Join us on this wildly popular Naturalist Journeys tour to Finland and Norway at the height of spring bird activity in the far north of Europe! This tour offers opportunities to observe a wonderful collection of Arctic and boreal birds, including Great Gray and Boreal Owl, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Jay, Black Grouse, Western Capercaillie, and so many more.

We begin in Finland, the land of 180,000 lakes. Here, the glaciers were thicker and lasted longer during the last Ice Age than elsewhere in Europe, leaving a mostly flat landscape with few hills, a large number of lakes, and relatively thin soils. Although the endless forests of pine, spruce, and birch might seem monotonous at first glance, they are actually subtly beautiful upon closer inspection. These ancient and fantastical forests and bogs harbor thick carpets of colorful mosses and lichens, gnarled and weathered pines and spruce, and sunny edges decorated in wildflowers—the westernmost edge of the Siberian taiga, a part of the world’s largest land biome, the Boreal Forest. A large number of birds take advantage of these forests in spring, including Brambling, Pine Grosbeak, Rustic Bunting, Common Rosefinch, and many more.

Farther north, we head into the land of the midnight sun in the Varanger Peninsula of northeasternmost Norway. This is a land of plenty in late spring for impressive numbers of Arctic seabirds, as well as nesting shorebirds and waterfowl. Thousands of seabirds nest on some of the outlying islands. The rocky coastline also makes for excellent seawatching stops, with scoters, eiders, and loons gathering along the shore.

This tour makes for a great birding and natural history adventure for those who want to experience the Scandinavian Arctic and boreal forests at the height of spring nesting season.

  • "This was an outstanding trip with excellent guides who are expert birder/naturalists with great personalities.The itinerary was well planned, the scenery was beautiful and the trip exceeded my expectations in terms of bird species seen and more!" — Paula Pilch, 2023 Traveler
  • "Unique opportunity to view three different habitats - boreal forest, tundra, and seacoast. An adventure!" 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Amazing opportunity to observe and photograph some of the most charismatic owl species in the world: Great Gray, Ural, Boreal, Eurasian Pygmy, and Northern Hawk Owl.
  • Discover European shorebird species, such as the wonderful Ruff, in full breeding plumage, displaying on the edges of bogs
  • Cross north beyond the Arctic Circle and experience the midnight sun
  • Observe Arctic birds in the middle of breeding season, including a wide variety of ducks, loons, and shorebirds such as Yellow-billed Loon and Broad-billed Sandpiper
  • Witness the stark beauty of northern Finland and Norway in spring, including a mosaic of bogs, boreal forests, tundra, and fjords
  • Visit the northernmost and easternmost geographic points in Scandinavia, including the seabird colonies at Hornøya Island

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Mon., June 3 : Arrivals

Welcome to Finland! Our guides welcome the group at Oulu Airport in northern Finland. If time allows, we will enjoy some local birding after transferring to our nearby hotel. A good variety of waterfowl and shorebirds occur right around the hotel, including Whooper Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Northern Lapwing, and Eurasian Curlew – a great and easy introduction!
Accommodations at Hotel Airport Oulu in Vihiluoto (D)

Tues., June 4 & Wed., June 5 : Oulu

The boreal forests and wetlands near Oulu brim with birdlife in the spring, turning it into a birder’s paradise for just a brief period in the calendar year as waterfowl, shorebirds, owls, woodpeckers, and grouse take advantage of the seasonal abundance of food to rear their young.

We spend two full days exploring the forests and coastal areas around Oulu, a region known for its healthy populations of Boreal Owls. Although numbers fluctuate from year to year, breeding species include several magical and exceptional species: Great Gray, Ural, Eurasian Pygmy-, Boreal, Short-eared Owl, and maybe even Northern Hawk-Owl. Owl numbers (and their breeding success) depend on the cyclical vole numbers. If vole numbers are high, there might even be Long-eared Owl nesting near Oulu. These forests are home to many other birds as well, and we hope to see up to six species of European woodpecker, Black Grouse, Red-backed Shrike, Crested Tit, and more.

Just south of Oulu, Liminka Bay, an internationally important wetland reserve and home to Finland’s only wetland nature center, hosts a multitude of nesting shorebirds and ducks. Common Goldeneye, Northern Pintail, Common Crane, Northern Lapwing, Ruff, Common Redshank, Little Gull, White-tailed Eagle, Yellowhammer, and Reed Bunting are just a small sample of what we may see nesting here.
Accommodations at Hotel Airport Oulu in Vihiluoto (B,L,D)

Thurs., June 6 : Oulu to Kuusamo

After a superb couple of days birding around Oulu, we drive eastwards into Lapland towards the town of Kuusamo in the Koillismaa region near the Russian border. We will make several stops along the way, visiting a breeding colony of pretty Little Gulls as well as Smew, a very handsome duck related to the mergansers.

The forests, bogs, and lakes around Kuusamo offer a wealth of grouse, owls, and woodpeckers at this time. Several superb species such as Red-flanked Bluetail and Little Bunting reach their westernmost outposts in Europe here, and we will spend the next couple of days searching for these and many other avian gems.
Accommodations at Hotel Scandic Rukahovi, near Kuusamo (B,L,D)

Fri., June 7 & Sat., June 8 : Kuusamo

Kuusamo lies in a region of lovely landscapes and raw natural beauty, where boreal forests of pine and spruce cover approximately ninety percent of the land. Over the next couple of days, we will look for Gray-headed Chickadee, Siberian Jay, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Willow Ptarmigan, and Black Grouse in these forests, perhaps encountering the turkey-sized Western Capercaillie (largest grouse species in the world) and the often elusive Hazel Grouse as well. In order to reach their breeding sites, we will have an optional hike with one or two steep climbs, the only such walks on this tour which is otherwise on flat terrain.

There are also one hundred and sixty-six lakes dotting this area, providing habitat for nesting Whooper Swan, Red-necked Grebe, Arctic Loon, Common Crane, and other waterbirds. This mosaic of lakes, bogs, and meadows also provides nesting habitat for Bohemian Waxwing, Rustic Bunting, and Common Rosefinch.

These boreal forests are also home to several attractive orchids, including Lady’s-Slipper and Heath Spotted Orchid.
Accommodations at Hotel Scandic Rukahovi, near Kuusamo (B,L,D)

Sun., June 9 : Kuusamo to Ivalo

Today, we head north through Lapland crossing the Arctic Circle to the land of the midnight sun – at this time of year the sun remains visible even at midnight. The coniferous forests of mainly pine and spruce give way to landscapes dominated by Mountain Birch as we press northward, making a series of stops at bogland reserves along the way. The edges of these bogs are home to nesting Broad-billed Sandpiper, Reed Bunting, Brambling, and the stunning Bluethroat. We spend the night in the far north of Finland, in the winter sports town of Ivalo.
Accommodations at Hotel Ivalo in Ivalo (B,L,D)

Mon., June 10 : Ivalo to Båtsfjord

After breakfast, we continue northward to the northernmost part of mainland Europe through some excellent birding areas. The mosaic of taiga and bog we drive through is very different from the south of the country, with a very different assortment of birds. Our sightings in the morning might include Gray-headed Chickadee, Siberian Jay, Pine Grosbeak, and Brambling, as well as the marvelous sights and sounds of displaying shorebirds in ornate breeding dress – Ruff, Temminck’s Stint, Whimbrel, European Golden-Plover, and more.

After lunch at the Finnish-Norwegian border, we follow the famous salmon river of Teno to the fjords. We stop at the Teno River delta for shorebirds, and the first looks at Common Eider. We then climb uphill, leaving the tree line behind as we gain altitude and go even further north on our adventure. The highlands of Varanger Peninsula offer some absolutely wonderful birding, with Bluethroat and Willow Ptarmigan occupying the river valleys while Lapland Longspur and Long-tailed Jaeger nest on the hillsides. Rock Ptarmigan and Eurasian Dotterel stay on the barren hilltops, while roadside lakes often have nesting Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Duck. The extreme Arctic is truly amazing! Finally, we descend into the quaint fishing port of Båtsfjord – our home for two nights.
Accommodations at Polar Hotel in Båtsfjord (B,L,D)

Tues., June 11 : Båtsfjord

We have a full day to explore the high mountains and northern coast of Varanger Peninsula. With luck, we might even be able to see Snowy Owl and Gyrfalcon in these areas. Along the coast, we keep an eye out for Purple Sandpiper and Black-legged Kittiwake, Parasitic Jaeger and European Shag. We hope to see many of the waterfowl in good numbers, as they gather on their nesting grounds. The landscape provides a starkly beautiful setting.
Accommodations at Polar Hotel in Båtsfjord (B,L,D)

Wed., June 12 & Thurs., June 13 : Båtsfjord to Vardö

After breakfast, we continue our journey as we drive to Varangerfjord, the easternmost fjord in Norway. This fjord holds impressive numbers of nesting birds this time of year. As we explore the coastline over the next couple of days, we look for Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Knot, and Whimbrel nesting in the low tundra while the rich coastal waters harbor Velvet and Common Scoter. If we are lucky, we might even see the rare and spectacular King Eider and Steller’s Eider. White-tailed Eagle often patrol the shorelines for fish and sometimes even an unfortunate duck.

Weather permitting, we will make a half-day excursion by boat on one of these days to the large seabird colonies of Hornøya Island (the easternmost point in Scandinavia). This reserve is home to thousands and thousands of Common and Thick-billed Murre, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, European Shag, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Northern Fulmar. The cacophony of thousands of birds and their chicks fill the air, and there should be excellent opportunities for photographing seabirds at close range. A nice walk up to a lighthouse on the highest ridge of the island provides wonderful views over the Barents Sea.
Accommodations at Hotel Vardö in Vardö (B,L,D)

Fri., June 14 : Vardö to Ivalo

The tour draws to a close, as we retrace our steps back to Finland after breakfast. We drive along the Varangerfjord, making birding stops along the way to break up the journey. Birds should still be migrating, so we might see some different species on the way back. We enjoy another delicious lunch at the Finnish-Norwegian border before arriving at Ivalo.
Accommodations at Hotel Ivalo in Ivalo (B,L,D)

Sat., June 15 : Departures

We catch our homeward flights from Ivalo Airport, full of fresh memories from our natural history and birding trip to Finland and Norway. (B)

  • Reindeer, Caribou, Finland, European Wildlife, Guided Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Dotterel, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Capercaillie, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Common Gull, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Great Gray Owl, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Hawk Owl, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Lekking Ruff, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Common Shag, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • White-tailed EAgle, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Willow Grouse, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Finland Scenic, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Finland Scenic, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Finland Road, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour
  • Finland Road, Finland Birding Tour, Finland Nature Tours, Naturalist Journeys, Europe Birding, Norway, Norway Birding Tour

Cost of the Journey

The cost of this journey is per person, based on occupancy: $6590 DBL / $7340 SGL*.

This tour price includes: Airport transfers, 12 nights’ accommodations, all meals from dinner Day One through breakfast Day 13, professional guide services, park and preserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. 

This tour cost does NOT include: Airfare from your home to Oulu, Finland or items of a personal nature, such as drinks from the bar, telephone, and local guide gratuities (at your discretion, we will give some guidelines).

*All international trips are subject to price adjustment (+ or - ) with significant change in the rate of exchange at the time of final payment. This is a rare situation and you will be notified in advance. 

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival Airport: Oulu Airport (OUL)

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 3, 2024 by 6:00 PM if you wish to join the group for dinner

Departure Airport: Ivalo Airport (IVL)

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart June 15, 2024  at your leisure.

Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, you can book an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Finlandia Hotel Airport Oulu. You can book online and send us the confirmation number, with the goal being you won’t have to switch rooms. The hotel is great for relaxing as they have comfortable rooms and a restaurant and bar on site. If you’re rested up and ready to explore Oulu, there are some fun things to do! The Vihiluoto Birding Tower is a short walk from the hotel and right on the bay. There’s a nice walking path to get there. If you want to venture into town, the University of Oulu Botanical Garden is one of the northern most gardens in the world and has over 4,000 plants. It’s also a good birding spot. It’s about 15 minutes from the hotel and the easiest transportation is a taxi.

Entry Requirements: See "Essential Information" section under the "Know Before You Go" tab.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Finland & Norway


  • Gerard Gorman

    Gerard Gorman is a deeply experienced birding and wildlife guide, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe where his knowledge of the wildlife sites of the region is second to none, having visited every country from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In recent years he has led several Naturalist Journeys groups across Europe and Africa. Gerard is also an author, and his books include Central and Eastern European Wildlife (Bradt, 2008) and Birding in Eastern Europe (WildSounds, 2006). His main ornithological interest focuses on woodpeckers, and he is regarded as an authority, authoring an unprecedented seven books on the family, including the acclaimed Woodpeckers of the World (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Woodpecker (Reaktion, 2017). His latest works include, The Wryneck (Pelagic Publishing, 2022), the definitive monograph on this fascinating species, and The Green Woodpecker (Pelagic Publishing, 2023). Gerard is also interested in wildlife tracking, and his Pocket Guide to Tracks and Signs of European Wildlife (Bloomsbury) was published in 2014.

    Photo credit:

    Other trips with Gerard Gorman

Map for Finland & Norway: Birding & Nature

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • A tourist visa is not required of US citizens for stays of this length. Expected changes to entrance requirements in Europe have been delayed until 2025. More information is available at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Finland and Norway, and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Finland Oulu International Airport (OUL) and departing from Finland Ivalo International Airport (IVL). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Oulu International Airport, Finland (OUL)

Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact the ground operator listed for the country you’re traveling to with a copy to our office. You may also phone or text (or possibly WhatsApp message) your guide.

Plan to arrive at Finland’s Oulu International Airportby 6:00 PM if you wish to join the group for dinner.  The airport is welcoming, and it should not be difficult to pass through immigration, collect your luggage and pass-through customs before exiting to the public areas. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration. 

We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure with operators and guides once we have all completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information by entering the flight details into your client portal.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Ivalo International Airport, Finland (IVL)

Do remember that you must be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return, so we do not advise booking early morning flights if the option is available; late-morning is fine.

We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day. Whenever possible we will keep the group together for this transfer.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Finland and Norway embassy websites for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:

It is recommended to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs but, at the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required of US citizens for stays of this length. Requirements requiring visitors from more than 60 visa-free countries (including the U.S.) to get a travel authorization when entering Europe for brief stays have been delayed until 2025. Learn more at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency.

Vaccinations: Although at the time of writing there were no other required vaccinations to enter Finland or Norway, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip.   For other helpful information, check the CDC for Finland and CDC for Norway webpages or contact by phone at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

Prescriptions and Allergies:  It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage as well as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad.  You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers.  It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).  Altitude sickness can affect some and, if there is a concern, be prepared. 

Weather & Climate

The northern region of Finland and Norway has a subarctic to continental climate characterized by mild summers and cold, snowy winters. During the winter months of December to February, the region experiences an average temperature range of about 3 °F to 37 °F depending on location, with occasional lows of about -22 °F or colder with wind chill. The summer months bring a very pleasant climate; temperatures are usually 50 - 60 °F and rainfall is moderate. However, it is always good to be prepared with a rain jacket that can double as a wind breaker, as weather conditions can change quickly.

Aside from seasonal variation in weather, the northern parts of Finland and Norway can have very varied degrees of daylight. Most of the Lapland region lies above the Arctic Circle, so the differences in daylight hours between winter and summer are extreme. In the peak winter months, daylight is limited to a few hours usually between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. However, the light reflecting off the snow can make the days seem brighter. The short daylight hours also create ideal conditions to view the northern lights, or aurora borealis. These amazing displays of light are best seen between November and March. In contrast, from approximately mid-May to late July the sun does not completely dip below the horizon—a polar phenomenon known as the midnight sun.

Annoyances & Hazards

Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. While the mosquitoes in this region do not carry or spread disease, they can be somewhat of a nuisance. It is helpful to wear loose clothing, long sleeves, and spray yourself with repellent. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember, the sun is strong and be prepared with proper protection.

Food & Drinks

Meals will offer a variety of local and international cuisine. When eating out, just use common sense and ask for referrals from your hotel or a guidebook such as Frommers. Menus at the lodges are varied and are sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available.

Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal.

Even in summer Finland can be cool. Our advice would be to dress in warm layers.

Long pants with a long-sleeved top are good to pack all year round. You may also wish to take something to protect your face and lips from the cold dry air.

Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with different temperatures! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down please! And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field, have one day’s clothing change, and a change of underwear!

Spending Money

The official currency in Finland is the Euro, and in Norway it is the Norwegian Krone. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency. Bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.


Tipping throughout the tour is at your discretion. Some guidelines follow. At larger (mostly city) hotels, tip maids and bar service as you would at home. At eco-lodges, there is typically a staff tip box in a public area; the going rate per person is $6-$10 a day, which is shared among staff for maid service, and general staff service at the lodges. Gratuities for group meals are already included. Your Naturalist Journeys host will take care of smaller tips such field trip services by boat drivers, night drive outings, single activities. Your additional tip is encouraged for birding tour guides and drivers who are with you for several days or the full trip; $10-$15 per day per guest is standard for guide service, and half that for a driver. If you have more than one local guide at a location, they will share the daily amount. We encourage tipping for the local teams hosting you; anything extra for your Naturalist Journeys host is at your discretion.

*Please note that these suggested tips are quoted in U.S. Dollars. You will want to convert and tip in local currency.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one).

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.  Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.


The standard for both Finland and Norway is 230 volts AC (50 cycles), so you will need an adapter to operate appliances from the US. Plugs are set up in the C and F styles. For more information: and


Northern Finland and Norway are on Eastern European Standard Time with observations to daylight savings time. Check before leaving home for your conversion.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

In general, the weather during your stay should be cool (50-60°F) during the day, and nights and mornings cooling down into the 40°Fs. Check your favorite weather website closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Fabrics like fleece, as well as rain gear, will protect you from rain and wind and keep you warm. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors.

Clothing & Gear

  • Long pants, 2-3 pair. One of these might be rain pants you wear over long underwear or tights for comfort. Quick dry hiking pants work well if you plan to do hand laundry.
  • Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks, 3-4 – think layering
  • T-shirts or equivalent, 1 (optional) for layering
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Long underwear, 1 pair lightweight (silk or polypro is nice) or substitute tights or pantyhose to keep you warm underneath on boats or stormy days while adding little weight.
  • Raincoat and pants – these double as wind break
  • Medium to heavy outer jacket for warmth and wind protection, can layer with your raingear
  • Warm sweater or fleece shirt
  • Fleece or down vest (windproof, if possible, this is a great clothing item for this climate).
  • Rain gear – these double as windbreaks. A two-piece suit is preferred. It is important that this be both waterproof and breathable, you will most likely be wearing it for active activities (walking, birding), as well as large enough to fit over other layers for sedentary activities (boat trips) as an additional layer.
  • Warm jacket (windproof) can be same as your rain gear if you layer adequately.
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes, think of what feels good at day’s end)
  • Hat with broad brim for sun
  • Scarf or neck gaiter, warm, water-repellent lightweight gloves, warm hat
  • Socks – several warm pairs, and several pairs of a lightweight, easy to wash and dry material
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
  • Supportive hiking boots that can keep your feet dry. You may want to treat your boots with snow- seal or other similar product. Another good option is an LL Bean type boot with rubber bottoms and leather uppers. Bring shoes with good support and firm grip tread.
  • Comfortable shoes for evenings, travel days
  • Bandana (optional)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack to carry gear while hiking
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Binoculars
  • Camera and charger/extra batteries, memory cards/film, lens cleaning supplies and instruction manual (optional)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional – guide will have them)
  • Tablet/laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB stick, USB cord and charger (optional). If bringing a laptop or tablet, bring a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
  • Umbrella (compact and not brightly colored)
  • Walking sticks (optional)
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock (If you use your phone, important to turn off data roaming)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Toiletry articles
  • Insect repellent, there will be mosquitoes!
  • Sleeping mask or equivalent to cover your eyes if you are light sensitive
  • Earplugs if you are noise sensitive
  • Water bottle (or plan to reuse a store-bought water bottle upon arrival if preferred)
  • Gallon-size Ziploc bags for keeping things dry
  • Laundry soap for hand washing, travel sewing kit
  • Notebook and pen or journal (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Phrase book (optional)


WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medications (and copy of vital prescriptions)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription and any medical alerts
  • Insurance information and vaccine records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial soap in small container for quick handwashing


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Finland and Norway; the following are a few Read more

There are many titles of interest for Finland and Norway; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

General Reading

DK Eyewitness Norway 

Lonely Planet Finland

Field Guides

Birds of Europe

Birds in Europe

Birds of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East

Collins Bird Guide, The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Norway

Wildlife & Nature

The Arctic Guide: Wildlife in the Far North

Natural History

The Making of a Land: Geology of Norway

History & Culture

A Concise History of Finland

A History of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland

Into the Ice: The History of Norway and the Polar Regions

Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales

The Vikings



Scandinavians: In Search of the Soul of the North

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more




Finland’s Midnight Sun



Hornøya Island

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Birding in Finland

Birding in Norway

Finland Bird Checklist

Norway Bird Checklist

Wildlife of Finland

Wildlife of Norway

Nature of Liminka Bay

“Owl Populations Change Color as the World Warms” – Article,

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Liminka Bay – Wetland, Nature Reserve & Visitor Center

“Critically endangered Arctic foxes successfully breed in Finland” – Article, WWF

The Nordic Board for Wildlife Research (NKV)

“Wildlife Conservation in Norway” – Article, The Daily Scandinavian

Conservation in the Barents Region

Geology & Geography

Geography & Geology of Finland

Guide to the Geological Map of Finland

Geography & Geology of Norway

History & Culture

History of Finland

A Brief History of Norway

Finnish Culture

Norwegian Arts & Culture

Finnish Arts & Culture

Helpful Travel Websites

Oulu Airport (OUL)

Ivalo Airport (IVL)

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

ATM Locator

Foreign Exchange Rates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories

Travel Health Pro (UK)

Electricity and Plugs

Date, Time, and Holidays

Photo credits: Hawk Owl, courtesy Finnature; Gray Seal, Taru Suninen courtesy Finnature; Common Crane, Gerard Gorman; Common Sandpiper, Gerard Gorman; Great Spotted Woodpecker, Gerard Gorman; Ruff, Gerard Gorman; Bluethroat, courtesy Finnature; Atlantic Puffin, courtesy Finnature; Bar-tailed Godwit, courtesy Finnature; Finland Scenic, by Taru Suninen; Long-tailed Skua, courtesy of Finnature; Reindeer (cow & calf), courtesy of Finnature; Great Grey Owl, courtesy of Finnature; Finnish Road, by Taru Suninen, courtesy of Finnature; Osprey, courtesy of Finnature; Bar-tailed Godwit, courtesy of Finnature; Dolphin, by Taru Suninen, courtesy of Finnature; Atlantic Puffin, courtesy of Finnature; Reindeer (bull), courtesy of Finnature; Black-throated Diver, courtesy of Finnature; Ruffs, courtesy of Finnature; Dotterel, courtesy of Finnature; Capercaillie, courtesy of Finnature; Common Gull, courtesy of Finnature; Great Gray Owl, courtesy of Finnature; Hawk Owl, courtesy of Finnature; Ruff, courtesy of Finnature; Common Shag, courtesy of Finnature; White-tailed Eagle, courtesy of Finnature; Willow Grouse, courtesy of Finnature; Finland Scenics, courtesy of by Taru Suninen.


Like what we do?

Sign up for our weekly eNews to stay up to date!

Get to know our favorite destinations each week. We promise no spam.

No Thanks