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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Northern Finland and Arctic Norway

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Finland and Norway. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they took this tour. Although we do our best to make sure what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING FINLAND AND NORWAY: United States citizens will need a passport which is valid for at least three months beyond intended length of stay. Note: A visa is not required, but two blank pages are required for the entry stamp to each country. Visit the Embassy of Finland website for the most current visa information. Contact the Royal Norwegian Embassy at 2720 34th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008-2714, Tel: 202-333-6000, or the nearest Norwegian Consulate for the most current visa information. Consulates are located in Houston, Minneapolis, New York City, and San Francisco. Information can also be obtained from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration website. Citizens of other nations should contact the nearest Finland and Norway embassies for entry requirements.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information on Finland and Norway at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/finland.html and at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/norway.html respectively. You can also read the CIA World Factbook background notes Finland here, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fi.html and Norway, here: www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/no.html

PACE OF TOUR: Leisurely walking, occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement, and anybody with a reasonable degree of physical fitness can fully participate in this tour.  At one site in Finland we may need to ascend a fairly steep hillside for optimum birdwatching, but this can be done at whatever pace with which the individual feels comfortable – there will be no need to hurry.  Because of the extended hours of daylight due to the high latitude there is the potential to be out birdwatching for very long periods.  In reality we often have early starts, at around 05.00-05.30 for pre-breakfast excursions, and will occasionally venture out late in the evening to look for more crepuscular species.  Most of the owls are actually seen in the daytime!  However on these long days besides the usual breaks for meals we do try to arrange adequate rests during the day, where possible.  There are two internal flights, at the beginning and near the end of the tour, at all other times transport will be in leader-driven minibuses.  Evening dinners are usually around 20.00, and are followed by the checklist review. 

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A.

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/finland and http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/finland. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: Mosquitoes are not likely to be a major problem as they are present only in small numbers in northern Finland (and hardly at all in Norway).  If the weather is warmer than usual, however, they can be more numerous and some people may find them distracting.  You should therefore bring either aerosol or rub-on insect repellent: the proprietary brands available from high street chemists, and similar stores, are perfectly adequate.  If you are particularly sensitive to insect bites, be sure to consult your GP before the trip. 

CLIMATE: The weather can be extremely variable at this time of year but nice weather usually predominates.  In the south it is likely to be cool and sunny but may change to cloudy with rain or fog very quickly.  Temperatures normally vary from 7°C to 20°C (45°F to 68°F) during the day, with only slightly lower temperatures at night. In the north weather is cooler or even cold and at night below-freezing temperatures are normal while daytime temperatures usually vary from 0°C to 10-15°C. (32°F – 60°F). Periods of strong wind, fog and showers are likely in coastal Northern Norway, and you need to dress accordingly.

ACCOMMODATION: Throughout the tour we’ll be staying in comfortable hotels. All rooms will have a private shower and toilet. Internet access is ubiquitous. 

FOOD: Normal Western standards. Lunches will be eaten at roadside restaurants or as picnic lunches, according to our preference each day. 

Food Allergies/Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

Drinks: Bottled water, a soft drink or a beer (or wine if appropriate) are provided at meals, as is coffee or tea. In addition we keep a supply of bottled water on the tour vehicles. Bottled or filtered water may also be provided in some rooms where we stay. 

TRANSPORTATION: Our transport will be minibuses driven by the leader for maximum flexibility.  Participants should be able and willing to ride in any seat in our tour vehicles. 

Updated: 09 September 2015