I have now finished my trip report regarding our week in Lapland last September. My original idea was to go there for the ruska, the colors of autumn. Then I “hired” two friends from France, Sylvain and Alexis, and their first question was: “can we see northern lights?”. So obviously the lights became our secondary goal, one we didn’t really dare believing in given the weather, but which we eventually reached!
As a result, this trip was a real success, and we were all very happy about it.
Please find below links to all the articles I wrote. I’m very happy to hear any comment you may have, or to answer questions 🙂
- Reindeers, Ruska & Revontulet
- A very colourful tapestry
- You’re cheating, it’s photoshopped
- Piles of rocks and foxfire
- Soil, Ruska edition
In this article, I explain some practicalities about our journey. Welcome 🙂
How I selected the dates
I wanted to go there in autumn, and I knew that had to be quite early, probably in September. Summer is short-lived up there, and winter comes quickly. I sent an email to the Urho Kekkonen National Park staff, asking about tips on how to schedule this adventure: of course, one can never know when the colors will be the brightest, but we settled for mid-September (12 to 19), and it worked quite nicely.
In general, I would recommend sending an email to the staff when traveling to a national park in Finland, they usually reply quickly and give some good tips. You can find them all at nationalparks.fi.
Temperature were generally between 5 and 10ºC, though they dipped down to 0 on aurora night.
Flights and rental car
We flew from Rovaniemi to Helsinki with Norwegian, for 116€. I also booked our rental car, a Seat Ibiza, through Norwegian, for 265€ (+65€ for the all-inclusive insurance). The good thing is that, with my Norwegian membership, this whole booking gave me a 15€ discount on my next trip with them.
The rental car agency was Scandia Rent; nothing special to mention, we had no trouble whatsoever.
We essentially stayed in Airbnbs, with one youth hostel. Here is the detail:
The nest of creativity: an apartment in an old school, in the middle of nowhere. Friendly host, helpful and very kind. Peaceful. 62€
Kilopää: a cabin in the woods. Didn’t look like much on the website, but turned out very cosy. A wonderful place to be when it’s raining outside. 172€ (2 nights)
Marjarinne: one floor of a small house, super comfortable, again in the middle of nowhere. A bit expensive. Awesome host, talkative and again, very kind. 138€
Lemmenjoen Lumo (hostel): a tiny cabin where we could barely fit, but super cheap. Showers unavailable if someone had booked the sauna, and they didn’t have our booking when we arrived; fortunately they still had a cabin available, but that’s weird management. Peaceful place, on the edge of Lemmenjoki National Park. 60€ (2 nights!)
Lucky Ranch: an underground apartment in a horse ranch. Nice host, very kind and welcoming (I feel like I’m repeating myself, but that’s how Finns are!). 96€
Before the trip, I had sent an email to LLY, the bird protection society in Lapland (part of Birdlife Finland). I got two tips: first, go to Tankavaara, a visitor center in Urho Kekkonen National Park, and talk to Tiina. There, we had a chat about the birds in the park. Following her advice, we walked a few trails and had our first encounter with Kuukeli (Siberian jay).
I was also directed to a couple living in Ivalo; they welcomed me to their year-round feeder, and I managed a great photoshoot with the birds there, seeing Kuukeli again. The jays were a mainstay of our trip, for we saw them again in Lemmenjoki and in Pyhä-Luosto. It’s possible that they come closer to humans when the weather gets colder, because I never saw any in June in Kuusamo or in August in Pallas-Ylläs.
I feared that most birds would have already left Lapland, but we had good sightings of Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) and Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) for instance.
In Lemmenjoki, Jouni found us a Siberian tit (Poecile cinctus) and some Reed buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus).
Did I forget something? Tell me in the comments!
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