I always liked to go beyond boundaries! The more far north, the better! This time I wondered why not crossing the arctic circle in the north of Finland and maybe see the aurora borealis (a.k.a. the northern lights)?
Some tour operators like Timetravels, can take you up there for reasonable prices, but be ready to ride about 18h by bus from Helsinki to northern Lapland (in my case was to Saariselkä village). This operator mostly organizes student trips but it is open for everyone. If you are not student, you pay about 20 euros more than the student price, so no big deal.
There are several activities to do in Lapland apart from just getting drunk while contemplating the aurora, for example: taking a dog sledge, going to a sauna near a frozen lake and/or sea to experience the Finnish old-school sauna traditions.
In Rovaniemi, it is possible to visit Santa Claus' village and greet the "officially" most recognized Santa Claus in the world then purchase a photo and a short video with him for additional 40 euros (optional). Rovaniemi is in the south of Lapland, and is on the way to Saariselkä. The excursion stops there for a couple of hours and it is where one can take a nice photo crossing the Arctic circle as the one depicted above (it is inside Santa's village). It is also possible to send Christimas letters with especial fancy Lapland stamps to your family and friends.
There are some reindeer farms there also. However, I didn't like the "reindeer safari" tour proposed in the Timetravels excursion (it is a 3rd-party tour, so no blaming on the Timetravels here) since it was a bit too expensive (90 eur) and the reindeer are being calmly conducted by their farmers through a dark forest for a while, with some light carriage attached to it. I thought we would actually ride on proper carriages like the ones we see Santa flying on, where the reindeer go wild. So it was very lame in my opinion, not enough thrill for its price. Take the dog sledge tour instead, it is cheaper and it is more fun.
|That's me with a reindeer|
Well, this is what I was looking forward to see for a long time. The magnetosphere of our planet reacts on the solar wind generating this cool effect in the skies. In order for it to be visible on the skies, one has to go to high latitudes (preferably above 60°N, assuming you are on the northern hemisphere). It also has to be a very dark night, preferably during a new moon.
In order, to photographic it, one has to set long exposure times in the camera, to capture more light than usual and a tripod is recommended because the camera has to sit still for few seconds.
If you are planning to go there just for to see the aurora, keep in mind that it is not always visible. A recommended minimum length of a trip should be 7 days, and the dark months are the best - November to February. One more thing: the auroras look much better on the photos than in real life. So, seek for a dark village for a better effect.
More photos (click to enlarge):