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Norway is a country of manyspectacular landscapes. From thegentle rolling green hills surroundingOslo, to the harsh snowy tundra of theArctic and the towering mountains, cut bydeep dark fjords, it is a land ofbreathtaking contrasts and beauty. Evenamongst such natural splendour, however,one region stands out. The Lofoten Islandslie deep within the Arctic Circle and offer awild beauty that can best be described ashumbling; their majestic mountains risingvertically out of an inky-blue sea, leavingroom for only a threadlike shore. This is the'Land of the Midnight Sun', a place ofdramatic landscapes, idyllic summers andabundant wildlife; a source of inspirationfor many and the soul of northern Norway. Jutting out from the mainland, the Lofotenarchipelago extends westwards far out intothe Atlantic Ocean and it is this uniquelocation that attracts such a wealth ofwildlife. The open sea, the influence of theGulf Stream and the proximity of thecontinental shelf offer a rare opportunity toexperience the atmosphere and theexcitement of an Arctic whale-watch with adifference. We hope to witness the naturalphenomenon of Sperm Whales gatheringon the edge on the continental shelf,where the warmer Atlantic currents andcold Arctic waters merge to create richfeeding grounds for some of the largestcreatures on the planet. On land we willexplore the spectacular birdlife in one ofthe world's most beautiful and pristinearchipelagos - travelling on the quietroads that snake around beautiful fjordsand through some dramatic countryside,where breathtaking views presentthemselves at every corner.Our 6-day holiday begins with a flight fromLondon, via Oslo, beyond the Arctic Circleto Evenes, from where we continue ourjourney by minibus. The scenery is awe-inspiring: craggy mountains whose jaggedteeth seemingly bite the skyline and trap astring of tiny fishing villages tight againstthe shore. The main highway weaves ascenic route as it hops from island toisland via sweeping bridges andcauseways and occasionally throughtunnels beneath the sea. Our timeexploring this spectacular region will besplit between three nights on the island ofAndøya, on the northern Vesterlån Islands,and two nights at Moskenes on thesouthern tip of the Lofoten archipelago. On one day we will travel north to thepicturesque fishing village of Andenes fora day's whale-watching, the undoubtedhighlight of the tour. On our way out to thewhales' feeding grounds we will visitseabird and seal colonies and keep asharp eye open for the majestic White-tailed Eagles which are frequently seenhere. By spending a whole morning (3-5hours) out at sea we hope to optimise ourchances of seeing several differentspecies of cetacean. Although SpermWhale, the largest of the toothed whales, isthe most frequently observed species, weshould also look out for Minke, Humpbackand Long-finned Pilot Whales, White-beaked Dolphins, and perhaps thedistinctive tall dorsal fins of a patrollingpod of Orcas. While Andøya is not strictlypart of the Lofotens it is one of the mostproductive regions for birds, having adiverse avifauna representative of a widerange of habitats that includes mountains,moorlands, bogs, lakes and woodlands.Species we may expect to seeinclude Willow Ptarmigan,Rough-legged Buzzard, Merlin,Whimbrel, Ruff, Red-neckedPhalarope, Redpoll, Bramblingand Snow Bunting. No visit to the Lofoten Islands would becomplete without the experience of seeingMoskenes. This spectacular region hasbeen sculpted over the millennia byglaciers and other elemental forces,creating one of the wildest and mostfascinating places in Norway. The area ischaracterised by sheer-faced mountainsand some of the oldest rocks in Europe,approximately 3 billion years old. Here,rising to an altitude of 1,029 metres, MountHermannsdalstind dominates the westernLofotens and is one of the highestmountains in the archipelago. We will alsoembrace the rich cultural heritage of theLofotens and during our time in the southof the islands we will observe theprocessing of the region's most importantexport, 'Stockfish' (air-dried cod). Naturally,we will also be making frequent stops forbirdwatching en route, including a visit tothe wetlands at Leknes.The magnificent scenery, wealth of birdand marine-life together with fresh Arcticair will surely combine into a unique andunforgettable experience, but the greatestexperience of all is, perhaps, just beingamongst the Lofoten Islands themselves.While nothing in nature is guaranteed, onething is certain on this tour: enduringmemories of awe-inspiring landscapesquite unlike any other in Europe!Whales & Seabirds ofNorway's Lofoten IslandsA 6-day holiday to the land of the midnight sun, focusing on the whales, seabirds and landscapes of Norway's spectacular Lofoten Islands.Sunday 23rd June - Friday 28th June Cost: £2,295Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationNORWAYLOFOTENISLANDSVESTERLÅNISLANDSSWEDENSORTLANDEVENESANDØYALEKNESMOSKENESANDENESOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Evenes; transferAndøya.Day 2/3Wildlife exploration fromAndøya.Day 4/5Wildlife exploration fromMoskenes. Day 6Fly London.AccommodationComfortable guesthouse on Andøyawith private facilities. On the island ofMoskenes our group will be splitamongst a series of attractive cabinswith wonderful mountain views. Eachcabin has two bedrooms sharing onebathroom. FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Easy to moderate day walks. FocusWhales, seabirds and mountainscenery. LeaderMalcolm Stott.Single room supplement£395.Web quick search: NOR07103The Lofoten IslandsSperm WhalePuffin

It is Norway's majestic coastal fjords thatso epitomise the country's scenicsplendour; yet, inland, lie some of themost attractive and varied landscapes inScandinavia. Indeed, since agricultural useaffects a meagre 4% of the country,Norway's interior has a great deal to offerthe naturalist, its wild, wide-open spacesharbouring a great variety of interestingArctic-alpine plants and animals. By way offurther attraction, the country's highstandard of living ensures excellentfacilities. Thus, at the end of each day outin the wilderness we may enjoy a retreat toour base in Kamben for the week, a friendlyand comfortable family-run hotel servingplenty of good traditional Norwegian food.Kamben, just four hours by road from Oslo,is ideally situated for botanical exploration,lying just below the tree-line at 790 metres,and just 15 kilometres north of theattractive and convenient town of Gol, insouthern Norway's Buskerud province.Spring, though, comes late to this highplateau of Golsfjellet and its surroundingpeaks, there being a quick and intenseblossoming of plants during the long daysof mid-July. Then, abundant flowers attractnumerous colourful butterflies and otherinsects, whilst breeding birds are highlyactive in their efforts to raise young duringso short a season.Our aim during this week-long holiday willbe to explore and enjoy the region bymeans of day walks from our hotel. From it, we are able to employ a wide range ofwell-marked footpaths that give us accessto the uninhabited and peaceful placeswhere flowers and other wildlife abound.We will range over open moorlands andaround tranquil lakes, wander amongstconiferous and birch woodlands, andascend alongside icy rivers towards thehigher peaks and their rewarding Arctic-alpine meadows. In these magnificentwilderness regions we have the freedom toroam at will in our search for the area'snatural history. It is a place where lichensabound, advertising the clean air. Some ofthe interesting flowering plants that we willfind do, of course, also occur in northernBritain. There, though, they are rare anddifficult to find; here, on the Gol Plateau,they are abundant and grow amongst somany others which are found only at thesemore northerly latitudes. Saxifrages, inparticular, are well represented whilst, in themore open habitats, a wide range ofwillows may be found, from the dwarf Salixherbaceaand S. reticulatato the taller S.myrsinifolia, together with manyrepresentatives of the heather family. Bird species are not numerous here, but doinclude many northern species which arerare in Britain such as Rough-leggedBuzzard, Gyr Falcon and a variety of gamebirds, whilst an appealing selection ofwoodpeckers breed alongside Fieldfares inthe woodland and forest areas. On sunnydays we will be able to enjoy the widevariety of butterflies that make the most ofa short flying season to dance through themeadows and soak in the sun fromsheltered hollows. Numerous amongstthem are members of that most confusingbut elegant of families, the fritillaries. Close to our hotel, we will explore themixed woodland and encumbant bogs, andascend gently to Syningen, at about 915metres, and Storefjell, from which far-reaching views extend over many of ourweek's target destinations. On another daywe will walk through the pine woodlandwhich shelters the Twinflower (Linnaeaborealis), named after Linnaeus, whosefavourite flower this was. Here we will alsohope to see such bird species as Grey-headed Woodpecker and Siberian Jay,before the woods give way to open areasand we continue across streams filled withMarsh Cinquefoil, and down towards Gol toend the day. To the east of Kamben weascend on pleasing paths, throughwoodland and open moorland, to thesummit of Nystolsfjellet, which rises to over1,220 metres. The wide-ranging views fromthe top allow us to scan for soaring birdsof prey, or perhaps glimpse a Merlindashing past. Cloudberry is abundant inthe damper areas, and we should see arange of Alchemillas, and may even find thetiny Bog Orchid and Lesser Twayblade. Tothe north, beyond Tisleifjord, lies theprovince of Oppland, an attractive area oflakes set amongst rounded hills. Here wewill search for Elk, Ptarmigan, Capercaillie,and both Willow and Black Grouse, andalso stop en route to view one of Norway'sfamous elaborate wooden churches. Alsoin Oppland is the mountain of Skogshorn(1,615 metres). This is well worth climbingon a clear day (from a start at 820 metres,not sea level!), being the highest peak inthe region and therefore offering splendidviews over the surrounding mountains andlakes, as well as a fabulous mountain flora. Perhaps the most spectacular day of all,however (provided the weather isreasonable), will be our expedition to thefamous Flam railway. This uses a range oftransport - bus, mountain railway andfjordland boat - to travel through veryvaried mountain and fjordland scenery,including a visit to the spectacular waterfallat Flam, as well as Aurlandsfjord andSognefjord. A remarkable day in which tocombine both montane and coastal plantsand birds (including such seabirds as gulls,terns and auks!). NORWAYSWEDENBERGENSKOGSHORNTRONDHEIMKAMBENGOLOSLOSOGNEFJORD104Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryOutline itineraryDay 1 Fly Oslo and transfer toKamben.Day 2/7A daily programme ofbotanical and naturalhistory walks from ourbase in Kamben.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA friendly family-run hotel in Kamben,with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade B.FocusPlants, birds and butterflies.LeaderPaul Harmes.Single room supplement£130.Web quick search: NOR02Norway - Alpine Flowers of the Gol PlateauAn 8-day holiday of botanical and natural history walks amongst the Arctic-alpine flora of southern Norway.Saturday 6th July - Saturday 13th July Cost: £1,295Buskerud province from SkogshornSnow GentianOset, Buskerud