Paula, whose face of happiness already deserves the whole trip, has deciphered the last clues and already knows the destination to which we will go tomorrow. Which one will it be?
How to get to Finnish Lapland? Rovaniemi
Imagine for a moment looking at the world from its top, from the North Pole, and take the little piece that delimits the Arctic Circle. We enter the most polar areas of the planet, a category that in Keys was born with that trip to Antarctica in the opposite extreme but that has been adding exploration trips to Svalbard, Greenland or Lofoten Islands in Lapland Norway and who lives today a new chapter much more traditional. Lapland? Lapland is precisely that region beyond that circle of northern Europe divided between Norway, Russia, Sweden and Finland. All Lapland is wonderful but among them there is one that Christmas lives all year and there we go ... Finnish Lapland!
¿And how to get to it? Our story starts very early, at 5'00 in the morning at Helsinki Central Station once checked out at the hotel Cumulus Kaisaniemi That has given us great service, central and well priced. He first train to the airport It starts at 5'01 (5'50 EUR each) and many young people come back from the long night of partying (we hallucinate the little "clothes" that a girl is wearing with the cold weather, haha)
After a small breakfast at the airport (12.80 EUR), today we fly for the first time with the Norwegian in a flight that in 1 hour and 20 minutes will take us beyond the Arctic Circle although technically Rovaniemi is below (the line passes just through the town of Santa Claus but this we will explain calmly, haha)
Rovaniemi airport, where we land on time, is like entering the Christmas story we are looking for.ALTERNATIVES TO REACH ROVANIEMI: Although we would recommend the internal flight option (time is money, haha), there are a couple of options that you can assess to get here
- Skellefteå Airport in the part of Sweden has Ryanair flights from Girona They avoid you stopping in Helsinki. From there there are about 4 and a half hours of road (see map) for those who consider car rental or the possibility of going by bus or train to Kemi and bus. EYE! It is a seasonal route (we do not know exactly at what time they operate)
- For train lovers (Isaac is, but in this case we preferred to optimize time), Rovaniemi can be reached from Helsinki with the Polar Express It has private compartments with prices between € 100-120 / person.
Decorated trees, animals, reindeer sleigh, Christmas lighting and gifts everywhere make the wait for the suitcase bearable. What we have not found (and we have traveled the small terminal, asked in the kiosk and in information) is the old stamp that they put in your passport if you wanted it (the information one has told us that they do not put it anymore but there is the option from Santa Claus Village).
Although there are option of a "shuttle bus" which distributes you to the different hotels and costs about 7 euros per person, we have chosen to take one of the multiple taxis They expect travelers who charged us € 24.70 and who put us in our charming accommodation chosen in 15 minutes. Guess which one? HeLapland Hotel Sky Ounasvaara, located on a hill atop Rovaniemi.
Our choice comes not only because of the charm it gives off when entering with its fireplace, panoramic corner or roof terrace overlooking the city, but especially for its Sky Ounasvaara restaurant, with windows to the natural landscape of the surroundings, special (although you can come from outside, we wanted to have it for the last day) and because Lapland Safaris, the company chosen for our activities, also pick you up here.
And it is precisely to this place where we are heading right now for our first excursion as we continue to climb north and the light schedules have decreased again. Now it dawns at 10 and it gets dark around 2:30 p.m.
Lapland at Christmas, where to base and what can you see?
Choosing base in Lapland at Christmas, where to do it?
We told you in the ideas and preparations of this trip to Finnish Lapland in 13 days There are many places to make a base for an adventure in Lapland. Rovaniemi, Levi, Yllas, Luosto, Saariselka, Inari ... but there is one that you will go to yes or yes if you are looking for the Christmas Lapland, Rovaniemi! or more specifically the world of Santa Claus that surrounds it. However, it would not be strictly necessary to stay here but you can do it in Levi or Yllas, thus guaranteeing you snow too if you go at the end of November or beginning of December that is not always guaranteed in Rovaniemi (this year if). You can check it inilmatieteenlaitos.fi/weather
Our recommendation? Although we are going to do 13 days to get to know several areas, with 6 or 7 days you could cover as many activities as Santa Claus Village, etc ... Rovaniemi or Levi? It depends on your budget. Our approach is that of 3 days in Rovaniemi, 4 in Levi (which we will go by bus to test public transport) and 3 in Saariselka (where we will go by rental car to test the snowy roads). However, you will have a final summary guide with all the possibilities, experiences, tips and links to blogs of other colleagues who have passed through here.
Rovaniemi base, what to see and do as well as what activities to hire?
Rovaniemi is considered the capital of Finnish Lapland, a small town with several snowy streets at this time that bring together the main accommodation, restaurants, bars and even karaokes of the city, ideal to end any day of visits or activities. Tomorrow we tell you more about her but ... What can you see and do in Rovaniemi in winter?
1. Visit the Santa Claus Village, 8km and in the middle of the Arctic Circle, the town of Santa Claus and first objective for their meeting. It can be reached by bus # 8 or by different excursions for example by reindeer sled. The villa includes a hotel, restaurants, a shopping center, the famous post office, Santa's office, reindeer or huskies farm, a snowman (ice bar-restaurant), slides,…IF YOU WANT TO SEE OUR VISIT TO THE PEOPLE OF SANTA CLAUS go directly to "Rovaniemi and Santa Claus Village, travel to the town of Santa Claus" where we tell you one of the most beautiful moments of the trip2. Dare with more Christmas attractions how can they be Santa park (not to be confused with the previous one, this is his elven cave), halfway between Rovaniemi and Santa Claus Village (and also communicated with bus # 8) or excursions toJoulukka
3. Perform the best activities in Lapland such as reindeer or huskies sledges, snowmobile excursions, boreal camps, snowshoes, arctic fishing,... For this there are several companies such as Artic Lifestyle, Safartica, Lapland Wellcome, Snowmobile Safari, Wild Nordic or Lapland Safaris. We will tell you about our research but we end up hiring online with Lapland Safaris, possibly the strongest with more variety of schedules and activities and that allow you to keep the costumes during your stay (fundamental)
4. Hire excursions to nearby nature in activities like the Ranua Wildlife Park, Korouoma Icefall,…
5. Staying at the Artic Snow Hotel ice hotel 30 km north with igloos that open on December 1 and accommodation within an ice mountain from December 20 to March 31 (or just visit it)
6. Embark on the famous Icebreaker Cruise Sampo, a unique experience aboard an icebreaker from Kemi that also includes a visit to an ice castle but from mid-December
7. Enjoy a typical Finnish smoke sauna in places likeSiikluoma
8. Cross fingers waiting for the necessary conditions to observe Aurora borealis, a great gift from nature from September to the end of March
Nature dressed in white and the most extraordinary wildlife on the planet
In case there were delays in the flight and to enjoy the great moment calmly, today we have decided to "continue collecting clues" about Santa Claus and not go directly to his "world of magic" so We have decided to know the most virgin part of nature that introduces us to Lapland covered in white in winter.
It is complex to see wildlife in the dense Finnish forests that will surround us these days, just some clueless reindeer crossing the road. As we said in "Finnish Lapland in 20 questions / answers" 70% of its territory are well-kept forests, fjords and more than 200,000 lakes. !Pure nature! What fantastic beings can inhabit these places on the planet? We are in Ranua Wildlife Park 100 km away from Rovaniemi and made with Lapland Safaris (its name in English is "Excursion to Ranua Wildlife Park" although it is also in Spanish online)
Ranua Wild Park is a space in the middle of the white desert where 200 individuals of around 50 different species live in a wide area through which a 2.8 km long path between wooden walkways and platforms. Their schedules range from 10am to 4pm from 1Sep to 31May and from 9am to 7pm the remaining summer season
We are facing one of the few places where we can meetarctic animals never seen before by us. In the bird part, ural or short-eared owls, white or royal-tailed eagles, beating, ducks, geese, swans or crows they get the attention
The place is icy. We are around -14ºC but the thermal clothing is working perfectly. We carry 1 thermal layer, another one at the top, our own waterproof clothes, gloves and, above, the one provided by Lapland that includes a hat, scarf, gloves, socks, boots and full suit.
In another area we can see minks, raccoons, beavers or wild boars ...
… But, without a doubt, the star of the park is the Polar Bear although we feel a little sorry. After our failed attempt to see him in Svalbard It is still a pending thorn but something tells us that this is not the place.
What surprises us is to see the dhole and gray wolves in an area of the forest to which we have access from a high walkway. Impressive to see how these animals are able to survive these temperatures
The rest of the pleasant walk is dedicated to lynx (!! beautiful animal !!) and to contemplate the arctic places illuminated by a shy sunset in the distance
Paula, where are you going? To ask for Rudolf? Hahaha ... There we go, to the area of deer, reindeer, elk, roe deer, siberian deer ...THE PAULA TRACKS:
There has been no luck and it seems that Rudolf has not been here for a long time. To the question of whether they have seen a red-nosed reindeer that lights up in the dark or in the fog, the little animals have made a face of ... what #? $%email protected asks this girl? hahaha
… And till musk oxen that we had not seen before.
Halfway a fire next to an ice bar (curious contrast) helps us to recover heat in the hands that are the most affected by the polar cold due to the use of the cameras
Of the foxes, both the red and the Arctic, we can say little since the first one shone by its absence and after our encounter with the arctic fox in Svalbard In complete freedom, the one here could not surprise us.
!To eat!! The tour ends at the starting point where one of the two restaurants available offers a buffet included in the price (The breakdown of the day you already know that it does not include hotels, flights and these excursions that we put in the final summary). We also dropped by the famous chocolate shop Karl Fazer where it is impossible not to take any (4.90 EUR) and for the Vivatulet Wine Shop where you can get unique Finnish wines (apparently based on Arctic berries)
Would we recommend this tour? The truth is that it is an experience to spend a pleasant day of entry and contextualization to Finnish Lapland although it is from 14'00 when the blue hour returns the most magical nature yet
The way back after the meal was conducive, after the early morning of the morning flight, for that little nap so appetizing. Who doubted it?
Northern camp in search of the northern lights
We were aware that from the moment one enters these places in the north of the planet, from 9:00 pm our gaze would have to admire the sky (after 11:00 pm it is the best time) because ... you never know! Of course, when the outside temperature has forecasts of reaching -20ºC, the sky is the closest to the freezer in your fridge.
Paula has never seen Northern Lights (Isaac saw them under the sky of Lofoten Islands in April). The truth is that he is enjoying so much that I am aware that they are not necessary for your experience to be complete but I have managed a couple of mobile applications to know the intensity KPs of each day in our different destinations. Today the chances are not very high but, after moving away from the city several kilometers away, a scenography shows us the wonder that must be to see them in this place
A little snow-lit trail lit us into the forest To a small campfire. It is the place chosen by Lapland Safaris in his "Excursion to Aurora Borealis Camp by guided bus" activity on December 3.
The camp is complemented by a covered kota (ideal for cold) and a kind of stall where to pick up the other great incentive
And which one is it? ! An extraordinary ready-made hamburgers or sausages so that each one roasts them to the fire to his own taste!
Tonight, despite the magnificent views of the sky of Lapland, it was not going to be that of our first northern lights. These will have to wait
However, Paula has already set our road map for tomorrow. Santa Claus Village, the town of Santa Claus has time to introduce us to his wonderful magical world. Our entry into the nature of Lapland will give way to that old man with a white beard and red suit whose encounter we have been waiting for months ... but that is part of another story, right?
Paula and Isaac, from Rovaniemi (Finland)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 53.40 EUR