This tour will take you to the Varanger Peninsula, the most northern tip of Europe and one of the most attractive birdwatching destinations.
The landscape of the Varanger Peninsula is unique and one of the most diverse in mainland Europe. It is dominated by Arctic tundra vegetation, dotted with dwarf Birch trees and interspersed with lakes, marshes and ponds. Some dense Birch forests fringe broad river valleys and low mountain ridges. The coast is broken up by dramatic cliffs sloping down to the Arctic Ocean, picturesque fjords, shallow bays and sandy beaches.
This varied and attractive landscape is home to remarkable bird assemblages all year round. Although Varangerfjord is so far north, it does not freeze over in winter. For many eastern migrants, this area, therefore, is an attractive winter destination. About 80-90% of the European wintering population of Steller's Eider stay in the Varangerfjord. The area is also important for wintering King Eider, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck and Purple Sandpiper. During the migration seasons, the shores and wetlands are alive with waterfowl, waders and passerines. Thousands of Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Razorbills, Brünnich's Guillemots, Pomarine Skuas and White-billed Divers pass by the Varanger coast.
However, we are visiting the peninsula during the spring, after most of the migration passage. Despite this, we should still be able to see Steller’s Eider, King Eider and White-billed Diver, that Varanger is famous for. Spring is probably the most attractive season on the peninsula, because the land becomes alive with myriads of flowers and buzzing insects, and waders seem to occupy every suitable space on the tundra. Hundreds of waders return from their wintering grounds further south and frantically begin to lay eggs to rear their chicks before the onset of another autumn and cold weather. It is a wonderful time to see Dunlins, Redshanks, Whimbrels, Turnstones, Golden Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Little Stints, Temminck’s Stints and Dotterels in their vibrant breeding plumage. We still might be able to encounter Ruffs displaying in their unique colours during the lekking contest. Black-throated and Red-throated Divers are present on many lakes and ponds, where Red-throated Phalaropes also dazzle in their attractive plumage. Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas are busy hunting, whereas Lapland Bunting, Red-throated Pipit, Shorelark, Northern Wheatear and, at higher elevations, Snow Bunting, fill the air with their attractive songs. One of the biggest colonies of seabirds in Europe occupies the steep cliffs and offshore islands around the coast.
The fact that the sun does not set at all at this latitude will allow us to explore the area late into the night and take advantage of the bright early summer light for those perfect photos.
To enhance our birding experience at this high latitude landscape, our tour will finish off in the Pasvik Valley. The landscape here is dominated by Siberian-like taiga consisting of old-growth forests of Scots Pine, shallow lakes and bogs. The area encompasses the Øvre Pasvik National Park, which joins the Russian Pasvik Nature Reserve and Finland's Vätsäri Wilderness Area. By extending our tour to the Pasvik Valley, not only will we combine birding in two different biomes, but we will also observe the gradual transition from the northern taiga forest to the open Arctic tundra as we drive further north and reach the latitude of 71 degrees.Detailed Itinerary Booking Info
3-9 July 2017
Arrival to Kirkenes
Departure from Kirkenes
The Price Includes
- all accommodation on a shared basis
- all meals
- all excursions and transfers by vehicle and a boat
- park and tour guides’ fees
The Price Does Not Include
- all items of a personal nature
- flight cancellation, baggage and medical insurance alcoholic drinks
- scheduled return flight from Great Britain to Norway. A group booking, however, will be made, but you will deal with a travel agent directly. Alternatively, you can make your own arrangements
- all passengers must cover themselves against flight cancellation, luggage loss and medical costs for the duration of their trip
- a deposit of £100 is requested with a booking form. The final payment is required by 1 March