Our Finland expedition continued northwest with a snowy 4 hour bus ride to a town just outside of Ivalo called Nellim. Fancy Finland buses have wifi (score). This tiny town consists of a whopping population of 160 people, mostly elderly. There is only ONE school age girl, age 13. She has to travel about 40 minutes each way to attend school each day. Our stay at the Nellim Wilderness Hotel consists of daily adventures, but our main focus is to see the Aurora Borealis in a darker, natural setting. We are fairly close to the top of the globe, away from civilization about 4 miles from the Russian border. Anyone seen Snowden or Putin?
The first night we opted for the ‘aurora bubble’. From the outside of the room it looks a space object. Looking up from the inside provides a panoramic view of the sky. Design & concept = incredible. Nellim Wilderness did such an amazing job designing these bubbles, very warm and cozy. They give you two bottles of champagne, a book on the northern lights and a postcard. I guess the only problem was …it was snowing! Actually, kinda pretty watching the snow fall on the bubble. It was our first night so we decided to go for an Aurora Hunt. We walked to Lake Inari (third largest lake in Finland), this is the best spot to see the lights. We were very hesitant because it was pitch dark out and the locals say ‘yea, it’s almost frozen, just stay on the snowmobile tracks’. Ahhhh. Comforting. Our hope was a clear, starry night with dancing lights.No luck our first night, I guess we were spoiled.
We wake to a snowmobiling adventure across Lake Inari. The hotel provides you with a full winter costume. Holy marshmellow (but very wam). The mission is to travel in a group about 25 kilometers each way to a lone desolate cabin (about 30 miles round trip). As our journey started, boom! Katie’s snowmobile malfunctioned (or operator error)? and slammed into the snowmobile in front of her sending the tandem snowmobile in front of her off course into some trees. OOPS! Her snowmobile was totaled, luckily just a sprained finger. After a few tense moments, a totaled snowmobile, and $500 euros we are back on our trek.
A cold (still about -20 degrees Celsius), long trek across the third largest lake in all of Finland. Our destination was a chilling, dark, unique red cabin, literally in the middle of nowhere! It felt like we were living in 1850, collecting fire wood,making a fire for heat, sharing the warmth to make soup and hot chocolate. Starting to believe that hot chocolate was the greatest creation ever!
After settling in we tried our luck with some ice fishing. Not only was it ridiculously hard to manually drill a hole in the ice, I think it was too frigid for the fish too.
The trek back was much quicker, and without disaster! One amazing part of North Finland is the Kaamos. Until January 17th, the sun will not rise in Nellim (does not reach the horizon). Unbelievable to think there are days without sun (especially traveling from the sunshine state). With the help of loads of white snow, it does create an incredible sky for a couple hours a day. Off in the horizon it seems as if you are seeing a constant sunset (always has the sunset glow), but that’s impossible since the sun doesn’t rise. Very interesting indeed.
The picture above is around 2:30 p.m.
This picture is about 1:00 p.m.
This is around 1:30 (with clear skies). You can kinda see the ‘kaamos’ in background.
This is just one adventure out of six! Lots more to come (and so far no more accidents)!
Happy New year wayfaring wanderers! Some really cool …errr… cold pics! I’ll bet you’re glad you’ll be returning to sunny Orlando! What a fantastic trip! Travel safe!