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On occasion, we all need a breakfrom the frenetic pace of modernlife. If you feel the need to retreatinto the wilderness for a while and swapbusy roads and concrete jungles forsweeping mountain vistas, smallpicturesque villages and birdsong, then thisnew tour to Swedish Lapland may be justthe break you're looking for. The village ofAmmarnäs lies on the edge of theVindelfjällen Nature Reserve, the largestprotected area in the country, covering over560,000 hectares. This vast untamedwilderness of mountains, lakes, rushingrivers and extensive taiga forests is not onlyhome to some of Scandinavia's mostsought-after boreal birds, but also home toEurope's only remaining indigenous people,the Sami.On this tour we will mix birdwatching withthe opportunity to learn about thefascinating lifestyle of the Sami people, andour itinerary includes a night at Geunja, aSami settlement located deep in thewilderness which we will access by boat.We will explore the upland landscape onfoot in search of such birds as Dotterel,Broad-billed Sandpiper, Gyr Falcon andBluethroat, as well as listen for Tengmalm'sand Hawk Owls in the woodlands near ourhotel. We start, however, with a flight fromLondon to Stockholm where we transfer tothe peaceful meadows, forests andwetlands of Svartådalen (the Black RiverValley) for one night. We will spend theevening looking for the magnificent GreatGrey Owl, before returning to the airport thefollowing morning to fly north to the smallairport of Arvidsjaur, located just south ofthe Arctic Circle. From here we transfer tothe attractive village of Ammarnäs where wewill be based for five of our six remainingnights in Sweden. For the next two days we will explore themountains, forests and lakes surroundingAmmarnäs on foot, by minibus and also byboat. The taiga forests are home toCapercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Three-toedWoodpecker, Waxwing, Redwing andBrambling, plus the two sought-after 'Sibes',the Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit. As weclimb higher, the conifers and birchgradually thin out to reveal an uplandhabitat more akin to the Arctic tundra furthernorth. Here Dotterel and Long-tailed Skuabreed alongside Ring Ouzel, Ptarmigan and Lapland Bunting. Vindelfjällen is alsoone of the Swedish strongholds for ArcticFox. Lakes, pools and wet mires dot thissweeping landscape, providing ideal habitatfor a variety of waterbirds and wadersincluding Black-throated Diver, Commonand Velvet Scoters, Red-necked Phalarope,Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper and, iffortunate, perhaps Temminck's Stint andBroad-billed Sandpiper. Ammarnässummers are blessed with wonderfully lightnights, so for those with energy still to sparewe will offer after-dinner excursions to watchlekking Great Snipe and to look forTengmalm's and Hawk Owls.We will break our stay in Ammarnäs with anight deep in the wilderness in the ancientSami settlement of Geunja. Our Sami guidewill meet us on the shore of Lake Tjulträskand then escort us by boat past Black-throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes, toGeunja. Here, surrounded by mountains andon the edge of a beautiful upland lake, wewill spend the night in a traditional 'kata' - awooden tipi constructed by the villagers forvisiting groups. This is a truly remote andspectacular spot; mobile phones are uselessand the afore-mentioned modern world willseem but a distant memory. We'll enjoy thissolitude while eating traditional Sami food,and listening to stories about the Sami's rich history and culture as well as theirfascinating Reindeer-herding lifestyle.Naturally we won't be neglecting the wildlife,and a short walk to a nearby wetland and alonger hike into the hills may yield Bluethroat,northern Yellow Wagtail (of the thunbergirace) and perhaps even a breeding SpottedRedshank. Gyr Falcon and Golden Eagle arealso likely; however, it would take a degree ofgood fortune to find any more than thefootprints, and other tantalising signs, of theBrown Bear and Wolverine which also inhabitthis remote realm.Leaving the Sami behind we'll return to ourAmmarnäs hotel, complete with its electricityand plumbing, for a final two nights. This willgive us a last opportunity to enjoy the localbirdlife, as well as to join a scientist from thelocal wildlife research station who will takeus back up into the mountains for a finalvisit. The following morning we must say ourfarewells to the wilderness before, refreshedand revitalised, returning to Arvidsjaur airportto begin our journey home. Lapland - Sweden's MountainBirds & Sami People An 8-day birdwatching and cultural holiday to Swedish Lapland, including the opportunity to spend a night in a Sami settlement deep in the wilderness. Tuesday 11th June - Tuesday 18th June Cost: £2,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Stockholm andtransfer Svartådalen.Day 2Fly Arvidsjaur andtransfer Ammarnäs.Day 3/4Ammarnäs.Day 5Geunja.Day 6/7Ammarnäs.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotel/guesthouse inAmmarnäs and Svartådalen, bothwith private facilities. Basic butcomfortable traditional wooden'kata' in Geunja where facilities areshared. FoodAll included in the price, except forlunches on Days 1 and 8. GradingGrade A. Easy wildlife walks.FocusBirds, other wildlife and Samiculture. LeaderDaniel Green.Single room supplementOn request.Web quick search: SWE11144Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryPITEAARVIDSJAUR AMMARNÄSSWEDISHLAPLANDSWEDENGULFOFBOTHNIANORWAYSTOCKHOLM FULUFJÄLLETNATIONAL PARKSVARTÅDALENSami settlement, GeunjaHawk OwlSiberian Tit

This is an easy, relatively stress-freeholiday to a tranquil and beautifulspot in central Sweden where you willwatch for Brown Bears from what is,perhaps, the most comfortable Bear Hidein the world! To reach it you must first takea direct 2-hour flight from London toStockholm, Sweden's attractive capital cityand worthy of further exploration shouldyou have time to spare after the tour. Hereyour small group (maximum eight) willmeet your minibus driver and head northfor three hours on the open andremarkably traffic-free roads that makeSweden such a relaxing and peacefulcountry in which to travel. Your destinationis a simple wilderness lodge that occupiesan exquisite lakeside position amongstrolling, forested hills. The views from theterrace of the lodge, looking across thelarge lake, are stunning. The silence andstillness experienced here are intoxicating,broken only by the eerie calls of thebreeding Black-throated Divers that echoacross the lake and the occasional croakof a passing Raven. Five hours fromLondon, this could be a different planet.Whether or not you see any Bears, this isa magical place in which to spend time.Yet it is the Brown Bears on which you willprimarily focus on this holiday, in theexpert company of our guide and friend,Håkan Vargas. Håkan has been studyingand photographing the Bears in theseforests for many years and, with his 75-year-old father, has built a comfortable logcabin hide at the edge of a clearing in the spruce forest, just a couple ofkilometres from the lakeside lodge whichhe runs with his wife, Eva, a wonderfulhostess who will keep you well fortifiedwith delicious meals that feature manylocal, organic, forest ingredients. Thelodge is small and homely, primarilyconsisting of a cosy dining-cum-sittingroom that looks out over the lake andsurrounding hills, and is warmed on coldevenings by a splendid log stove.Accommodation is in separate, small,semi-detached cabins, set on a woodedslope overlooking the lake, views of whichcan be enjoyed from individual terraces.Each room is small and simple: just a bed,a small log stove, and a wash basin andjug of water, for this is how the locals liketo enjoy their wilderness. There are acouple of separate, Swedish-style, sharedtoilet blocks and a single shower andsauna built into a jetty and terrace that jutout over the lake. This will be youraccommodation on your first and last night(unless a second night is needed in theBear Hide, an option that will be offeredonly if you do not see a Bear on your firstnight in the hide), and from it you will beable to enjoy time at leisure - walking,birdwatching, botanising or simply pickingberries in the forest; raspberries,blueberries, lingonberries and cloudberriesare found here in abundance at the rightseason! Alternatively, you might prefer torow, canoe or fish on the lake, surroundedby Black-throated Divers, Goosanders andGoldeneyes, and keeping an eye skywardsfor a passing Golden Eagle, Goshawk orHoney Buzzard! You might even prefer toswim in the lake's clear waters, or to enjoy a sauna.On your first afternoon, and during thefollowing morning, you will be able toenjoy just such time at leisure, soaking inthe atmosphere of the place. Then, afteranother of Eva's delicious lunches -enjoyed outside, if the weather is fine, onthe lodge's spacious wooden balcony thatoverlooks the lake - Håkan will guide yougently up through the forest for an hour ortwo, to his Bear Hide. As you walk, you willneed to be as quiet as you can, but listento Håkan as he tells you a little about theBears and their habits, perhaps pointingout any footprints, or scratching on thetrees, or raided anthills! The hide is cosy,with comfortable seats and viewing slotsat the front, and comfortable beds at theback for those not prepared to sit up allthrough the night. At the far end is aseparate toilet with wash basin. You maymake yourselves comfortable . and hopefor the appearance of a Bear whilst yourever-attentive host serves you drinks anddinner. No wonder the Bears (and Bear-watchers) like this place! Realistically, a Bear sighting (unlike on ourBear tours in Finland) is not guaranteed,although one Bear a night is averaged. Forexample, in 2010 at least one Bear wasseen on 85% of the nights on which thehide was occupied. But, for all Håkan'spassion, the magic of this place to us -and we hope to you! - is not just in itswild Brown Bears. It is in the beauty of thescenery, the utter tranquillity, the richnatural history, the accessibility of this wildplace, and the charm, hospitality and thevision of its English-speaking host andhostess. 145Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Stockholm andtransfer 'Bear Lodge'.Day 2Bear Hide.Day 3Bear Hide or Bear Lodge.Day 4Transfer Stockholm andfly London.AccommodationSimple! Our wooden Bear Lodge,blessed with an idyllic and tranquilsituation, offers basic but adequatecabin accommodation; shared toiletsand shower are separate, a shortwalk away. Our Bear Hide is wellequipped with comfortable chairs,beds and a toilet. The home-cookedmeals of our hostess, Eva, aredelicious! FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. Optional walks may be takenaround the lodge. The walk to andfrom the Bear Hide is only a coupleof kilometres, but can take 90minutes or so walking slowly. FocusBears, birds and other naturalhistory.LeaderHåkan Vargas.Single room supplement£80.Web quick search: SWE04NORWAYBALTICSEAKALMARGOTLANDÖLANDMALMÖGOTHENBURGSTOCKHOLMBEAR LODGESWEDENSweden's Bears A 4-day holiday to an idyllic, rolling land of forests and lakes where we will look for Brown Bears from a luxurious purpose-built hide, and enjoy the natural history, beauty and extraordinary tranquillity of the Swedish boreal forests. Departure dates (Summer): 27th June; 11th & 25th July Cost: £795Departure date (Family special): 8th August Cost: £795Departure dates (Autumn): 22nd August & 12th September Cost: £795Brown BearLakeside lodgeBlack-throatedDiverBook direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information