Estonian birds and mammals, 8 days self-guided tour

jarek-foto        jarek-foto3

Estonia has about 10 000 elks, 700 brown bears, 200 wolves, 500 lynxes, a great number of roe deer, foxes, raccoon dogs. It is also one of the last countries in Europe where it possible to see Siberian flying squirrels. Besides being the best place in Northern Europe for spotting different mammals, Estonia is also the best country in the region for bird-watching. This self-guided tour will lead you from N-E Estonia – where you’ll get close-up views from a brown bear hide to world-famous Matsalu NP on the western coast. The best times for mammal and bird watching in Estonia are in Spring – May-June – and in Autumn – middle of September-October.




Natourest is one of the first wildlife and birding tourism companies to offer this innovative nature tour type. Our self-guided tour (SGT), using a smart device, is designed for active, adventurous people who appreciate independence and flexibility. SGTs offer the opportunity to visit the same nature areas as on our guided trips. With SGT, you will be your own guide and you can decide where and how much time to spend enjoying nature. With SGT, you don’t have to do the research for the best birding areas in Estonia – you can choose from our described destinations and plan your own itinerary. All locations are carefully chosen and are visited annually by our guides to ensure you will have updated information. Most people choose one of our pre-planned self-guided itineraries, but we can modify any of our tours to suit your needs.


On a self-guided tour, you will have use of a Smart Device (tablet PC or smartphone) with a GPS geo-locator, Google Maps with locations, detailed instructions and internet connection. You will have printed out suggestions for tours daily schedule. A paper map is also provided as backup.

Wself guided tourhile on the tour, Google Maps Navigation leads the way to the best birding places.  You will also receive information about locations for car parking, the bird tower and nice trails, what kind of birds you most probably will see there and where to look for them. You can use the map on Android, iPad, iPhone and in Windows OS.

Our self guided tour is arranged for you and includes:

  • hotel bookings
  • car rental
  • a Natourest representative meeting you in the Tallinn airport
  • a smart device (tablet) with a tour map while you travel
  • best road atlas of Estonia
  • printed tour description with daily route suggestions.



The best months for bird-watching and mammal watching in Estonia are May and September-October. The first half of April is the best time to come to see the Steller’s Eider and also observe the activities of owls, woodpeckers and grouses.

How to be sure you would enjoy the self-guided trip?

  • You are comfortable reading a map and following road signs. To really enjoy a self-guided trip, you should like discovering surroundings on your own and have an open mind. So if you do miss a turn and have to backtrack, you will be okay doing so. After all, the most memorable travel includes some unplanned adventures!
  • You have some intuition about using technology. Just awareness of when to load batteries and how to turn the device on is good enough.
  • You prefer to take time to notice details in nature on your own, without someone pointing out species, and you have the patience to wait to observe.
  • You value having a personal, independent daily trip schedule.

Feel free to ask any questions and book your holiday. Please contact us: or by phone +372 5622 5943

People are saying..

Peter and Natalya made the Bird and Mammals Self-Guided tour in May 2018.

We are back in Holland again. That was an amazing week in Estonia, a fantastic nature tour! The beavers, the black grouse lek and of course the brown bears are the highlights. To spend a night in the bear hide was an incredible experience. Also, we saw a golden jackal in a forest and two big “cats” without a tail crossing the road. Young lynxes?? And a goodbye gift: on a way back from the bear hide on Saturday morning two mooses were crossing the road!

The accommodations were perfect. A great location with an amazing view in Haapsalu. The Palmse guesthouse was like a fairy tale. Fabulous! And the bear hide was perfect as well.

We had an unforgettable week! Thank you.



At the beginning of May- brown bears are waking up and looking for food; migrating birds are coming from the south; raccoon dog, fox, roe deer; beavers are quite easy to see; Hazel grouse and Capercaillies on the forest roads and Black Grouse lek; Ural, Pygmy and Tengmalm’s Owls are still active.

End of May-first part of June: mating time for brown bears; elk cows with calves in the meadows; raccoon dog, fox, roe deer; late arrivals-common rosefinch, Blyth´s reed warbler, greenish warbler, orioles. Flora: early orchids: lady´s slipper, military orchid.

Middle of September: migrating cranes, brown bears foraging hungrily before winter hibernation; raccoon dog, fox, roe deer; elk rut time is on; migration of waders and passerines; activity starts for woodpeckers, owls and grouses. Weather is mostly quite warm.

End of September – mid-October: brown bears gorging themselves in preparation for hibernation; woodpeckers, owls and grouses are active; massive arctic bird migration. Nice time for autumn colours.


Example tour for the beginning of May

Day 1: Arrival (Tallinn)

Arrival to Tallinn, drive to Haapsalu. Overnight in Haapsalu.

Day 2: Nõva landscape reserve, Dirhami

Start the morning with Black Grouse lek, while also hoping to spot elk and other mammals on the way to lekking area. Later, heading to Nõva forests, drive slowly through a good area for spotting Capercaillies. And check out Dirhami, the best bird migration peninsula in Northern Europe. Night in Haapsalu.

Day 3: Leidissoo forests, Silma nature reserve, Haapsalu surroundings

Silma reserve is a huge area of coastal meadows, lagoons and reed beds with lots of ducks, some Slavonian and Red-necked Grebes, goose, cranes, Penduline and Bearded Tits. Head out early towards Silma nature reserve. Keep your eyes open for mammals: roe deer, fox, raccoon dog, hare, elks and, if you’re lucky, golden jackal. In Leidisoo, the forests are good habitat for owls and woodpeckers.

Night in Haapsalu.

Day 4: Matsalu NP, Kasari river boat tour (only in Spring)

Whole day in Matsalu NP. The park has several towers which give you a great view over the flooded meadows, as well as to the coastal meadows. The habitats here are good for birds – ducks, waders. Also for elks: in springtime, young calves can be seen among the cows. In autumn during the rut time, bulls are running around the meadow hoping to get the cows’ attention.

An evening boat tour on the river takes you to the beavers’ world. Reed beds are good habitat for bats – you’ll see them hunting in the sunset’s glow.

Night in Haapsalu.

Day 5: driving to Alutaguse

Drive to N-E of Estonia to Alutaguse area with its huge bogs and forests. It is also a core area of brown bears in Estonia. The night will be spent in the brown bear hide. There’s also active bird life around the hide, as well as mammals: raccoon dogs, foxes, brown bears are quite easy to see; sometimes wild boars are visible.

Night in brown bear hide.

Day 6: Alutaguse, Lahemaa NP

Come out from the brown bear hide in the morning, make a little circle on the surrounding forest roads to look for Capercaillies and other wildlife.

Day in Lahemaa NP, with its wealth of peninsulas and beaches – stony, sandy, reed beds, open sea; both old-growth and young forests are great habitats for birds and mammals. Walk around in one of Lahemaa´s several trails or drive along a small forest road.

Night in Lahemaa.

Day 7: Lahemaa NP

Early morning drive in Lahemaa forest roads to look for mammals and birds: black grouse, Capercaillies, hazel hen. Later, discovering Lahemaa coast, fields and old taiga forests.

In the afternoon heading for the second night in the bear hide.

Night in the brown bear hide.

Day 8: Driving to Tallinn

Drive back to Tallinn and departure.

Feel free to ask any questions and book your holiday- please contact us: or by phone: +372 5622 5943



Price for Estonian birds and mammal self-guided tour is 850 eur per person with a group of 2 people.

Season is in Spring (May-June) and in Autumn (September-October)

Price includes:

  • 6 nights in local hotels and guest houses (twin rooms with toilet and shower; breakfasts included)

  • 2 nights in brown bear-watching hide. Read more about bear watching.

  • 8 days car rental

  • 8 days smart device rental with self-guided tour map

  • printed tour description.

  • Estonian road atlas

  • Natourest representative meeting you in the Tallinn airport

  • phone assistance in case of questions during the tour

  • Possibility to add the Flying Squirrel Tour to the itinerary. Read more about the Flying Squirrel tour.

Book a tour with us: or by phone: +372 5622 5943

Natourest is a travel company registered with the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and meets all the requirements set by the European Package Travel Directive. This means that when you book a tour through Natourest, your legal and financial rights are guaranteed by the state of  Estonia. Read more about the terms and conditions. 

EU Leader Virumaa Koostöökogu (VIKO) supported Natourest Inc for buying nature observation optics and trail cameras.