Where – are the Laplands? The region in Northern Europe extending from the Norwegian Sea to the White Sea lying mainly within the Arctic Circle. Why did we chose the Finnish Laplands? To see the Aurora Borealis or The Northern Lights. When – February Mid is generally a good time to see the Northern Lights. What we realised – The Laplands have so much more to offer than just the Auroras . We’ve struck off loads of things from our bucket list!
What we did in the Laplands:
- Chasing the Aurora Borealis
- 11 km husky safari
- 64 km snowmobile safari deep into the wilderness of the Arctic Forest
- Visiting the Arctic Circle
- Meeting ‘the’ Santa Claus
- Skinny ice dipping during the Lappish traditional experience.
- The Sampo ice-breaker cruise
- Ice swimming and floating with ice rocks
Day 0: We flew to Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. We boarded another flight to Oulu from Helsinki followed by a 2 hour car drive to reach Kemi by 11pm, our final destination for the day. We stayed in a warm and cozy cottage booked through Airbnb in Kemi. Such a perfect end to what was an exciting but LONG day. From eating an open butter masala dosa in Adigas the previous evening, to wolfing down a margherita at a pizzeria in Finland the very next evening! Much Excitement!
Day 1: Kemi: It is a small town situated on the banks of ‘The Gulf of Bothania’. During winters, this part of the Baltic sea gets frozen due to the minimal salt content in the sea. We were in Kemi to break some ice. The Sampo Ice-Breaker Cruise is a 4 hour cruise through the frozen Baltic Sea. During the cruise, we were given a complete tour of the ship, served brunch and floated with ice rocks!
Ice Swimming and Floating with ice rocks
The joy of floating on the icy waters of the Baltic Sea was immense while the Sampo liner was docked in the middle of the frozen sea. We were given bright red survival suits that kept us afloat and ensured thermal insulation during the ice swimming. The blue skies, the ship and the frozen sea! Sigh, Unforgettable! And guess what! We were even given diploma certificates upon completion of the Ice-Breaker Cruise.
After the cruise, we grabbed lunch and began our journey from Kemi to Rovaniemi. We drove on the beautiful finnish roads. The two hour drive listening to Finnish rock that played on the local radio felt refreshing. We reached this amazing cottage located about 30 km from Rovaniemi and just 50 meters from the completely Frozen Lake Vikajärvi!
Day 2: Rovaniemi – Did you know that Mr Santa Claus lives in Rovaniemi? We reached the Santa Claus Village in the morning for our Snow Mobile Safari. 64 kms from the Santa Claus Village to ‘The Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge’ and back. We had an amazing guide on a separate snowmobile who led the way during our mini-expedition. 4 of us on 2 snowmobiles. Wild Nordic Finland provided us with all the necessary gear which included overalls, gloves, boots, helmets to keep ourselves warm. Being warm is so relative. Trust me. We were freezing inside.
Midway through the tour, our guide stopped for a small break and poured us some hot Lingonberry juice. It did wonders in keeping us warm and we actually got some energy to click this picture. The very thought of that fireplace, warm soup, fresh bread and juicy grapes for lunch was so bloody welcoming! The Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to. Quiet and Charming.
Later that evening, we did something crazy. The perfect answer to a question a lot of people ask. “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”.
Step 1: Sit in the traditional Sauna for a good 15 mins in a swim suit and get yourself warmed up.
Step 2: Step out, walk 100 meters at -12° celsius in knee deep snow on the frozen lake, jump into the small hole drilled into the lake.
Step 3: Climb back on to the snow and RUN to the sauna.
One of the best experiences we’ve ever had!
Day 3: Rovaniemi is home to The Santa Claus. His office in the Santa Claus village on the Arctic Circle celebrates Christmas all year round. We had such a Christmasy day hanging out with the giant snowmen, having snow-fights and watching the merry lights of Feb. We clicked pics with Santa himself at his office and then went about chasing reindeer.
We went to what’s called the “The Aurora Hunting Experience” by The Lapland Safaris. They gave us comfortable overalls, gloves, shoes, some pep talk, introduced us to the concept of Northern Lights and took us to a place 50 Kms away from Rovaniemi City at ten pm. The Forecast said the Auroras might just turn up. They had set up a huge Bon fire, roasted some good food, served us some hot berry juice after which we patiently waited for the green lady to turn up, in vain. Will we ever see the Northern Lights?
Day 4: We left our coziest cottage in Rovaniemi and drove further north to Lake Inari. It was a bright day. We saw the sunshine for the first time in Finland. It wasn’t snowing and it meant just one thing 🙂 . To see the auroras that night, the clouds had to do us a small favor by staying away from the skies. We were praying real hard for a magical night…LOL
The whole day went in driving 300 kms in the Laplands to Inari. We ate from a random supermarket on the highway. Picked up some food for the road and kept driving. Some beautiful landscapes later we reached the Lake Inari Mobile Cabin. The base camp has a shower, a kitchen and a living room for recreation. There are 4 glass-roofed mobile cabins which could be dragged using a snowmobile on the frozen lake at night!
As the sunset by around 7 pm, we came out of the base camp to go into our little cabins and get some food, we saw these shimmering green lights across the sky from one end of the horizon to the other. The auroras dancing in the sky looking absolutely celestial. We were so overwhelmed! We screamed, cried, hugged and thanked god a zillion times!
We were up till 5 am, watching the magnificent auroras moving gently in the sky. We saw it through our cottage ceiling. Warm and cozy, we lay down and stared at the green lady. We had to thank our stars.
We woke up at 7 am to the most magical sunrise ever. What they call as the ‘arctic sunrise’. It really was something.
We freshened up, whatsapped few pictures of the auroras to our peeps and left for ‘The Husky safari’. Wild dogs, wilder terrain, a German dude as our guide and the 4 us. N rode the huskies while I sat inside the sledge and clicking pictures of the amazing terrain and the huskies. It wasn’t just about the ride. It was about the underlying partnership between man and beast.
We stayed in a cottage near the Ivalo Airport. We were so upset to leave the Laplands. Leaving our hearts behind, we flew to Helsinki where we spent the last 4 days of the dream vacay!
So to sum up, here’s our rough Lappish itinerary :
Day 0: Bangalore- Paris-Helsinki- Kemi- Oulu
Day 1: Ice Breaker Cruise in Oulu- Drove to Rovaniemi
Day 2: Snow Mobile Safari to Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge & Ice swimming
Day 3: The Santa Claus Village and Aurora Hunting
Day 4: Drove to Lake Inari and Saw the Aurora
We and our 2 friends whom we traveled along with spent a lot of Sundays researching and planning this beautiful trip. It was all worth it, Yeh?
So will ‘The Finnish Laplands’ be your #NextCheckIn?
Email us for any queries and we’d be happy to help: firstname.lastname@example.org
~K & N