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Sweden Tour Newsletter
Published in October, 2009

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Featured Tour
Tour Sweden - In Linnaeus' Footsteps: Orchids, Fossils, and Birds of Southern Sweden


Featured Tour
Tour Kamchatka - Volcanoes, Geysers, Salmon, Bears and the Inhabitants of the Peninsula

Ilya Raskin

Join biology Professor Ilya Raskin on the exiting photo-tour to the ends of the earth - Russian Kamchatka. Dr. Raskin is an avid nature photographer,whose photographs have been published in numerous scientific and popular journals. The group size is limited to 11 participants,
so call now to reserve your spot (800-458-9590).

IBEX Tour to Sweden

Escape from the ordinary and experience a new way of learning about our planet.

Dear Traveler,

It is with great pleasure to bring you the following message from IBEX tour leader Dr. Lena Struwe. 

Join us for an early summer European IBEX Tour in discovering the native land of the Norse seafaring traders and warriors known as the Vikings. Tracing the footsteps of Carl Linneaus, the world's first ethnobotanist and the father of modern taxonomy. Examine our Sweden photo gallery.

Carl Linnaeus
If you are reading this newsletter you belong to the species Homo sapiens L. This capital "L" stands for Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist who gave us this Latin name in 1758. Carl Linnaeus was arguably the most influential biologist before Darwin, and his 18th century classification system of all living things is still in use today by biologists worldwide. He started his life as a minister's son in a small cottage in south-central Sweden called Råshult, which we will visit during our IBEX trip. Linnaeus' birthplace is a little oasis in the center of the darkest and boulder-ridden conifer forests of the province of Småland, Sweden. 

Linnaeus quickly became famous for his scrupulous work and interest in the usefulness of plants, especially for food, medicines, and fibers, and quickly became a professor at Uppsala University. Much of Western scientific, and especially botanical and medical heritage, was developed during late-medieval and Renaissance scientific culture in Western and Northern Europe.  Many of the medicinal plants still in use in the US today can be seen as wild weeds in Sweden.

Oaks and flowering canola fields in central Sweden
Join IBEX on a journey following Carl Linnaeus footsteps in Southern Sweden during the most gorgeous season in northern Europe - the beginning of summer. Meadows are filled with terrestrial orchids in pink and yellow, warblers and nightingales are arriving from the south by the shovelful and sing long into the not-so-dark nights, and an abundance of memories are created by smells, tastes, sights, and sounds. During the trip, starting in Denmark's capital Copenhagen and quickly going over the new, long bridge to Sweden, we will go through the four most southern provinces, known for their exquisite nature and extensive cultural heritage.  Five-hundred-million-year-old fossils might be stepped upon while discussing organic vs. conventional farming, making checkmarks in the bird books (or floras), while we ponder the past, the present and future intricacies of natural world.


Rocky coast along the Baltic Sea
One of Linnaeus' most famous trips was to the lovely island of Öland in the Baltic Sea.  This island, where we plan to spend several days, appears as a long narrow barrier reef island, slightly wider and a lot longer, but is actually made up from hard  fossil-rich lime- and sandstone from Cambrium and Ordovician times.  Trilobites, ammonites, and brachypods are common in the rocks, and the substrate creates unique environments for the dry alvar (similar to the Hungarian steppe and among the most species-rich ecosystems in the world), deciduous forests with medieval-age warm-loving species relicts, and calcareous marshes and ponds bubbling with frogs and surrounded by orchid meadows.

Following Linnaeus' tracks we will visit many of the same places as he wrote about in his travel report (one of many of his published works), such as the Troll Forest with its gnarly trunks in the north, the "Fields of Neptune" consisting of only rocks and with wave after wave of historical sea levels up from the Baltic shore, and the intricate pollination mechanisms of the many native orchids.  

Ale's rocks
After Öland, we plan to go southwest to the archipelago of Blekinge with its ice-age smoothened island cliffs with seals and maritime history, and then on toward the area of Österlen in Skåne.  The easternmost part of Skåne is still home to many farmers and artists that found the light and nature along the sandy coast to be especially abundant and inspiring.

During the trip you will sample the local and fantastic food flavors (often organic) and stay in historical buildings converted to first-class accommodations.  Linnaeus didn't have it that luxuriously, and during his time you might have been lucky if you found a barn with hay to sleep in at times. However some of the places we will visit look the same as hundreds, even thousands of years ago, when the great naturalists visited the same area.

Sweden is one of the best countries for nature travel since all land has open-access due to centuries of common law and fair use by all citizens.  This means that there are no POSTED or No Trespassing signs.  We will be able to walk freely on private and state-owned land with our local guides who are familiar with the natural fauna and flora as well as the cultural history at each place.  I lived in Sweden until I was 28, and have been to this part of Sweden many times. Sweden is an unusual country, highly developed, not densely settled, and with a more and more sustainable and technological society, but with its roots down in Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Viking exploration times. I will be delighted to show you around cliffs, giant oaks, ancient graves, and smorgasbord and tell you stories about pickled herring, trolls and giants, Stone Age agriculture, evolution of life, endangered species, recycling programs, and much, much more, as you wish.


As part of this experience-rich trip I plan to provide (non-obligatory) reading lists for literature from the area, from crime novels to nature writing (in English, of course). We will also sample a classic Swedish movie comedy, filmed in the area we are visiting, and meet local farmers and naturalists.  It will be an immersion into Swedish history and nature, but with English as the local language (it helps that nearly all Swedes are fluent in English).  If you have any questions about the trip, please don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail at ibex@gibex.org.

Dr. Lena Struwe, Associate Professor in plant evolutionary biology, Rutgers University 

Book Sweden Tour before November 26th and Save $200!


Slavik Dushenkov, PhD
International BioExploration Society

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