A trip for all nature lovers, wildlife photographers, and ornithologists.
DURATION: 8 days
MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 5
DATES: June / July
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel – Guesthouse
TRANSPORTATION: SKUA Nature van – Boat
MEALS: Restaurants – Packed lunch
DIFFICULTY: Easy – Support from guides expert about the area
INFORMATION: SKUA headquarters: firstname.lastname@example.org – +39 0141 918349
Summer is advancing inexorably, and the midnight sun is already rising over the sky of the Varanger Peninsula. As soon as the migration and breeding season is over, the time of nesting and raising chicks begins.
The cliffs of Hornøya are bustling with activity, and puffins, European shags, common murres and razorbills come and go to feed their young. Smews and goosanders fill the bays, and white-tailed eagles watch from the steep cliffs of the glacial valleys, while reindeer and moose roam freely on the plateaus of the Varanger Peninsula. The atmosphere is filled with the calls of loons, and terns and long-tailed jaegers fly in the sky. During the endless 24 hours of daylight, we go in search of short-eared owls and gyrfalcons at night, taking advantage of the beautiful light of dawn and dusk. We embark on an expedition into the waters of the Barents Sea to photograph a spectacular colony of gannets, as well as observe whales and other seabirds. We explore Ovre Pasvik National Park to spot species such as the whooper swan, western capercaillie, and willow ptarmigan. On this trip, always accompanied by our expert guides, we will observe these and many other bird species that come to Norway during the breeding season, such as the red-necked phalarope, the Eurasian oystercatcher, etc.
More than 100 species like the white-throated dipper and the European golden plover are waiting for you. Do not miss this wonderful opportunity, contact us now!
- On-site transportation and excursions
- Driver and expert guide in birdwatching, wildlife, and photography
- Access to optical equipment (telescope) and field identification guides
- Accommodation for 8 days
- Menus and other meals.
- Round-trip flights
- Travel insurance
- group life
- bird nesting
- expert guides
Ivalo-Kaamanen-Kongsfjord-Batsfjord-Syltefjord-Berlevag-Veines-Varagnerbunto-Nesseby-Vadso-Ekkeroy-Hornoya- Vardø-Ovre Pasvik-Ivalo
We will arrive in Ivalo in the late afternoon, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle and nestled in the Finnish taiga. From here we will drive north to our destination: the northern Varanger Peninsula. On the way, we will take a break in Kaamanen, where the local restaurant has set up bird feeders frequented by species such as the Siberian jay, grey-headed chickadee, and pine grosbeak. Although we arrive in the evening, thanks to the phenomenon of the midnight sun, we will enjoy spectacular light conditions for our photo session of these tireless birds. After our dinner in front of a large glass window through which we can observe their activities, we will return to the Finnish forests for the night, just a few kilometers from this exceptional feeding ground, which we will visit again the next morning.
We will have breakfast at the restaurant, where we will spend the morning photographing Siberian jays and pine grosbeaks. After lunch we will drive on a scenic road to our accommodation in Kongsfjord, where we will make a few stops in case we spot interesting species. Near a small bridge we will stop to observe the white-throated dipper, which visits this spot for bathing and feeding. Later we continue without taking our eyes off the road to check the surroundings as we might see herds of reindeer. Then we will drive along the great Tana River, flanked by vertical walls where gyrfalcons and rough-legged buzzards are wont to nest. When we reach the birch belt and before entering the tundra, we will pay attention to our surroundings, because in broad daylight it is possible to see the northern hawk-owl resting on the most exposed branches. We will have dinner at Kongsfjord Guesthouse, where we will spend the next days. After enjoying some Nordic dishes, we will continue our exploration of Kongsfjord to observe different species such as black-throated and red-throated loons, red-necked phalarope, purple sandpiper, and Temminck’s stint.
We will have breakfast at dawn at Kongsfjord Guesthouse and we will drive towards Batsfjord and stop in the area to observe characteristic species of the Arctic tundra such as the snow bunting and the rock ptarmigan. Once at the Port of Båtsfjord, we will be able to observe from the jetties some sea birds, like the common eider and the long-tailed duck. After lunch we will take a 3-hour boat trip to the gannet colony of Syltefjord. On the way along the coast of Makkaurhalvøya Nature Reserve we will observe hundreds of individuals perched on the cliffs above the waters of the Barents Sea. With luck, we will also have the opportunity to spot pelagic birds such as the northern fulmar and the elusive European storm petrel. We will also be on the lookout for whales, as it is not hard to spot sei whales and white-beaked dolphins swimming on the surface. On the way back to Kongsfjord, where we will have dinner, we will scan the surrounding lakes for black-throated and red-throated loons who are common in the small tundra lagoons. Other species we may see on the way back to our accommodation include the European golden plover and the merlin.
After breakfast in Kongsfjord, we will drive to Berlevag to observe white-tailed eagles, long-tailed jaegers, and Arctic terns. Once we reach Berlevag harbor, we will observe the flight of hundreds of black-legged kittiwakes, great black-backed gulls, and European herring gulls, as well as common eiders and long-tailed ducks. After lunch on site, we will return to Kongsfjord for a short walk near our accommodation and make our way to the gyrfalcon area. Here we will also go in search of other small birds like the ring ouzel and the red-throated pipit, which reveal their location as they move from rock to rock. We will continue north to visit a series of abandoned bunkers and structures from World War II. These fragments of European wartime history are buried under snow and ice in winter, but each spring they reappear, offering the opportunity to walk through their corridors and rooms. On the way back and before dinner, we will visit the mixed colony of Arctic terns and common terns nesting on the artificial beach created by Skua Nature. Here we will observe their chicks, which mix almost perfectly with the sand of the beach to protect themselves from predators.
We will celebrate our last evening in Kongsfjord with a barbecue on the jetty closest to the platform where cormorants and Eurasian oystercatchers nest.
We will have a rich and energetic breakfast to prepare for a long and exciting day. We will leave early and stop once again at the site of the northern hawk owl, where we will try to take the desired shot. We will continue to the wooden birdwatching stations of Varangerbunto built by the community, where we will spend the whole morning. They offer the opportunity to observe marine species such as the common eider, velvet and common scoter, as well as some waders such as the Temminck’s stint and the Eurasian oystercatcher. After our lunch at the lookout, we will continue our journey along the scenic road towards Vadso. Along the way, we will keep an eye out for birds we can see from the car, including the white-tailed eagle and the rough-legged buzzard. Once in Vadso, we will leave our luggage in the rooms and prepare for the rest of the afternoon. We will go in search of the short-eared owl and visit places frequented by this species, such as Nesseby and the Vardø area. If we are not successful, after dinner we will continue our search near the fishing villages, which together with the pink and orange lights will offer us incredible photo opportunities.
We will reach Vardø through an underwater tunnel connecting this small island to the mainland and have breakfast. We will take a boat to Hornøya Island, where more than 100,000 seabirds nest each season. Hornøya is a unique place where birdwatchers can admire the impressive flocks of puffins, razorbills, and common and thick-billed murres on a walkway. During our visit to Hornøya, we will watch the parents come and go to the nest to feed their young, who are rarely seen. On the island we will have a packed lunch, so we can be as flexible as we like during our photo session and return to Vardø with the last boat. In the afternoon we will visit some points of great ornithological interest, including the northwestern part where various birds rest on their migratory routes: the European golden plover, redwing, red-throated pipit, and many others. Before dinner we will visit an impressive colony of thousands of black-legged kittiwakes on a cliff near Ekkeroy. It will not be difficult to observe different species of jaegers bothering the gulls to steal their food. After dinner we will go to an area where we will wait for the arrival of the molting mountain hare. The guide will instruct us in the methodology of photographing such a restless animal. Once we have taken our photos, we will return to Vadso for the night.
Day 07 – Early in the morning we will pack our luggage to leave our accommodation in Vadso. We will have breakfast in Vardø and then start a second migratory bird photo session in Hornoya, where we will take a walk around the island. After our packed lunch on the island, we will return to our van and head south to Ovre Pasvik National Park, located on the border between Norway, Finland, and Russia. The predominant biome in this park is taiga, characterized by pine forests, peat bogs and small ponds. On the way to the forest, we will pass through the area of Neiden, where nesting boxes have been placed, inhabited by smews and common goldeneyes, which can be found in the surrounding ponds, as well as black-throated loons. We will spend the whole afternoon exploring the forest and the small ponds, where we can find species such as the whooper swan and the jack snipe. We will have dinner in a typical Sami tent, which is open to the outside. There we will barbecue at a self-lit fire, accompanied by the lights of the midnight sun and only a few meters from our accommodation in the middle of the forest of Ovre Pasvik. After dinner, we will go on a night expedition in search of the western capercaillie, hazel grouse, black grouse, and willow ptarmigan. We will return to our accommodation for the night after trying to spot forest species such as the red crossbill, Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, and northern hawk-owl.
We will wake up early again with the first lights of the midnight sun for a last forest hike in search of galliformes and forest birds. Later we will make our way to Ivalo. Along the scenic route we will do our morning photo session, where the reindeer and with some luck the moose will give us a few last shots. Around noon we reach the airport and say goodbye until our next adventure.
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that can be observed north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle, where the sun is visible 24 hours a day around the summer solstice. This phenomenon is a direct result of the interaction between the translational motion and the Earth’s axial tilt: the Earth rotates around the Sun at an angle of about 24°, so the Northern Hemisphere is more exposed to the sun between May and August, in summer. The further north we are, the more intense the interaction, so that beyond the Arctic Circle the sun never disappears below the horizon during the boreal summer.
The summer sun rises over the Norwegian tundra, the days grow longer, and temperatures in the Arctic regions rise. It’s time for the nesting season and the first flights over the Varanger Peninsula: a variety of seabirds choose northern Europe as the ideal place to raise new generations. In these northern latitudes, proper feeding of the chicks is crucial to their survival, as many of them will leave the warmth of the nest as early as July to begin their first migration to wintering grounds. Mammals such as mountain hare, red fox and stoat change their winter coats to make room for less dense brown fur and embark on a relentless search for food for their young.
Whooper swan, taiga bean goose, common eider, common scoter, velvet scoter, long-tailed duck, common goldeneye, goosander, red-breasted merganser, rock ptarmigan, red-throated loon, black-throated loon, black-throated loon, northern fulmar, gyrfalcon, Eurasian dotterel, red-necked phalarope, long-tailed jaeger, Arctic tern, puffin, black guillemot, common murre, thick-billed murre, razorbill, northern hawk-owl, red-throated pipit, grey-headed chickadee, Siberian jay, twite, common redpoll, Arctic redpoll, pine grosbeak, snow bunting, Lapland longspur, Arctic tern, short-eared owl, humpback whale, white-beaked dolphin, sei whale, Eurasian oystercatcher, European golden plover, mountain hare, rock ptarmigan, reindeer, moose, red fox, Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, western capercaillie, hazel grouse, black grouse, and willow ptarmigan.
- Photo lenses: Lenses with a focal length of at least 400mm are recommended for nature photography. For landscape photography, a wide-angle lens is ideal.
- Clothing suitable for outdoor activities. Temperatures are above 0°C and can reach 10-15°C. It is very important to choose clothes that provide comfort and safety.
- Mosquito repellent, sunscreen and/or moisturizer.
Birdwatching, van rides, boat rides, visit to Hornøya, visit to Kaamanen, visit to Ovre Pasvik, excursion to bunkers, Arctic barbecue.
- Check possible documents required due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Travel insurance is required.
- We strongly recommend booking flights that allow for refunds in case of cancellation or change.