- Fly via Helsinki to Ivalo. From here it is about an hour's drive north, through the brooding arctic taiga forest and past frozen lakes to Kaamanen, where we stay overnight.
- After dinner, if the sky is clear, we'll get our first chance to go out to check if an aurora is in progress, or, if not, for a bit of winter astronomy.
- Accommodation: Kaamanen, 1-night with dinner and breakfast.
- Despite the bleak wintry appearance of the northern taiga forest in March, it still harbours a range of Arctic bird species, some of which are actually easier to see in winter. As at home, the secret of getting good views of the birds is food! We have therefore purposely selected a lodge that has its own bird feeding station.
- We spend some time at the feeders in Kaamanen, where splendid pine grosbeaks are regular visitors, before heading off north along the Arctic highway into Norway – a drive of around four hours, through snowy scenery. En route we keep a look out for elk, reindeer, white-tailed eagle and gyrfalcon.
- Once in Norway, the scenery becomes progressively more mountainous before we drop down into the harbour-side town of Batsfjord, where we stay for two nights. We'll be on aurora-alert again, and – if lucky –, will drive a short distance out of town to get away from light pollution.
- Accommodation: Batsfjord, 2-nights on full board basis.
- As well as the chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis, the main attraction of Båtsfjord at this time of year is the mixed flock of arctic eiders that inhabits the sheltered waters of the harbour. King, Steller’s and common eiders are all in their magnificent breeding plumage at this time of year. Vying for attention will be long-tailed duck, glaucous and Iceland gulls, with purple sandpiper, black-legged kittiwake and black guillemot completing the arctic coastal picture.
- This morning we drive back over the mountain road, and down to renowned Varangerfjord. We are heading for Vardo, at the eastern end of the fjord, where we stay for two nights. Our hotel is situated at the edge of the harbour and we can birdwatch from the dining room. Again, it isn’t far to drive to get away from the town’s lights to look for the aurora borealis if the sky is clear.
- The following day, weather permitting, we take a boat to the bird cliffs of Hornoya Island and its seabird colonies. The birds at this time will be gathering offshore, and we hope to get close to Brünnich’s guillemots as well as innumerable kittiwakes, puffins, razorbills and common guillemots.
- Accommodation: Vardo, 2-nights on full board basis.
- After breakfast we drive back into Finland and the taiga forest again. We plan to reach the lodge and its bird feeders in the afternoon to have another chance to see the Siberian specialities.
- Accommodation: Kaamanen, 1 night on full board basis.
- We drive back to Ivalo for a morning flight to Helsinki connecting with our return flight to London.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
- Groups up to 7 people will be accompanied by local guide only
We stay at comfortable hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite.
All meals are included.
Our tour takes us into Lapland at a time of year when we should see some sought-after Siberian specialities, including Siberian tit, Siberian jay and pine grosbeak. Amongst the masses of seabirds on Norway’s sheltered coast there should be three species of eider, in breeding plumage.
- Pine grosbeak
- Stellar’s eider
- King eider
- White-tailed eagle
We start out tour amongst the conifers of the wintery taiga forest in Finland, before crossing into Norway passing colourful villages and small birch woods before reaching the sheltered coastal waters that are thronged with seabirds.
Weather permitting; we take a boat trip close to the seabird colonies of Hornoya Island, where we hope to see Brünnich’s guillemots, Steller’s eiders and also gyrfalcon and white-tailed eagle.
On this trip we should be able to see the aurora borealis, or northern lights, in all their glory, and we will also do some star gazing – for which birding telescopes, and even binoculars, can be excellent.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Ivalo – London.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.