Welcomed by our local hosts in the far north of Norway, we were led along a snowy pathway through the trees towards our Arctic Aurora dome. The setting can only be described as magical, a word that would soon become synonymous with this trip. The surrounding trees were dripping in freshly fallen snow and the darkness was illuminated by soft lights, as well as by the full moon visible overhead. Inside the dome it was wonderfully warm and cosy. A fire had been lit for us and we were thrilled by the views through the windows, facing not only out towards the snowy landscape but above us as well. We couldn't take our eyes off the skyscape. It was amazing to be able to feel such a connection to the outside environment.
The plan for our first evening was to chase the aurora borealis - and how exciting those words sounded to us. Over a bowl of locally-caught salmon and cod soup, our guide explained a little about the science of the aurora and the best way to go about finding the right conditions to see their famous lights. We were soon ready to set out into the night, our snow suits and cameras at the ready and a feeling of anticipation in our bellies of what the night ahead could hold.
We were taken to a couple of locations to try and find a suitable break in the clouds but alas, the elusive aurora would not reveal itself. Still, all was not lost. Back at camp, we decided to take a wander through the snow laden trees into a clearing just behind our domes. Under the light of the moon and with our cameras pointed towards the sky, the magic started to happen. What began as grey wisps in the sky developed into an amazing display of dancing green lights, and wow - they definitely did not disappoint.
The following day we took a snowshoe hike to a frozen lake. Our guide Rikki showed us how to drill through the thick ice to create a hole so that we could fish for arctic char. With our reindeer skins on the ground and our fishing lines baited we sat patiently awaiting the gentle tug of a biting fish. It never came, but this still gave us plenty of time to sit and admire the beautiful panorama stretching out before us. We listened to the sounds of nature whilst savouring a moment of pure contemplation within the Arctic wilderness.
Later, Rikki cooked us up a hearty meal over a fire pit in the traditional ‘Lavvu’, a type of teepee tent, before we hiked back to our base.
That evening, more adventure was to unfold. This time we were strapping on our bike helmets and taking a fat bike tour along the banks of the Alta river by night. Our guide Jon led us through an otherworldly landscape illuminated only by the light of our head torches. We rode past trees and along trails until we reached a small fisherman’s cabin on the banks of the river. We stopped here for a refuel and to look across the river where we had visibility of the open sky. Here, and as if by magic, we were once again delighted by the appearance of the aurora dancing and weaving through the sky overhead. We counted our luck at sighting them for the second night running. It was another truly memorable moment.
The next day we travelled to Sorrisniva, the Ice Hotel, where we we were kitted out for a snowmobiling adventure. After an initial safety briefing we set off in convoy, taking in another snowy landscape which led us through the forests and continued on high up onto the Finnmark plateau. We had breathtaking views in all directions and could just about see the pinkish glow from the sun making its first appearance above the horizon following the end of the polar nights.
Back at Sorrisniva, we were able to warm up with a tasty meal and a tour of the Ice Hotel. It was an interesting contrast to the outdoor activities we had been doing. We were able to chat to some of the artisans that were creating ice sculptures as part of the interior, as well as taking a sneaky lie down on the beds inside some of the magical ‘ice suites’. There were more than a few photo opportunities there!
But all too soon, it was time for our last adventure - husky sledding. Our local guides immersed us in the task; showing us how to harness the dogs and prepare them for taking us out on the sledges, and explaining how important these working dogs are in the traditions of Arctic life. This felt like a truly authentic experience and for a dog lover, it was an absolute treat.
The evening was finished sitting around the camp fire, sharing stories with new friends and devouring homemade brownies. We found out from one of the team that the company name Glød means ‘ember' or 'glow’ - the kind you feel within yourself when you feel a connection or passion for something. The word really resonated, summing up the experience. We connected with nature, and with each other, in a magical snowy wonderland - one that left a glow in the heart.
Inspired? Check out the Ultimate Arctic Circle Adventure in Norway!