As an addition to Shearwater Journeys' charter voyages to Svalbard, we are offering a guided, pre-trip birding tour based in the nearby Oslo area. The tour will be headquartered at the Thorbjornrud Hotel, below. This will alleviate packing and unpacking every night. Thorbjornrud Hotel is located in beautiful surroundings only 30 meters from Lake Randsfjorden. The lake is rich in fish and some of the best fishing spots are close to the hotel. Down at the lake you will find a sauna, a brew and a stable fishing boat. I believe that this is primarily a fishing lodge. Wireless connection is available at the hotel. However such a place could offer excellent birding, even on the grounds. Lunch will be take-away, every day. This tour will focus on birds that we will not see on the Svalbard voyage. We will visit a variety of habitats from wetlands to high mountains.
Day 1: Arrive Oslo, overnight at hotel near Gardermoen Airport. (It is optional for you to arrive earlier, if you choose to do some excellent sightseeing in Oslo, which will not be included in the tour). Transport from airport to hotel not included. A shuttle from the airport to hotel is available for a fee. This hotel night is included in the tour. Meals not included. Note: Plan to leave one of your packed bags at "left luggage," carrying only one bag during this tour. You will need your boots. Note: flights to Oslo are overnight. You will depart the USA the day prior.
Day 2: Early morning pickup at the airport hotel by our guide after breakfast and transfer to Thornbjornrud Hotel, about 60 km north of Oslo. We'll bird the fresh water lake in search of such species as grebes, geese, ducks, gulls and warblers. Perfect for photographers. (Night at hotel, B, L, D; transportation; guide services included).
Day 3: Early morning start, going to the high mountains of Valdres. Here we can find birds such as Rough-legged Buzzard, Gyr Falcon, Dotterell, Temmick's Stint, Long-tailed Jaeger, Willow and Rock Ptarmigan, Lapland Longspur, Wheatear, Redpoll, Brambling, Bluethroat, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Raven, Red-necked Phalarope, etc. Wild reindeer roam the mountains as well as fantastic scenery. (Night at hotel; B, L, D; transportation and guide services included).
Day 4: We shall visit two very large wetland sites close to our hotel. The Nordre Oyeren Nature Reserve and Dokkedelta. Both are RAMSAR Sites. Here, we shall focus on finding waders, wildfowl and passerines. (Night at hotel; B, L, D; transportation and guide services included).
Day 5: Early morning start, heading for the deep pine forests close to the Swedish border in the easternmost part of Norway, hoping to see a variety of woodpeckers, Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Crane, Redstart, Common and Honey Buzzards, Rosefinch, Ortolan Bunting, Wood Lark, Pied Flycatcher and six species of tits, four species of thrushes, Nuthatch, etc. (Night at hotel; B, L, D; transportation and guide services included).
Day 6: We shall spend the day birding the coastal habitats near Oslo-fjord, looking for such birds as Cormorant, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, gulls and terns, Oystercatcher, warblers and nightingales. Our tour concludes just prior to dinner (not included) in Oslo, at the same airport hotel as Day 1. (Overnight at the airport hotel included in the tour. B,L). Retrieve your "left luggage" this day.
Day 7: Flights to Longyearbyen, arriving most likely in the late afternoon. B (Flight; airport transport; L/D not included). Nights in Longyearbyen can be booked separately through Debi.
Day 8: Birding and exploring on your own at Longyearbyen. Easy to do. Nights in Longyearbyen booked separately with Debi.
Day 9: Birding and exploring Longyearbyen until embarkation on M/S Stockholm to begin a journey around Svalbard. Ten nights and eleven days on board the ship.
Our Olso Birding guide is a well known bird enthusiast in the Norwegian Ornithologist Association. He has been watching birds all his life. For the past few years he has recorded and released several CDs about bird sounds in both Norway and Costa Rica. He is an excellent, non-smoking, "ear" birder. He will carry a spotting scope and an inventory of bird sounds.
This tour may be modified for improvements after the 2012 tour is completed. Included in the tour rate (to be announced) will be all lodging as outlined; meals as outlined above; all transportation beginning at the Oslo hotel and ending at the Oslo hotel; services of the guide during tour dates. Not included: trip cancellation insurance, alcohol/soda pop; gratuity to guide. To participate in this tour you will need to be capable of carrying your own luggage; capable of riding in any seat in the van, as we shall rotate seats; capable of hiking over uneven terrain for up to 2 km (to potentially see such birds as Dotterel on the nest). Smoking will only be permitted outdoors, away from and downwind of the group. TOUR RATE: TO BE ANNOUNCED.
DATES FOR 2013 TOURS, depending on which voyage you book:
Depart USA on 19 June, arriving 20 June at Oslo, Norway
20 JUNE - 25 JUNE, BIRDING OSLO TOUR
26 JUNE -27 JUNE, LONGYEARBYEN on your own. Book rooms through Debi, not included in Oslo Tour.
28 JUNE - 8 JULY on board M/S STOCKHOLM
Depart USA on 29 June, arriving 30 June at Oslo, Norway
30 JUNE - 5 JULY, BIRDING OSLO TOUR
6 JULY - 7 JULY, LONGYEARBYEN on your own. Book rooms through Debi, not included in Oslo Tour.
8 - 18 JULY on board M/S STOCKHOLM
PLEASE NOTE: regarding return flights to the USA— flight schedules are not currently available. If the departure flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo is late in the afternoon, you will need to overnight in Oslo in order to catch a return flight to the USA. We will not know about this until the flight schedule comes out. You can easily book this room on your own.
This tour can add to your overall birding experience in Norway and presents some good opportunities to get to know the country and its people better. The scenery should be spectacular with a variety of habitats covered. We shall do our best for photographic opportunities, as well. I hope you will join us!