For our 2019 Sky Holiday in search of the Northern Lights we are heading to the shores of beautiful Lake Inari deep in the heart of the Lapland region of northern Finland. Our destination is the wonderful Nangu Wilderness Hotel. Modern, cosy, built with traditional materials in a log-cabin style, the hotel will be ours exclusively for the trip. This secluded wilderness setting is breathtaking during the autumn months. This is when leaves turn golden and ground cover turns orange and red and the woods and tundra are full of wildlife actively preparing for winter. The end of September, when the nights are lengthening and the temperatures are still relatively mild, is considered by locals to be the best time of the year for aurora watching.
Activities during the days include foraging in the beautiful surrounding woodlands with a guide, who will teach us about the edible berries and mushrooms as well as the abundant autumn flora and fauna. We will visit the town of Inari to find out all about the fascinating history and culture of the Sámi peoples indigenous to the region. We will take a boat cruise over the lapping waters of picturesque Lake Inari to visit one of its 3,300 tiny islands.
In the evenings, we will enjoy talks about our atmosphere by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Founder and Member 0001 of the Cloud Appreciation Society, and about the aurora by Prof. Esa Turunen who runs the near-by arctic observatory that has been measuring the causes of the Northern Lights for over 100 years. We will be perfectly placed for viewing the Northern Lights should conditions and aurora activity be favourable. Our wilderness hotel is located right beneath the ‘auroral oval’, ensuring any aurora will appear directly overhead, and our remote location will mean we are well away from all light pollution, which means any visible aurora will look their very best.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the unforgettable sight of the aurora within a truly stunning Finnish wilderness.
The swirling greens, sometimes pinks and reds, of the aurora are a sight you will never forget. The colours are caused by the interaction of charged particles originating from the Sun with the molecules in the upper reaches of our atmosphere, thanks to the dynamic stretching and contracting of the Earth’s magnetic field. Intense aurora displays follow storms in the Sun’s atmosphere, known as ‘mass solar ejections’, and the sudden snapping-back towards Earth of our magnetic field, which can bring the charged particles hurtling into the upper atmosphere.
We at the Cloud Appreciation Society know more than most how futile it is to make promises about the ever-changing and ungovernable sky. But we have chosen the location of this amazing trip to maximise our chances of witnessing a stunning display of the Northern Lights.
One great advantage of this location is that we don’t need to travel to see the lights. When they show, they are within easy view. So if we are lucky enough to be treated to a good display, we can just step out into the chilly night to watch the colours ripple across the sky and reflect in the lapping waters of Lake Inari.
We will be staying in the Inari region of northern Finland, 150 miles / 240 km inside the Arctic Circle. This is a wild and magical land, deep in the heart of Finnish Lapland. The rich cultural traditions of the Sámi peoples of the region are all around.
The newly built and carefully considered Nangu Wilderness Hotel is surrounded by vast woodlands and sits on the shores of Lake Inari. The hotel chef will be preparing delicious local dishes for us with fish, meat, mushrooms and berries from the area. Lake Inari is one of the largest lakes in Finland and was considered sacred to the Sámi, who’ve lived in the region for thousands of years. We will be taking a boat over to the tiny island of Ukko’s Rock, where Sámi people worshiped and gave sacrifices to Ukko, the god of the sky.
Since average temperatures at the end of September in this region are 5°C / 40°F, this is likely to be a great way to seek out the Northern Lights without having to endure the bitter cold.
(Please note that the actual days and timings of activities may change.)
We meet in Helsinki
Our trip begins in Helsinki, capital of Finland. We will meet at the airport, from where we’ll fly north together (1 hr 40 min flight) to the Lapland town of Ivalo. There, we will be transferred by private coach (40 mins) to the Nangu Wilderness Hotel, our home for the coming days.
Waiting for you at the wilderness hotel will be your Cloud Appreciation Society welcome bag, which will include your special embroidered patch created exclusively to commemorate this trip. We will enjoy a welcome drink and a welcome talk by Society founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney. Our delicious dinner, prepared from fresh, locally sourced ingredients will be an opportunity to get to know your fellow sky lovers.
The remote location of our hotel means that if conditions are favourable we can step outside at a moment’s notice to appreciate the full beauty of the aurora borealis.
Overnight: Wilderness Hotel Nangu, Veskoniementie 1320, 99800 Ivalo, Finland.
Included: Flight from Helsinki Airport to Ivalo included, as is transfer by coach to our hotel. Welcome drink, dinner (excluding drinks) and hotel included.
Flights to Helsinki are not included. All guests will need to be in Helsinki in good time for our departure to Ivalo. Please see the ‘Prices and Details’ below. You can email Cloudberry Journeys, our tour operator, if you need help booking your flights to Helsinki as well as any accommodation before the trip begins should you want to enjoy this vibrant capital city.
We forage in the woods, we learn about the aurora
After a leisurely breakfast, our nature guide will be ready to take us on a nature foraging walk through the woods that surround Lake Inari. The terrain is very easy, so this won’t be hard work. You’ll learn about any berries and mushrooms out to be foraged, and we will be on the lookout for forest wildlife which includes birds like the Western Capercaillie, the Pine Grosbeak and the Merlin. The hotel chef will be glad to incorporate the fruits of our foraging into the evening’s dinner.
In the afternoon, back at the hotel, we will enjoy an illustrated talk about the aurora and the science behind its appearance. Our speaker will be Professor Esa Turunen, who runs the University of Oulu’s arctic observatory in the region. He will introduce us to the history of research of Northern Lights in Lapland, which dates back to the year 1871 and is world-leading today, to the ancient beliefs and myths about the aurora and to the latest scientific truths, as well as to the puzzles still waiting to be solved. Esa will give us a three-day forecast for the likelihood of us observing the Northern Lights, and will answer all our questions. Don’t worry – he’s going to keep things simple!
After a delicious dinner, you can get aurora photography advice to help find the best settings on your camera for shooting the night sky. If the lights are on display and the sky is clear, just step outside and take some shots.
Overnight: Wilderness Hotel Nangu.
Included: Breakfast, guided nature walk, expert aurora illustrated talk, dinner (excluding drinks).
Lunch is not included, and can be purchased at the hotel.
To Inari to experience Sámi culture and explore the sacred lake
Throw open your curtains and take in the glorious autumn colours of the forest! Today, our private bus will take us to the nearby town of Inari (approx. 60 mins) to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of the Sámi people who have inhabited this part of the world for thousands of years. First we’ll enjoy a private tour of the Finnish Sami Parliament. Then we will be guided on a fascinating tour of the exhibits, indoor and outdoors, at the Siida Sámi Cultural Museum. We will gain an insight into how the Sámi lived in and travelled around this region, and we’ll learn about their clothing and handicrafts, their beliefs, religion, customs and art.
After a buffet lunch at the museum, we will take a boat cruise across Lake Inari to the island known as Ukko’s Rock. There is evidence this was used right up until the 19th Century as a Sámi sacrificial offering ground to Ukko, the Sámi god of the sky. From the top of this tiny island, we’ll get a wonderful view out across the lake.
Over dinner back at the hotel, we will be treated to a magical performance of ‘joik’ music by Anna Morottaja. This traditional form of singing is unique to the Sámi culture and one of Europe’s longest living music traditions, in which stories are told through melodies rather than words.
This evening, whether you are beneath the cloudscapes of the setting sun, the multitude of stars or the aurora borealis itself, you will be perfectly placed to revel the night sky of Lapland.
Overnight: Wilderness Hotel Nangu.
Included: Breakfast, private coach transfer to Inari, guided tour of Sámi Parliament, guided tour of Sámi Museum, buffet lunch, Lake Inari boat cruise to Ukko’s Rock, dinner (excluding drinks) at hotel, live joik musical performance.
A day of calm in autumn wilderness and a Society talk
After a delicious leisurely breakfast, you will have a relaxation day, free to spend in whatever way you want. Hike through the woods. Take a swim in the lake. Read by the fire in the comfort of the hotel lounge. This is your time to rest and recuperate amid the untouched tranquility of nature.
We will enjoy a lunch of fresh fish from the lake outside, before the hotel staff treat us to an introduction to a Finnish obsession: saunas. ‘Sauna’ is the only Finnish word to have made it into everyday English. If you haven’t had a chance yet to use the hotel sauna, today will be the perfect day to do so. We will hear how saunas are a fundamental part of Finnish life. There is an average of one sauna per household in Finland. There’s even a sauna chamber in the parliament in Helsinki so that the nation’s representatives can debate matters in a space where nothing can be hidden. If you do decide to take a sauna, don’t forget to cool off by jumping in the chilly waters of the lake outside!
Before dinner, we will listen to an illustrated talk about the sky by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Cloud Appreciation Society founder and Member 0001. Gavin will take us on a tour of our atmosphere. He will teach us how to spot many amazing cloud formations and show us why cloudspotting is a perfect antidote to the pressures of the digital world.
This evening will be our celebration dinner, followed by a ‘Finland Skies Quiz’ – complete with prizes! Tonight, there’s one more chance for an aurora display. As always, the lodge will be happy to turn off lights to make the most of our dark-sky location. Take a nap if you’d like, but don’t forget to step outside for Mother Nature’s ultimate light show.
Overnight: Wilderness Hotel Nangu.
Included: Breakfast, sauna talk, illustrated sky talk, celebration dinner, including two complimentary alcoholic drinks.
Lunch not included, and can be purchased at the hotel.
After breakfast, you will be taken by private coach back to Ivalo Airport for our flight back to Helsinki.
Included: Breakfast, coach transfer to Ivalo Airport, return flight to Helsinki.
Flights from Helsinki to your home are not included.
See ‘Pricing and Details’ below regarding our arrival times in Helsinki. You can email Cloudberry Journeys, our tour operator, if you need help booking your flights home from Helsinki, or if you want to arrange accommodation there prior to your returning flights or just to enjoy some extra nights in the Finnish capital.
Approx. equivalent to €2310 EUR (incl. tax) / $2590 USD (incl. tax) / $3740 AUD (incl. tax), depending on exchange rates at time of purchase.
Price includes everything listed in the ‘What’s Included’ section.
Individual Travellers: see ‘Single Supplement’ below.
Deposit: A deposit of £500.00 per person is payable at the time of booking (approx. equivalent is €585EUR/$660USD/$940AUD). The balance will be due 12 weeks prior to the departure date.
Credit Cards: Payments by credit or debit cards (no additional fees). We are unable to accept American Express.
Flights: Flights into and out of Helsinki are not included, but our tour operator, Cloudberry Journeys, will be happy to book flights and any overnight accommodation in Helsinki to suit your needs. For each of the two groups, guests will need to be at Helsinki Airport in time for our domestic departure to Lapland:
Early Group departure from Helsinki deadline:
19 September 2019, we will fly together from Helsinki to Ivalo on Flight AY637 departing at 10:35.
Group 1 departure from Helsinki deadline:
23 September 2019, we will fly together from Helsinki to Ivalo on Flight AY639 departing at 16:25.
Group 2 (sold out) departure from Helsinki deadline:
27 September 2019, we will fly together from Helsinki to Ivalo on Flight AY639 departing at 16:25.
Early Group arrival back at Helsinki:
23rd September 2019, we arrive back at Helsinki on Flight AY639 at 20:55.
Group 1 arrival back at Helsinki:
27th September 2019, we arrive back at Helsinki on Flight AY639 at 20:55.
Group 2 (sold out) arrival back at Helsinki:
1st October 2019, we arrive back at Helsinki on Flight AY637 at 15:10.
N.B. we require a minimum number of people to run the trip.
Some of the itinerary details, such as the expert giving the aurora talk and the person performing joik music, may be subject to change.
The exact price for the additional ‘Early Group’ is still to be confirmed.
Approx. equivalent to €310 EUR (incl. tax) / $350 USD (incl. tax) / $495 AUD (incl. tax), depending on exchange rates at time of purchase.
This supplement is for single room occupancy throughout the trip. There is a limited number of single occupancy rooms available.
Hotel accommodation, based on two sharing. (Individuals: see ‘single supplement’)
Domestic flights from Helsinki to and from Ivalo, Finnish Lapland
All breakfasts and dinners during the trip
All group transfers during the trip
A Cloud Appreciation Society welcome bag with special commemorative embroidered patch to mark the trip
Guiding throughout the trip
Expert illustrated talk about the aurora
Guided tour of Sámi Parliament
Guided tour of Sámi Museum, including buffet lunch
Boat cruise on Lake Inari
Live performance of ‘joik’ music
Welcome alcoholic drink and two alcoholic drinks during the celebration meal
Use of hotel sauna
Aurora photography and camera advice
Illustrated Cloud Appreciation Society talk
Flights between your home city and Helsinki (but our partners at Cloudberry Journeys can arrange these for you when you make contact about your booking)
Lunch (other than when a buffet lunch is provided during our day in Inari)
Any accommodation in Helsinki before or after our group flights
Any travel visas (check whether you need a visa to visit Finland)
Any photography equipment – a tripod is essential for photographing the aurora
Warm, waterproof walking boots
Wind- and waterproof top clothes
Thermal/wool underwear and layers to be prepared for chilly nights and boat trips