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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 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

European Bison, Wolf, and Lynx.These are three of the manymammals, formerly widespread inEurope but now extinct or rare in the moredensely populated west, that flourish inPoland. A number of these animals areeasily observed, but some only withdifficulty. The object of this unusual winterholiday, that has proved such a firmfavourite with clients since the first tour in1985, is to search for the mammals of thePolish forests, and to study their tracksand signs. The advantage of travelling inwinter is not only the snow cover whichmakes tracking so much easier, but alsothe cold weather at this season, whichforces many creatures to shun their naturalfear of man, and to appear less shy.On our travels, we will also be able to enjoythe winter birdlife of Poland. It is true, ofcourse, that many birds desert Polandduring this season; however, like themammals, those that do stay can be moreeasily found in the vicinity of man, wherefood is more readily available. Amongstthose that we may see are such dramaticand attractive species as White-tailedEagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, Hazelhen,Black Grouse, Waxwing and Nutcracker.On our arrival in Warsaw we head north-east to Kruklanki, our base for two nightswhile we explore the Puszcza Boreckaforests in search of European Bison. TheWisent, as the Bison is also known, is thelargest land mammal in Europe and onethat became extinct in the wild in the1920s. Shortly after its demise, aprogramme of captive breeding wasinitiated and in 1952 this magnificent animal was successfully reintroduced backinto the forests of north-eastern Poland.These forests now contain Europe's lastremaining herds of Wisent and the sight ofone of these imposing animals slowlyplodding through the snow-coveredforests is sure to be one of the lingeringmemories of the tour. This is the mostreliable site in Poland for this impressiveanimal and, to date, we have never failedto find them here! Borecka is also a goodspot for the elusive White-backedWoodpecker, plus Roe Deer, Raven andWhite-tailed Eagle. If time permits we willmake the short drive to the astonishing'Wolf's Lair', Hitler's bunker complex informer East Prussia, and site of VonStauffenberg's abortive assassinationattempt.Next we head to the beautiful andfascinating forests of Puszcza Romincka,the favourite hunting area of KaiserWilhelm II. Our 4-night stay at Romincka islikely to be the highlight of the holiday formany. We spend our time here in theexperienced company of local foresters,exploring with them these ancient mixedforests, and looking for birds, mammalsand other winter wildlife whilst learninghow to decipher the tracks and other signsof Wolf and other large mammals.Sightings of Wild Boar, Red Fox, Red andRoe Deer, Elk and Brown Hare are allpossible, whilst Weasel (which turn whitein the winter here), Otter, Beaver and evenLynx have occasionally been seen on pasttours. There will also be the opportunity totake optional nocturnal excursions to lookfor Wolves by waiting in high seats(elevated hides). This will greatly enhancethe possibility of seeing this elusivemammal, though the experience is onlyrecommended for the hardy anddedicated. Birds of the area include White-tailedEagle, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Hazelhen,Black Grouse, Black, Three-toed andGrey-headed Woodpeckers, Waxwing,Great Grey Shrike, Hawfinch, Crossbill andNutcracker. The highlight of all, however, isquite likely to be our accommodation! Wewill be based, during our stay, in theforester's house and lodge. This lodge,with its huge, old-fashioned (and veryeffective) enamelled wood-burning stoves,once widespread in eastern Europe, offersus exceptional hospitality, and is a firmfavourite with all our groups.Finally, we must tear ourselves away fromsuch old-fashioned comfort, and begin ourreturn journey to Warsaw. En route we willspend our final night at Dobarz, close tothe huge complex of marshes and riverinewoodlands along the meandering BiebrzaRiver. The Biebrza National Park is one ofthe most important wildlife sites in thewhole of Poland and an excellent area inwhich to look for Elk, the largest cervid inEurope and the same species as theanimal known as the Moose in NorthAmerica. We rarely fail to see it here! Wealso hope to find a variety of interestingbirdlife in the marshes, with a chance ofsuch species as Golden and White-tailedEagles, Rough-legged Buzzard, BlackWoodpecker and Waxwing, as well as allthe commoner species of winteringwaterfowl.Please note that we do not include theBialowieza Forest in the itinerary, as theBison and other mammals are difficult tofind here in the winter. Our time is betterspent in the Romincka Forest to the north,where we have a better chance of locatingthese elusive creatures with the help of thelocal foresters.105Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Warsaw and transferKruklanki.Day 2Puszcza Borecka.Overnight Kruklanki.Day 3/6Puszcza Romincka.Day 7Biebrza Marshes.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA mix of forest lodges and hotels;normally three nights in rooms withprivate facilities and the other fournights in rooms with shared facilities.FoodAll meals included in the price.GradingA/B.FocusMammals, especially large mammals;birds; some World War II features.LeadersSinclair Dunnett and PiotrMoszkowski, plus local forest guides.Single room supplement£195. ExtensionsSightseeing extensions are availableto Warsaw and Krakow. Web quick search: POL04RUSSIAGERMANYBELORUSSIASLOVAKIAUKRAINEWARSAWGDANSK'WOLF'S LAIR'PUSZCZA ROMINCKAPUSZCZABORECKASUWALKIBIEBRZAMARSHESBIALOWIEZAFORESTKRAKOWBALTIC SEAPOLAND VISTULA RIVERBook direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationPoland in WinterAn 8-day winter adventure to Poland in search of large mammals that are rare or even extinct in much of western Europe.Saturday 19th January - Saturday 26th January Cost: £1,595WolfElkEuropeanBison