Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Estonia May 2018 Part 12. Postscript.

On returning home I decided I would get in touch with our tour company, Natourest, to give them some feedback on our experiences. It wasn't meant as a complaint but I felt they should know the shortcomings of our trip, the experiences with the places we couldn't get a decent meal, the poor service, the fact the hides even including their own bear hide had let us down to a certain extent.
We'd been under the impression we'd each get 5 bird hide and 2 bear hide experiences. The reality had been ruined shots by a carelessly left pole at the bear hide and the bird hides were unsuitable for both of us to use at once so we were down to three days, none of which were used as the birds weren't there anyway.We had after all stressed the importance of photographic opportunities before agreeing to book the trip.
I accepted that the weather had been seasonally hot which hadn't helped the wildlife cause but pointed out that the electronic tablet didn't work without a wifi signal and in any case much of the information needed wasn't on their maps anyway. Advice that filling stations provide a wifi opportunity and where to find a decent enough supermarket would be extremely useful in the circumstances we found ourselves in.
I received an apologetic reply accepting some of the shortfalls but not understanding why the tablet wasn't working as it should, anyway they felt they wanted to offer us a refund on our bird hide costs and would provide us with an extended weekend's bear hide and hotel accommodation as well as a free hire car.
How generous is that !
We are happy to accept their offer
Ok we have to find the plane tickets but the refund on the hides is a help towards them.
I suggested that it wasn't worth returning for just a weekend and so we have agreed on a return in June with three consecutive nights in the bear hide followed by one in a hotel near the airport to catch our early flight home.
Yes, there will be only one opportunity for a proper cooked dinner on the last evening and no opportunities for breakfast at all but we are now better prepared knowing where we did get a better choice of picnic materials than others. We might even take some food from home, we have the luggage allowance to do so!
With the nights even longer we might get a better bear experience too, perhaps there might be cubs about in a months time , that would be special. 
Maybe Estonia will live up to expectations after all, I'll let you know how we get on after the event!


  1. Hi Dave
    Perhaps not your best ever trip for sightings but still a very interesting read nonetheless. You've provided a lot of really useful information for anybody that follows in your footsteps. Anyway, it can't have been that're going back!

  2. Hi Ian,
    Thanks for the comments.
    We have no complaint with the tour company,Natourest, who were efficient in everything they organised. It was the places they put is in that let us and them down. On our last evening at Kosmonautika someone turned up looking to rent a room for a shower and somewhere to camp for the night so I gave him their number at Pikla.The reply came back they were full. We were the only two people there! They obviously don't need the business so don't put themselves out.
    The hides not being fit for purpose is a different issue to there being a lack of subject matter too. You have to accept the latter as the risk you take but not the former. In every single hide there were problems of one sort or another that were avoidable .We had after all stressed that photography was the reason we were visiting.
    From what I could see, the birding tours were getting the results they were after, ticking the species they wanted to see even if the views were distant. They were also getting the service they expected too. Meals when they expected them! As two individuals we didn't carry the weight of influence the groups did and only got the same level of service in the last place we stayed where they only have 5 bedrooms and don't cater for groups.
    Our bear hide experience was a thrill, so yes, happy to go back and try and get some better images without the obstructions but in truth it shouldn't be costing us more to do so, it should have happened first time around.Still, 4 nights for £320 seems a reasonable compromise and this time we return with low expectations when it comes to food and eating!
    cheers Dave