Seeing the Northern Lights and surviving a night in the Icehotel is the ultimate ending to Bev Fearis’s Lapland adventure with www.VisitLapland.com, a new website and one-stop booking portal to help travellers and agents check availability and book activities from across the Lapland region of Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Lights Over Lapland
No trip to Lapland would be complete without at least trying to see the Northern Lights, so we enlisted the help of some experts and joined a photography tour with Lights Over Lapland. Chris, a patient and kind photographer from Yorkshire, joined us for dinner at the Icehotel restaurant and attempted to explain the phenomenon and the conditions in which they were more likely to appear. I nodded and pretended to understand, but science was never my strong point. In a nutshell, the Northern Lights are collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. According to Chris, the conditions for that night were in our favour so as soon as we’d finished our deserts (a completely indulgent triple chocolate creation for me) we headed back to the hotel’s warm reception area to be shown how to use our cameras and tripods and to get kitted out in our overalls, hats and boots.
First stop on the mini-bus was a lodge, about a 30-minute drive away, where a small group of other eager Aurora spotters were already gathered around a fire, cameras at the ready. No sooner had we set up our tripods than, right on cue, a swathe of green appeared in the sky. Our luck was in. I immediately forgot how cold I was and snapped away frantically, my photos capturing the swirling shapes much more distinctly than my naked eye.
The first of my photos were wonky and out of focus, but with Chris’s help I managed to get some half decent ones (see left) although, as you can see (see above) it’s rubbish compared to those of the professionals. After half an hour or so of frenzied excitement, the green swathes faded and we began to feel the cold again, so Chris suggested we get back in the mini-bus and head to another favourite sighting spot further north. This time the lights didn’t appear, but we still had some amazing views of the mountains in the moonlight.
By the time we got back to the Icehotel it was way past midnight and we were more than ready for our frozen beds. We changed into our nighttime thermals, left all of our belongings in our lockers, and got our boots and sleeping bags from the reception desk. Wrapping the sleeping bags around our shoulders we scuttled across the icy courtyard to the Icehotel365, pushed open the heavy door, and tiptoed down the corridors to our respective Art Suites.
I slipped into my sleeping bag and posed for a quick photo (it had to be done), then zipped it up right to the top, pulled down my hat and snuggled in. I was amazed at how warm it was inside the bag and how the cold nipped the end of my nose, the only thing that was exposed. On the advice of the staff, I’d put my iPhone into a glove and tucked it right down the sleeping bag. Luckily I did, because at 4.30am I was awake and needing a pee. Not wanting to turn the lights on full – which in my particular room set off some mystical music – I scrabbled about to find my boots using the light from my phone and tiptoed back along the corridor to the warm loos. I bet some guests can’t handle the cold and end up curling up on the benches in this heated area. I, however, was relishing my Arctic adventure and headed back to my – 5 degree bedroom to brave out the rest of the night.
The next morning I was woken at 7.30 with a glass of warm berry juice, (a bit like ribena) and headed back to the warm lodge for a shower. Our very last activity was Nordic skiing, another first for me.
The temperatures had risen to a balmy – 18 so I wore one less layer. Plus I knew I’d be kept warm by this strenuous activity. We joined a group of all ages and various nationalities – Americans, Brits, Swedes, Germans – and set off with our guides to get our Nordic skis and poles. We were told the basics and, most importantly, how to get back up if we fell, and then we were off out on to the frozen Torne River, striding and gliding, knees bent, leaning slightly forward, and trying not to fall over.
It turned out I was a natural and I strode out ahead, breaking away from the pack and imagining I was all alone in the snowy wilderness. My Lapland adventure was nearly at an end and I wanted to take in those landscapes once more, fill my lungs with that exhilerating icy air, and enjoy the snowy silence one more time before I went back to my desk, and the grey, grizzly British winter. It was tempting just to keep on sliding…