Frozen beauty in the north

The aurora bo­re­alis is an un­for­get­table spec­ta­cle in the night skies of the arc­tic zone travel2013

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - AARON MIL­LAR

THE NORTH­ERN Lights are one of the great­est spec­ta­cles on Earth and Nasa pre­dicts this win­ter will be another “so­lar max­i­mum”, mean­ing in­creased cos­mic ac­tiv­ity and bet­ter chances of see­ing those no­to­ri­ously elu­sive dis­plays of ethe­real red and green lights. But you’ll have to travel to the far north of the planet to do so. Hap­pily, a range of off-beat ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions is avail­able this sea­son, promis­ing to keep you warm and en­ter­tained while wait­ing for the magic.

New for this sea­son and rem­i­nis­cent of a sci­ence-fic­tion film set, th­ese gi­ant, trans­par­ent, in­flat­able bub­bles are planted deep in Fin­nish La­p­land, in prime po­si­tion to catch sight of the Aurora Bo­re­alis. Bet­ter still, they’re heated, and are big enough to fit a pri­vate bath­room and dou­ble bed, mean­ing there’s ev­ery chance you can watch one of na­ture’s great­est dis­plays tucked up in bed. Day­time ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude sleigh rides, ice- fish­ing and learn­ing about the lo­cal Sami cul­ture. See www.theau­rora as­tronomer, travel from St Peters­burg to Moscow on board the Golden Ea­gle, which fea­tures en­suite, panoramic-win­dowed cab­ins and a fine-din­ing restau­rant. Stop off along the way for spe­cial­ist Aurora ex­cur­sions and vis­its to the Unesco World Her­itage city of Vladimir and the Golden Ring town, Ve­likiy. See com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing nearby. See quark­ex­pe­di­

The glass igloos of the Kak­slaut­ta­nen Hol­i­day Vil­lage, deep in the snow-cloaked forests of Saariselka, Fin­land, are heated and pro­vide un­in­ter­rupted views of the night sky. view­ing lo­ca­tions, in the com­pany of ex­pert pho­tog­ra­phers, and help you to cap­ture that per­fect im­age.

Joseph Van Os Photo Sa­faris , www. pho­to­sa­faris. com of­fers an eight-day trip to Fair­banks, Alaska, to pho­to­graph the Aurora Bo­re­alis, the World Ice Art Com­pe­ti­tion and the North Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onship Sled Dog Races.

Wild Photography Hol­i­days, www. wild­pho­tog­ra­phy­hol­i­days. com, has a new 10- day Ice­land North­ern Lights workshop, tak­ing in many of the coun­try’s pho­to­graphic high­lights in­clud­ing Snae­fell­snes Penin­sula and the Jokul­sar­lon La­goon.

Alis­tair McLean, Founder of The Aurora Zone, of­fers this ad­vice: “Al­ways travel in hope, rather than ex­pec­ta­tion, of see­ing the North­ern Lights. Base your hol­i­day around day­time ac­tiv­i­ties so the Aurora it­self comes as a bonus. For the best chances of see­ing the lights, head north – but not too far. They are most fre­quently vis­i­ble be­tween about 66°N and 69°N. Also avoid heavy light pol­lu­tion from towns and large ski re­sorts. Most or­gan­ised trips in­clude cold-weather gear, but the best in­vest­ment you can make is a pair of ther­mal long johns.” – In­de­pen­dent


LIGHT SHOW: Spec­tac­u­lar aurora bo­re­alis dis­plays are ex­pected in the far north in De­cem­ber.

LA­P­LAND: The Ice Ho­tel in Swedish La­p­land will be cel­e­brat­ing the 150th an­niver­sary of the Lon­don Un­der­ground.

RUS­SIA: The Krem­lin and the bel­fry of Ivan Ve­likiy.

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