Worldwide Travellers: My experience of the Northern Lights in Lapland

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is one of the world´s most overwhelming phenomena that you can experience. If you only go to a Scandinavian country in order to contemplate the Aurora, you adventure can become a gamble. This colourful spectacle depends on many factors such as cold, season, clear skies, and solar activity.

I started a four days adventure in the month of February in the small village of Ivalo, Finland. My travelling package included flight, accommodation, winter clothing, two nights chasing the Aurora, and a husky safari.
The first two nights, I went with a guide to hunt the Northern Lights. My guide drove my group to the border with Russia in front of a lake. Halfway, we stopped to take a test shot with the camera (you need to set the camera to bulb, focus on infinite, and leave a long exposure) in order to check any signs of Aurora.

Aurora Borealis Russian Border

Aurora Borealis Russian Border

We pulled over the van near the lake and I started to feel the severe temperatures (-20 degrees) on my body extremities. The sky was cloud and we tried to keep warm drinking hot Finnish fruit juices and returning inside the van every 30 minutes.
After a couple of hours, the cameras started to capture lights of Aurora although they were quite weak to be seen by the human eye. The following night, we went to the same spot with a little improvement regarding weather conditions. The cameras certainly obtained good pictures, but it was still difficult to see the Northern Lights clearly.

The next day, I rode in a sleigh pulled by six huskies on safari for three hours, crossing frozen rives and snow-covered forests. Huskies can cover 80 km per day reaching an average speed of 15 km per hour depending on the paths. The sleigh is easy to control: if you leave your legs on the foot boards, the huskies start running; if you put all your weight on the claw brake, then the huskies slow down until the sleigh stops.
In open field you leave the huskies freedom to run, but in the hills and downside slopes, you need to break sometimes and moderate the speed keeping the safety distance with others sleigh. If you do not hold the handle bar strongly when the huskies run, you can fall off and leave the sleigh without control.

Huskies

Huskies resting on the snow

That evening I went after dinner outside my cottage accommodation to take a test shot. Weather conditions were good -30 degrees, clear sky, stars shining and optimism. On my camera display, I saw green lines and strong signs of Aurora.

After a couple of hours waiting, finally the Northern Lights started to play on the sky showing its colours: green, red and yellow. Meanwhile, the huskies began to howl at the back of the cottage. Witnessing this amazing phenomenon of colours and movements is overwhelming. You feel like you are being taken to a magic world. On my following night, I was lucky again and I saw the Aurora´s dancing from my accommodation even with more intensity. Here is my video about this experience.

Tips: Research all information possible before taking this trip to maximise your chances to see the Northern Lights. A good camera DSLR, three batteries, tripod and remote shutter are essential to take good pictures and ensure you create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

PS: I got the inspiration to write up this article through the international blogger contest “Traveller Worldwide” from Creativelena. Check it out here!

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