I went to…
Saariselkä, North Lapland
I stayed at:
Glass igloo @ Santa's village, Kakslauttanen (£££££)
Log cabin @ Kakslauttanen Hotel (£££££)
I went here because…
It's been a top of my list to see the northern lights. Since we were at a peak of solar activity, seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The best thing was…
The clearest night sky I've ever seen.
I'd like to change…
The price. Wow that knocked the coins out of my pocket.
I wish I'd had time to…
Spend more time hunting Aurora Borealis.
-20 deg C. Amazing starlit sky. Snow up to my waist. Scenes that looked like they were photographed in sepia.
I've been travelling a lot. All over the world and different types of places but I don't think I've ever been as excited planning, booking and being on this trip. Having visited Iceland (not the type some mum's go to) many years before and trying to spot the northern lights, only to be faced with the faintest wisp of green, I was very keen to try again. This being the peak of the 11 year cycle for solar activity made me feel my chances would be better.
I'd noted the glass igloos on Facebook and then in the October issue of Conde Nast, and made myself think it was a sign and that I HAD to go. I'm glad I did, but sadly couldn't see or capture the lights as I wished I could. Firstly, a tripod is essential. I'm not sure why I thought I could get away with balancing my camera on snow. Secondly, keep taking pictures as the camera actually picks up the light better than the naked eye. We saw some green (low altitude oxygen) and a little red (high altitude oxygen) on the first night but unfortunate cloudy skies ended any further positive sightings. Regardless, I still found the experience amazing.
The igloo was far more comfortable than I had imagined, although a little awkward getting changed or going to the loo. The temperature was pre-set which led me to opening the door in the middle of the night so I could breathe and hoping I wasn't going to get attacked my a random snow creature. It was silent and still unlike any other place I have stayed. No breeze or critters stirring. Just the arctic air and settled snow.
Breakfast and dinner were served in a large wooden house. Slightly odd, but all staff appeared to be Thai which was bizarre in itself but even more bizarre was the nights entertainment. 2 cross dressing men singing 70s classics. I'm not sure if it was enjoyable because of the shock, or because they were good.
The next day it was the husky drive. Usually I'm the adventurous type, especially when mentally prepared, but I have to say that the glare of the huskies petrified me and I chickened out of driving. Exhilarating and beautiful experience bar seeing/smelling the 'muscle' husky emptying it's bowels along the entire course. Worth the £100 per head? I think so.
We spent the next 2 nights in a log cabin reminiscent of a small hunting lodge. Spacious, clean and rustic. A small kitchenette allowed us to prepare lunch ourselves and enjoy evening drinks indoors after a walk. Outside there was beautiful soft snow which I attempted to walk through only to remind myself why they had shovelled paths for guests. A true winter wonderland.
You can catch a bus to the local town for more choice of restaurants and pubs. The hotel itself was half board. 3 courses that included meat or fish as the main dish. On the last night meat was served with a unappetizingly named 'brown sauce'. When asked of the waitress what type of meat was in the sauce she replied 'I'm sorry but we can't read the ingredients on the tin. They're in a different language'. I decided to pretend it was Bisto.