wonder the Bears(and Bear-watchers) like this place! Sweden's MammalsA 5-day holiday amongst the dense forests and lakes of scenic Bergslagen and Hälsingland, in centralSweden, where we will search for some of Sweden's larger mammals, in particular Elk, Mountain Hare, Beaver, Wolf and Brown Bear. Thursday 4th July - Monday 8th July Cost: £1,295Thursday 5th September - Monday 9th September Cost: £1,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Västerås (Stockholm).Transfer Bergslagen. Elk-watching.Day 2Beaver-watching;overnight Bergslagen.Day 3Wolf-tracking andhowling; overnightBergslagen.Day 4Bear-watchingHälsingland; overnightBear Hide.Day 5Transfer Västerås(Stockholm) and flyLondon.Accommodation We stay for three nights in thedelightful Udden Guesthouse on theedge of the Bergslagen forests andoverlooking a large lake. All roomshave private facilities. On our fourthnight we stay in a simple woodenBear Hide in Hälsingland, equippedwith comfortable chairs, beds and atoilet. Food All included in the price, except forlunches on Days 1, 4 and 5 (allow£30). GradingA/B. As well as gentle walks throughthe woods and pastures of thelowlands, this holiday also includeslonger, forest walks, so anenjoyment of walking is required.Focus Mammals (particularly Elk, Wolf,Beaver and Brown Bear).LeadersMarcus Eldh and Håkan Vargas.Single room supplement£80.Web quick search: SWE06146Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryNORWAYBALTICSEAKALMARGOTLANDÖLANDMALMÖGOTHENBURGSTOCKHOLMVÄSTERÅSBEAR LODGEBERGSLAGENSWEDENElk, BergslagenBrown BearWolf