The easy way of catching the Northern Lights

Text and photos Maria Nordstöm ©

One of the must do’s on a Lapland trip is seeing the Northern Lights, Auroras or Lapland’s magic as they also can be called. On the evening of our tour the thermostat was showing -27 degrees Celsius and I was really happy we were chasing the Northern Lights by car. There are so many different ways of experiencing the Northern Lights but snowshoeing, reindeer sledding or walking outside in -27 degrees did not sound too tempting to me. Getting ready for the tour I charged my camera, put loads of warm clothes on and waited to be picked up from my accommodation.

The tours started with pick-ups from different accommodations around Pyhä Ski Resort. One of the good things about being picked up from your own door is the easiness. Just get yourself ready in time and hop in the car. After picking up all of the attendants we drove to the tour office because our guide Anniina wanted to make sure that everyone had enough and suitable clothing for the tour. Thanks to her knowledge we got proper warm shoes, overalls and gloves and then we were ready to go!

Our group of seven people and the guide drove out from the resort away from the lights to really increase our chances of seeing the Auroras dancing in the sky. Right away when we started the tour my Pyhä Aurora Alert- app on my phone beeped and notified that there was a really good chance of seeing the Northern Lights! When we drove, the sky was clear, and we could already see the stars. In the car you could really sense the excitement and a good tension. No one ever knows when and where the Northern Lights can be seen, which made the whole tour even more exciting.

While driving away from the lights of the resort the guide told us some fun stories and facts about the Northern Lights. Did you know that the local Finnish people used to believe that the Northern Lights were shadows of the Artic fox running on the snowy fells? Now we all know better, but the old stories and myths are definitely worth hearing.

On the way our guide stopped and looked up at the sky a few times to make sure she was taking us to the best possible place. After about a half an hour drive, we had reached our first stop. Straight away when we jumped out of the car, we saw the Northern Lights just like that in front of us – so lucky! Before doing anything else we just all looked up to the sky mesmerized. The Auroras were first only a green line on the sky, but they were slowly getting stronger and stronger. We took our cameras out and started to make memories for a life and Anniina our guide helped us with the camera settings. Photographing the Auroras turned out to be quite the challenge but with the right settings and with the help of the guide all of us manage to get really good photos. As you probably remember as I told you in the beginning the thermostat was showing – 27 degrees so we were getting quite cold quite fast. At this time, I realized how lucky we were to hop back in the warm car and drive to the next location. Frozen toes and finger tips had warmed up just in time when we arrived at the next location.

Now we stopped in the middle of an empty road. From this place you could see fells in the background with an open field with snow covered trees the in the front. Now the Northern Lights were strong and dancing in many lines. The Auroras looked like they were playing a game of hide and seeks and that they were actually dancing across the sky. We were really in the middle of nowhere with no lights, no cars and no one else. It was just us and the dancing Auroras – quite magical.

Our next stop was a nice little fire place where our guide Anniina prepared us a fire and a traditional Finnish sausage. She gave us some warm juice which tasted like heaven in the fresh cold winter air. We sat by the fire and looking up to the sky you could still see some green lights moving around. At this time, me, a Chinese family, a couple from Hong-Kong and a woman from Switzerland had experienced magic together and it felt like the most natural thing to sit by the fire with total strangers, it felt like we known each other for much longer than just a few hours.

On the way home some looked at the beautiful pictures they taken while other continued seeing the Northern Lights in their dreams while napping in the backseat of the car. We were back at the resort three hours later, where we dropped off at our own accommodations.

The best part about moving around with the car was the ability to reach authentic and different places. Instead of seeing only one location we went to three different spots, which all had amazing and different nature and views. We were really away from the lights and other people. If you stay in the Pyhä Ski Resort area you might see the Northern Lights, but the lights from the resort will always affect the intensity of the Northern Lights. Out in the nature away from the resort the experience is stronger, and you can feel the Lapland magic on a totally other lever. On colder nights, like our tour night I definitely recommend chasing the Northern Lights by car because just as your toes and tip of your nose are starting to get cold you can hop inside the warm car and continue adoring the dance from the car window.