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ROVANIEMI, FINLAND : 12 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT NORTHERN LIGHTS

It was a night filled with hope, northern lights and stardust.

When Alex and Ulik of Helios Tours arrived on time for the pre-arranged pick up at 9:15PM from my hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland, I knew I was in a good company. Together with a random Russian tourist, I joined Helios Tour’s Hunting Northern Lights by car and learned the following dozen of things that night :

12 MUST-KNOW THINGS ABOUT CHASING AURORA BOREALIS.

1.  It’s unpredictable. Although there are forecast and even available apps and websites for Northern Lights, truth remains that like other natural phenomena in a country like Finland where weather tends to be different in one day, forces of nature make it difficult to almost impossible to tell. It may be crystal clear skies in the morning, however, may become too cloudy at night.

2.  Requirements from nature are non-negotiable. In order for someone to view dancing Northern Lights, there must be clear, dark and cloudless sky.

3. Better Not Do-It-Yourself. Quest for Aurora Borealis is best done with travel agents like Helios Tours because these tour operators have been hunting and chasing Northern Lights for several years in their own locality, and they absolutely know the perfect place for possible viewing of Aurora Borealis.

4. Location matters. The farther the place, away from the city, the less likely for light pollution, the better the chances to view Northern Lights!

5. It’s all about waiting game, hence patience is a virtue. With utmost sincerity and honesty, I was so happy to report that Alex and Ulik of Helios Tours were so willing to wait for more than 3 hours, in order for me and the other tourist to have more time (to wait and) to view Aurora. It was me who requested to go back to the hotel after we saw not-so-active-apparition of Northern Lights around past midnight.

6.  Duration varies. Accordingly, the phenomenon could appear from a blink of an eye to 15 seconds to several minutes.

7. Now you see it, now you don’t.  At some point, Northern Lights could not be viewed by the naked eye however, it could appear on your camera’s screen when you start taking photographs.

8. Set your hopes high however, be prepared to have zero-chance.  This is self-explanatory.

9.  Be ready to witness Northern Lights but do not forget to savor and appreciate the destination! While seeing Aurora Borealis may be overwhelming, remember to appreciate and enjoy too, the other natural things on site. The snow and snowfall, the frozen river at the horizon, the silence and darkness of the night, the moon and the falling stars – moments become even more priceless when you enjoy these, with or without Aurora Borealis.

10. High-end cameras are not essential but a manual setting and a tripod. Helios Tour staff, Alex taught me to set my camera fixed on a tripod, on a manual focus with ISO of 800 and higher, with wide aperture (2.8); and take trial photos as many as possible.

11. It could be a challenge. While most appearances occur between September to March, expect the weather not only to be cold but windy. This challenges everyone to gear up with proper winter attire, to keep them warm despite the environment at night is otherwise.

12. Appreciate the other travel experiences. While waiting for Aurora, Alex and Ulik grilled tasteful sausages complete with catsup and mustard, and offered us unlimited cups of tea with sugar cubes, around the bon fire in a kota that kept us all warm with a happy-tummy! While indulging a bit under the stars, we also enjoyed exchanging travel tales that enable us to while a way time.

WHAT IS AURORA BOREALIS ?

Polar light, or Northern Light is an incredible display of either red, green, blue lights, or yellow and pink which are a mixture of red and green or blue light on the sky, more usually seen in Arctic and Antarctic regions. It’s called, Aurora Borealis as Northern lights in the Arctic that appear mostly in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Canada. While it’s named as Aurora Australis or Southern lights when seen in Antarctic regions of Antarctica, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia.

When there’s collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter’s our planet’s atmosphere, and it collides with Oxygen and Nitrogen, the Aurora Borealis appears.

FEW BUT PRICELESS IMAGES FROM MY EXPERIENCE :

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The spot where we waited for Northern Lights in Lapland.
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Alex & Ulik of Helios Tour with a Russian tourist, grilling sausages & preparing tea.DSCF9428
I came and waited for you, Aurora!
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Alex taught me to adjust my camera’s set up to manual to capture Northern lights.
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She was there. Even if she’s not as intense as I expected, Aurora appeared!
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It was faint however, enough for me to be thankful as I didn’t go home feeling empty.
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See you again in Rovaniemi, or in some other northern places, Aurora!

 

For more details regarding the Hunting Northern Lights By Car, and other tour packages offered by HELIOS TOUR, kindly visit their website through : http://www.heliostour.fi  and please don’t forget to tell them that you read this article by yours truly! Thanks!  XOXO DocGelo.

*Although I am a guest of Helios Tour, all words, insights, opinion and photographs that appear on this article are mine and were never influenced.

9 Comments

  1. Another great article Doc! To witness the northern lights is part of our ultimate bucket list. I guess most list of travelers includes the same. It’s good to read the tips and suggested travel agency before we planned this out of this world experience. Maybe in two years pa, hehe.. Are they available only in Finland?

    Grabe the waiting game Doc, I don’t have patience pa naman :p I personally like what you wrote in No. 9 Kasi most people will surely tend to forget about the beautiful place, itself coz they’re more particular in seeing Aurora. Kaya nga when we created our blog name, we made sure not to waste any moments. You have amazing photos, kita namin tlga how beautiful Finland is!

    Waiting for your next winter and northern light chasing 🙂 Safe travels on 2017 🙂

    • docgelo docgelo

      Sama ko when you chase NL! Hehehe!
      Thank you so much, Joanna for always reading whatever I post and I’m happy you found it helpful or informative at least.
      Happy 2017!

  2. At least you have seen it, no matter faint or not strong as what we see on the web. You were there and that counts a lot.

    This is like when we signed up for a tour to see the giant turtles lay eggs. They say you may or may not see any and we waited and waited. Our tour was 2 hour long and the turtle appeared after 1.5 of waiting.

    Happy New Year! Where’s the next destination?

    • docgelo docgelo

      Can’t believe you waited for that long for turtles to lay egg. In the same way, I can’t believe myself I’ve waited for 3 hours for Aurora. Some I heard waited for 3 days. But that’s what we are. Passionate. We don’t care how long or how hard it’ll be to wait for as long as we love what we’re doing.

      I’ve a sponsored trip to Bhutan (and side trip to Nepal again) on Feb 23 to first week of March.

      Happy New Year, Maria.
      I’m brewing another lovely post. Stay tuned.

  3. Teresita Santos Teresita Santos

    Ganda naman ni Aurora, parang mahinhing dilag sa pagpapakita ng kanyang katangiang taglay. its worth waiting naman lalo pa at may iniihaw na sausages with hot tea sa kakaibang tent. Super unforgettable experiences.

  4. Ed Ed

    Great Article Dokie. in due time, makikita din kita Aurora!haha

    • docgelo docgelo

      Salamat! Sana din makita ko ulit sya, yong mas intense.

  5. Another fascinating post. Your images are exquisite!

    • docgelo docgelo

      Thank you so much!

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