Finland has been on my ‘I-really-really-really-would-like-to-visit’ list for many years. In fact, it’s probably been sitting there on The List since I graduated from university seven years ago. So when the folks at Three
kindly invited me to visit with them on a colour hunting trip through the snow, I literally clapped my hands and screamed with happiness. The moment I looked out of the window as we flew over the Baltic Sea and saw the most incredible winter sunset I knew the trip was going to be full of inspiring experiences. Read on to discover where I stayed, how I got on guiding a husky safari sled, what it was like to see the Northern Lights for the first time and so much more!
During the four day trip I stayed at Torassieppi Reindeer Farm
and it felt like living in a fairytale. Log cabins with snow-capped roofs and wood burners inside sat nestled amongst the trees in the forest, while hanging lanterns lined snow covered paths which led down to frozen lakes. Reindeer roamed through the trees and candles flickered from the windows of each cabin. Yes, it was as ridiculously charming as it sounds! It was everything I imagined a trip to Northern Finland to be and more.
It was fascinating to learn about the Finnish approach to livestock while on the trip. Although reindeers roam feely, none are truly wild as they are all part of herds that belong to locals. Also, they aren’t bred only for food or their skins. Rather they let the animals live full lives and once they pass away naturally they use all parts of the animal for different things. Their antlers are used to make knife handles and drinking cups; their skins for rugs in the home; and their meat for food.
You see this teepee? It’s actually sheltering a hole in the ice of this frozen lake, and is there for sauna users to jump into after rolling in the snow. Sidenote – It’s Finnish tradition to do so naked – very exhilarating and great for circulation but also incredibly #cold!
On the first day I went ice fishing. Although I didn’t manage to catch any fish (apparently only two fish have been caught in this lake all winter!), I did manage to look about twelve in my snow suit and hat. Drilling the hole in the lake by hand proved to be a great workout, too!
Aside from seeing the Northern Lights for the first time (more on that further down!), I think the Husky safari was the highlight of my trip. I set off guiding the sled with one passenger sat at the front. The moment we set off we headed down a really steep corner and the huskies were so excited to finally be free to run. Let’s just say we went really, really fast and I loved every second. I loved feeling the wind rushing through my hair and the winter sunlight flickering over my face as we practically flew through forest after forest – it was so invigorating! The dogs are happiest when it’s under minus thirty degrees and are born and die outside, so they love the exercise and adventure. Oh, and getting to pet the dogs at the end was like icing on the cake of what had been a feast of an adventure already!
After the Husky safari I was keen to extend the euphoria of trying something new, so I headed out cross country skiing for the first time. Setting off from the edge of one forest, I had to navigate a small slope down to the frozen lake. Yes, I fell straight on my bum! With much hilarity and struggling I eventually managed to make it back to the vertical position and found my rhythm as I crossed the lake. Soon I had found my stride and explored countless deserted forests on my skis. I loved the workout going up hills knowing the reward of rushing through the hilly forests at speed awaited when I skied down the other side.
People often ask me how I manage to share my #mrbazaartravels content on Bright.Bazaar’s Instagram feed
while I am on-the-go travelling. The reason is because I have a Three sim card that has a Feel At Home function, meaning I can use my phone and data at the same cost as if I were in the UK. Goodbye roaming fees and Hello to uploading many Instagrams as I like! While in Finland I used my usual Three sim card and it meant I could share my colourful finds and adventures in real time as I captured them on the iPhone 6
. Then, back in the cabin, their mobile broadband
meant I could keep on top of my emails and other work while travelling, even in a location as remote as this forest in Northern Finland. Incredible, right?!
One of my favourite things about visiting this region was the light. I had expected Northern Finland to feel a lot darker than it did. The first day was very cloudy and grey, but the following three days offered clear blue skies and brilliant winter sunshine. The best bit was that the sun never rose very high in the sky, so it meant there was a low, rich and golden hour light all day. This meant constant picture taking and I didn’t mind one bit!
Where do I start with describing what it was like to see the Northern Lights in person for the first time? When I write that it was like an out of body experience, I’m not exaggerating. When the lights really “kick off” and start to sink and dance across the sky, they look so perfect – just like the pictures on Google or in the pages of National Geographic – that it feels as though you are in a movie or seeing something fake. I promise they are as incredible as I am describing! I was standing on a frozen lake in Northern Finalnd for an hour and a half watching the auroras build (above picture), when suddenly the whole night sky lit up. It was as if someone flicked a switch and suddenly the colourful lights shined so brightly as they danced majestically around the stars and across the inky night sky (below picture). This really was a colour hunting moment for the books and a total bucket list moment!
Skidooing (or snowmobiling) through the dramatic landscape of Northern Finland was an other incredible adventure of the trip. From driving at seventy miles per hour across the frozen lakes, to navigating up and down steep mountain sides the whole experience was an adrenaline rush from start to finish!
As we drove our Skidoos through the snowy forests I kept stopping to capture the beautiful natural textures and colours of the trees. The way the golden light danced across the frozen branches and pine needles made everything appear as though it was sparkling and twinkling.
Standing on top of a mountain that was 200km inside the Arctic Circle was breathtaking. You could just see frozen lakes and forests as far as the eye could see. It was so remote and so peaceful – I loved it.
Remember how I said the light in Lapland was incredible? Yeah, I wasn’t joking! Wow. Have you ever been to Finnish Lapland? What inspires you about my pictures from this beautiful corner of the world?
// Photography by Will Taylor | Three UK sponsored for my trip to Finland but all views are my own.