9 Days In Lapland | Seeing The Aurora Borealis | Finland
Where – are the Lapland? The region in Northern Europe is extending from the Norwegian Sea to the White Sea lying mainly within the Arctic Circle. Why did we choose Finnish Lapland? To see the Aurora Borealis or The Northern Lights. When – February Mid is generally an excellent time to see the Northern Lights. What we realized – The Lapland have so much more to offer than just the Auroras. We’ve struck off loads of things from our bucket list!
What we did in the Lapland:
Chasing the Aurora Borealis
11 km husky safari
64 km snowmobile safari deep into the wilderness of the Arctic Forest
Visiting the Arctic Circle
Meeting ‘the’ Santa Claus
Skinny ice dipping during the Lappish traditional experience.
The Sampo ice-breaker cruise
Ice swimming and floating with ice rocks
Day 0: We flew to Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. We boarded another flight to Oulu from Helsinki followed by a 2-hour car drive to reach Kemi by 11 pm, our final destination for the day. We stayed in a warm and cosy cottage booked through Airbnb in Kemi. Such a perfect end to what was an exciting but LONG day. From eating an open butter masala dosa in Adigas the previous evening to wolfing down a Margherita at a pizzeria in Finland the very next evening! Much Excitement!
Day 1: Kemi: It is a small town situated on the banks of ‘The Gulf of Bothnia’. During winters, this part of the Baltic sea gets frozen due to the minimal salt content in the sea. We were in Kemi to break some ice. The Sampo Ice-Breaker Cruise is a 4-hour cruise through the frozen Baltic Sea. During the cruise, we were given a complete tour of the ship, served brunch and floated with ice rocks!
The joy of floating on the icy waters of the Baltic Sea was immense while the Sampo liner was docked in the middle of the frozen sea. We were given bright red survival suits that kept us afloat and ensured thermal insulation during the ice swimming. The blue skies, the ship and the frozen sea! Sigh, Unforgettable! And guess what! We were even given diploma certificates upon completion of the Ice-Breaker Cruise.
After the cruise, we grabbed lunch and began our journey from Kemi to Rovaniemi. We drove on the beautiful Finnish roads. The two-hour drive listening to Finnish rock that played on the local radio felt refreshing. We reached this fantastic cottage located about 30 km from Rovaniemi and just 50 meters from the completely Frozen Lake Vikajärvi!
Day 2: Rovaniemi – Did you know that Mr Santa Claus lives in Rovaniemi? We reached the Santa Claus Village in the morning for our Snow Mobile Safari. 64 km from the Santa Claus Village to ‘The Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge’ and back. We had a fantastic guide on a separate snowmobile who led the way during our mini-expedition — four of us on two snowmobiles. Wild Nordic Finland provided us with all the necessary gear which included overalls, gloves, boots, helmets to keep ourselves warm. Being warm is so relative. Trust me. We were freezing inside.
Midway through the tour, our guide stopped for a small break and poured us some hot Lingonberry juice. It did wonders in keeping us warm, and we got some energy to click this picture. The very thought of that fireplace, warm soup, fresh bread and juicy grapes for lunch was so bloody welcoming! The Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to. Quiet and Charming.
Later that evening, we did something crazy. The perfect answer to a question a lot of people ask. “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”.
Step 1: Sit in the traditional Sauna for a good 15 mins in a swimsuit and get yourself warmed up.
Step 2: Step out, walk 100 meters at -12° Celsius in knee-deep snow on the frozen lake, jump into the small hole drilled into the lake.
Step 3: Climb back on to the snow and RUN to the sauna.
One of the best experiences we’ve ever had!
Day 3: Rovaniemi is home to The Santa Claus. His office in the Santa Claus village on the Arctic Circle celebrates Christmas all year round. We had such a Christmasy day hanging out with the giant snowmen, having snow-fights and watching the merry lights of Feb. We clicked pics with Santa himself at his office and then went about chasing reindeer.
We went to what’s called the “The Aurora Hunting Experience” by The Lapland Safaris. They gave us comfortable overalls, gloves, shoes, some pep talk, introduced us to the concept of Northern Lights and took us to a place 50 Kms away from Rovaniemi City at ten pm. The Forecast said the Auroras might turn up. They had set up a huge Bonfire, roasted some excellent food, served us some hot berry juice after which we patiently waited for the green lady to turn up, in vain. Will we ever see the Northern Lights?
Day 4: We left our cosiest cottage in Rovaniemi and drove further north to Lake Inari. It was a bright day. We saw the sunshine for the first time in Finland. It wasn’t snowing, and it meant just one thing 🙂 . To see the auroras that night, the clouds had to do us a small favour by staying away from the skies. We were praying hard for a magical night.
The whole day went in driving 300 km in the Laplands to Inari. We ate from a random supermarket on the highway. We picked up some food for the road and kept driving. Some beautiful landscapes later we reached the Lake Inari Mobile Cabin. The base camp has a shower, a kitchen and a living room for recreation. There are four glass-roofed portable cabins which could be dragged using a snowmobile on the frozen lake at night!
As the sunset by around 7 pm, we came out of the base camp to go into our little cabins and get some food; we saw these shimmering green lights across the sky from one end of the horizon to the other. The auroras were dancing in the sky, looking celestial. We were so overwhelmed! We screamed, cried, hugged and thanked God for a zillion times!
We were up till 5 am, watching the magnificent auroras moving gently in the sky. We saw it through our cottage ceiling. Warm and cosy, we lay down and stared at the green lady. We had to thank our stars.
We woke up at 7 am to the most magical sunrise ever. What they call as the ‘arctic sunrise’. It was something.
We freshened up, whatsapped few pictures of the auroras to our peeps and left for ‘The Husky safari’ — wild dogs, wilder terrain, a German dude as our guide and the four us. N rode the Huskies while I sat inside the sledge and clicking pictures of the fantastic ground and the Huskies. It wasn’t just about the ride. It was about the underlying partnership between man and beast.
We stayed in a cottage near Ivalo Airport. We were so upset to leave the Laplands. Leaving our hearts behind, we flew to Helsinki, where we spent the last four days of the dream vacay!
So to sum up, here’s our rough Lappish itinerary :
Day 0: Bangalore- Paris-Helsinki- Kemi- Oulu
Day 1: Ice Breaker Cruise in Oulu- Drove to Rovaniemi
Day 2: Snow Mobile Safari to Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge & Ice swimming
Day 3: The Santa Claus Village and Aurora Hunting
Day 4: Drove to Lake Inari and Saw the Aurora
Day 5: Husky Safari and Stayed at Ivalo
Day 6: Flight from Ivalo to Helsinki
Our two friends whom we travelled along with, and we spent a lot of Sundays researching and planning this wonderful trip. It was all worth it, Yeh?
So will ‘The Finnish Laplands’ be your #NextCheckIn?
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