Dancing Skies: Catching the Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden

Posted on December 19, 2012 by

Continuing on with our Ice Run, we zip through the border by train into the Swedish Lapland, where we saw some of the most amazing sights in the region. The Northern Lights were what first drew us to Lapland, and they didn’t disappoint.

***

Swathes of green lights danced and shimmered across the sky, almost like electronic curtains flapping before us. What had started out as a faint beam of white light radiating from above the clouds now stretched well into the east, forming a green arch over the horizon. Once we moved higher up into the mountain away from the lights of the city, the color of the aurora became clearer. Like a luminescent green flame, it moved and swayed in slow motion. We’d been hunting for the Northern Lights for a week now, and in Abisko, we finally caught our first glimpse of it.

Poised along Lake Torneträsk and entrenched within the U-shaped Lapporten Valley, Abisko is one of the best spots in the world to see the Northern Lights. With its location 200km north of the Arctic Circle, this wilderness area lies close to the Aurora Oval, the hub for the formation of the Aurora Borealis. Protected by over 60 peaks in the Abisko National Park, the area rarely sees cloudy skies. Sometimes known as the Arctic Desert, Abisko is the driest spot in Sweden with the lowest precipitation in the country and clear, unpolluted air for excellent viewing. It was no wonder on our first few nights here, we were already seeing one of the strongest Northern Lights displays of the season.

“In Abisko, we see the Northern Lights almost every other day in winter,” said Sandra, our nature guide from The Aurora Zone, “but we never get tired of them”.

In fact, according to scientists, the Northern Lights shine about 159 nights a year, but they can’t be seen all the time because of the midnight sun and clouds. Originally from Southern Sweden, Sandra had moved here nine years ago for the rich nature and myriad of outdoor activities which she loves – and of course, the Northern Lights.

“The best aurora I’ve seen was in 2003, during the solar maximum, when the lights were blooming in bright pink and yellow.” It is predicted that in 2013, there will be another solar maximum, although it’ll barely be half as spectacular as the previous one.

That evening, we hiked up the trail behind the Abisko Mountain Lodge where we were staying, towards the forests and onto a viewing point. Sandra made a fire and we sat and drank hot tea while looking up to the skies. A view of Abisko and the surrounding mountains unfurled upon us. Over 6o peaks sprawl across the Abisko National Park, home to plenty of wildlife – from reindeer to moose, lynx, fox and even brown bears. We huddled up close to the fire and listen as Sandra shared more stories about the aurora.

“The Sami people have huge respect for the Northern Lights; they believe that they are the souls of dead people playing football with a walrus skull,” explained Sandra as we watched the sky dreamily. I pondered over how the Sami came up with that bizarre idea, but I looked up, and realized the Northern Lights were what you wanted them to be. I saw magic.

Here is a series of Alberto’s photos, hope they put a tint of magic into your life! 

At the Aurora Sky Station
Lights at the sky station
Light curtains
Colors in the sky
Faint lights from the mountain
All over the sky
Lights from the Abisko Mountain Lodge
Beyond the woods
In the woods
Look at the amazement in our eyes
A spray of light
Candles in the sky


How to:

This Aurora Hunt trip was organized by The Aurora Zone. The four-night trip costs £1895 (US$3100) for twin sharing, including flights to Kiruna from London Heathrow, private transfers, Aurora workshop, a snowmobile safari, two Aurora hunts in heated minibus, visit to the ICEHOTEL®, Aurora snowshoe, and a husky safari.


Disclaimer: Our trip was made possible by The Aurora Zone and Eurail.com, but all opinions expressed are our own.

Comments

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

26 Responses to “Dancing Skies: Catching the Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden”

  1. Rachel December 20, 2012 11:49 pm
    #

    This is one of the things I'd love to witness, and your photos made me want it more. Thank you for the amazing shots, I especially love that photo of you two with the expressions and everything.. it's perfect. Have a great holiday! :)

    • @WildJunket December 26, 2012 3:18 pm
      #

      Thanks Rachel! It was an incredibly moving sight. I hope you get to see them soon!

  2. Erica December 26, 2012 9:11 pm
    #

    This trip sounds absolutely magical and freezing at the same time :)
    And as always, Alberto's pictures are fantastic. These will hold me until I can see the real thing!

    • @WildJunket January 7, 2013 7:27 am
      #

      I used to hate the cold, but after visiting Lapland, I'm hooked to it! When there's snow, everything looks pretty. Hope you get there soon!

      • Erica January 8, 2013 9:46 pm
        #

        I'm going to attempt to channel that here in NY so I am more willing to go outdoors. :)

  3. Camels & Chocolate January 14, 2013 1:33 am
    #

    This looks amazing! All the times I've been up in Arctic regions, it's been summer or early fall so no Northern Lights for me…yet!

    • @WildJunket January 31, 2013 6:47 am
      #

      Thanks Kristin! We were quite nervous about going to the northern extreme in winter, but it turned out fine. It was mostly -5 degC, not bad at all! Hope you catch the Northern Lights soon!

  4. Chez B January 30, 2013 3:01 pm
    #

    Amazing!! Loved this post. Really stunning.

    • Nellie January 31, 2013 6:44 am
      #

      Thank you Chez! Glad you liked your photos. The Northern Lights were truly stunning.

  5. Paul (The City Lane) February 6, 2013 7:45 am
    #

    Stunning photos. I'm glad you wrote some meaningful words to go with them too. A pleasure to read :)

  6. Joyce February 7, 2013 2:25 am
    #

    Hi, your photos are amazing and thanks for the recommendations! When were you in Abisko? I'm hoping to plan a trip there in December and I'm really hoping with all my might that I'll see the northern lights.

  7. Nt@ Aurora in Norway April 23, 2013 9:46 am
    #

    So you got to see Northern Lights too! But it actually looks like it was a faint one, you can get much better! But you need to stay there at least a few weeks. This is what we were able to see after staying one month in Norway to hunt Northern Lights! http://www.nomadtravellers.com/blog/121-northern-lights-...

  8. Mere@GreenGlobalTrvl April 25, 2013 6:55 pm
    #

    Wow! Stunning photos! Amazing you were able to capture those colors, beautiful!

  9. John December 29, 2013 7:43 pm
    #

    Great post, thanks for all the photos and the inspiration!

  10. Bindhu Unny January 14, 2014 8:31 pm
    #

    Your photos have made us think about planning a trip to see this magic. Hope we will be able to make that trip. :)

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