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Wild Flowers of Estonia

Tour Code: EST04

A 9-day botanical holiday in search of the wild flowers of Estonia, amongst them a fine selection of orchids.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £


The astonishingly rich flora of Estonia includes 36 species of orchid and, whilst the flowering season extends from April to September, our botanical tour is timed to coincide with the peak time for many of these species. The flower-filled coastal meadows present a particularly wonderful summer spectacle during this season, enhanced by a

  • Colourful & Interesting birdlife
  • Snapshots of rural life in remote villages
  • Estonian hospitality

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable tourist hotels with private facilities.

Siberian Iris

Siberian Iris

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Tallin

Day 2 Hiiumaa Island

Day 3/4 Saaremaa Island

Day 5 Puhtu-Laelatu Nature Reserve

Day 6 Matsalu National Park

Day 7 Osmussaar Island

Day 8 Tallinn

Day 9 Fly London

Estonia is the smallest of the three former Soviet Republics which were known collectively as the ‘Baltic States’. Always the most prosperous of the trio, the country has enjoyed moderate financial growth since gaining independence in 1991 and accession to the European Community in 2004 was a natural progression for a nation anxious to once again become part of Western Europe. The topography of Estonia consists predominantly of low-lying marshes, rivers and forests through which are scattered over 1,500 lakes, whilst its western border is set by a deeply indented Baltic coastline, along which lie countless islands of varying sizes. The ornithological significance of this beautiful country is already well known, and is the focus of our May Naturetrek tour, but its flora is perhaps less celebrated despite being amongst the most spectacular in northern Europe. In particular, strong influences in the country’s floral make-up come from both Siberia and also the warmer regions of southern Europe, with many plant species reaching their respective western or northern extremities of range within Estonia.

Despite a land mass comparable with Denmark or Holland, the Estonian population of 1.4 million is less than a third of the former, and a tenth that of Holland, resulting in far less human pressure on the countryside. In particular, the peat bogs and forests of Estonia’s interior are among the finest in Europe and the varied nature of its long coastline, marked by a rich tapestry of shallow bays, lagoons and luxuriant coastal meadows, is quite unlike any of Estonia’s Baltic neighbours.

Our holiday begins with a flight from London to Tallinn, the country’s capital, from whence we travel west to the Baltic Coast where we have our first taste of the flower-filled meadows and alvars so characteristic of this coastline. Alvars, which are almost unique to Estonia, comprise a thin topsoil on a limestone bedrock and are consequently extremely rich in flora. Our first destinations will be Hiiumaa and Saaremaa Islands which we reach by ferry from the mainland. These delightful islands are a botanist’s dream, filled with such rarities as the endemic EM>Rhinanthus osiliensis/EM>, the Saaremaa Rattlebox. One of our target families in western Estonia will be the orchids which occur here. 36 species of orchid occur in Estonia and, whilst flowering seasons extend from April to September, our tour is timed to offer the opportunity to see as many as possible of the species in flower. Examples include Frog, Burnt, Fen, Baltic, Military and both Lesser Butterfly and Greater Butterfly Orchid, as well as the beautiful Dark Red Helleborine. Saaremaa and Hiiumaa Islands represent two of the best orchid locations in the country and, in addition, support many wonderful coastal plant communities around largely undisturbed shorelines. Our extended stay on the islands should permit a thorough investigation of the many habitats and ample opportunity to look for some of the specialities which are more difficult to find.

Other families well represented in Estonia’s bogs and mires are the sundews and butterworts, whilst many aquatic and semiaquatic specialities are to be found in the reed-fringed coastal marshlands which border the Baltic Sea. An excursion to Osmussaar Island is included in our itinerary as this is highly regarded by Estonian botanists for the wide range of species it supports, including many orchids. We will also visit Puhtu-Laelatu Nature Reserve and Tuhu Bog where one of the greatest densities of plant species in Europe has been recorded … an astonishing 76 vascular plant species per square metre! A further diversity of habitats is explored in the Ramsar-recognised Matsalu National Park where oak woodland fringes the largest reedbed on the Baltic Coast — haunt of Beaver, Natterjack Toad and site for a stunning profusion of wild flowers.

Although very much a botanical tour, there are many other natural history delights awaiting tour participants. Grey Seals love the undisturbed coastline, Roe Deer are common, and the abundance of birdlife includes White and Black Storks, raptors, and a great diversity of waterbirds. There is always plenty to look at, whether in the air or growing at our feet and, as we make our way back to Tallinn, there is one final element of this fascinating country to discover as we visit the picturesque old city where the architecture reflects the varied influences during seven centuries of foreign occupation.

Lady's Slipper Orchid ( Mark Ogden)Burnt Orchid ( Mark Ogden)Early Marsh Orchid ( Mark Ogden)Fly Orchid ( Mark Ogden)Military Orchid Estonia ( Mark Ogden)Scarce Fritillary ( Mark Ogden)Woodland Brown ( Mark Ogden)Wood Cow-wheat (Mark Ogden)
L.C.
Hertfordshire
The trip leader was excellent at all aspects of natural history. We were taken to interesting and novel eating places for lunch and we saw parts of the country we would not have seen on our own.
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We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Estonia

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David Phillips
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01962 733051

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Wild flowers

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Tour Reviews

The trip leader was excellent at all aspects of natural history. We were taken to interesting and novel eating places for lunch and we saw parts of the country we would not have seen on our own.
L.C., Hertfordshire