Mikael Nilsson – The beaver tracker
He has led more than several thousand visitors to the timid beaver in the past fifteen years. During this time the guests have had a 95 percent success rate of encountering the shy animal, as well as experiencing close encounters with elks, deer, badgers, and foxes. Join the safari in the heart of Bergslagen with Mikael Nilsson – probably Sweden’s best beaver tracker.
In the 19th century, the beaver became extinct in Sweden, and it was not until 50 years later, in 1922, that some Norwegian animals were imported and reintroduced. Since then, the Swedish beaver population has recovered. In 1960 there were 2,000 animals, 20 years later there were 40,000 individuals and today there are an estimated 150,000 beavers, with the main center of population in Central Sweden.
European beaver (Castor fiber) Photo: Peter Cairns
Many of us have seen traces of beaver activity, such as felled trees, lodges and ponds. But very few have seen the animal itself in the wild. “That's not surprising really. The beaver is most active in the evenings and at night, and it’s a very timid animal with excellent hearing and a fine sense of smell,” explains Mikael Nilsson, safari guide at Nordic Discovery. He leads beaver safaris in the forests of the Malingsbo-Kloten nature reserve, a couple of hours by train or car northwest of Stockholm.
A successful Beaver safari is about being in the right place at the right time and, not least, being silent. The slightest noise scares the beaver, who disappears with a loud splash. After diving, it can stay underwater for up to 15 minutes.
Mikael Nilsson - The beaver tracker. Photo: Nordic Discovery
“The chances of seeing a beaver are very high. Many of the years, we saw beavers on every tour, and sometimes the beavers are very close up. During many safaris, we saw several beavers throughout the whole canoeing part on three hours. But it’s not animals in cages we’re showing, so we never guarantee anything,” says Mikael, before continuing.
"The canoeing is not physically demanding. At times, we’re just gliding through the water, using the paddle to steer. Everyone has to be dead silent, and we communicate using only sign language. We’ve had many guests who felt that, although seeing the beaver was fun, the best part was canoeing through the wild territory in complete silence.”
The Beaver safari attracts many Swedes, but also international guests, and particularly from the Netherlands. “There’s a popular fairy tale character in the Netherlands in the form of a beaver. So, for many Dutch children, the beaver is high on the wish list,” says Mikael.
With a canoe, you can travel downstream in complete silence. Photo: Ann-Charlotte Solvang Stagg
Interest is growing in beaver safaris and other wildlife tours. Several of the beaver package tours (Beaver Safari Package, and Beaver safari in Bergslagen with Nordic Discovery) is getting booked quickly, and during the summer, when the demand for this types of tours is high, Nordic Discovery increases the number of departures. For groups of at least four people, other dates in addition to the fixed tours can also be booked.
An easy, climate-smart way to travel to the Bergslagen beaver safari: Train to Malmö and then onward by train to Kopparberg, from where Nordic Discovery arranges transport. Simple, but less environmentally sound, is to fly to Stockholm Airport, Arlanda, and then take the train to Kopparberg or Söderbärke.
Beaver safari in Bergslagen with Nordic Discovery: