Visited December 2013
The search for a transport service from Rovaniemi to Kiruna was one of my most difficult tasks. While public transport was available, there were about 3-4 connecting services between buses and trains, and it would have taken us one whole day to get from one place to the other.
Just when all hope was lost, an email reply saved the day. We had finally found a company that was willing to do the connection for us! And although the price was steep, it was a much needed relief given that it was a direct transfer, and we had the comfort of the car instead of having to drag our luggage through the snow.
The journey by car took us about 4-5 hours, and we felt a little bad that our driver had to travel all the way back on his own, which meant almost 10 hours on the road. Nonetheless, I was extremely grateful to City Safaris and hence, was willing to pay for their help.
It was about 3 by the time we reached Kiruna, and they sky was already getting dark. With our next activity waiting for us in 1.5 hours’ time, we decided to explore the quaint city before waiting for our pick-up.
Our Aurora Photography Tour was actually conducted in Abisko National Park, which was more than 1 hour drive from Kiruna. After being picked-up by the driver, we were dropped at Abisko Turistation, a mountain station that boasts a restaurant, a mini-convenience store and accommodations. And even though we were starving (having had no lunch over the car transfer), we were worried about having insufficient time if we were to have dinner at the restaurant. Hence, we decided to just wait off the hunger, and hopefully survive through the tour.
During our wait, the Boy noticed that there were many more aurora photo trips in the upcoming days. Based on our itinerary, we saw that our next available slot is 2 days away, and debated whether or not we should sign up for another one, just in case there were no aurora sightings today. In the end, I decided to just ignore the price, and signed up at the counter for it. We shall just use our credit card for it, and pray hard for good weather.
When our tour started, we met up with our guide, Chad Blakeley, who was extremely friendly and helpful in teaching us the techniques of shooting aurora borealis. Never mind for those who have zero camera knowledge, Chad provided DSLR cameras for all, and have pre-programmed it for aurora photography.
Thereafter, we left the turiststation and headed into the national park, where our camp site was by a teepee. Out in the vast open, we looked out for any sign of dancing lights. But it was not meant to be, as our 1.5-2 hour wait resulted in just clear to cloudy skies with the bright moon. In between we had lingonberry juice by the fire in the teepee, one two photos of the landscape and me just walking around the teepee in the snow.
At the end of the tour, there was evident disappointment on the Boy’s face. 3 days in Finnish and Swedish Lapland, and we have yet to spot any aurora. I’m just glad we booked the same tour 2 days later, as we could only hope that the more times we stayed out at night, the higher the chance we’ll get to spot a flicker of green in the sky.