Guided butterfly, botanical & birdwatching holidays
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Gotland: The Pearl of the Baltic

Dates & Prices

BOOK HOLIDAY NOW

Dates: 2 – 9 June 2017 (TBC)

Price: £TBC

Single Room Supplement: £TBC

Deposit: £150 per person


Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, entry fees, printed & bound holiday report and a donation to a wildlife charity

Not Included: International and internal flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to a wildlife charity

Leader(s): TBC

Group Size & Travel: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests

Grade: Generally short walks at a gentle pace and in a variety of terrains, ideally suited for photography

Holiday Highlights


  • Visit Gotland, an isolated limestone island that has formed a rich and unique flora & fauna
  • Ruins of Viking Forts, Gothic Churches & medieval villages decorate the landscape, all against a floristic backdrop of ancient meadows, woodlands and fens
  • 37 out of Sweden’s orchids can be found here, including the rare Spitzel’s Orchid and the lovely Lady’s Slipper Orchid
  • Flat limestone plateaus, covered with thousands of orchids mostly Dactylorhiza sambucina & Orchis mascula. Other plants include Adonis vernalis, Lactuca quercina, Mulgedium quercinum, Petrorhagia prolifera, and Corydalis gotlandica the only endemic plant on Gotland
  • Famous seabird colony with thousands of breeding pairs of Guillemots (around 10,000), Black Guillemots, Razorbills (around 8,500 pairs) and a colony of Lesser Black-Backed Gull (ssp fuscus)
  • Relaxed pace ideally suited to photography & enjoyment of the wildlife & scenery 

Explore Gotland, the tranquil and magical Swedish isle where ruins of Viking forts, Gothic churches & medieval villages decorate the landscape, all against a floristic backdrop of ancient meadows, woodlands and fens !

BOOK HOLIDAY NOW

Explore Gotland, the tranquil and magical Swedish isle where ruins of Viking forts, Gothic churches & medieval villages decorate the landscape, all against a floristic backdrop of ancient meadows, woodlands and fens !

We are delighted to offer a chance to visit this beautiful and fascinating Swedish isle, famous for its profusion of orchids. 

Gotland is steeped in a rich cultural history, evidence of which is in every turn as you explore this tranquil island.  Ruins of Viking Forts, Gothic Churches & medieval villages decorate the landscape, all against a floristic backdrop of ancient meadows, woodlands and fens that hold rare & exquisite gems such as the gorgeous Lady’s Slipper Orchid Cypripedium calceolus.

For us, the trip will take in the rich treasure-trove of natural history. Gotland is an isolated limestone island that has formed a rich and unique flora & fauna. It is home to 37 of Sweden’s 40 orchid species including the rare Spitzel’s Orchid. It is also perfectly positioned in the middle of the Baltic to attract migrating birds, with a wealth of habitats to support a wide variety of breeding birds. We will also be enjoying the butterflies and can look forward to a very pleasant array of species, such as Woodland Brown, Large & Mazarine Blue, Marsh, Marbled and Glanville Fritillaries. We may also be treated to sightings of the beautiful Apollo and that will certainly be a species to keep our eye out for whilst wandering among the flower rich meadows!

We will be taking things easy to fully immerse ourselves in this rich landscape and permit ourselves the time to really take in the rich flora and fauna. To help us relax we’ll base ourselves at one hotel, just an hours drive from the airport in Visby, for the duration of the holiday.  Set in quiet countryside our hotel was once the site of a Viking farm. Nowadays its 19th Century manor house has been expanded into a hotel complex and a golf course. Rooms are all en suite and comfortable and have an interesting history of their own, since they were once Olympian accommodation for competitors at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. The whole block of rooms was relocated to Gotland and our hotel the following year.

Although wildlife will be our primary focus, we mustn’t forget to take in the amazing scenery, which gives this island a picturesque & timeless atmosphere, perhaps this is why the Swedish think this is such a magical isle.

Note: all images on this page courtesy of Terry Underhill & Ian Bennallick (unless stated otherwise).

Day 1:Arrival Visby – transfer to Hotel

On arrival at Visby we will transfer to our hotel.  If time permits we may be able to have a short walk to take in the surroundings around our hotel.

Day 2: Kräklingbo & Ardre

Travelling through the unspoilt rural landscape, we will have the opportunity to observe Viking heritage along the route, such as the 13th century village at Ardre, before reaching the floristic meadows at Torsburgen Nature Reserve.  The meadows around Gotland are famous for their swathes of orchids – Orchis militaris, Dactylorhiza pulchella, Dactylorhiza ochroleuca, Dactylorhiza longifolia, to name a few, as well as the beautiful Anemone pulsatilla spp. gotlandica and Lychnis viscaria. Large, Mazarine and Common Blue, Black-veined White, Swallowtail, & Small-bordered Fritillary butterflies will be abundant across the meadows.

Birds are just as varied from Hawfinch, Nutcracker, Black Woodpecker to the smallest woodpecker, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker found around the woodland areas, along with the potential of Greenish & Icterine Warbler, Thrush Nightingale and the scarce Barred Warbler.

Day 3: Kallgatburg Nature Reserve – Hejdeby hällar

Limestone pavements & rocky outcrops will be the order of the day. The Kallgatburg Nature Reserve is unique, as its location straddles two different forms of bedrock; pure limestone that drains off, quickly creating dry land, & marlstone that creates a marshy area, which provides a diverse habitat for us to explore.  However, its popularity is mainly due to the tremendous blooms of Cypripedium calceolus. Others plants we may find include Pinguicula alpina, Utricularia minor, Drosera anglica, Tetragonolobus maritimus, Geranium sanguineum, Anthyllis vulneraria, Cephalanthera longifolia, Dactylorhiza curvifolia, D. lapponica, and Ophrys insectifera. It also contains one of Sweden’s largest yew populations. Butterflies will be just as spectacular with Marbled & Glanville Fritillaries, & if we are very lucky, the rare Apollo.

Day 4: The South

Heading south we will encounter Wooden Windmills, Viking Picture Stones, and 800 year old churches, amidst orchid-filled meadows, with species such as Orchis militaris, Neotinea ustulata & Anacamptis morio. Amongst the damp boggy meadows we may find Ophrys insectifera, Primula farinosa & Parnassia palustris; hawker dragonflies investigate the peaty channels, while Marsh & Montagu’s Harriers quarter across the fields. Marsh Fritillary and Woodland Brown Butterflies are regular visitors around the woodland areas, as are Collared Flycatchers.

The headland offers several good birding sites, coastal lagoons and scenic views. Breeding birds include Ruff, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, and Barnacle Goose, while Barred Warblers and Red-back Shrikes sing from the bushes.  Muskmyr Marsh is a good area to look out for raptors including Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle, Hobby, and possibly Red-footed Falcon has they search for dragonflies over the reed-beds. We will also have a chance to visit the Lars Jonsson Museum.

Day 5: Stora Karlsö

Our destination this morning is the island of Stora Karlsö.  This is the world’s second oldest protected natural area; only Yellowstone National Park is older!  The island is famous for its seabird colony with thousands of breeding pairs of Guillemots (around 10,000), Black Guillemots, Razorbills (around 8,500 pairs) and a colony of Lesser Black-Backed Gull (ssp fuscus). Arctic Terns nest on the shingle banks, while small groups of Eider and Velvet Scoter can be seen out to sea. Two viewpoints provide an excellent photographic opportunity to witness such a chaotic assembly of noise, smell and colour.  Land birds such as Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch, Red-backed Shrike, Red-breasted and Collared Flycatchers, Greenish Warbler, Thrush Nightingale, and some years also Golden Oriole can be seen here.

Stora Karlsö is a flat limestone plateau, mostly covered with alvar.  The grassy areas in late spring are covered with thousands of orchids mostly Dactylorhiza sambucina & Orchis mascula.  Other plants include Adonis vernalis, Lactuca quercina, Mulgedium quercinum, Onopordum acanthium, Petrorhagia prolifera, Prunus mahaleb, and Corydalis gotlandica the only endemic plant on Gotland.

If time permits we will finish the day with a visit to the UNESCO medieval town of Visby.  A former Viking site, Visby was the main centre of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic from the 12th to the 14th century. Its 13th-century ramparts and more than 200 warehouses and wealthy merchants’ dwellings from the same period make it the best-preserved fortified commercial city in northern Europe. Strolling through cobbled streets you’ll be surrounded by picturesque houses and exciting church ruins, reminders of the city’s rich history.

Day 6: Lake Paviken – Western Mulde & Mallgårds Woodlands

Lake Paviken is one of Gotland’s bird-rich lakes, where a wide selection of waterfowl bred there, such as Shoveler, Garganey, & Gadwell. Bitterns can be heard booming & Cranes honking from around the shores of the reedbeds, along with the reeling of Grasshopper & River Warbler and vibrant calls of Great Reed Warbler and Water Rail.  Common and Little Terns can be seen hawking up and down the water, there is even the possibility of Caspian Tern as well.

Wood Warblers and Collared Flycatchers can be heard around the woods, and with luck the elusive Black Woodpecker, as well as Common and Parrot Crossbills.   The wooded cliff reserve is the best area to find all three of the Cephalanthera species (C. rubra, C. longifolia, and C. damasonium) together, amongst a carpet of May-lilies and wintergreens. Woodland Brown, Geranium Argus and Northern Chequered Skipper butterflies can be found basking in the glades and along the wooded rides.

A brief stop will be made at the ancient village of Fröjel, with its beautiful situated church that has stunning views over the Baltic Sea & the bird island of Karlsöarna, before heading to the mire habitat at Mallgårds källmyr, with unusual species such as Dactylorhiza traunsteineri, Epipactis palustris, Ophrys insectifera & Gymnadenia odoratissima. Nearby is the Stone ship at Gannarve, the stones of which were erected as mighty tombs during the late Bronze Age.

Day 7: Fårö – Langhammars

Fårö is Gotland’s northern point, accessed by a short boat trip.  It has its own dialect (Faroymal) which is claimed to be the oldest language in Sweden.  On arrival we will explore the variety of habitats that this area holds for gems such as the delightful Linnaea borealis, Anemone sylvestris, Pulsatilla patens & if we are lucky the rare Arenaria gothica.  Birdwise, Nutcracker, Common Rosefinch & both Parrot and Common Crossbills are possible around the woodland & orchard areas. In the wetland areas Common Crane, Bittern, Marsh & Montagu’s Harriers and Garganey are some of the birds that we should see. There is even the possibility of White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle.

Other highlights include Langhammars, a landscape intact since the 17th century, renowned for its rocky beaches & its fishing village, Helgumannen. At Digerhuvud you will find many of the unusual sea karst formations or ’Raukar’, as they are locally called. These limestone monoliths are unique to Gotland and are a result of erosion during the Ice Age.

Day 8: Return to UK

New holiday for 2016 so testimonials will follow later

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Email: enquiries@greenwings.co.uk

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