Sojourn to the Finnish Lapland

Beautiful sunrise in the rear view mirror

After spending about a week in Finland and basking in all of its touristy delights, we were now headed towards the northernmost, least habited, most extreme weathered part of the Finnish Lapland. This was the land of Samis and reindeers, reindeer herding being the primary livelihood with fishing a close second. We were hoping that lady luck shines on us (despite the sun being not so merciful) and that we achieve the primary goal of us journeying this far into the wild arctic – Northern Lights!

watching northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki (Lapland)
watching northern lights from our cottage in Utsjoki (Lapland)

Even though Aurora Borealis was our primary objective for this journey, we were also looking forward for the other activities that our kind hosts at Aurora Holidays had planned for us. They know only so well they cant leave their guests alone all day anticipating the northern lights of the night, which may or may not come. But before we had reached, we considered all these activities would only act as day fillers and the main event would still be the night time. How wrong we were! We enjoyed each and every moment of the Snowshoe hike, the village tour and my personal favourite, the Husky rides! We had knocked off a day from their standard itinerary to match our flight back to India and we were left wishing we had taken a later flight and stayed another day. There is so much to do and experience! Lapland is called the winter wonderland and for good reason.

On the husky ride with Tana Husky in Norway
On the husky ride with Tana Husky in Norway
Sun peaking through the woods while snow shoeing
Sun peaking through the woods while snow shoeing

If you remember, we last left our journey at Santa’s village. Continuing from there, we caught a bus from the gate of the village towards Ivalo: the largest city of the north. Our final destination was Utsjoki (pronounced Utsyoki), and Tiina picked us up from Ivalo since there is no reliable public transport from Ivalo to Utsjoki. She took us shopping for food (yes, we were going to make our own food for the nest 5 days!), which was hard since we could not decide how much food was going to be too much :P. After a hurried lunch and refilling of Tiina’s gas tank, we were off. She gave us some really nice recommendations for shopping and also promised to get us reindeer meat from their meat packing factory for us to cook.

Cooking reindeer meat Indian style :D
Cooking reindeer meat Indian style 😀

The drive was beautiful, to say the least and oh! so informative. Tiina is truly a wonderful host and filled with stories and anecdotes about country life. The 200 km, 3 hour ride passed so smoothly and before we knew it, we were outside the cottages. We were the only guests for the week and had all 4 cottages at our disposal. The location was so serene and peaceful, we were instantly glad that we had chosen to spend a week at this place.

We were given the basic survival kit to endure the winters of Lapland, including snow suits, boots, reflector jackets, wool socks and slippers, hats and fur caps and mittens. They had thought of everything we could possibly need and provided it well in advance 🙂 After getting instructions on how to be on the lookout for northern lights since they can come and go really fast and to keep our phones on, we were left alone, literally in the middle of no where! It was comforting to know that Tiina was only a phone call and 10 mins away. But we needn’t have worried.

We were slowly but surely lost in the beauty around us. Sitting by the window and taking in our home for the next 5 days left us bewildered

– at how many stars you can see with the naked eye when the sky is this clear even with the moon,
– at how fresh the air feels this far north,
– that the snow glitters like a pile of diamonds in the moonlight,
– that we’re living miles from civilisation with only 3 reindeers keeping us company next door,
– that we were on the bank of a frozen river covered in snow where the ice is thick enough to drive on,
– that the thermometer on the window told us it was -35 and falling outside,
– that all we had to do was walk a dozen steps and we would have crossed into another country,
– that we had all the luxuries of the modern life inside our little cottage with the breathtaking beauty of nature all around it,
– and that we can think of nothing better to do but sit here waiting for the Northern spirits to grace us with their presence.

The infinite stars and the faint northern lights greeting our eyes just before dawn
The infinite stars and the faint northern lights greeting our eyes just before dawn