Hunting for the Northern Lights by snowmobile at the Icehotel
What I was really looking forward to was our evening excursion – going on a hunt for the Northern Lights on snowmobiles…
We had started the day by travelling from Abisko to the Icehotel, a stunning route following the Torne River, framed by mountains on the horizon. It was great to see how beautiful the area is in the light – during the Polar Night, the sun doesn’t rise above these mountains, and so daytime in this valley is a sort of constant twilight.
When we arrived at the Icehotel I was taken aback by how special this hotel is. I had seen the pictures online but nothing could prepare me visiting in person. I honestly believe there is nothing like this anywhere else in the world. Taking part in an afternoon ice sculpting excursion really made me appreciate what an incredible job the artists do to create the ice hotel each year.
But what I was really looking forward to was our evening excursion – going on a hunt for the Northern Lights on snowmobiles was something I have always wanted to do. We met our guide at the main meeting point outside the Icehotel at around 7.30. He took our names and we were split into three small groups before taking us to get helmets for the journey.
He gave us a quick lesson about how to drive the snowmobiles, and off we went. You start by travelling across the frozen Torne River – ice from which is used to create the ice hotel. This is an open area and gives you a chance to get used to the vehicle. This is a fantastic experience, after all how many people can say they have snowmobiled across a river?
We stopped for a while to look for the Northern Lights and our guide told us that this part of the river is believed to be haunted by Saami people… We didn’t see any ghosts, but unfortunately we didn’t see the aurora either. The next bit of the journey – deep into the wilderness, swerving through snow covered paths and trees – was amazing though. Along the way we saw some excitable huskies pulling a sledge at some speed.
Once you’ve travelled through the forest you eventually reach three wooden huts, each with a huge warm fire in the middle. You have a really nice meal of moose stew, which is cooked on the fire by your guide. If the northern lights are out, after dinner you have time to watch them – instead we spent some time with our guide who told us ghost stories from when he was a child.
The route back is much quicker as the guide takes you through a very open shortcut back across the river. After 4 hours of snowmobiling – and several ghost stories – our comfortable Kaamos rooms in the warm accommodation felt very warm and welcoming!
Despite being unlucky with the northern lights, snowmobiling was a very special evening, and my trip to the Icehotel is something I will never forget.