How To Go Moose Watching From Rovaniemi (Best Tour + Tips)

Are you looking to go moose watching from Rovaniemi? This is a guide to how to go on a Rovaniemi moose safari, including tour options and how to do it on your own!

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About Moose in Finland

Finland is home to incredible wildlife, but one of the most impressive is the moose, also known as elk. There are over 80,000 moose throughout the whole of Finland.

However, despite their giant size, they are very difficult to see.

Moose watching from Rovaniemi
Moose watching from Rovaniemi

As the moose are hunted for meat, they are very shy and will often run at the sight or smell of a human.

Along with this fear of humans, they also are masters of camouflage, seamlessly blending in with the forest and surrounding areas hiding their huge bulk.

While they are shy animals, they can also be very dangerous and a moose looking to protect her calf will not think twice about charging at you.

The boreal forests of northern Finland are the perfect habitat for moose, with plenty of food and places to hide away. As the forests give way to the Arctic tundra in the very north the moose become less prevalent.

Boreal forest from above
Trying to spot moose from above

Your best chances to see moose are in protected areas where they know they won’t be hunted. Alternatively, keep an eye out for road signs that warn of moose crossings as they indicate common areas where moose are seen often!

The best time to go moose watching from Rovaniemi

While moose are active throughout the year, your best bet to see them around Rovaniemi is between May and October.

In spring and early summer, the female moose give birth to their young and the rush to eat begins. During this period moose are slightly easier to see, as the weather is cooler allowing them to be active more throughout the day.

River flowing through the moose watching area
Crossing a river during the late evening sun

Mid-summer is generally the most challenging time to see moose, as the warm weather drives them deeper into the forest where the shade helps them keep cool.

During this period, your best chance to see moose is at dawn or dusk when it is cooler. On very hot days, the moose will be driven towards water where they can soak in the cool water.

Late summer into fall is the best time to see the moose as they go wild trying to mate. During this period, the males will start to fight and chase the female moose as they look to sire the next generation of moose.

September is also the start of the moose hunting season, which drives the moose into certain areas where they know that they are safe.

During winter, many moose migrate away from Rovaniemi in search of food. The ones that stay in the area hunker down in the forests where there is plenty of food and they do not need to move much.

How to see moose from Rovaniemi

Unlike bear watching in Kuusamo, seeing a moose is a little more challenging. These large but unbelievably skittish animals keep themselves as far away from humans as possible.

Fortunately, to the south of Rovaniemi, you will find the most protected nature reserve in Europe. The moose know this area is a safe haven and flock there to avoid being hunted.

Watch out for moose sign
Watch out for that moose!… if you see one of these signs there is a chance you will see a moose.

While the nature reserve itself can’t be visited, the moose spill out into the surrounding areas and can easily be seen from the roads that circumnavigate the reserve.

There are two ways to visit the area: either on a tour or driving on your own. I have done both and will explain each of them below.

Option 1: Moose safari tour

Duration: 3.5 hours

Meeting Point: Pick up within 15 km (9.32 mi) from Rovaniemi city center

Language: English

🦌 CLICK HERE TO BOOK

The first time I visited Rovaniemi, I did not have a driver’s license and I needed to take tours for everything. While researching tours, I discovered a moose watching tour and excitedly booked it, having never seen a moose before.

Late fall in Rovaniemi
We took our tour in late fall

As I was visiting later in mid-October, it was towards the end of the moose season and daylight was dwindling.

I was informed that our chances of seeing a moose would not be optimal. Nevertheless, I was excited to go out into nature and hopefully see something!

My experience on the tour

I met the tour provider at their office in the city center, and while pick-ups are available, it made more sense for me to meet the guide at the office.

As I was visiting Rovaniemi in October, the only people on the tour were myself and my partner. However, I do not think this tour is often fully booked.

A moose staring out of the forest
Keep an eye out in the clearings for moose!

Once we set off from the office, we headed south from Rovaniemi to the moose watching area. Along the way, we made a short stop to photograph a herd of reindeer before continuing on to the moose safari route.

As we drove to the area, our guide told us what to keep an eye out for and a little information about moose in Lapland. As we started on the trail, our guide showed us how to use the binoculars provided, and we started to scan the fields and clearings along the road.

Our guide spotted a moose first, but I for the life of me could not see it. We continued driving along the route, hoping to see one but with no luck.

We decided to give our eyes a rest and take a break with some hot berry juice and gingerbread cookies. After the break, we set back on the route in the hope of seeing another moose.

A lake in the middle of forests
During hot summer days the moose can be seen swimming in the lakes

As we set off again, we continued to have very little luck and gave up hope as the sun started to set. Just as we gave up, a female moose darted out of the forest in front of our van.

As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared back into the hedge row and we did not see another moose on our trip.

While we did not have much luck, I know many other people who take this tour regularly see moose in this area, with the record being over 20 in one tour!

The main negative I had with this tour is that we drove fairly fast around the area, and seeing moose is hard when you feel pressured. It is also fairly hard to take photographs, as you are in a van, and you can not roll down the windows.

Option 2: Moose spotting on your own

If you plan to have access to a car while you visit Rovaniemi in summer or fall, you can opt to go moose watching on your own. Doing this on your own allows you to be more flexible with time and drive the route slower.

Map of moose watching from Rovaniemi route

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My experience of a self-driving moose safari from Rovaniemi

My second time going to the moose watching area was without a tour. Three of us decided to spend an evening driving the route in the hope that we would see a moose or two.

We went in early July, so we opted to go late in the evening when it would be cooler and hopefully, the moose would be active.

When driving to the moose area, the first thing you need to keep an eye out for is the numerous speed cameras on the main road heading south from Rovaniemi. There are speed cameras everywhere and it is easy to get caught out as the speed limit changes regularly.

Exploring the side roads and trails
We took advantage of not being on a tour by exploring areas off the main road

Once we arrived at the moose watching area, we started driving slowly down the route. When we reached open expanses, we stopped and scoured the fields for moose.

As we made our way down the trail, we took the opportunity to drive down the little side roads and take small walks. Driving down the smaller roads was a little more challenging and a few times, we thought we were going to bottom out our car.

After about an hour or so of driving and stopping, we decided to take a break and visit Käktäjärvi. The small lake is the perfect spot for a short walk, with a boardwalk path around the lake and additional trails that take you into the forest.

Around the lake, there are numerous berries that you can pick including the sought-after cloudberry. The area is also frequented by moose and reindeer, but while we were the we only saw a beautiful swan, the national bird of Finland.

There is also a public fire pit here where you could opt to have a little Lappish BBQ.

A beautiful swan
Even when the moose are being elusive, there is still wildlife to be found!

We set back onto the road again and completed the moose watching route without having any luck. Although, we did get very excited thinking we saw a moose in the distance, only to discover it was the root system of a fallen tree or a mound of dirt!

Two days later, my partner and I drove back through the route on our way home from Kemi and saw a moose during the middle of the day!

Renting a Car in Rovaniemi

When renting a car, I always opt to rent one through Discover Cars, especially when I am in Rovaniemi. They work with nearly all the car rental companies in Rovaniemi and you will not struggle to find the perfect car for you.

One of the best things about renting a car in Finland is that many of them will be hybrid cars, which will really help cut down on your costs.

Road through the moose watching area
The road through the moose watching area

I highly recommend getting the full coverage they offer through their site as you will want to protect yourself against any accidents.

🚗 Click here to check car rental rates in Rovaniemi

Moose watching from Rovaniemi + tours FAQ

Is it worth going on a moose safari from Rovaniemi?

I personally think it is! Getting to see these majestic animals in the wild is a truly unique experience.

You can’t fathom how large they are until you see them up close. Even if you do not get the opportunity to see them, the area is beautiful and there are plenty of great walking spots.

Who shouldn’t go on a Rovaniemi moose safari?

Moose watching is incredibly easy and mainly involves driving around in a car. Any walking is extra!

Many of the spots for walking are well-kept and suitable for those with mobility issues. I would not, however, commit to a moose safari if you get car sick as the road is very bumpy and you will be spending most of your time in a car.

Wooden walkway
A mobility accessible wooden walkway that circumnavigates Kätkäjärvi

If you are bored easily or have a short attention span, this tour might also feel a little tedious as it can be long hours of staring out the window trying to spot moose in the distance.

Do you need to drive the moose watching route?

Yes. Unfortunately moose have a very heightened senses, with their hearing and sense of smell being exceptional.

Moose amongst the trees
A moose amongst the trees

If you sit out in the open, the likelihood of them smelling you from a far distance is high, and therefore, they will avoid the area. Being in a car means you can drive through the area and contain your scent within a car.

What should you bring with you?

There are a few things I would definitely bring with you on a Rovaniemi moose safari.

  • A camera with a zoom lens – You will definitely want to have a camera with you in case you do manage to see a moose. I took my Sony Alpha 7 iii with me and used a 200-600mm zoom lens.
  • Binoculars – The moose can be fairly far away and you will want to have a pair of binoculars you can use to search the horizon.
  • Insect repellent – If you are going moose watching in summer, you will want to have some mosquito repellent on or use a Thermacell to keep the mosquitos away.
  • Drinks and snacks – I would bring a good range of drinks and snacks with you as it can be a long evening. You can also opt to have a grill at one of the public fire pits.

What should you wear?

What you will wear while moose watching will largely depend on which season you will go in. During summer, I recommend wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin to help keep the mosquitoes away.

my summer clothing for moose watching
My summer clothing for moose watching from Rovaniemi

In early fall, you will want to wear heavier layers that can be removed easily depending on the heat in the car.

I would also avoid wearing strong-smelling scents as animals have an acute sense of smell and will avoid the area the best they can.

Do I need to be an experienced driver to go moose watching from Rovaniemi on my own?

No, but it is important to drive slowly and keep an eye on the road. Hitting a moose can be fatal for both the moose and those in the car.

clear openings along the route
Have someone riding as a passenger who can look out over the clearings

While the animals are huge, they are quick and spook easily, meaning they pose a great risk to traffic if they dart across the road. There is a reason they are classed as the most dangerous animal in Finland!

Can you go moose watching from Rovaniemi during winter?

In theory, it is possible that the moose are still around during winter in Rovaniemi. However, they normally tend to move further south where food is easier to access.

Those that stick around will be deep in the forest and rarely move about as they look to conserve energy. After October, the Moose Safari Tours no longer run, and I would not recommend driving to the area with the goal of spotting moose.

Should you tip your tour guide?

Tipping your tour guide is a personal choice, but something I nearly always do. All guides will appreciate a tip for the hard work they do.

Should you take a moose safari tour from Rovaniemi?

If you are not planning to rent a car and you are interested in seeing a moose, then I would take a moose watching tour. If you plan to have a car during your stay in Rovaniemi, then you should go without a tour as it can easily be done on your own.

Where to stay in Rovaniemi

The moose watching season runs parallel to the low season in Finnish Lapland, which means there are generally plenty of rooms available in hotels!

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel (luxury) – This is one of the most famous places to stay in Rovaniemi. The cabins are built into a forest on a hillside and offer fantastic views. Each cabin includes a comfortable bed that looks out to the north. During autumn, the area around the Arctic Tree House is great for spotting the northern lights.

Snowflake Suites (mid-range) – Located in the heart of the city, these self-catering apartments are perfect for those looking for a relaxing stay in Rovaniemi. Each apartment has a fully functioning kitchen, living room, and bedroom.

Living room of Snowflake Suites, with a couch and kitchen
Snowflake Suites in Rovaniemi

Hostel Cafe Koti (budget) – A lovely hostel in Rovaniemi city center. There is a choice of dorm rooms or private rooms. This is the perfect place for those wanting to visit Rovaniemi on a budget. There is an onsite cafe where you can get hot drinks and breakfast.

I hope you enjoyed reading my review of moose watching from Rovaniemi. If you have any questions or comments about taking a Rovaniemi moose safari, please leave them below!

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