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 (EUR 70 per night) with attached bathroom and kitchen.

our cottage at Kittila



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.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Rovaniemi, Finland

Tue 5 Feb 2019

The objective of our February trip is to catch the ever elusive aurora borealis or Northern lights, which we failed to capture during our winter trip to Iceland in Feb 2018. We knew it was going to be extremely cold (-24C) and could have done it during the warmer months (September or October), but I thought we would capture the best of Lapland during the winter months - plus having a chance to do the husky and reindeer safari, which is not available outside winter season.

For our flight to Finland's Lapland, we flew to Rovaniemi and would be driving around there, but limited to only about 2 hours away from Rovaniemi, up to Kittila, as a lesson learned during our Iceland winter trip where the weather was bad on one of the days which caused the road out of Reykjavik to be closed for the whole day and so we had to cancel our glacier hiking trip and a guesthouse reservation in Skalafell.

We took the British Airways flight to Heathrow, connecting to Helsinki then onwards to Rovaniemi under a single booking through the British Airways website (LHR-HEL and HEL-RVN was a codeshare flight with Finnair). The return trip from Kuala Lumpur to Rovaniemi costs RM3085 per person (bought during the Black Friday sale in Dec 2018) and took almost 24 hours to reach there. We departed KUL at midnight of 5 Feb and arrived, still on the same day (because we were travelling westwards) at 1830. Our flight from LHR-HEL and HEL-RVN were delayed because of heavy snow at HEL. We did not exit the airport during our transit.

For our flight from KUL-LHR, we requested for a Moslem meal, which turned out to be an advantage as our meals were served first before the others and they tasted good.  There is no complimentary in-flight meals for the shorter duration flights on Finnair (LHR-HEL and HEL-RVN), but we were given complimentary drinks. Of course we asked for Finland's favourite blueberry juice.

nice special meal on BA

blueberry juice on Finnair

As we arrived at Rovaniemi airport (claimed as Santa's official airport), we picked our rental car from the airport supplied by Green Motion (we booked the car through Skyscanner). We got a bigger car than our requested compact car, a Mazda3, without any extra charges.

Rovaniemi- Santa's official home airport

our rental car

For our first night, we stayed at Motelli Rovaniemi, booked through for EUR 60 per night with attached bathroom and kitchen. For the first day we just head to our motel, heat our pre-packed meal for dinner, rest and wait for the aurora borealis to appear. It was a clear night, but it didn't appear as the solar activity was low. No luck for today.


table and TV


our cottage

Santa Claus Village
6 Feb 2019

On the next day we had a longer morning rest after the long journey and only checked out from our motel at 10am and headed to Santa Village. After all, sunrise was only at 9am and most attraction sites only opens at 10am during winter. It was freezing cold today at -24C so our photo sessions were really quick using my trusty Lumix camera (as our Iphones only lasted for 5 minutes before powering out as it was just too cold!). After that we went into the many souvenir shops and Santa's post office for some warmth and surveying the souvenirs which would only buy on our last day before going back home. Of course a picture at the Arctic Circle line would be mandatory!

Santa Claus village

you can meet Santa in there

souvenir shops

we made it to the arctic circle!

Santa Claus post office

After spending about an hour at Santa Village which is very touristy (bus loads of tour groups come here), we drove off to our next destination- Kittila which is located about 150 km away and the journey took about 2 hours. The sky was clear again today and it was not snowing so it was a good condition for driving, and also a good chance to capture the aurora borealis tonight. The Kp index of solar activity looked promising tonight on our aurora forecast app. Stay tuned for the next post of Kittila.

driving to Kittila