This tour to the northernmost part of Europe and the Land of the Midnight Sun offers a birding experience like no other. This far north either the sun does not set, or when it does it is still light. Continuous light combined with the long list of arctic bird species and beautiful northern landscapes create a magical setting for an enjoyable birding tour.
This amazing trip to the Arctic Circle will take in the vast tundra landscapes of Varanger Fjord and the huge seabird colonies of Hornoya Island.
We can expect a wide range of species including Steller’s, Common & King Eiders, Arctic Redpoll, Willow Grouse, Long-tailed Skuas, Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Tit, Rough-legged Buzzard, Siberian Jay, Little & Lapland Buntings, Gyrfalcon, Northern Hawk Owl, Rock Ptarmigan, White-tailed Eagle and Red-necked Phalarope amongst others.
A highlight of this tour will be the boat trip to the seabird colony of Hornoya with thousands of Kittiwakes, Puffins, Brunnich’s Guillemots and Razorbills which make this a trip not to be missed!
Tour Leader: Steve Grimwade and Finnature Guide
Maximum Group Size: 14
We take the flight from London Heathrow to Ivalo via Helsinki and meet up with our local guide before checking into our hotel nearby where we will enjoy dinner. If time permits we will take an evening excursion for local specialities. Smew breed in small numbers along the local rivers plus Brambling, Redwing and Fieldfare which are common species in the gardens and woods.
Days 2 – 3
After breakfast we drive towards the northernmost part of mainland Europe stopping along the way for eastern specialities such as Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Pine Grosbeak and Little Bunting. Other species might include Brambling in fine summer plumage, Whimbrel and the stunning Ruff as we explore the Lappish forests and bogs. Mammals that occur in this vast area include Reindeer, Red Fox and Arctic Hare which can often be watched at close range on the roadside.
After lunch at the Finnish-Norwegian border we follow the famous salmon river of Teno to the fjords, stopping at the Teno delta for waders and our first Common Eiders of the tour.
Soon we start climbing uphill leaving the tree line behind. The open highlands of the Varanger Peninsula offer absolutely wonderful birding and the species list is truly stunning. Bluethroat, Arctic Redpoll and Willow Grouse occupy river valleys while Lapland Bunting, Shore Lark and Long-tailed Skua are found on the hillsides. The most adapted are the Rock Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Eurasian Dotterel which choose to stay on the barren hilltops. The roadside lakes provide excellent birding with Red-throated & Black-throated Diver, Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Duck, while Temminck’s Stint show off their butterfly display flight along the roads. The extreme arctic is truly amazing!
We will also make an excursion to the town of Berlevåg by the Barents Sea. The coastline is wonderful with its mountains and many bays and we see the first of many arctic alcids including Black Guillemot, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin at the scenic lighthouse of Kjölnes. We also look for Yellow-billed Diver and King & Steller’s Eider – nowadays a rare sight during summer in Varanger. We have the chance of seeing Gyrfalcon while White-tailed Eagles are common along the coast. Ring Ouzel and Twite are also a possibility.
Days 4 – 5
After breakfast we head back to the highlands and enjoy those special birds again for the morning, then drive to the Varanger Fjord itself. The Fjord holds some impressive birds and on route and for the next two days, we look for waders such as Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Knot, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone and Whimbrel. In open waters we will particularly search for King & Steller’s Eider whilst other birds include Black-throated & Red-throated Diver, Goosander, and Velvet & Common Scoter. Numerous White-tailed Eagles patrol the coastline for easy prey and scanning the skies could produce a Rough-legged Buzzard or two.
Weather permitting, we will make a half-day excursion by boat to the large seabird colonies on Hornøya island. The Hornøya nature reserve is home to thousands of Common & Brünnich’s Guillemot, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin as well as European Shag and 25,000 pairs of Black-legged Kittiwake. At times Gyrfalcon patrol the island in the hope of an easy snack, causing panic among the breeding seabirds. The air is filled with the cacophony of thousands of birds and there are excellent photographic opportunities at close range.
Other species on the island include Eurasian Rock Pipit and Northern Fulmar. A walk to the lighthouse at the top of the island gives wonderful views over the Barents Sea.
We will also make an excursion to Hamningberg which is often referred to as the very end of Europe. The road follows the unique rocky coastline and there are excellent vantage points for seawatching from the road. Here we look for Yellow-billed & Great Northern Diver, Northern Gannet and Northern Fulmar. Seawatching from Hamningberg could produce Pomarine & Great Skua and even Whales such as Humpback and Orca.
The tour draws to a close and after breakfast we drive south towards Finland, along the Varanger Fjord making regular birding stops in small harbours to break up the journey. Bohemian Waxwing, Pine Grosbeak and Three-toed Woodpecker are all possibilities during our journey.
After a good breakfast we will spend the morning birding in the vicinity of Ivalo before driving to the airport to catch our homeward flight to London Heathrow via Helsinki, where we will say our goodbyes after enjoying the delights of Norway and Finland!
Flights from London to Ivalo via Helsinki
Full board accommodation for 6 nights
All ground transport in Finland and Norway plus boat trip
Full guiding services
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day one
Moderate with full days birding plus optional morning and evening excursions
Expect between 110 and 120 species
Ground Price: £2300
*Air Price: £350
Total Tour Price: £2650
Single Supplement: £190
*Please see our tours page regarding flight costs