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Learn to track and photograph wild bears in Slovakia’s Carpathian Mountains

5 Grin and bear it in Slovakia

In a continent that doesn’t often feel truly wild, witnessing a bear in its natural environment is a particularly special pleasure. Europe’s largest predator (even if it is only an occasional meateater), the brown bear has long captured the imagination, figuring in myths since ancient times. It’s been at least a thousand years since bears roamed wild in Britain, but in the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia there is a population several hundred strong. The Tatra range of the Carpathians, divided into the parallel High Tatras and Low Tatras, offers a supremely rugged environment with plenty of deep forest for the bears to conceal themselves in. Specialist tour operator Tatra Photography runs group expeditions to the region now that the animals have shaken off their winter drowsiness. With its specially designed hides, aspiring wildlife photographers can sit within close but responsible range of any hirsute creatures that come padding by – a cast that might also include red deer, lynx, wild boar and grey wolves. Professional wildlife photographer Ben Hall joins some of the trips, ready to share his expertise on getting the very best out of these camera-shy subjects.

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