Brown Bear Watching in the Winter?

During our bear-watching tours we are often asked what are bears doing during wintertime and if is possible to see them.

To start with the second question: the chance to see bears in the wilderness (as all our bear viewing tours are) during winter are very slim. And here’s why:
During winter, starting with late October or November, depending on weather conditions, bears are sleeping and living out of the fat they accumulate during summer. As opposite to us humans, bears are not unhappy to build fat, they will burn it by doing nothing all winter. And if you think that doing nothing is an amazing way to burn fat, 🙂, don’t forget that that means not eating either. Almost all winter. All they do is sleeping.
We should not use the world hibernation because the brown bear (Ursus Arctos) doesn’t really hibernate, but go into a deep sleep, called torpor.
Wait, what?? There is a difference between hibernation and sleep?
Yes, there is: as with your windows operated computers (sorry, Apple fans, we’re just trying to explain some things here 🙂 ), deep sleeping is a light version of hibernation. Think like that: a computer hibernation will save all docs on disk and allows the laptop to use zero power. Similarly an animal hibernating will use almost no energy, drastically reduce all metabolism and wake up slowly.
In a deep sleep (remember is called “torpor”) most of body functions have reduced activity, but vital functions like breathing and blood circulation continue almost unchanged. Brain activity also doesn’t slow down, but goes into a state of permanent awakeness, therefore the bear can wake up at slightest noise. Also their body temperature drops only slightly, while in hibernation there is a drastic change in body temperature.

The reserves of fat that they build during summer and fall are just enough so the bears can survive the winter, therefore for them to wake up and start looking for food in the middle of the winter is quite dangerous: this is consuming a lot of their low reserves of energy and if they don’t find food they can die in few days. Also when the spring comes they only wake up when is sure to find enough food to survive.

For _bear watching later in the fall_ we recommend the area around Tusnad, where bears are used to lower temperatures allover the winter, so they start the torpor later on.

Do bears come out during rain?

June is the rainiest month in Romania, according to weather forecasts. However, this doesn’t affect the bear watching tours in Brasov. Recently, one of the visitors from our site searched for “do bears come out in the rain Romania”.

Bears in the rain

The answer is YES, bears do come out during rain! And we can prove this with a photo taken this Monday, June 3rd, during our visit to the bear hide. At one moment, there were even ten bears in the clearing, even if it was pouring rain.

Brown bears in the clearing

Despite the terrible weather, we saw about sixteen bears in about one hour, so our tourists were very delighted. One of the bears even came close to the hide, which never happened before.

Brown bear near the bear hide

Wonderful show at the bear hide

Yesterday we went with seven of our tourists to the bear hide situated in the forests near Brasov. When we arrived we were surprised that there were no bears in the clearing. However, after about 30 minutes of waiting game, they came, one after the other.

Because it’s the peak of the mating season, we managed to see a lot of bears, I presume around 10-12. Two of them even took advantage of a small poll nearby and went inside the water to spend some quality time bathing. Well, these are bear necessities, right? A few of them played some hide and seek, some just enjoyed their food and at one time, there were six beautiful bears in the clearing, a unique moment we won’t forget and I hope our guests won’t forget it either.

Remember, you have two options for our bear watching tours: the bear hide we recommend would be the one at 80 kilometers away, designed by Mate Bence, one of the most successful wildlife photographers in the world. Here, you get to see the bears from ground level, at 10-15 meters away.

The second option is the bear hide near Brasov, where you see the bears from 30-40 meters away. Also, here, the hide is situated above ground level, so it might not be the best choice if you want to capture some shots.

You also have to know that because Romania has the biggest brown bear population in Europe, it is the best place to come if you want to see these majestic animals. Who knows, if you’re lucky, you can even encounter one on the road, as it happened to us two times so far, in the area of lake St. Anna.

Whichever option you choose, we will try our best to make your journey an unforgettable experience. Just contact us 🙂

Bear watching frenzy in Tusnad

After an evening with just a couple of bears, yesterday we spent a wonderful day in nature, in the area around lake St. Anna and ended the day with a thrilling bear watching experience.

Together with Alessandro and Susj, we went there for a full day trip. We visited lake St. Anna, the only volcanic lake in Eastern Europe. We searched for carnivorous plants in the Mohos peat bog nearby and went for a delicious meal at a traditional restaurant from Balvanyos area.

The highlight of the day was the bear watching activity in the evening. Before meeting the ranger, we had a close encounter with a mama bear 🙂 and her small cub.

Bears on the road near Tusnad

We were not in danger, as the bears were on the road and we were in the car. However, this was a nice start for the bear watching activity…

After an easy hike up to the bear hide, after going inside, we realized a bear was already there.

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We quietly took our cameras and began taking photos of this wonderful wild animal. After a few minutes, other smaller bears arrived and the first one was already feeling surrounded. However, he proved them who’s the boss so the others had to leave…

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Other bears came out of nowhere and a true feeding party began in the area.

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Some were a bit shy in the beginning…

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Some decided to watch from a safe distance…

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The dominant bear was keeping an eye for intruders…

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But in the end we managed to see around seven bears, so it was a truly fantastic evening for bear watching.

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Bear watching season had just begun in Romania, so if you want a thrilling experience when you’re in Transylvania, feel free to contact us and book a bear watching experience.

Bear mating season has started

If you are wondering what to do around Brasov, many locals would recommend bear watching. It is a relaxing activity, it takes place in nature and you get the chance to see these magnificent animals in their habitat.

That was the case yesterday, when we took five tourists to the bear hide near lake St. Anna. After meeting the ranger and a short hike, we went inside and waited for the bears to arrive. After a few minutes, a shy one came and began feeding.

Bear watching tusnad april 15th 2019

After about 40 minutes, two bears appeared. They avoided each other in the beginning but quickly realized they were mother and cub. They slowly approached and when they finally realized they were relatives, they kissed each other. This was a moment we never witnessed before, so it was new, even for us. Bears have feelings as well, so we should never underestimate them.

Inside the bear hide in Tusnad

In the end, just before we left, a big bear came to the feeding site and we proceeded cautiously back to the cars, ending a very successful bear watching tour.

Bear watching tusnad april 15th

 

Three playful bears – April 10th 2019

bear watching around brasov

One of the most exciting bear watching evenings so far was yesterday, on April 10th. Together with two of our tourists, we went to Tusnad area to see the brown bears.

We arrived at the meeting point at 6 PM,, met a group of Hungarian tourists and together with Janos, our ranger – the ”bear whisperer”, we hiked an easy 400 meter trail until we reached the bear hide. We entered quietly and waited for the bears to appear. After a while, we had a huge surprise: three bears appeared at the same time. Coming from different directions, they were cautious at first and looked at each other.

Finally, they found their place and started their routine. One of them, a three year old bear, decided it’s safer to leave, as the others were significantly bigger in size. Better be safe than sorry!

two brown bears feeding

Obviously, the largest, a 250 kilograms male bear, was the king there, as the remaining bear stood nearby and waited. When the wind started blowing, the animals heard something and decided to run away. However, one of them returned and stayed there until we left, at around 8 PM.

inside the bear hide with two tourists

We hoped to see the sunset from the hills around the village of Bixad but it was a bit late so we drove back to Brasov to end a fantastic bear watching day.

 

Close encounter with a bear

Yesterday we took one of our tourists at the bear hide near Tusnad area. Because of the wind, the animals were shy and before we left, we saw only a bear and a fox.bear watching in tusnad april 1st 2019 2of3 However, the fun started in the last 10 minutes of our visit, when it was already dark. A bear surprised us right when we exited the bear hide. He looked surprised as well! Contrary to horror stories, we were not attacked and the bear acted just like a wild animal: he ran away.  He walked away at a safe distance, crossed the road we were about to descend and stopped on our left side, observing our each move. bear watching in tusnad april 1st 2019 3of3There were about 30-40 meters between us and the animal; however, we didn’t feel threatened at all by his presence. We kept calm, we gave the bear the same respect that he gave us and everything went well.
For those who are afraid of these animals we recommend a visit to the bear hide. They will realize that all their fears are in vain. Bears will be scared of any suspicious noise. That’s why we recommend our tourists to keep quiet in the bear hide, not to use the camera flash and put the phones on silent mode. In some cases, the focus assist light was enough to scare the bear away. If you are hiking in the woods and want to avoid a bear encounter, it is best to make as much noise as possible.

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And remember, when you see bear cubs, try to get out of the area. Where there are cubs, there is the mother bear. And she will do anything to protect them.
If you want to try this wonderful experience, feel free to contact us and ask for a reservation.

Another visit to the bear hides in Tusnad

Although it was a cold day, yesterday we had two guests from the Netherlands who wanted to go bear watching, so we offered them a tour of the two bear hides in Tusnad area.

After a 1 hour drive from Brasov we arrived in Baile Tusnad, met the ranger and went deep in the forest. We finally arrived at the first bear hide where we were served with delicious but strong blackberry palinka. Bear Watching in Tusnad small 5After a shot of this strong brandy, we waited quietly for the bears to arrive. Unfortunately, it was a bit early and we only saw a big raven and some birds.Bear Watching in Tusnad small 1

We decided to try our luck at the other bear hide, situated near lake St. Anna. Once arrive there, we were served with another shot of palinka and waited. And waited.Bear Watching in Tusnad small 3

Suddenly, a beautiful brown bear appeared out of nowhere, right in front of us.

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We spent around 10 minutes taking photos and left the bear hide before it got too dark.

In the end, our guests were delighted with our bear watching tour, especially because they initially wanted to go to the bear hide near Brasov, but due to fluctuating weather, that wasn’t open for tourists.

Bear watching season has begun

Sunday, on March 17th, bear watching season had officially begun in the forests around Brasov.

Bear watching in Tusnad

A few weeks ago, we were a bit skeptical about the weather but is seems that Spring is just around the corner. Temperatures have risen, the snow is slowly beginning to melt, everybody is posting photos of snowdrops on their Facebook accounts so we decided to start our bear watching activities.

Mate and Jean at Prejmer CitadelTogether with Mate and Jean, we had a wonderful day in the Land of Volcanoes, near lake St. Anna. We picked them up from Brasov and went first to the Prejmer Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site and also a three star Michelin destination. We visited the neo-gothic church, the 275 storage rooms where people used to live during invasions and also discovered the defense gallery, a 800 meter circular alley situated deep in the fortified walls.

 

 

Mate and Jean at lake St. AnnaOur next stop was lake St. Anna, the only volcanic lake in Romania, situated in the Ciomatu massif. Its 20 hectares surface was still frozen and snow was all around it but we decided to take a 40 minute stroll around it and admire the volcanic crater where the lake has formed.

Afterwards, we went to a local restaurant in Balvanyos area, specialized in Szekler food and enjoyed a delicious goulash and tripe soup. We quenched our thirst with natural mineral water from a nearby spring and drove to our final destination of the day: bear watching in the woods.

Palinka bottle at the bear hideWe met our host, Janos and other four Romanian tourists and began a 10 minute hike through the forest to the bear hide. After just a few minutes, a beautiful brown bear appeared out of nowhere, just a few meters away from us. We were served with fantastic homemade palinka and cognac from our host and enjoyed watching the bear. Brown bear near St. Anna lake

 

A second bear appeared in the last 30 minutes of our stay and after we managed to take some photos with this majestic creature, we headed back to the cars and returned to Brasov, not before admiring the spectacular colors of the sunset.

Sunset after bear watching

Wintertime bear watching near Brasov

For few days we thought that winter has arrived in Brasov. We had a bear watching tour near Brasov on Thursday, and we you can see in the pictures below, there was snow and we can guarantee that it was also pretty cold. However, we were lucky to see few brown bears that passed by our bear hide in the forest.

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bear and snow. bear watching in Romania

Brown bear in snow
Brown bear in the snow. Brașov, Romania

However, the weather seems to change now and summer is back. With temperatures up to 26 C in the coming days, is sure that bears near Brașov will not enter hibernation, yet. So we extend our bear watching in November, due to the weather being very favorable this year:

Brasov Weather

 

Brasov Weather 2018 November

 

 

If you want to join  a bear watching tour, get in touch with us!