Saturday, March 02, 2019

Ranua

Tue 12 Feb 2019

Ranua Wildlife Park

Today we would be driving to Ranua wildlife park from Rovaniemi, about 1 hour away (80 km). In winter, the wildlife park only opens at 10am, so we departed from our apartment at 9am to arrive just in time for opening. The entrance fee is EUR 15 per adult.

Ranua Wildlife Park


It was still cold today at -15C so we spent only about 1hour 45 min outside before taking refuge in the souvenir shop. The animals that we saw today (which was our target) were the Pallas cat (didn't get a good view as the lone cat was sleeping quite a distance away), lynx, wolverine (it was active and walking around in the large enclosure), polar bear and grey wolf.  We were told beforehand that we wouldn't be able to see the brown bear as it is hibernating. Other animals that we saw were musk ox, reindeer and great grey and hawk owl.

lynx

wolverine

grey wolf

pallas cat. try to find it

musk ox

polar bear

We bought some souvenirs here which is cheaper than at Santa Claus village before making our way back to Rovaniemi and that was the end of our winter adventure in Finnish Lapland. We would be heading back home tomorrow morning.

We managed to get what we targeted for - Northern Lights for 3 times on 2 nights, husky and reindeer safari. It was freezing cold throughout our 8 nights and daylight hours were short so our activities were limited to only one activity per day. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our trip to the winter wonderland of Finnish Lapland. Thank you Finland for the experience!

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Rovaniemi Part 2

Mon 11 Feb 2019

As soon as we arrived back at Rovaniemi from Lompolo village, about 2.5 hours away (200 km), we checked in into our apartment near at 12 noon. We had booked a one hour reindeer safari at Raitola, located near to Santa Claus village for EUR 119 per person at 2pm. Our airbnb Rovaniemi apartment cost RM540 (about EUR 116) for 2 nights and is located near to Ounasvaara forest.

bedroom

kitchen

living room

view of Ounasvaraa forest from our apartment


After having lunch at our apartment, we went to Raitola farm, about 15 minutes away. There was another big group with us, so this felt less private than Rami's huskies in Kittila. A note of caution - we thought we would be able to 'drive' the reindeer sled, just like the huskies sled; however at Raitola, the guides actually walked together and pulled the reindeer. A reindeer was assigned to each sled, with 2 adults sitting in each sled. So if you're looking for navigating a reindeer sled, try someplace else.

Raitola farm

guide pulling the reindeer

guide pulling the reindeer

Anyway, our guide seemed caring towards her reindeers and explained to us about herding reindeers in Finland. We were also given the chance to feed the reindeers with lichen (like algae) which they really loved. We were told that each reindeer behaved differently; some do not liked to be touched and some were okay. Our reindeer - Aloo (it sounded like that) was a sweet boy, so we could pat him. All the reindeer pulling sleds at the farm were males as the females were pregnant / taking care of the baby reindeers (calves).  Both male and female have antlers. However, the antlers are more important to the males as those with the biggest and most beautiful antlers win over the females.

our reindeer sled

Aloo let us pat him

feeding lichen

Raitola reindeer farm

We finished the reindeer walk after about 1 hour. We were told the distance was about 7km. We were then  ushered into a building with a fireplace and given berry juice and cinnamon buns where the guide told us about reindeer herding.

After the reindeer safari, we stopped by Santa Claus village again intending to buy souvenirs, but most of the shops were already closed at 4pm. So we made our way back to our apartment not before stopping at the supermarket to buy provisions for dinner today and tomorrow.

No luck tonight as there is no Northern lights show.

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Lompolo, Finland

Fri 8 Feb 2019 - Mon 11 Feb 2019

Today we would be driving to Lompolo from Kittila, about 1 hour away (58 km). We would be staying at an airbnb cottage (RM1273 for 3 nights or EUR92 per night). The cottage is located in a small village - Lompolo with a lake and reindeer farm next door. It also provided free snowshoes, kicksled, ski equipment and sauna. For the 3 nights we stayed there, it was just doing winter activities on our own. There is also a ski track behind the cottage for cross country skiing. For groceries and fuel, we bought a 3 day supply from Kittila as there is no shops or petrol stations nearby.

Lompolo cottage

living room

bedroom

kitchen

snowshoe

ski equipment


kicksled

ski track behind our cottage

fairies route for snowshoeing

fairies route for snowshoeing

us snowshoeing

fairies route for snowshoeing

fairies hut on the fairies route

fairies hut on the fairies route

frozen lake Lompolojarvi

frozen lake Lompolojarvi

trees by the frozen lake

frolicking on the frozen lake

reindeer farm next door

On the first night we were fortunate again to experience the Northern lights, but it was much fainter than the first one we saw in Kittila. It was definitely dancing though.

faint aurora at Lompolo

faint aurora at Lompolo

faint aurora at Lompolo

It was so cold that the water pipe was frozen. We had to call the owner and help came from the neighbours to heat up the pipes. We got back the water supply by the evening. Prior to that, we boiled the ice from outside to get water and we even cooked our instant noodle with it!

boiling the ice from outside

enjoying instant noodle with a view


After a 3 night stay enjoying the winter wonderland of Finnish Lapland, we made our way back to Rovaniemi, about 2.5 hours away (200 km).

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Kittila, Finland

Wed 6 Feb 2019
Northern lights

Today we drove to Kittila from Rovaniemi after dropping by at Santa Claus village in the morning. The journey took about 2 hours covering a distance of 150km. It was a smooth drive today as the weather was clear. We reached our cottage, Kittilan Lomamokit at around 3pm. We booked through Booking.com (EUR 70 per night) with attached bathroom and kitchen.


our cottage at Kittila


beds

kitchen

big window, good to view the northern lights in the comfort of the cottage

 

We stopped by at K Mart on the way to our cottage to buy supplies for cooking our meals. For dinner tonight, we had salmon with rice and salad, peppered with soy sauce brought from home.

our cooked dinner

We had no further plans today so we tucked in early but put on our alarms at 8pm based on our aurora forecast to catch the Northern lights. Indeed, when we woke up at 8pm, we saw some faint green lights, but initially we weren't sure whether it was the aurora or just the clouds. So i captured a picture on my camera, when we viewed it, it was obvious it was indeed the Northern lights! Off we go outside the cottage to capture the beautiful lights. It lasted for about 30 minutes before disappearing.

the northern lights round 1

the northern lights round 2

We waited some more, and at about 11.30pm, the Northern lights made another appearance, this time stronger and more beautiful than the first one! It lasted for about 45 minutes,  we were lucky to capture it twice tonight! It was also freezing cold outside at -20C. It was an amazing experience and we slept happy tonight!


northern lights round 2

northern lights round 2

northern lights round 2

northern lights round 2

northern lights round 2

northern lights round 2





Thu 7 Feb 2019

Husky safari

Today we would be doing the 16km National Park husky safari through the Pallas-Yllas national park by Rami's huskies. It cost EUR 140 per person. We booked for the safari about 2 weeks before. We started at 1pm and was provided with overalls, boots and mittens. It was a small group, just 4 couples (8 of us). We were assigned 6 huskies to a sled, with one driver and another passenger sitting in the sled. At half way, we stopped to grill sausages by the fire, then exchanged drivers. One of our huskies stopped mid way and didn't want to run so our guide Anita had to walk back and she changed the position of affected husky. We understand that there is a hierarchy between the huskies so it is important to position them correctly. It was a fun experience driving the huskies, and they ran quite fast too.

our huskies

driver stands on sled

husky mushing

into the national park

grilling sausage by the fire


No more further plans for today, so after arriving back at our cottage, we cooked for our late lunch / early dinner and retired for the night, but putting on the alarms in case the Northern lights made another appearance tonight. Alas, the aurora borealis was shy tonight.

Tomorrow we would be making our way to a small village - Lompolo, about 60km away.

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