The first morning after arriving at Abisko Lodge (via a spectacular visit to see the Ice Hotel with its individually carved suites and rooms followed by a dinner worthy of a Michelin starred restaurant at Abisko Lodge itself) I looked out of the window of our annexe and gasped. Pinks and lilacs interwoven with blues suffused the sky and tiny fairylights twinkled in every direction: our first sunrise in the Arctic Circle on our Northern Lights Holiday was magical.
After a delicious breakfast we all layered up. It is important you wear enough layers in the Arctic Circle on your Northern Lights Trip and Weekend a La Carte had given us good advice on what to wear: longjohns, damart vests, glove liners and at least three jumpers were the order of the day all worn under special Arctic snow suits and boots provided by the Hotel to keep you warm especially on the nighttime Northern Lights Tours. We all giggled as we walked like Michelin men to meet our guide for our self-drive snow-mobiling trip into the National Park. You only get a limited window of daylight in the Arctic Circle so expeditions make the most of the light – in our case we left at 10.00 and got back to the Lodge just as it became dark at about 14.30 – 15.00.
The six of us paired up on the snowmobiles, each taking turns to drive, following our guide who led the way. I had never done anything like that before but found it relatively straightforward once I practiced a bit. The route took us through stunning, ice laden, woods out across a frozen lake and across flat landscapes with breathtaking vistas covered in snow. The expedition felt adventurous but safe – helmets were provided and we all had a ‘dead man’s handle’ when driving. Our guide was thoughtful and careful and regularly looked over her shoulder to see if we were keeping up with her and were all ok.
After about 90 minutes of driving, we were thrilled to see a number of huge moose in the wild and we stopped in a little hut for warm soup, delicious hunks of bread and coffee. Our guide lit a wood-burning fire and within minutes we were toasty. It is very cold (minus 20 ) so you need to keep your scarf up round your face whilst driving and the Hotel provided freshly laundered balaclavas, but provided you wear the proper equipment you are fine. A particularly special moment for me was popping outside the hut on my own to experience the total silence, the breath freezing atmosphere and the raw beauty of the snow covered wilderness.
As my confidence built on the return trip I raced across the frozen lake, the bobbing headlights of the other snowmobiles ahead of me lighting the path and creating mystical shadows and lights through the woods. Arriving back at Abisko Lodge we all dived into the bar for hot chocolates, Irish coffees and cake in front of a blazing fire feeling on a total high as the warmth returned to our rosy cheeks. Whilst we waited for the evening and our planned hunt for the Northern Lights we reflected on our snowmobiling trip which was really good fun and a unique way to experience the winter wonderland of the Arctic Circle.