After new year we decided to take a road trip up north to take snow pictures and hopefully see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Winter this year has been quite warm here in southern Finland so up north we would be guaranteed to see piles of snow. Our chosen destination was Pyhä-Luosto National Park close to Sodankylä in Finnish Lapland. Of course with our luck our trip was on the coldest week of the winter (at least so far), temperatures declining to -14 all the way to -33 Celsius (from 7 to -27 degrees Fahrenheit).
The drive from Helsinki through Oulu and Rovaniemi to Luosto (930 km) took us approx. 12 hours not including pit stops. In Rovaniemi we stopped for photo break on the Arctic Circle and to have a glance of Santa Claus’s Workshop.
From Luosto we had rented a nice cottage (through Pyhä-Luosto Matkailu) with two bedrooms, large common area, kitchen and of course sauna. The cabin was just outside of the National Park and few kilometers from the ski resort. We did not plan to ski, but brought snow shoes to take photo walks in the fells.
Weather wise we were really lucky as it only snowed one day and was cloudy for two nights during the whole week. Second evening after sun set (approx. 1:30 pm, but it was dark by 3 pm) we drove to small town called Pelkosenniemi just to see how it looked. It also is hometown of a Finnish rock-musician Andy McKoy. We were just coming out of the local supermarket when we noticed the beautiful green ribbon across the sky… Northern Lights!!! They were really bright as we could see them in spite of the street lights. Quickly we drove to the other side of the river where there were no lights to get some pictures.
On our way back we stopped at Luosto Lappland hotel and walked behind it to small lake which was perfect, dark place to see the light show mother nature provided us.
In the next days we did couple of snowshoe hikes in Luosto National Park and one in Pyhä National park (approx. 25km from Luosto). We had our own snowshoes with, but you can also rent them from the ski center (23€/day, 60€/week). There are several marked trails and maps. My favorite was a loop trail across Pikku-Luosto where we saw the sunrise (11:30 am) and sunset (1:15pm). This loop took us with all photo stops 4 hours (in the freezing -33 Celsius weather). Basically we spent the whole time it was light outside on the trail. Trail was clearly marked with blue tags and poles + other people also had walked on it so there was visible trail on the snow. Halfway there was a cafe at the Amethyst mine where they served freshly baked sweet rolls (pulla in Finnish) and you could warm up with cup of hot chocolate.