The Season for Northern Lights, Husky Sledding Tours, Snow Activities and Fun in the Sun
Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
Northern lights, or aurora borealis, can be seen easily from the garden or lake directly in front of the cabins. Aurora start in autumn and continue through winter until spring. Since we are located in the middle of the wilderness, by a large open space and far from city light pollution, the views are incredible. The picture above shows all of our buildings and the aurora, taken from our lake - the cabin lights are obviously not strong enough to obstruct the light from the aurora.
The aurora come and go during the night and sometimes they last for just a few minutes, so when the forecast is good, it's best to be outside as soon as it starts getting dark, so long as the sky is clear. There are many apps with aurora activity forecasts that are free to download, and because the aurora can be seen from our garden, it's not necessary to book an aurora tour elsewhere.
During the early evening the aurora form arcs from horizon to horizon, then closer to midnight the arcs begin to twist and sway like curtains in the wind, sometimes expanding to fill the whole sky. They can often be seen moving fast and shining very brightly. In the early hours of the morning the aurora can take on a more cloud-like appearance, then they fade away before sunrise.
Read on for the science behind the aurora. The magnetic field surrounding our planet makes sure we are protected from the solar wind. However, the solar wind is able to penetrate our atmosphere near weak spots in our magnetic field in an oval shape around the magnetic poles of our planet. It collides there with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms that make up our atmosphere at an altitude mainly between 80 to 600 kilometers. When this happens, the atoms in our atmosphere temporarily get a boost of energy. This energy causes them to release photons, which is a form of energy that we see as light. The light is emited until they have calmed down and this light is the aurora that we see in the night sky.
There are a number of things to look out for in an aurora forecast. First, the KP index, which is a measure of magnetic activity, where 0 = very little magnetic activity, 5 = is a minor magnetic storm and 9 = a very powerful magnetic storm. Our coordinates are 66°53’53”N and 26°12’0”E so we are in the KP 3 zone, which means aurora can be see overhead and in the northward sky when the KP index is 3 or more. Since a higher KP signifies more magnetic activity it also means a better chance of seeing aurora. Secondly, the speed of the solar wind, which is measured in kilometers per second (km/s) and is normally around 300 km/s. Space is filled with a constant stream of electrons from the sun called the solar wind. When there is a hole on the sun's surface, called a coronal hole, the solar wind escapes at a higher speed. A higher solar wind speed, e.g. over 500 km/s, causes the particles to hit the Earth’s magnetosphere harder, increasing the chances of strong and colourful northern lights. Also, when there's an explosion on the sun, also called a solar flare, large amounts of charged particles are expelled into space and are carried along in the solar wind. So thirdly, the particle density indicates the amount of particles coming from the sun, and this value is usually given in cubic centimeters (p/cm³ or p/cc). The more particles in the solar wind, the more chances we get for an auroral display, as more particles collide with Earth’s magnetosphere. Again, the higher the better, so 3 is moderate and 10 is high. A value of 20 is a strong magnetic storm. Finally, the north-south direction of the interplanetary magnetic field, the Bz value, is another important measure for auroral activity. A negative Bz value of e.g. -2, indicates that solar particles will impact the Earth in northern latitudes.
During this unique sledding experience we'll teach you how to drive your own team of dogs in small groups of six participants and two guides.
We start by getting winter overalls and boots for anybody needing them. Then after the driving lesson we set off with our lively Siberian huskies through the silent forest, following the guide's team, with no snowmobiles spoiling the magic. Participants travel in pairs, so couples can take turns to drive the sled and ride in it, and for families, parents drive the sled, while their children are tucked up warmly in the sled. After the run, you can cuddle the dogs and take photos before we go for a kennel tour, where we tell you all about our dogs. We finish off with a warm drink and cookies in our old, traditional house.
Our husky tours need a minimum of 10cm of packed down snow on the trails to operate and must to be booked via the button below:
Cross-country skis, snowshoes, ice-skates and ice-fishing equipment are included in the price of accomodation, so are free to use on site whenever you want. We cut cross country ski tracks in spring-winter according to our guests requirements, within reason, and they are maintained as necessary.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoe trekking are a great way to explore the many aspects of our surrounding wilderness. However, our routes can also be hiked in normal winter boots and will take you into the forest where you can experience the rare beauty of our natural landscape. There is a map showing our colour-coded trails in our equipment room which can be photographed, and it's always a good idea to make sure you phone is fully charged and that you have a power bank with you when to go out exploring.
Snow and Ice
Our winter usually lasts for seven to eight months. Sometimes, we have good winter snow conditions as early as October, but sometimes the snow doesn't arrive until the end of November. Nearly all of our winter activities require snow of varying depths. While it is possible to ski with a little snow, the husky tours require a lot more in order for it to be safe!
As conditions can change daily, early season programme availability is hard to predict for November and early December. Likewise, towards the end of the season, snow conditions can deteriorate in late April or continue well into May. If travelling early or late season, please check the snow situation with us before booking to avoid disappointment.
Temperatures range from 0°C to -40°C, and occasionally, it may be a couple of degrees colder or warmer. However, our winter temperatures are most often between -10°C and -20°C.
Winter clothing advice can ce found here.
Snowmobiles, Reindeer and Horse Sleigh Rides
Alternatively, the wilderness can be explored with iron dogs! We no longer arrange snowmobile tours on site, but they can be booked through Visit Rovaniemi's website or the Pyhä National Park and Luosto resort websites. The tours include winter overalls, boots, balaclavas, helmets, and of course, a driving lesson. After that, you set off with the snowmobiles following the guide.
For those interested in going for an authentic reindeer sleigh ride or experiencing real jingle bells whilst riding in a one horse open sleigh, we recommend going to Jaakkola reindeer farm and Luostola horse farm, which are both situated near Luosto about 60 km away to the north.