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NEW! Whales and Wildlife in Northern Norway

Cetacean watching and more in the Norwegian Fjords

2024 Dates
  • 15 Nov - 21 Nov 2024
Duration7 Days
2024 Price
£3595 pp
£345 single supplement. Deposit £500

pre-flight airport hotel and lounge are inc.

Max Group Size8

On the edge of the Arctic Circle, the Norwegian Fjords are both dramatic in their landscapes and the winter wildlife attracted into the area! In the cooling waters, huge shoals of Herring arrive annually and such a bounty of prey inevitably attracts predators – most notably Orca. Numerous pods follow the fish into the fjords and the views can be exceptional, daily boat trips offering some of the very best whale watching experiences in Northern Europe!

A unique tour for Heatherlea, we enjoy a series of boat trips with excellent chances to see (and indeed photograph) Humpback, Fin and perhaps Sperm Whale too. And with repeated close encounters with some of the world’s most impressive marine mammals possible, this is a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Birdlife out on the water includes Long-tailed Duck, Eider, Little Auk and Glaucous Gull with Eurasian Otter likely around the harbours too. Land based wildlife is likely to include Golden and White-tailed Eagle with chances of Northern Hawk Owl, Waxwing, Three-toed Woodpecker, Crested and Willow Tit plus European Elk around the snowy forests.

As well as our boat trips, we travel to this isolated region by evening ferry with the chance to perhaps see the Northern Lights under clear skies, both from the water and on land. An epic winter wildlife experience, creating memories to last a lifetime!

For a preview of what to expect, watch Aidan's video below! 




Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!

Day 1: Fri 15 November - Arrival in Tromsø, Norway
After relaxing in our complimentary Airport Lounge, we fly from London to Tromsø in northern Norway, arriving in the afternoon and transfer to our city hotel where we stay for one night.

Day 2: Sat 16 November - Birding around Tromsø and ferry north to Skjervøy
After checking out of our hotel, we explore the local harbours for wintering sea-duck including Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck. Loafing gulls may include a Glaucous or Iceland Gull, and we may well encounter our first White-tailed Eagle overhead. Green spaces and forests just outside the city hold Northern Bullfinch, Willow and Crested Tit and Common Redpoll, with chances of Coue’s Arctic Redpoll and perhaps Three-toed Woodpecker too.

We board the ferry late-afternoon, our journey north to Skjervøy taking around 5 hours. Travelling in darkness wildlife sightings will naturally be few and far between, though if clear skies coincide with high levels of geomagnetic activity comes our first chance to glimpse the Northern Lights. We stay overnight in Skjervøy for four nights.

Days 3 - 5: Sun 17 - Tue 19 November – Whale watching in the Norwegian Fjords 
At this time of year, the Norwegian Fjords are famous for their Herring swarms, billions upon billions of fish entering these waters on the moon cycle. We have chosen peak time, dedicating three days to exploring the regions waterways for some of the most incredible whale experiences in Northern Europe! Large Whales are our target, and by chartering our own boat we have excellent chances to encounter Orca, Humpback and Fin Whale, often at close quarters. Watching these magnificent cetaceans feeding on the bait balls, there will be lots of opportunities for photography, so be sure to bring your camera. And with such a plentiful supply of food there are chances of other marine species joining the feeding melee, such as Sperm Whale, Walrus and seals.

Meandering through the Fjords surrounded by glorious snowy scenery, likely birds include White-tailed Eagle, Little Auk, Purple Sandpiper, Glaucous Gull, Eider and Long-tailed Duck. If the weather allows, we may be able to land on some of the small uninhabited islands, where we can take a walk to look for Northern Hawk Owl, winter passerines and European Elk. Around the harbours and quieter bays there are great chances of seeing Eurasian Otter, often hauling out on piers and boats with their catch.

Above all, this is a tour focused on looking for whales, the birding playing second fiddle to cetaceans at times. Hydrophones attached to our boat allow us to hear the sound of the whales communicating. This is very much a unique tour for Heatherlea, and by taking multiple boat trips comes an unrivalled opportunity to watch and enjoy some of the most impressive mammals on earth!   

Day 6: Wed 20 November - Land birding around Skjervøy and return to Tromsø
After three days exploring the Fjords from the sea, we spend our final day wildlife watching around Skjervøy by land. Golden and White-tailed Eagle may be seen cruising the hills and travelling to local forests we have chances of Northern Hawk Owl, Waxwing and Pine Grosbeak. In the evening, we take the return ferry back to Tromsø where we stay for one night. 

Day 7: Thur 21 November - Departure
After breakfast there may be time for some final birding around the harbours, before we transfer to Tromsø airport for our return flights to the UK.

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price:

  • scheduled return flights between London and Tromsø, airport taxes,
  • accommodation and all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • outward and return ferry transfer from Tromsø to Skjervøy and all boat trips around the Fjords
  • the services of your leader.
  • The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more...

What's not included in your holiday price:

  • personal insurance, drinks and other personal expenses, optional tips, and any other costs not specified as 'included'.

More Holiday Information:

Accommodation is in comfortable hotels with all rooms en suite,
Food Evening meals are generally local dishes, which are good but often quite simple. Picnic lunches are included and traditional Norwegian meals such as soups, stews, waffles etc. are provided by the crew daily on our boat trips. On ferry transfer days between Tromsø and Skjervøy we take our evening meal aboard.
Walking is not strenuous, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain. Be aware though that lengthy periods, of up to 6 hours aboard a boat can be quite exhausting so a moderate level of fitness is advised. Please note, as our time in Skjervøy is mainly spent on boat trips, we will not have a vehicle during the tour. All wildlife watching is done on foot or by boat/ferry! It is a short walk (approx. 5 minutes) from our hotel to the Ferry/boat quay in Skjervøy.
Weather We hope for beautiful, cold, clear arctic conditions, but be prepared for wind, snow, sleet or rain! We will be spending time on windswept coasts and it is therefore vital to have suitable clothing and equipment. The temperature can change quickly, and it can be especially cold while at sea so layered clothing is recommended. 
On our chartered boat trips, all clients are provided with warm flotation suits, but we still recommend bringing warm clothes and footwear, a hat and warm gloves/mittens. The cabin onboard is heated if you need a little break during the trip to shield from the elements!
Insects biting insects are not expected.
Group size is restricted to 8 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or or quote without flights so you can make your own arrangements. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.

Your Leader:

Aidan Branch is one of the newer members of our team, joining in 2022. A keen and enthusiastic birder devoting all his time to his passion, since 2016 he has worked as an Ornithological Surveyor in the UK, as well as working in Canada and Sweden. Widely travelled, some of Aidan's most recent adventures include Svalbard, Antarctica and Norway - where he is very much looking forward to leading this tour.

Other birding and wildlife holidays in Norway

Why choose Heatherlea for your birding and wildlife holiday in Europe?

Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.

Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.

The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
  • All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).

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About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248