A trip for all photography and nature lovers.
DURATION: 8 days
MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 6 – 7
DATES: coming soon…
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel – Guesthouse
TRANSPORTATION: SKUA Nature van – Boats
MEALS: Restaurants – Packed lunch
DIFFICULTY: Easy – Support from guides expert about the area
INFORMATION: SKUA headquarters: email@example.com – +39 0141 918349
As soon as half of the cold season is over, the sun peeks again over the Barents Sea, where sunrise and sunset merge. In the icy lands of the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway, the valleys and cliffs are dressed in their winter garb and covered with snow and ice. During the seven nights we spend in this enchanted place, the Northern Lights tinge the sky in intense colors and illuminate the frozen landscape of the Arctic tundra. Traversing the still snow-covered Norwegian fjords, we encounter a variety of Arctic bird species adapted to the harsh winter, as well as the first migratory birds returning north for the breeding season. Off-road trails and photo hides allow us to observe Arctic wildlife up close and take incredible photos against a backdrop of impressive snowfalls and nighttime northern lights. Get ready for an unforgettable 1,400-kilometer expedition beyond the Arctic Circle.
Through the mighty Norwegian fjords, we set out in search of the various bird species adapted to the Arctic winter and the first migratory species to return north during the breeding season. During our tour we will be able to photograph more than 40 different species and visit colonies with more than 100,000 seabirds. We will discover Kaamanen and its forests, where we can photograph Siberian jays, Arctic redpolls, and pine grosbeaks. We will cross the taiga and its vast evergreen forests and reach the Finnmark region, which in Old Norse gave its name to the land of the Sami, the reindeer herders. We will also visit Kongsfjord, a small fishing village in the Nordic tundra whose hills are inhabited by the gyrfalcon and whose beaches are home to the grey seal. We will drive to the fishing villages of Berlevag and Batsfjord, where king, Steller’s, and common eiders, as well as long-tailed ducks have been spotted recently from a floating hide and during a boat trip. In the Vardø and Vadsø areas, we will be on the lookout for mountain hares, rock ptarmigans and white-tailed eagles as we make our way to Hornøya Island. At Hornøya Reserve we will spend two full mornings photographing amidst hundreds of Atlantic puffins, European shags, razorbills and common murres that fly very close to us, bringing us into close contact with Arctic wildlife.
BASIC FEE: coming soon…
- local transportation and excursions
- drivers and guide expert about nature and birdwatching
- accommodation for 8 days
- photo hide sessions
- equipment for excursions/Nordic activities
- entry tickets for sites/activities
- menus and other meals
- roundtrip airfare
- travel insurance
- group experience
- professional photo hides
- expert guides
Itinerary in brief
Our arrival in Ivalo, 250 km north of the Arctic Circle and nestled in the Finnish taiga, is scheduled for late afternoon. From here we head north to our destination: the Varanger Peninsula. On the way, we will stop in Kaamanen, where the local restaurant provides feeders for birds such as the Siberian jay, the grey-headed chickadee and pine grosbeak, which we will use the next morning. At night we will look for northern lights in the forest, where the green and pink skies of the Finnish taiga will delight photographers with interesting nocturnal landscape shots.
We have breakfast at the same restaurant and spend the morning photographing Arctic redpolls, Siberian jays, and pine grosbeaks at the feeders. Red squirrels also frolic at the feeders, so we get wonderful photos of these acrobats both in pose and in action. After lunch by the glass window overlooking the feeding stations, we drive along a scenic road to our lodging in Kongsfjord, stopping several times depending on what we encounter along the way. We wait and watch the white-throated dipper near a small bridge where it comes to bathe and feed. Then we continue our drive, never taking our eyes off the road and always keeping an eye on our surroundings to look for herds of reindeer in the area. On the way we will stop to admire and enjoy the geometries that ice and snow draw in this landscape, and we will find enchanted corners where small streams flow tirelessly through the ice. However, the most attentive moment will be near Tana, where a pair of northern hawk-owls has been sighted with great ease in recent winters and spring, and we will try to locate them. We arrive for dinner at Kongsfjord Guesthouse, where we will spend the next few days. After enjoying typical Nordic dishes, we will go hunting for Northern Lights, which we will photograph together with Veines beach and its colorful houses.
We get up early, have breakfast at Kongsfjord Guesthouse, and drive to the nearby village of Berlevåg, the northernmost town on the Norwegian mainland. The drive there is one of the highlights of the tour: the road winds through three small fjords where snow and ice stalactites have just covered the jagged rocks and steep cliffs on the Barents Sea. The glacial valleys, formed millions of years ago, are now home to white-tailed eagles, gyrfalcons, and herds of reindeer. At their foot, where sea and mountains merge, small bays serve as gathering and resting places for many seabirds, grey seals, and harbor seals. In Berlevåg harbor we will discover a newly built photo hide that will give us the opportunity to photograph species such as Steller’s and king eiders, as well as the long-tailed duck. Here we will also look for different species of gulls, as it is not difficult to spot the glaucous gull and the Iceland gull in this area. After having lunch in town, we will take a walk along the docks, from where it is easy to photograph groups of eiders flying back and forth under the harbor lights that illuminate the water in different shades. In the late afternoon we return to Kongsfjord to rest after a long day of seabird photography. If we are lucky, in the evening we will be able to observe the beautiful Northern Lights from different places our guide will take us to, such as winding roads between fjords and stalactites or old lighthouses between fishermen houses and snowy beaches.
On our last day in Kongsfjord we spend a day of intensive birdwatching in the tundra. We explore the area around our accommodation and climb the hill behind Kongsfjord Guesthouse on snowshoes in search of the white-tailed eagle and the gyrfalcon. After the hike we have lunch and go in search of rock ptarmigan, mountain hare, moose, and reindeer. In the evening we return and, weather permitting, enjoy an outdoor barbecue under the Northern Lights, right in front of the platform where cormorants nest.
Before sunrise we drive to the harbor of Båtsfjord, where we take a boat ride to photograph some of the stars of this trip: the king, common, and Steller’s eiders, as well as the long-tailed duck, which arrives in the harbor in the early morning hours. The colorful houses in the area bring shades of color to the water of the harbor, creating warm reflections that highlight the white plumage of these aquatic creatures. We can photograph eiders and other seabirds in large groups or taking close-ups, covering all perspectives. After lunch we visit the fishing villages along Varangerfjord and have the chance to see white-tailed eagles, black-legged kittiwakes and with some luck gyrfalcons. At sunset we reach Ekkerøy, where we stay overnight with our local partners and take a night hike through fishing villages with fish dryers, coastal churches and abandoned snow-covered houses, in search of the Northern Lights in a completely different environment.
We drive along the north coast of Varangerfjord to the village of Vardø, which is located on an island connected to the mainland by an underwater tunnel. On the way there, we focus on photographing the white-tailed eagle, which is particularly common in the Kiberg region. Once in Vardø, we take a boat to the famous Hornøya Island, the jewel of the Barents Sea. Hornøya Island is home to a colony of more than 100,000 seabirds. It is a unique place where you can photograph Atlantic puffins, common murres (including the bridled morpho), thick-billed murres, razorbills, black-legged kittiwakes, and European shags. After our packed lunch on the island, we return to Ekkerøy on the last boat to visit an impressive colony of thousands of black-legged kittiwakes on a nearby cliff.
We spend the night in Ekkerøy and, weather permitting, go in search of the Northern Lights, which are reflected in the waters of Varangerfjord and are perfect for photographing.
Early in the morning we pick up our equipment for another expedition to Hornøya so we can take the photos we had planned. After our packed lunch, we return to Vardø and make our way to Vadsø. There we will wait in an area full of mountain hares, which are difficult to photograph because of the white fur they use for camouflage. The guide will explain us how to photograph such an unpredictable animal. Once we have the photo we want, we will continue to Kaamanen, where we will have dinner and spend the night.
At dawn we take part in a bird photo session at the Kaamanen Restaurant, where we also have breakfast. Then we leave for Ivalo and take the opportunity to photograph reindeer and, with luck, moose on the long scenic route. We arrive at the airport before noon, where we say goodbye and look forward to our next adventure together.
Hide – Professional photo hides
The hide or photo hides are special structures for observing wildlife, perfectly integrated into the environment and able to comfortably accommodate 1 to 6 people, depending on their size. They are in strategic points to increase the possibility of observing wildlife at close range, and to guarantee participants discreet comfort and optimal photo conditions. There are hides made of different materials, shapes, and features, but all have the goal of approaching animals without disturbing them and minimizing the impact on the area. In these structures, wildlife never come into contact with observers and photographers: visitors remain hidden behind special glass windows or camouflage nets. In this way, the animals do not get used to the presence of people and do not change their natural behavior. The wild nature of the animals is respected, and they can continue to visit their usual areas undisturbed.
It is the most spectacular phenomenon that can be observed in Northern Europe. The Northern Lights, which have been admired since time immemorial and are the subject of many myths and legends, are the result of the interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s atmosphere. The energetic particles of the solar wind collide with the atoms of the gasses in the atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of photons (particles of light). On a large scale, this interaction results in an extraordinary phenomenon. The aurora borealis has been given many names depending on the time and region, and has been interpreted in different ways: either as a good omen or as a harbinger of divine punishment. The Sami people of Norway called the phenomenon “guovssahas,” which translates as “light that is heard,” and engraved symbols representing the aurora on their ceremonial drums. Today, the aurora borealis in Norway is called “the lady in green,” although on colder nights and under the right conditions it also appears in red, purple and crimson.
common eider, king eider, Steller’s eider, long-tailed duck, common murre, black guillemot, thick-billed murre, razorbill, Atlantic puffin, black-legged kittiwake, glaucous gull, Iceland gull, purple sandpiper, rock ptarmigan, gyrfalcon, white-tailed eagle, northern hawk-owl, great grey owl, Siberian jay, grey-headed chickadee, parrot crossbill, snow bunting, reindeer, red squirrel, and mountain hare.
- 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 below 0°C and can reach -20°C. It is very important to choose clothes that provide comfort and safety.
- Headlamp, ice crampons, winter barrier cream and/or moisturizer.
Bird search and observation, scenic road, boat trips, northern lights hunting, photo hides, visit to Hornøya, visit to Kaamanen.
- Check the required documents for the ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19.
- Travel insurance is required.
- If you book flights independently, it is advisable to choose tickets that include a refund in case of cancellation or change of itinerary.