Work for your Northern Lights
To see the Northern Lights, you have to be outside. And outside, the best way to keep warm is to keep moving. Join Turgleder in Karasjok on a trip to the top of Halde, with great views over the Finnmark plain.
Snowshoes are not something that you require prior knowledge of — anyone who can walk will get the hang of them straight away. Most of the walk is through the light pine forest that is almost everywhere around Karasjok, although you do climb above the tree line near the summit. However, it isn't much of a climb — only 130 metres/260 ft. over the 1.5 kilometres (a mile) to the summit, which is 347metres /1138 ft high. At a comfortable pace, it takes an hour and a half each way. In other words, this isn't a marathon, but a trip for everyone.
Views from the coast to Finland
On clear, moonlit nights, you can see right across the Finnmark plain from the summit. Between the peaks of the thousand-metre Gaissene mountains to the north, you can see as far as the coast, while to the south-east, you can see deep into Finland, as far as the hills of Saariselkä. It's a perfect place to light a bonfire and swap stories over a warming cup of coffee.
All is explained
Halde is visible for miles on the Finnmark plain, so for the Sami, it became a sieidi — a holy place. Your guide, Liv, describes what the Sami and Norwegians believed about the Northern Lights. She also explains the science behind them: how the Lights are born in the sun and released in the highest layers of the atmosphere, 100 kilometres, 60 miles, above us.
The Northern Lights don't necessarily start when you are at the summit; they can appear at any time. And if it's snowing when you set off, it might clear up. The point is to be outside, under an open sky for as long as possible. Karasjok has an ideal climate for Northern Lights spotters, with little precipitation and high chances of clear weather. Admittedly, it is also one of the country's coldest spots, but you can always dress for the cold. The trip is between 8 p.m. and midnight, the most likely hours for the Lights. Even though the Northern Lights can never be guaranteed, you won't miss a single green flicker if they do appear.
www.turgleder.com is the website of Turgleder in Karasjok, and presents an excellent selection of trips.