Insider’s Guide: Northern lights and where to find them

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Image courtesy Sam Baker

Our representative in Levi, Sam Baker, introduces us to the spectacular natural wonder that is the northern lights. He guides us through the best places to see and how to experience this incredible phenomenon.

One thing that can’t be matched by anything else on your bucket list is the Aurora Borealis. The natural phenomenon is like a masterpiece of light and colour, taking place high in the northern hemisphere, dancing through the skies on a crystal clear night.

Here in Levi, 180km into the Arctic Circle, we have one of the best views of the lights. Due to the freezing temperatures and clear starlit skies, we have been able to see some incredible light shows and you can do so too. Who knew a collection of moving colors could be so beautiful and magical to watch?

Solar flares firing off the sun’s surface into the silence of space create the northern lights. Travelling millions of miles through the solar system, once they enter the Earth’s atmosphere the electro-charged particles collide with numerous gas particles creating beautiful displays of colour in the night’s sky. From greens to pinks to reds, they take on the appearance of a nighttime rainbow.

In Levi, there are so many ways to watch this phenomenon. From the genteel Aurora Snowshoe Safari to the late night, action packed snowmobile adventure, which takes you into the depths of the arctic tundra. The range of fantastic activities provides everyone a chance to the see the aurora and enjoy the spectacle.

My personal favourite way to search for the lights is by snowshoe. Crossing over the Levi fell in the pitch black with just your head torch, backpack, snowshoes and poles you are one with nature.

On route, you trek past the snowcapped trees and tread though knee-deep snow. Surrounded by silence, the Aurora explodes above you. It is one of the most spectacular things you will ever see. Standing there, gazing up at the sky, the lights flicker above you, waving just like a fox’s tail.

There are many local beliefs about what creates these stunning displays. One legend is about the majestic artic fox. As the fox walks through the shimmering snow he flicks his tail causing it to spray the glittery ice into the sky. The result is the spectacularly colourful northern lights.

As we crossed the Levi fell in snowshoes our Finnish guide translated this and other such tales. Warming up around a fire in a tiny kota (a traditional Lapland hut/tent) on the edge of the slopes, we had the most exciting time hunting for the northern lights.

 

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Image courtesy Sam Baker

 

You don’t have to always trek into the wilderness to get the best of the light show though! The best lights I have ever seen were only 14 km outside the centre of Levi. Lying down on the back of a snowmobile in the middle of a frozen lake, I don’t know if it was the adrenaline from the safari or the sheer magnitude of colours above, but it left me completely speechless and in awe.

Although it’s pretty hard to pry your gaze away from the lights, getting those all-important photos is a must! Here are a few easy steps to capture the most amazing images:

  • Get away from the town centre and artificial lights
  • Setup cameras for a low exposure and longer shutter speed (10-15 secs)
  • Use a tripod or selfie stick in the ground for stability
  • Camera phones setup on HDR and NO FLASH!!!

If you want to find somewhere to take great photos of the lights, getting away from light pollution is imperative. That’s why Immeljarvi, the town’s closest frozen lake, is where you will find many of us star gazing awaiting the display.

 

 

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Image courtesy Sam Baker

 

Words really can’t describe how it feels to see our solar system’s greatest visual performance in motion, so what are you waiting for?

Discover more about Levi, Lapland: here.

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