Travel to Lapland and Norway to see Aurora Borealis

I never told you, but one of the great dreams of my life and one of those 10 things that I had to do before dying was to see an aurora borealis. But the truth is that I never expressed my desire to see it because I thought it was something totally unattainable. It is something that (with good luck) I was going to see after I turn 60, when I win the lottery, I travel to a Nordic country and I settle in a chair day and night to look at the sky.

It can be said that with the trip to Lapland to see northern lights I have fulfilled one of my dreams. I was hoping to see them, and that's why I bought the plane tickets. Although being there and seeing how the days were coming up I came to doubt that it was possible that I could see the aurora borealis. But in the end I saw them. And I can assure you with certainty that, to this day, it is the most overwhelming natural event and landscape I have seen.

From Helsinki to Rovaniemi we took a train, more for reasons of time than anything else, to give us time to travel to Lapland. In Rovaniemi we did couchsurfing for a couple of nights since we needed a homemade day of total rest, red wine and potato omelette. Our couch turned out to be experts in hitchhiking and gave us advice so that we would not die frozen, in addition to explaining the distances and the main populations that we would find along the way.

Already with batteries recharged, new thermal wear and reflective vests that we had bought in case we ran out of light on the recommendation of our couch owner (which was very likely because we had four hours to do 5h direct journey), we prepared to face the new adventure that we had proposed; travel to Lapland by finger.

We chose bad day and we noticed it from the moment we went out with our backpacks. I think it was the coldest day we lived on the whole trip . In Rovaniemi the thermometer marked -29º and my finger was totally freezing while trying to make a finger at the exit of the city.

Despite being well placed, the site seemed to dislike drivers. 45 minutes of waiting until the bus that brought us to Santa Claus Village, already on the road we had to take. We decided that from there maybe it would be easier so we climbed. A couple of Norwegians took photos with us and our poster while they told us that they had also made a finger in Europe.

In Santa Claus Village we took the opportunity to visit the line that marks the Arctic Circle, although we had to imagine it, because it was covered by a good layer of snow. We also took the opportunity to warm up for a while. I took advantage of a quick visit to Santa Claus, because even if it is silly one does not visit every day the home of the one who gave me illusion in childhood.

Next to the line of the Arctic Circle, in Santa Claus Village, at -27º and about to try the finger again with Sodankyla as the first stop. Again we arouse attention. We went back to the road to try our luck. The -27th felt hard, hold the poster or try to lift the finger so that the fingers were completely frozen and neither the dance of Sanbito nor the dances of Asturian people were able to alleviate the cold that came through the body.

And no, we do not die of love or die frozen. At 45 minutes there is a sound behind us. A lady had seen us but not waiting for anyone hitchhiking at this temperature had not had time to react and stop. She came back for us and went straight to Sodankyla, two hours away with her newborn daughter.

We got very grateful and although the car was not very hot, we were grateful to be covered. The woman told us that although it is common to find people hitchhiking in the spring, it is very rare to find people hitchhiking in January and more on such a cold day. Cold even for locals, as he stressed.

An hour and a half later we arrived at Sodankyla. He left us at the end of the village, next to a service station, so that, in case no one stopped us, we had a place to take shelter, as our couchs in Rovaniemi had explained to us.

When you are going to make a finger at extreme temperatures below zero it is advisable to do it in populated places where in case you are long abroad you can get warm. Therefore, if someone offers to take you to some point practically depopulated on the road without a coffee or anything to shelter you, it is better to say thank you and keep waiting until someone can take you to the next populated place.

It had become dark and we still had 200 km to reach Ivalo. The lady had given us her phone number in case we could not get there. We went to the service station, ate with our last supplies and we took the lukewarm tea that was in the thermos before going out again.

The cold was very extreme, but it was a good time. People left work and had to pass cars that were direct to Ivalo after the workday. The cars pass but none intend to stop. I try to move my feet constantly but I begin to notice how the fingers lose mobility. Moving them inside the boot is not only complicated, but even painful. The scarf is moistened by the freezing vapor that freezes.

My feet hurt, but I insist on putting up a bit more, we have to take advantage of the traffic. The later the darker it gets, the colder and less cars will pass. I can not take it any longer. I can no longer move my toes. We decided to undertake retreat, at least for now. We need to return to warm up, the cold is too intense and it no longer affects only our extremities, but we begin to feel it in the rest of the body.

Let's go for the backpack, we start to put things on when some lights illuminate us from the back and a shout tells us: "Come on!". We turn surprised and see a dark room and a man who comes down and yells at us from the door. We run with the backpack and ask him if he has stopped us while he agrees and repeats urgently: "Come on come on, go inside". We climbed quickly, trying to open the doors as little as possible.

In the van it is hot and he asks us if we are very cold. He tells us to take off gloves and shoes as well as a coat. We do it and we begin to feel the heat. He lights the light and looks at our faces, holding my face while I start. He examines my cheeks and says they are taking color, which is a good sign. The gentleman offers us hot coffee that we accept gratefully as we walk the white road with the snowy forests around and I feel happy because we have achieved it. We are on snowy roads towards Ivalo.

The man has one of those complicated Finnish names, but he tells us that in Ivalo everyone knows him as Rambo and the truth is that the nickname is good for him. He is dedicated to tours and excursions. Trekkings, auroras hunting, snowmobile rides and all those things. He is not especially talkative, like most Finns, especially at the beginning, but he tries hard enough.

We tell you that we have been to Helsinki and that now we come with the illusion of seeing northern lights, but that, even if we do not succeed, the magnificent experience will have been worthwhile. He listens to us and tells us that in Ivalo auroras are seen almost every day. That they are there, but that the problem is time. If it is cloudy and without wind and solar storm, it is impossible to see them. But he tells us, emphasizing, that on clear days like today, with intense cold, it is very safe to see them if we are attentive.

A while later, he crouches on the steering wheel looking through the moon at the sky. Immediately afterwards he looks at us calmly and tells us that there is to our right. It is our first aurora borealis and I crouch on the glass while looking at the green mass that I try to see in the sky. It is not very intense and it lasts little. We continued the trip but I felt satisfied. I have managed to see the first aurora borealis. Everything is a gift.

The aurora appears again more intensely. We quickly go outside to admire the aurora that crosses the moon and is lost beyond the trees. I take the first photo fast and without having anything adjusted before re-entering the car.

My fingers are frozen trying to hold the camera, but it does not matter, it's worth it. I squeeze and look at the viewfinder. I look at the sky and look at the viewfinder. Somehow I can not believe what I see, but it is there and it moves, it oscillates, it almost blinks. It meanders to the sky like a green snake that dances for our capricious eyes.

We arrived at Ivalo in the evening. Rambo left us at the beginning of town, just a couple of streets away from the house that would be our couch for three nights. Three nights we had booked to try to see the auroras. Three nights in which we will continue going out to the cold and the snow to see them. Because we have reached Ivalo for them. -34th fingering Sodankyla. Very cold. And still it has been worth it.

On the way back, even though our couch owner had arranged us transport from Ivalo to Rovaniemi in a private car, I decided that I wanted to return as I had come. That although we had won the trip, for me the challenge was not complete. Traveling to Lapland must mean going back and forth.

And so it was. This time we had more luck. It was -8 degrees below zero, and almost spring. We waited almost an hour and although we still had almost frozen feet, this cold seemed like the most pleasant heat. After a man who did not go very far stopped, he finally stopped a second that went straight to Rovaniemi. Once again we had it.

He took us from Ivalo to Rovaniemi on a trip that lasted more than four hours and in spite of the bad English we could understand each other, talk and even took us to one of the ski stations in the area, so that we could see the whitest place that I have seen in my life.

We also saw reindeer on the road, we stopped a couple of times and again we arrived safely and safely to our destination. Challenge achieved. A city that really did not attract attention. In March it was cold, quite cold, although not as much as we expected. By day we were always around 2 degrees and at night the temperature dropped to -10 degrees. Something sustainable for a city that does not need to be on the street all day, because the truth is, I did not like the city very much. The biggest attraction that I saw was thanks to the time we went, that with the snow and the cold, the Kemi River was totally frozen and we could walk on it.

But little else we did. We had a day off until our friends with whom we would share this trip, so that day we just walked where we wanted and frolic in the snow that we had never seen in such quantity. Today I was on a snowmobile. I drove it alone. The feeling is almost like riding a water scooter. The snow was very soft and the bike sank a lot. I do not know how it moved to the sides. My arms remained trembling.

That night the sky was splendid, without a cloud in between and with a tremendous full moon. It is true that Rovaniemi is not the best area of ​​Lapland to see them, but even with the full moon, it could be possible. And for that reason, from the door of the hostel I looked at the sky waiting to see some flash. Something green. But nothing. It was very cold and a lot of light and did not have at that moment a car to get out of there. That night arrived our rental car, but it was already too late and with the fatigue we decided to go to bed.

The next day the hope of seeing them grew. We would start our journey north and our next stop would be in the vicinity of Lake Inari, very close to the border with Russia. It was an ideal place to see them. Nature in its purest state, clear sky, small cities without almost light pollution and we were already in the Arctic.

During the day we inspected the area and discovered a path that led to the same Inari Lake that was completely frozen. It was the perfect place to go at night and try your luck again.

And so we did. About ten o'clock at night we took the car and we went there. It would be about -13 degrees, but also the wind was running great and the thermal sensation was even more radical. We entered the lake by a path that we assumed would be a jetty hidden by ice and we stood there half-standing, sitting in the snow with gloves, hats, scarves and everything we had on hand. Waiting.

The clarity of the moon reflected in the snow of the lake and illuminated the entire sky. It was an amazing landscape like few we had seen, but the auroras did not appear. One hour enduring there in the open was enough to decide to leave before they died frozen. Another night we went back without seeing the aurora borealis. But we still had the best areas to do it.

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The next day we changed the monotonous landscape of Finland to that of the Norwegian fjords. It was to enter Norway and the weather worsened at times. It snowed with enough intensity and the asphalt stopped looking under the car. We ran through an authentic ice rink at no more than 80 kilometers per hour and we still had 200 kilometers to reach Honningsvag. Like the ground, the sky also got worse at times. We saw it and we did not believe it. Before arriving at our destination we already knew that we could not see northern lights that night either.

When we arrived at Honningsvag the expectations were the same. We had no hope of seeing them that night but we still had three more nights, so we spent the rest of the day walking around Honningsvag and when nightfall we stayed at the lodge quietly playing patches and chatting before dinner.

But I never threw in the towel. Every 15 minutes I would go out to the door of the hostel to see how the sky was going. It had stopped snowing and behind the mountain in front of us we could see the reflection of the moon in the clouds. And again. I would go out, watch 5 minutes and go back inside. I could not believe we had such bad luck with the good days we had.

But wait a moment, is not that a star there? Is the sky clearing? Effectively! I was back at the door of the lodge, with my neck already tired of looking up, and I could hardly see a couple of stars that lit diffusely in the sky. There were clouds in between, but little by little it seemed that it was clearing.

I kept looking at the sky for a long time so that the view was made to me in the dark, although the lampposts of the shelter did not help at all. After a while, my eyes went wide. The whole sky was black except for a thin strip of green that went from north to south without any movement. That light was only there but hardly differentiated. I doubted it was an aurora. It could be some reflection that he noticed from the street lamps, but no. That green strip was an authentic aurora borealis!

Obviously, the photo is of very poor quality. I take it from the door of the hostel, without a tripod and with lots of light. So the result was bad but it was the test that made us take everything and leave from there to see them better.

I ran into the shelter as fast as I could, so much so that I almost staggered against the door as it dripped on the ice. I went to the kitchen where the rest of the group were and I told them all nervous that they had to go outside because I thought I had seen an aurora borealis.

They did not believe it, but when in doubt they ran away. In that second moment, the aurora shone even more, not much, but it looked perfectly good, so we decided to have dinner in a hurry, tuck ourselves in and out of there to a darker area.

I picked up the tripod, the camera, the hat, the jacket and we went shotgun. We left the village in the direction of Nordkap, and after passing the small airfield of Honningsvag we found a parking lot on the left where neither the city nor the moonlight bothered us excessively. We stop the car and turn off the lights. I opened my door and left. The right time for an authentic festival of colors to begin in the sky.

The first 15 minutes we lived in that site will be hard for us to forget. The sky seemed to be more alive than ever. The darkness of the night quickly transformed into an authentic polar sunrise . The whole sky looked like a surreal canvas of Dalí spilling in shades of pink, red, blue and especially green. The lights appeared in one part and ran through the sky in a hurry. Others a little more slowly. In a moment we had all the sky vault full of auroras, even a huge crown that rushed like a whirlwind towards us.

We were nervous, hallucinating at what we saw and could not say anything coherent, only expressions of admiration. They appeared everywhere but mostly from the south and moved north. Too bad I'm not an expert in photography and the images I took do not do justice to what we saw.

It was very cold. The car marked -16 degrees but it did not matter. At that time we would have endured even at -50 degrees. I was excited. I thought I was going to cry but finally I did not. I was blocked from the wonder we were seeing. The planet and we were a unique entity at that time. I never thought we would see it like that. I was satisfied with the typical green and fine aurora that is usually seen, like the one I saw from the shelter, but we were not expecting that we would be as lucky as we had, and having stayed all day cloudy as it was .

Approximately after 15 minutes the activity decreased, but auroras were still coming out. More timidly they appeared on one side and on the other with that characteristic green tone. They came out from behind the mountain and moved towards the sea, blurring little by little as they moved away.

We were two hours there, dead cold and taking turns to get into the car to catch some heat. At one o'clock in the morning there was no aurora in the sky and with the feeling of satisfaction that we had, we saw it logical to go to the hostel. When I arrived I could not stand it.

After that night I had the feeling that the trip had already been worthwhile. It did not matter if we saw more auroras or not, although we always hope to do it again. We stayed another night in Honningsvag but we did not see them there again. The weather in this area changes continuously and if at one hour of the day there is a splendid sky, in 10 minutes it could be all cloudy and snowing, and that is what happened to us at night. We did not bother going to the same place because one of them was falling down, but this time it did not seem like it was going to stop.

norway finland iceland Northern Lights Aurora Borealis wallpapers images

Our next destination was going to be the city of Alta, a place that they say is ideal for seeing auroras. Up there we went and stayed in a country house on the outskirts of the city just at the end of the Alta fjord. The place was ideal. A few steps away we had the sea of ​​Norway partially frozen and the house was surrounded by snow and trees, although to tell the truth, the whole of Norway was full of snow. In my life I had never seen so much together.

Everything here is dreamy from the snowy streets, the bare trees, the branches that form drawings against the sky, the low colorful houses, the sunsets. Where I am? I still do not understand. Is this real life? is the famous phrase of a child doped on YouTube. That's what I ask myself: is this real life? Yes, the one of all those who live here and mine at this moment. I'm in a place where, to tell you something, bicycles are not tied.

They leave them there and when they return they are still there. I am in a place that is located very north of the world, but also has summer, beach and a few days a year with 24 hours of continuous sunshine. An unbridled sun. I'm going to pretend that I'm awake, but as I told you yesterday, I know I'm still dreaming and that at any moment I'm going to wake up.

I feel envious of these people who live so close to nature, who are capable of self-sufficiency and who have so few needs. Will I be able to live like this one day? I dream of having my own crops, a bicycle, a landscape in my window, a table to sit down to write and an internet connection (without it I cannot communicate with you and that would make me feel very lonely). This traveling has both its good things and its bad things.

On the one hand, as I get to know different ways of life, I'm realizing in what kind of places I feel better and in which countries I want to stay and live. The problem is that my desire to continue traveling is stronger than any landscape. So I can not establish myself anywhere. For now. But every time I have a clearer idea of ​​what is my place in the world.

After buying some food in Alta and taking a walk around the city, we went home for dinner. There was luxury. Not a noise, warm, playing a game to the parchís the truth that gave until laziness to leave the cold of the street. But I wanted to keep watching auroras. The sky on this occasion was covered with clouds in some areas and other cleared, but it was windy and as soon as you saw stars as suddenly you could not see anything. At about ten-thirty at night an aurora appeared. I was on the porch of the house and decided to wrap up and try again luck.

But when we got to a kind of parking lot in the middle of the road we saw that we had the whole sky covered with clouds. We stand like thirty minutes there dead of cold. I think it was the coldest night we passed because of the wind I was doing. After the clouds we wanted to believe that there were auroras because we noticed a certain greenish tone in the sky, but nothing. It was not clear and the only ones that we saw well that night were the ones that appeared first when we were in the house.

We only had one night there before returning to the south. We hoped that because we were the last we should be lucky, as if it depended on some powerful entity that took pity on us and gave us the perfect night. Nor did it have to be like the first time, but at least something more than the last two days and that at least the night was clear. And it seems that in the end our prayers were heard. It was a great day The night had been beautiful and there was virtually no cloud. One or the other, but small and they left quickly. We had the whole sky for us.

Even if you do an afternoon with these clouds, in a matter of a while you can clear everything and stay a perfect night. To this same place we came to see auroras at night

After dinner we went to a recreational area by the Norwegian sea. We knew very well where we wanted to go because we had been that same afternoon walking around watching a beautiful sunset over the city of Alta. It was the ideal place. A kind of pier deep into the sea where we had all the sky for us, yes, enduring a cold nose because we were totally out in the open. But the cold we passed was worth it.

At night, around 9 o'clock, we went out on horseback through the forest with Maria, the daughter of Caroline and Gunnar. We were taking a walk when we looked at the sky and we saw (or at least we wanted to see it) the beginning (almost imperceptible) of an aurora borealis. A gray cloud, very long, that stretched diagonally across the starry sky. But I did not lose hope. So we wrapped warmly, grabbed cameras and tripods and went uphill through the snow in search of a clearing.

We climbed the mountain with the family dog, a very friendly collie, for about thirty minutes. Luckily it was not so cold (zero degrees maybe?). We walked through the darkness of the forest with two little lights tied in the head, like a documentary about the Blair Witch. We reach a clearing and when we look up we almost fall on our backs. A green light crossed the sky in an immense arc.

That last night, northern Norway gave us another boreal show. A gigantic aurora taking possession of the sky from east to west and enveloping us in it taking away the cold at the moment. It moved everywhere and mutated spectral green light extensions from the sides. The show lasted more than an hour. Then it gradually disappeared, giving way to other smaller auroras.

It was not that festival of colors that we saw the first day, but of course as a farewell to the mission Aurora, it left us more than satisfied. We had fulfilled our mission and we could go from there with our heads held high. That light moved quickly, took violet tints and after a few minutes it disintegrated. Soon another appeared, forming another drawing and took a different route.

I take some photos, but the best image that I take is the one that was recorded forever in my head. Seeing the northern lights and seeing the starry sky in the desert are the two experiences that made me feel really tiny in the Universe. It was as if the sky were a black canvas and someone (the god that you like) had taken out a brush and had started making green and violet strokes.

Someone told me that the aurora borealis makes a noise and that there are people who can hear it. I did not hear anything, but the dog did not stop barking at the sky during the hour or an hour and a half we were standing there. I'm convinced I heard the noise or I felt something different and that's why I was barking. Animals are much wiser than us when it comes to understanding and listening to Nature. I could not ask for anything more.

While I was taking the pictures I sat in the snow, I forgot the cold and I kept my mouth open. I never saw anything like this in my life. Never. Nothing compares to the feeling of sitting in a snowy forest looking at a sky full of stars that suddenly becomes full of green and violet strokes. The reindeer could be seen dancing salsa, bears dressed as women and foxes singing songs that they would not have paid attention to. The aurora beats everything.

When we returned to the house they told us that it was one of the largest and most beautiful auroras they had seen in a long time. I think that at that moment my head stopped working. I still can not believe how immensely lucky I am. I was at the right time in the perfect place, against all odds. You see that if one dreams things hard, the wishes are fulfilled. It's a dream, is not it? Let's see, pinch me. Yes, I'm dreaming. I'm going to sleep.

When we plan a trip we are always aware that there will be frustrated plans, places that will not give us time to arrive or moments when luck will decide if what we are so eager to witness, will happen or not before our eyes. There are many situations already lived. In Sri Lanka we can not see the elusive leopard despite trying with up to three safaris. In New Zealand we had to cancel some excursion due to bad weather. These are risks that are assumed as part of the adventure of traveling.

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And suddenly Iceland arrives. And everything, absolutely everything, goes well. We do not talk about the small things in which there is more chance of success or error, getting lost looking for an address, overpaying in a restaurant or having a neighbor in a noisy room that leaves you a night without sleep.

We refer to the great motivations that lead you to choose a destination. Those in which chance, which you can not control from afar, dictates its sentence, sometimes cruel, sometimes benevolent. The Icelandic gods dictated in our favor in all those cases that were vital to us. That's why we say it's been our lucky trip. Do you need proof to believe it? We go with them.

After traveling to Lapland and Norway, hitchhiking at temperatures below zero, where traffic is not particularly abundant, was something that scared me. At the same time it terrified me because of the challenge it implied, so I had to try.
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  • Kay Ellen
    Kay Ellen August 27, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    Amazing sky and captures!!

    Kay Ellen

  • Marie
    Marie August 28, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    I have never seen anything like this! It's so beautiful!

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook December 13, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    My brother was planning on joining aurora tour and I seriously considered joining until he cancelled! I will definitely have to check out in my life!!

  • Reeni
    Reeni December 13, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    These are breathtaking!

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