Lighting up the night sky in Norway

It is often considered to be the best free show on Earth. The aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, as they are also known, occur well above the Arctic Circle during the Norwegian winter.

The lights occur because they are caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere. It is an entirely natural phenomenon that is the result of the solar wind hitting the Earth’s atmosphere.

One of the best places to witness the Northern Lights is in the Finnmark region of Norway, which is deep in the far north. This far north during winter the nights last for 24 hours, and the temperature mostly stays below freezing. If there is no cloud cover, that cold helps to keep skies very clear so that when the lights do appear, and the phenomenon is not guaranteed, look spectacular.

Many people are more than happy to stand, or sit, and simply watch the lights, but if this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, why not do something a little different, and turn this amazing experience into an adventure?

There are a couple of ways of doing that up in Finnmark.

One way to enjoy the Northern Lights is to hop onboard your own snowmobile and journey out into Europe’s very last wilderness.

One such adventure offers a snowmobile trip to the mountains between Finland and Russia. This is a guided tour so you will be in the company of guides who know the region well. In good weather you should see the Northern Lights and also the Russian town of Nikel. It is a round trip of 32kms from the town of Kirkenes and refreshments such as tea and coffee are served as well as a local staple which is reindeer meat.

For a more traditional outing, you could join a dog sledge tour for a six and a half hour trip to the Pasvikdalen Valley, which is on the Norway/Russian border.

This trip introduces you to the traditional culture of the nomadic Sami People, and should also allow you to see bears in the wild. If you are confident you can drive you own dog sledge, or you can simply ride as a passenger. Refreshments and lunch are served outdoors round an open fire or in a traditional Sami lavvu, which is a deerskin tent.

Winter in the far north is not for everybody, but if you are prepared for the adventure it can be both a terrific experience and an awe inspiring sight.

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