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Keen to see the Northern Lights? Don’t wait until winter...

1st August 2013 Print

If Northern Lights holidays conjure up images of chilly temperatures and snowy landscapes, think again. Aside from the fact that autumn 2013 has now been specified by NASA as the peak of our present Solar Maximum – science-speak for the best Northern Lights in a decade – autumn also presents many other reasons for venturing north of the Arctic circle and into the Lappish wilderness.

First and foremost, temperatures are warmer in autumn, making long waits for the Aurora less bitterly cold and, without snow on the ground, the skies will be darker – an added bonus for any Aurora hunter.

Secondly, a visit to Lapland in September means you’ll catch ruska – the spectacular displays of autumn leaf colour blanketing Lapland’s vast forests each autumn with glorious burnished shades of yellow, orange and gold. Locals say ruska arrives at 9am on 9 September each year but, whether or not it’s as precise as that, it lasts for around three weeks.

Here are some trips which combine the Aurora and other activities this autumn:

A night in a (new) Bubble, Hikes and Foraging, Finland

September also sees the launch of Aurora Bubbles which, exclusive to The Aurora Zone, offer a new and unique way to sleep under the stars. With a clear roof for admiring the sky, these heated pods are situated in the grounds of the Nellim Wilderness Hotel, and are kitted out with a double bed and mini-bathroom. Nellim is set on Lake Inari – Finland’s third largest lake – and the surrounding area is ideal for hiking and foraging for berries and mushrooms – another benefit of visiting in autumn. Learn about the Sami culture, venture right up to the Russian border and, come evening, make yourself at home in specially-created Aurora Camps, where you’ll be plied with hot drinks until the Lights appear.

Departing September-November 2013, Nellim – Autumn Lights over Lake Inari costs from £1,480 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), all transport, full-board accommodation including a night in an Aurora Bubble and activities such as two night-time stake-outs at Aurora Camps.
Photography with the experts, Finland
Coinciding with ruska, these four-night autumn trips to light-pollution-free Jeris are ideal for perfecting photography skills. The scenery – remarkably photogenic at any time of year – will be especially visual and vibrant in September and you’ll have expert photographers on hand, sharing all the tricks of the trade. Gain an understanding of local cultures by visiting an Arctic sled dog centre and a reindeer farm, where you will have the chance to photograph the animals up close, too. Hikes, picnics and expeditions looking for the Aurora are also part of this autumn trip.

Departing 12 and 19 September 2013, Jeris – Autumn Aurora Photography costs from £1,395 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), transfers, four nights’ full-board accommodation, all activities, photography tuition, guides and instructors.
Husky Hikes, Aurora Alarm and Amethysts, Finland

Luosto in Finnish Lapland seamlessly adapts between the seasons with the aptly-named Hotel Aurora working with a nearby observatory to provide guests with an Aurora Alarm system. Spend days out in the countryside, whether it’s on a husky hike – meeting with mushers and learning about their rigorous training – or visiting a reindeer farm. You’ll also visit Europe’s only working amethyst mine which, handily based in Luosto, allows guests to dig for their own amethyst. Each evening, locals will explain the secrets and myths surrounding the Lights and you’ll embark on Aurora hunts by minibus and on foot.

Departing September-November 2013, Luosto – Searching for the Autumn Lights costs from £1,245 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), transfers, four nights’ half-board accommodation, all activities, guides and instructors.
Sweden in September (and a glimpse of Norway)

With photography an underlying theme of this itinerary, this Lappish adventure also takes place in September, making the most of ruska’s colours and the impending Solar Maximum. Based at a mountain lodge in Abisko, Sweden, you’ll explore this rugged region on foot and venture through spectacular mountain scenery to Narvik on the Norwegian coast, by train. Come evening, let the experts guide you to Aurora hotspots by minibus and on foot.

Departing 15 September 2013, Abisko – Autumn Aurora Adventure costs from £1,495 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), transfers, four nights’ full-board accommodation, all activities, photography tuition, guides and instructors.
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