The Aurora Trail

Cruises, Escorted, Northern Lights
Bergen to Kirkenes on Norway's Hurtigruten coastal ferry, then escorted on to Finnish Lapland: Saariselka, Sinetta, Rovaniemi and Kemi, including a night in a Glass Igloo at Arctic Snow Hotel
12 Days
Dec 2019 - Mar 2020
Itinerary
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The famous Hurtigruten vessels have been transporting visitors along Norway's magnificent west coast for over 100 years. This voyage takes you north from the beautiful, historic city of Bergen to Kirkenes in the far Arctic wilderness. Sailing through beautiful fjords and past many islands, explore the rugged coastline and a collection of the country’s natural wonders. Crossing the Arctic Circle is when the hunt for the Aurora Borealis begins. There is also the chance to enjoy various optional excursions en-route. Continue by escorted tour to Finnish Lapland: Saariselka, Sinetta, Rovaniemi and Kemi. Enjoy a visit to the Arctic Snow Hotel with overnight in a Glass Igloo, a King Crab Safari, a reindeer farm visit with sled ride, a snowshoe walk, a Husky farm visit with sled ride, a visit to the delightful Santa Claus Village, a wonderful day on the Sampo Icebreaker cruise with ice swimming, and (weather permitting) a visit to the Kemi Snow Castle.

Day 1: The journey begins: Bergen
Your journey to the high north starts in Bergen, a city surrounded by seven mountains. After embarkation enjoy a tasty dinner buffet, based on the best ingredients from the coast. We sail north from Bergen along the Hjeltefjord, the same route the Vikings once sailed to the Shetland Islands and beyond – we are heading to the high north. Spend the rest of the evening relaxing as you take in the spectacular night landscapes, either from deck or in one of the panorama lounges.

Day 2: A day for masterpieces: Floro to Molde
If you wake up early, you have the chance to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Nordfjord, followed by a delicious breakfast. Sail past the West Cape and then out into open sea, before the ship navigates through skerries and islands, towards Alesund. Enjoy a colourful and enlightening presentation about the Aurora Borealis on board tonight. 

Optional shore excursions today: Art Nouveau walk or Aquarium and Mount Askla in Alesund.

Day 3: In the footsteps of the Vikings: Kristiansund - Trondheim - Rorvik
Wake up in beautiful Trondheim. The architecture and surroundings here create a beautiful and almost mythical setting. Explore the city on foot or enjoy an optional excursion. In the afternoon the ship sails northwest, passing the beautiful Kjeungskjaer lighthouse and numerous charming islets and rocky outcrops. After passing through the narrow Stoksund, the ship arrives at charming Rorvik.

Optional shore excursions today: Trondheim and Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim City Walk.
 
Day 4: Welcome to the Arctic! Bronnoysund to Svolvaer
The Arctic Circle marks the border to the Arctic region. Being above this degree of latitude provides the best chances of experiencing the Northern Lights. We continue sailing along the beautiful coast of Helgeland up to Bodo. Later this afternoon the sight of the 1000m high Lofoten Wall will appear on the horizon. The charms of the Lofoten Islands are revealed in all the small, picturesque fishing villages with their bohemian atmosphere. Crossing the Arctic Circle is when the hunt for the Arctic light begins. We celebrate this with a presentation of ‘The Magic Light, Aurora Borealis’, where you can experience this phenomenon via pictures, words and music. After sailing through narrow Raftsund, we stop at the entrance to enthralling Trollfjord. Here we serve freshly made fish cakes out on deck. You will also hear the story of ‘The battle of Trollfjord’, which took place here in the winter of 1890.

Optional shore excursions today: Bodo and Saltstraumen, Meet the Vikings, Loftopils Brewery.

Day 5: Into the wild: Stokmarknes to Skjervoy, via Tromso
The ship continues to Tromso, the gateway to the Arctic, for a prolonged stay. In winter and spring you can complete your stay in Tromso with a thrilling husky dog sled ride. After an exhilarating day in Tromso, we continue our northbound journey. The Captain invites guests to taste stockfish on deck. The ship is now sailing into the area along the coast where you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, and we gather on deck to search for this breathtaking phenomenon.

Optional shore excursions today: Tromso - Arctic Capital, Dog-sledding, Scenery and Huskies, Polar History Walk, Whale watching, Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Sami Adventure.

Day 6: The North Cape: Oksfjord to Berlevag
Enjoy the magnificent sub-Arctic landscape as we cross the 71st parallel on our journey towards the North Cape, the northernmost point on the continent. After brief early stops in Hammerfest and Havoysund we arrive in Honningsvag, the gateway to the spectacular North Cape. Close to the North Cape you find one of the world’s most exciting nature reserves, Gjesvaerstappan. The Hurtigruten ship continues north, sailing in the heartland of the indigenous Sámi people. We pass their ancient sacred site, the rock formation Finnkirka, and as we approach our next stop, the fishing village Kjollefjord. Every so often local fishermen visit us to share their catch of the day (King Crab and Cod) with us out on deck. Here you can learn more about the Sami people, as well as exploring the wonderful scenery on our different excursions, including an unforgettable snowmobile trip to one of Europe’s most extreme and exciting natural areas.

Optional shore excursions today: The North Cape-Honningsvag, Sami culture, Snowmobile in the Arctic, Fishing Village visit.

Day 7: The extreme North: Kirkenes Arrival
Those up early enough will see Vadso and then just after breakfast we arrive in Kirkenes at 30° East. The city that sees you further east than Istanbul and St. Petersburg, is where your Hurtigruten Northbound voyage ends. Self-transfer from Kirkenes pier to Thon Hotel Kirkenes or similar for overnight stay.

Day 8  Kirkenes-Inari-Saariselka, Finland: King Crab Safari and Sami Culture
This morning join a 3 hour King Crab Safari. This safari was rated one of the best 25 excursions in the world by National Geographic and is great fun. This giant of the sea lives in Kirkenes Fjord and can reach up to 2 metres across, and weigh up to 15 kilos. Depending on weather/ice, this excursion might be by boat or snowmobile drawn sleigh (you do not drive the snowmobile, only sit in a sled drawn by the guide’s snowmobile). Once the king crab has been caught, transfer to a remote cabin where the crab is cooked for your delicious lunch.

Later continue south to the centre of Sami world at Inari, the capital of Lapland. Visit the Sajos Sami Cultural Centre and parliament set in the heart of Sapmi in a unique natural landscape on the shore of Lake Inari, serving as a centre for Sami self-governance, culture, education and know-how. Modern conference premises, facilities and technology go hand in hand with authentic, living Sami culture.  Continue onto the tiny village of Saariselka, the centre of Finland’s winter sports. Evening at leisure. Overnight at Santa's Hotel Tunturi or similar. 

Day 9  Saariselka-Sinetta: Sami Reindeer Safari, Overnight in Glass Igloo + Optional: Snow Sauna & Outdoor Jacuzzi
This morning we make our way to Sinetta, just outside Rovaniemi. Along the way, enjoy a delightful visit to a traditional Sami reindeer farm. Meet the farmers who will be dressed in their colourful Sami clothing, as they tell you the importance of reindeer in Sami culture, and teach you how to throw a Suopunki (Sami lasso). Then relax  with a short reindeer sleigh ride, moving through the white landscape, where the only sound you will hear is the music of the reindeer bells. Lunch is included at the farm. Afternoon at leisure.

Tonight get ready for a truly magical experience – a night at the unique Arctic Snow Hotel, where you will check-in to your private Glass Igloo. Enjoy the warmth of your Glass Igloo with it’s glass roof - weather permitting you can watch for the Northern Lights or the millions of stars, from the comfort of your bed.  Your stay includes a traditional Lappish 3 course dinner in a magnificent wooden “Kota”, where fresh salmon is slowly grilled over the fire in a huge pit.

For those who are feeling adventurous, tonight you can upgrade to stay in a Snow Suite at the hotel. Every year the Snow Hotel is built anew, with local artists designing and creating the ice and wall sculptures that decorate the hotel and Snow Suites. Each Snow Suite is different and offers a unique arctic experience, spending the night as the Sami once did in a snow igloo. A mattress on an ice bed with special arctic sleeping bags keeps you warm in the ambient temperature of 0 and-5 C. Bathroom facilities are located in a warm section of the hotel, just nearby.

You might like to take an optional Snow Sauna & Outdoor Jacuzzi at the hotel tonight. The snow sauna has walls made of snow and ice - only the sauna benches are made of wood - an astonishing combination of thick steam within intimate snow walls. Afterwards jump into the outdoor Jacuzzi, and admire the Northern Lights or the spectacular starry night skies of Lapland.

Day 10 Sinetta-Rovaniemi: Husky Farm & Safari, Santa Claus Village, Santa’s Visit + Optional: Aurora Borealis Camp by Snowmobile
After your wonderful overnight stay we head to Rovaniemi. Afternoon visit to a Husky Farm - the barking of happy dogs will welcome you, and the head 'musher' will tell you all about the life of these hard working Arctic dogs. Then enjoy a sled ride - riding in pairs, with 1 person driving and the other seated in the sleigh, on trails through the forest. Refuel with a traditional outdoor meal of Lappish sausage grilled on the campfire, followed by Lappish pancakes. Then visit the wonderful Santa Claus Village, the official home of Santa Claus. Take a step into this magical world and meet the man himself, send a letter from his Post Office, step across the Arctic Circle and more. Overnight at Santa's Hotel Santa Claus or similar. 

This evening perhaps join the optional Aurora Camp by Snowmobile adventure. Drive through the wilderness and discover the phenomena of the northern sky at our Northern Lights base. Experience the Arctic night by driving through the snow-covered forest and on the frozen river to the Aurora Borealis camp. At the resort, you will find a theatre, presenting a film about the myths and facts of this natural phenomenon. You will also have time to roam around the resort, take a brisk sleigh ride or you can just lay back in the snow observatory by the open fire admiring the northern sky. With a little luck, the sky is clear and the Northern Lights may show up! Delicious reindeer burger will be served before your return to the city.

Day 11 Rovaniemi - Kemi: Snow Castle & Sampo Ice-Breaker Cruise + Optional: Magic of the Arctic Dinner
Today we head to the town of Kemi. First we visit to the fabulous SnowCastle. Pure white snow walls surround the gigantic SnowCastle, the biggest of its kind in the world, and built entirely out of snow and ice, with a special snow slide and amazing snow sculptures. Then we board the Sampo Icebreaker for a cruise on this remarkable vessel, breaking though the ice of the northern Gulf of Bothnia*. This extraordinary experience includes a guided tour of the ship and a 3 course meal. Plus something very different- swimming in the middle of the largest ice field in Europe. Wearing a snug survival and floatation suit, just jump in the sea and float! You stay completely dry and a guide is with you at all times. We return to Rovaniemi in the early evening for a 2nd overnight.

*Please note: the departure on 10 December will include a visit to the Ranua Wildlife Park instead of the Sampo Ice Breaker Cruise. The departures on 14 and 21 January will include a lunch onshore in the Seaview Restaurant and a 3 hour Sampo Icebreaker cruise.

Tonight there is one last optional excursion offered – dinner and Aurora watching at Snowland, the world's 'coolest' and biggest Igloo Restaurant. Here you will feast on a delicious 3 course dinner including fresh bread & cheese, water and coffee or tea. After dinner, sit out on the restaurant’s terrace by the bonfire, searching for the Aurora Borealis one last time.

Day 12  Rovaniemi Departure
Transfer to Rovaniemi Airport and end of arrangements.

Departures 2019: 10 December

Departures 2020: 14, 21, 28 January; 04, 11, 18, 25 February; 03, 10, 17 March

Includes: Northbound Hurtigruten voyage in a Polar Outside cabin, on a full-board basis with WiFi (Days 1-7); 4 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast daily (Days 7-8, 10-11), 1 x dinner (Day 9), 3 x lunches (Days 8, 9, 11), picnic lunch (Day 10); 3hr King Crab Safari and Sami Culture Centre visit Inari (Day 8); 2-2.5hr Reindeer Farm Visit & Sleigh Ride and overnight in Glass Igloo at Arctic Snow Hotel (Day 9); 2hr Husky Safari and Santa Claus Village visit (Day 10); Snow Castle Visit and Sampo Icebreaker Cruise Kemi (Day 11). N.B. construction of the Snow Castle is weather dependent and may not be completed until mid to late January; shared transfer hotel-Rovaniemi Airport (Day 12 only); services of English-speaking guide (evening Day 7 – Day 12); transport in modern coach with WiFi (Days 8-11); entrance fees for included excursions; use of outer winter clothing during included activities and safaris (Days 8-11). 

Excludes: optional Hurtigruten shore excursions (Days 1-6), optional excursions being: 1.5hr Snow sauna & outdoor jacuzzi and upgrade to a Snow Suite at the Snow Castle (Day 9); 3hr Aurora Camp by snowmobile (Day 10); 3hr Magic of the Arctic Circle dinner at Snowland (Day 11); departure transfer hotel-Rovaniemi airport any day other than Day 12; alcoholic beverages; gratuities; luggage handling.

All optionals must be pre-booked.

Nordic Travel is 100% Australian owned and operated.

Price per person FROM:
Double AUD$ 7266.00
Single AUD$ 9565.00

The from price shown is for 10 December 2019 departure. Please enquire for other dates.

Please note, prices may change without notice due to exchange rates, fuel surcharges and other elements beyond our control. This price can increase at any given time, due to our supplier’s dynamic pricing/booking system). All arrangements are subject to availability at time of booking.

Includes: Northbound Hurtigruten voyage in a Polar Outside cabin, on a full-board basis with WiFi (Days 1-7); 4 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast daily (Days 7-8, 10-11), 1 x dinner (Day 9), 3 x lunches (Days 8, 9, 11), picnic lunch (Day 10); 3hr King Crab Safari and Sami Culture Centre visit Inari (Day 8); 2-2.5hr Reindeer Farm Visit & Sleigh Ride and overnight in Glass Igloo at Arctic Snow Hotel (Day 9); 2hr Husky Safari and Santa Claus Village visit (Day 10); Snow Castle Visit and Sampo Icebreaker Cruise Kemi (Day 11). N.B. construction of the Snow Castle is weather dependent and may not be completed until mid to late January; shared transfer hotel-Rovaniemi Airport (Day 12 only); services of English-speaking guide (evening Day 7 – Day 12); transport in modern coach with WiFi (Days 8-11); entrance fees for included excursions; use of outer winter clothing during included activities and safaris (Days 8-11). 

*Please note: the departure on 10 December will include a visit to the Ranua Wildlife Park instead of the Sampo Ice Breaker Cruise. The departures on 14 and 21 January will include a lunch onshore in the Seaview Restaurant and a 3 hour Sampo Icebreaker cruise.

Excludes: optional Hurtigruten shore excursions, optional excursions being: 1.5hr Snow sauna & outdoor jacuzzi and upgrade to a Snow Suite at the Snow Castle (Day 9); 3hr Aurora Camp by snowmobile (Day 10); 3hr Magic of the Arctic Circle dinner at Snowland (Day 11); departure transfer hotel-Rovaniemi airport any day other than Day 12; alcoholic beverages; gratuities; luggage handling.

All optionals must be pre-booked.