Mystic & Majestic Northern Lights

In December is my birthday and I had planned to attend a conference in the South of France an then spend Christmas with family in Germany. But every trip I take from Australia to Europe I would like to experience something new !! So last December I decided to tick off a bucket list item namely the Northern Lights and Lapland.

I met my 23 year old daughter and her boyfriend in Helsinki which was covered in snow and had a beautiful ambience with Xmas lights everywhere and a lovely Christmas Market in the Centre of town. Next we flew to Kittala , where we collected a car. Driving is not that hard as the roads are mostly clear and you just can’t break too suddenly. But it gives you so much more autonomy and taxis are said to be very dear in Lapland.

Our hotel was a pretty authentic family run 3* hotel in the middle of nowhere and about 15min drive from the Ski resort of Levi; it had about 16 glass igloos spread out on the property as well as a reindeer farm. The main house was as rustic as it comes with wood panelling throughout and a Finnish breakfast which will never get a Michelin star - but the fact that it was so authentic, with the mother and daughter in traditional Finnish folklore dresses serving us horrible coffee and hot blueberry juice in a scandic harsh manner with the occasional smile, was priceless.

Having been a travel advisor for 30 years, I’d like to say I’m pretty knowledgeable and well-travelled. But on this trip, I learnt lots of new things. Firstly, I did not know the sun doesn’t rise at all in Lapland for a certain number of days or weeks in December! I was kind of worried once I realized we’d be doing our activities in the dark! In fact, the sun tries to rise and never quite gets there until it sets again, but at the same time it offers a colour-show on the horizon with red, orange, yellows and then pink and purple shades until it sets. It looks absolutely stunning! Fascinating! It enables you to take the most incredible photos just with your phone.

We had all the activities pre-booked and lucky we did as they get booked up even though the town never seemed that busy! If you love night skiing, this is the place for you! They have great light installations, and you can ski down the mountain right in town up to 8 or 9pm with hardly anyone around!!

We did dogsledding one day which was great fun and we were so lucky that the temperatures -which were minus 15-20 Celsius only three days earlier - had warmed up to minus 2 to minus 9 during our stay: mild in comparison! We also did snowmobiling for 30km which I do not recommend unless you’re really fit as I was getting very tired at the end and I was sore for days and weeks after! However, it was fun nevertheless and we had our own guide just for the three of us. He took us to a little tepee built of rock and mud in the forest where he made a fire and coffee for us to warm up before we did the 15km journey back to town.

Our highlight was an actual explosion on the sun surface that created a light storm approaching the earth and visible in Lapland in form of incredible Northern Lights display for nearly two days straight!! I got a sore neck just from staring up at the sky and from keep taking photos. Staying in a remote place out of town really paid off as the light storm was so much more visible here than anywhere else.

Having tried air dried reindeer salami and other game specialties you don’t find on an every-day menu anywhere else, and all the above experiences plus feeding the reindeer early in the morning after breakfast was just so special and unique I cannot recommend a visit highly enough! However, be aware, lots of places are very touristy and may give you a complete different experience. That’s where my expertise comes in handy, again…

Ariana Wong Travel is an Independent Affiliate of SmartFlyer – a member of Virtuoso, Preferred Hotel Group, Leading Hotels of the World