Wild Photography Holidays - Photography & Adventure Travel: Varanger Arctic Norway – Birds, Landscapes & Northern Lights

King Eiders

Varanger Arctic Norway – Birds, Landscapes & Northern Lights

Highlights include…

  • Unique birdlife
  • Steller’s & King Eider
  • Cormorants & Guillemots
  • Puffins in the snow
  • Northern Lights
  • Low light photography
  • Coastal landscapes
  • Reindeers & arctic light
  • Traditional colourful houses
  • Scenic hotels
  • Remote lighthouses

Brief Summary

Introducing our well established photographic adventure to the Varanger Peninsula in Norway. Varanger located in Finmark the most northeastern part of Norway. Arctic landscapes remain a firm favourite with our guests and this tour truly takes us to one of Norway’s most remarkable and little visited arctic areas. Varanger is world renowned for its incredible birdlife. Our adventure begins in the small town of Kirkenes close to the Russian border. We spend a night here in a comfortable hotel before traveling over a remote mountain pass to the fishing village of Båtsfjord famed for the large numbers of Arctic birds that reside or winter there including King and Steller’s Eider which we photograph from floating hides. Given clear weather skies are big and the aurora common. Our next location is the tranquil, ‘lost in time’ Kongsfjord where we stay in beautifully restored and colourful wooden houses dotted along the seashore. The big skies here are phenomenal and there is plenty of opportunity for landscape, cultural and architectural photography. Our third location Vardø is located on the very eastern most point of this remote peninsula. Vardø is a fascinating arctic town with a rich cultural history and a former stronghold of ‘witch’ burning in Medieval times. One of the main attractions here is the island of Hornøya. A visit to the seabird colonies here is an astonishing experience that will certainly leave a lasting impression. The main cliff is dominated by black-legged kittiwakes, common guillemots and Atlantic puffins, interspersed by Europeans shags, Brünnich’s guillemots, razorbills and a few Black Guillemots. Expect to return home with a unique collection of arctic birds and landscape images.

Photographic Tutors

Andy Teasdale

Brief Itinerary

For full details please download the trip description PDF

Day 1: Arrive Kirkenes

The small town of Kirkenes is located northeast in Northern Norway, close to the Russian border. Kirkenes is known as the capital of the Barents Region and the gateway to the east.

Day 2,3,4: Båtsfjord

Leaving Kirkenes after breakfast on Day 2 will spend the day travelling to Båtsfjord in a leisurely way with lots of photographic stops en route. This is a high white wilderness area with frozen lakes and trees heavy with sparkling frost. We will send three nights overlooking the harbour in the comfortable and friendly Båtsfjord Brygge owned by a very hospitable local family. During the two whole days that we spend here there will be opportunities to spend time in floating bird hides where we will be able to photograph at close quarters many birds including Steller’s & King Eider, Long Tail Ducks and Black Guillemots. We will also take a boat around the coast and harbour where we have excellent chances photographing these birds in flight. After dinner and given clear weather our focus will be on photographing the aurora, the colourful houses can make excellent and unusual foreground.

Day 5,6: Kongsfjord

Following a sunrise and hearty breakfast at the Båtsfjord Brygge we head to the northerly fishing village of Kongsfjord. The situation of our accommodation is gorgeous, small colourful traditional houses beautifully and lovingly restored by Ása who literally bought almost a whole fishing village on the seashore. Whilst we are here we will have an opportunity to spend time photographing around our accommodation and also the local harbour village that is rich in landscape and cultural interest. Abandoned boats lie partially buried in the snow, the local shop is a veritable museum, a testimony to times gone by and the old snow bound houses are decked with interesting bric a brac. The harbour is still working and there is always something interesting going on here, it is common to see and photograph a catch of King Crab the local delicacy of the region. Up on the headland and close to our accommodation there is a bird hide perched precariously on the edge of the cliffs, it goes with out saying that Kongsfjord is yet another excellent aurora location.

Day 7,8,9: Vardø

No doubt we will be a trifle sad to leave the tranquil Kongsfjord, although we will soon be enjoying the landscape opportunities that present themselves during our journey to our most easterly location, Vardø. One splendid location is the esoteric community of Ekkerøy where we encounter some fine local coastal architecture plus one of the largest Kittiwake nesting cliffs in Europe. Fugleflåget is situated at the outer tip of the peninsula and is the most accessible important bird cliff in Norway, a five minutes you will bring us to a fabulous cliff face where 15,000 pairs of kittiwakes breed in a cacophony of noise and activity. Black guillemots, razorbills and cormorants can be seen here too. From Ekkerøy an interesting drive over high snowy terrain will bring us to the harbour town of Vardø. Once a thriving fishing town, the collapse of this industry in 2002 has left the town with an air of interesting and photogenic arctic abandonment. Our comfortable hotel is in the centre of all the interest and just a couple of minutes walk to the harbour where we catch the boat to the seabird colonies on the tiny island of Hornøya. The island is dominated by a beautiful lighthouse and is home to around 150,000 seabirds including Guillemot, Cormorant, Shag, Puffin, Kittiwake, Eider, Herring and Black Backed Gulls. The noise, smell and sheer movement is truly phenomenal. The prospect of photographing these birds in a snowy arctic landscape is very special, particularly as the birds will often be actively and aggressively defending their territories. In addition to the unforgettable bird opportunities, the area is rich in photographic interest, good arctic landscapes, graffiti, abandoned houses and old fishing vessels. There is a truly spooky but touching monument to the witches that were burnt here in medieval times, a splendid and different place to experience the aurora!

Day 10: Kirkenes

Following an early morning walk around Vardø we spend our day driving back to Kirkenes making the most of any photographic opportunities that we may encounter. In the evening we will enjoy a final celebratory dinner together at our comfortable hotel.

Day 11: Homeward Flights

WPH services finish after breakfast. Guests will be leaving on different flights and will easily be able to get a taxi for the short journey to the local town airport.

What’s Included

  • 10 hotel nights
  • All meals
  • Airport transfer Day 1

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfer Day 11
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Items not mentioned


Our hotels are scenically located and close to many locations. In Kirkenes we stay in a comfortable hotel convenient for the airport. Guests will have single or double rooms with private facilities.

Complete Itinerary and Full Details

This page is only a brief summary. A complete itinerary and more details can be found in our trip description PDF
It is important that you read this full day-to-day description and further information for this holiday before making your booking.