The Northern Highlights
This has to be one of Ramblers Worldwide’s most unusual holidays. Four nights in mid-winter in the extreme north of Sweden.
The aurora borealis are theoretically visible from around the globe at the correct latitudes but most of the terrain is inaccessible and the rest has a high risk of cloud. The mountain observation post at Abisko offers a real opportunity as the microclimate ensures the skies are usually clear.
We saw the aurora on three of the four nights, twice through clear skies and once restricted by clouds. It was quite magical. The journey to the mountain top by open chair lift, in the dark, was silent and serene. The totality of the darkness made the stars shine like diamonds. Temperatures dropped to minus 24 degrees though we were well protected.
The Ice Hotel's Church
During the day temperatures peaked around minus 12 degrees which felt quite pleasant in the calm, bright sunshine. By mid-February there were several hours of daylight and much to do, including walking with snow shoes and cross country skiing (though actually we went across the lake).
The final night was spent at the Ice Hotel which really is built entirely of ice. Not just the bedrooms. There is also a church with the usual adornments including ‘stained glass windows’ and pews. Cocktails can be enjoyed in the Ice Bar though they have to be downed before the ice glass melts. The room temperature is minus 5 degrees.
The Ice Hotel's warm bed
This really is a holiday that has to be approached in the right spirit, which everyone did. It was richly rewarding.
Ramblers finding respite
Time for an iced drink