You will have to go quite far to see bears and wolves – they tend to live in remote areas, which make going to see them quite an adventure.
Every year in October-November this remote spot is transformed into the world’s polar bear capital when the bears gather on the tundra waiting for the sea in Hudson Bay to freeze before they set off to hunt seals. You can go out on giant wheeled tundra buggies – your kids will love bouncing across the ice to get up close to the bears in their natural habitat.
Stay at the Tundra Buggy Lodge, where you sleep in a bunk house and can watch bears play in the snow from your breakfast window before taking a tour out on to the ice. You will have to get flights to Churchill independently, but once there everything else is taken care of. Recommended for older children.
European Bears and Wolves
The Bear population is pretty healthy in the Carpathian Mountains which, surprisingly is in part due to Nicolae Ceausescu, the Communist dictator. He enjoyed bear hunting so much that he banned hunting in order to preserve the animal to hunt himself. The consequence is that thousands of bears now roam the mountains alongside wolf and lynx.
Travel group ‘Responsible Travel’ have a family holiday which offers guided treks through the Carpathian Mountains as well as a quick peak at Dracula’s home. For ages 3+
Brooks Falls is one of the best places in the world to view brown bears, especially at salmon spawning time in the summer. Park rangers have built viewing platforms over the falls for people to observe the bears fishing and it is perfectly possible to go independently to Anchorage and then get a charter boat or plane out to the Falls. Once there you can stay in Brooks Lodge or at the camp ground although it is often difficult to leave the latter as bears have a habit of wandering near. If you would prefer something a little more organised, then try ‘Alaska Tours’ Bear Viewing Trips who will pick you up from Anchorage for 1-4 day trips although you still have to get to Anchorage yourselves. Most advise that children under 7 might find the travel and the hours watching the bears, a struggle. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Sarah Palin with a gun – for rugged families only… Alaska Tours
Brown Bears and Wolves
The forests of Sweden are a wonderful playground for the family that likes wildlife adventures. Wolves, moose, beavers, lynx and occasionally brown bear can all be found lurking in the shadows of the trees. Stay at the wonderful Kolarbyn Eco Lodge for family troll adventures and some rather special wildlife watching. You can take the train from Stockholm and arrange to be picked up, the whole journey is just over two hours, but you enter another remote world. Please see our feature Eco Europe for more information on the lodge. Only older children 12+ for the wolf howling and wolf tracking trips, but younger children can try a Brown Bear watching trip with Naturetrek in a wilderness bear lodge.
Grizzly Bears, Black Bears and Wolves
January is the perfect time to go wolf-watching in Yellowstone National Park. Wolves were reintroduced in the 1990’s and have appeared to flourish. The Lamar Valley in the Park has become one of the top sites in the world for watching wild wolves. It’s cold and dramatic, but dress up warmly and you might well be greeted with the sight of the wolf pups gambolling across an icy lake or trying to chase eagles off their prey. March to November is the best time to see Grizzlies or Black Bears. Stay at one of the lodges in the park or camp and go on their wildlife watching tours to catch sight not only of the bears and wolves but also bald eagles, elk, bison and moose. Its all very well organised and there are free or half price rates for children. Children can sign up to become Junior Rangers and have their own guided walks and activities.
If you don’t have the time, inclination or rugged enough boots to travel to their natural habitat, then take the kids to see the wolves at the Wolf Trust in Reading. They have a designated kids zone and you can book to go on a wolf walk.
- Denali National Park, Alaska (25truestories.com)