Believe your eyes: Finland's northern lights
10:30 AEST Thu Mar 10 2011
Dermott Brereton travelled to the top of the world in the hope he would be treated to one of nature's most stunning exhibitions. The elusive northern lights. The spectacular is also known as "aurora borealis", named after the Roman goddess of dawn and the Greek term for "north wind".
There has to be something very special to lure people to Finland in -15°C temperatures. Just getting there is an adventure in itself. Dermott flew to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland and drove four hours to the mountain village of Saariselka, 250km north of the Arctic Circle.
After all that, there's no guarantee of being treated to experiencing the natural phenomenon. Nature pulls the strings and it's a good idea to allow yourself a few days in case she wants to tantalise.
Dermott met Yussi Eiramo who has been living in the area for 38 years and has seen the spectacular many times. It occurs around 200 times between August and April when that part of the world is at its darkest. It can be seen across Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska.
The light show is caused when electrically charged particles from the sun meet the earth's atmosphere. The arcs and spirals follow the earth's magnetic field and are mostly light green, but sometimes have a variety of other colours.
Dermott got lucky on his third night and said it was the most amazing and indescribable experience he has ever had. He also liked the ancient Asian belief that whoever sees the northern lights will live happily forever.
There's plenty of snow, spas and saunas to keep you busy and locals love visitors. During the short daylight hours you can whizz around on a snowmobile or test your patience with some frozen lake fishing.
Hotel Kakslauttanen in Saariselka has 40 log cabins. In winter you can stay in a traditional snow igloo or a futuristic glass igloo where you can see the northern lights through the ceiling. A snow chapel and ice bar are built every winter in the Igloo Village, which is open between December until the end of April.
They offer husky and reindeer safaris and guided ski treks more than 180km of passes. You may also visit Sampo ice-breaker, the only one in the world open to tourists.
Saariselka, 250km north of the Arctic Circle.
Bentours Winter Lapland Ultimate Arctic Adventure seven-day tours cost $2405 per person twin-share. They include transfers, accommodation with private facilities, daily breakfast, one lunch and one dinner and tour escort for five days. There is a four-hour icebreaker safari and accommodation is in four-star hotels and a glass igloo.
Bentours is offering an exclusive deal for Getaway viewers: book and deposit on the Winter Lapland Ultimate Arctic Adventure tour for 2012 and receive a free snowmobile safari for two, based on two people sharing a snowmobile.
Search for the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi runs between 6pm and 9pm. It journeys through a snow-covered forest on a frozen river. Sip warm beverages by a campfire and learn about the Northern Lights and Finnish Lapland. Mention Getaway when booking before July 01, 2011. It's valued at $175 per person.
Emirates has flights to Prague and 26 other European destinations via Dubai, with connections to Finland. They depart Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Emirates is offering an exclusive discount to Getaway viewers. Visit www.emirates.com/getaway for full details.
Prices correct at March 10, 2011.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
1/7-9 Kent Road
Mascot, NSW 2020
Ph: 1800 221 712
Fax: (02) 9700 7447
Visas: Australians must have a valid passport. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
Electricity: 220V at 50Hz European two-pin plugs.
Time zone: GMT +2.
Currency: The euro.
International dialling code: +358.