Saarisilka, Finland March

This trip almost didn’t happen. I have to say when we heard that FinnAir was going on strike there was a real concern that we would lose our money on the resort we were staying at and be stuck in Helsinki, Finland the entire weekend. It was our 12 wedding anniversary so we spared no expense on this one. Although I can’t take any credit for it. My beautiful wife again did all the research and reserved all of the adventures. I have to say she really did an amazing job. By the time we left I was concerned that no other trip would live up to how great this one was and we might as well pack and head back to the States we had seen enough. 

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A leap of faith and a longer than expected layover in Helsinki we had a story to tell about the area and we arrived at the Ivalo airport where we met our ride that took us into Kakslautten Arctic Resort just after Midnight. Now that we were inside the Arctic circle, it was really apparent how remote this place really was. Most of the menus consisted of fish. At breakfast the next morning it was obvious they didn’t have their own farms with cattle, pork, eggs, and fresh vegetables. When it comes to living in that area I’m sure it is hard when it comes to food but for a change, food was not why we came on this trip.

Here are some photos of the resort:

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Our first schedule excursion was a 4 hour dog sledding adventure. I had my own sled and so did Alicia. It was snowing that day pretty hard but everything couldn’t have worked out better. The snow clouds that prevented our ability to see the northern lights on that first night made the dog sledding that afternoon absolutely unforgettable! It’s hard to describe the energy you could feel just sitting in a field of 12 dogsleds attached to more than 70 dogs that know they are getting ready to go for a run. It is equivalent to the excitement you see on your dog at home when you grab the leash and they know they are going for a walk. Multiply that by 70 and then sprinkle a little crack on top to amp that up to level eleven. I was excited but Alicia was a little scared. She wasn’t sure how fast these dogs were going to go. We traveled for an hour and a half to get to our lunch spot, had lunch, then another hour and a half back. We traveled through the middle of nowhere with a beautiful view of the country-side. Snow was pouring down at times freezing to our face. Do not worry though. The giant snowsuit the resort provided us, as well as the work-out to help the dogs get up hills kept us warm enough. I didn’t expect it to be so much of a workout. It wasn’t so easy for my dogs to pull me however, Alicia’s dogs couldn’t be stopped. She didn’t have enough weight on her to push the brake down hard enough to stop them sometimes. Between the loving dogs, the scenery, and our awesome tour guide it was an unforgettable experience. I checked this one off my bucket list and I had no idea it was on my bucket list!

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That evening we went on a reindeer sled ride. While we still couldn’t see the northern lights it was quite the experience itself. Maybe a dozen sleds were chained together with a reindeer in front of each. The sled behind had a deer that was a little bit of an over achiever. He wanted to be in the sled with both Alicia and I. This fully grown reindeer’s face was about six inches away from Alicia’s head panting, burping, and looking directly at us for the 90 minute ride. There was a short break during that ride where we had something that tasted like hot mountain berry Kool-aide in a Teepee with a local who sang in his native language to the group. One of Alicia’s favorite moments. She has a big heart for performers.

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Day Two was a snow mobile tour out to a remote place to go ice fishing. On our way to the tour Alicia’s hair started to freeze as well as our nose hairs. It was zero degrees outside but we were pretty bundled up and ready to go. While I had ice fished before this was a unique experience in that it was near an old abandoned town with a lot of history. We learned about the native Lapland people and the church that was hundreds of years old and survived World War two. Fish soup again for lunch and what I liked to call hot Mountain berry Kool-aide. We didn’t catch anything I drilled alot of holes and we laid around for a few hours jigging but not a single bite. It was still a cool adventure.

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That evening was the first chance at the northern lights. We went on the Snow Tank safari ride up into the mountains. This tracked vehicle made its way up to one of the peaks and we were able to get a full view of the surrounding area. Unfortunately, we did not have snow suits on this one as the cabin was heated and it was an option to get out or not when it stopped. That didn’t stop us from venturing out into the three-four feet of snow to try and get a few shots. The first place we stopped we saw some northern lights far off in the distance. The norther lights swirled and danced for a while. Then we stopped at a cabin where our guide fed us reindeer sausage and you guessed it hot mountain berry Kool-aide. Alicia was able to get some beautiful shots of the stars as well as some northern lights behind some of the tress that surrounded the cabin. I don’t think we have ever seen that many stars! The tank driver was Russian and of the 32 other people that were on the same tour, aside from Alicia and myself, was Chinese. Just about everyone spoke English. It was interesting how far from home I felt, yet how comfortable it was. Despite the political differences between our countries they were all just families with children and normal lives. They were there to enjoy their vacation the same as we were. It was apparent we were the foreigners but a few of them engaged us in polite conversation.

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Throughout the rest of the trip we were able to capture more and more photos of the northern lights. The resort we stayed at (Kakslautten Arctic Resort) overall was amazing!! We really enjoyed not only our special meals we ordered such as reindeer steak, Elk, and wild boar but surprisingly enough they had wine there from the opposite side of the world, Argentina. The Igloo was the most interesting part of the resort of course. Two twin beds, heated floors, completely transparent glass (except the very tiny bathroom with the toilet and sink). The curtains in the igloo were only waste high so you could see into others igloos and you had to duck down to get dressed and undressed to prevent putting on a show for everyone.  We slept under the stars and watched the northern lights dance away as we drifted off to sleep. Pro-tip: These beautiful pictures are a little misleading. While you can see the Aurora Borealis with the naked eye, it isn’t as colorful as the camera shows. There was a white and green haze and it was fleeting and constantly moving. Bring an experienced photographer that understands long exposure and night photography to get the same images.

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More random photos…. Enjoy!

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