Northern Lights — Abisko, Sweden
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!
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.