At the edge of wilderness along the road of the Arctic sea. Kakslauttanen.
A flight into Helsinki, an overnight stay at Hilton Helsinki Airport and then a 90 minute flight to Ivalo, a 30 minute drive out to the wilderness and you will find yourself right in the middle of the Arctic Circle. The purest form of nature at it’s very best. The air is different here. It is cold, it is crispy and it is so fresh. Getting here was not as difficult as I had imagined. As someone who admittedly adored the beach, for as long as I can remember, the snow grew on me. The frozen places, the stillness. Nothing is like it. I have found a new passion, chasing the northern lights in the Arctic Circle.
BEFORE YOU FLY
Let’s say you are flying from the UAE – The flights I was looking into where KLM, Qatar Airways and Finnair. I flew with Finnair because it was cost effective and it was a direct flight to Ivalo via Helsinki and the shortest journey at the time and Emirates does not fly directly.
Finnair flies direct from Helsinki to Dubai from 9 October 2016 to 8 April 2017 and resumes again in October 2017. I would highly suggest you book a lot in advance (3 months maybe) as the flight gets full very quickly!
A 6 hour journey to Helsinki, I had to pre-book my seats for extra costs and there was no TV or any kind of entertainment onboard. So make sure you get a good book or something to keep you entertained. I would also suggest you pay extra (140dhs) for exit row seats (Leg room) as the seats are (VERY) tight.
Stay in Helsinki for one night in order to take the 10am flight out to Ivalo. It is the smartest way to make use of your stay in Ivalo otherwise you land late in the evening and you would have wasted a full day traveling.
Stay at The Hilton Helsinki Airport, which is a 7 minute walk out of Terminal 2. You don’t need to leave the airport, and booked the same room on my way back in order to sleep one night in Helsinki to catch the early 7am flight back out to Dubai. You can either have your luggage sent directly back to your destination on your return home or drop them off in Helsinki.
Landing in Ivalo airport, you land on ice and on the runway, so make sure you are well geared up from the cold once you walk out of the plane. There is no bus or car to take you to the terminal.
SLEEP IN HELSINKI
From Helsinki airport to the town center is around 25 minutes by taxi or train. I figured, my trip was focusing on Ivalo and the best way to take it easy without the stress of traffic, driving and a 50 euro one way taxi to the center, is by staying at Hilton Airport Hotel in Helsinki which is the best choice if you are staying one night in Helsinki.
The hotel is a 7 minuted walk from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport via covered walkway and the rooms are clean, new and the right size for a layover with free wifi across the hotel and a gym opened 24 hours (Just in case). The breakfast was even served at 3am for those catching the very early morning flight, luckily, my flight to Ivalo was at 10am.
SLEEP IN IVALO
Kakslauttanen is an arctic resort. A 500 acres of land of different lodges, cabins and igloos accommodation. It is not a hotel. You need to be well prepared in the right state of mind before arriving. Keep in mind that Kakslauttanen is in the wilderness and not in the city. When you are prepared, this place will be far better than your dreams.
Location A 30 minute drive from Ivalo Airport into the wilderness and the closest ER is in Ivalo center which is 45 minutes drive from Kaklauttanen. Nearby you will find a supermarket (8 minutes away)
Internet There is no internet in the cabins, lodges or igloos. There is complimentary wifi connection at the reception area and in the restaurant, so leave your laptops at home. Personally, I was worried at first but the disconnection was good when you had no choice.
Amenities There are no amenities inside the cabins or the igloos. The closest supermarket is 15 minutes away and the resort has a mini grocery shop you can buy your water/tea/snacks from. The cabins come equipped with kitchenette and tools.
Family Kakslauttanen is family friendly if you are well prepared. Activities for kids are with nature and can also participate in other activities. It is one of the best places to go with kids.
Rooms Keep in mind this is not a ‘hotel’. It is a resort in the wilderness where cabins and igloos are rented. It is still the most sophisticated one in Ivalo but everything comes with a price such as: Room cleaning, firewood and butler service for luggage. The igloos do not have showers.
THINGS TO DO
There are plenty of activities to do here in Ivalo and with Kakslauttanen.
- Horse riding
- Visit Santa’s home
- Reindeer Safari
- Husky Safari
- Snow Mobile Safari Aurora Hunt
- Snow Tank Safari Aurora Hunt
- Ice Fishing
- Aurora Hunting by car
The Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights)
The aurora borealis (northern lights) form when charged particles emitted from the sun during a solar flare penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield and collide with atoms and molecules in our atmosphere. These collisions result in countless little bursts of light, called photons, which make up the aurora
BEFORE YOU GO
Before you pack your bags to Kakslauttanen here are few things you need to know in order to be prepared:
- There is no wifi in the cabin nor inside the igloo. You are in the wilderness.
- Make sure you rent a car for many reasons. For one, in order to explore, you need to drive out of the wilderness or drive further into the wilderness. Two: The resort provides butler service for your luggage to be placed in your cabin, but this comes with a fee, otherwise, you are given a sledge to slide your way to your cabin. In the deep winters, it could be fun but challenging.
- Booking the car from Avis was very easy. You can click the link below. The airport is very small and once you get your luggage, you will find the AVIS/Budget rent a car stand right in front of you near the exit.
- Pack light. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. You will be in your snow gear 24/7 and you can also rent from Kakslauttanen. Pack the right snow gear and the right shoes.
- Carry extra batteries if you are planning to go out there for photos. The cold drains the battery out very fast and make sure you get a TRIPOD with you.
- Your cabin does not come with a filled fridge, so in case you need to fill it with water and some food, there is a supermarket 15 minutes away. You can stock up before your arrival.
- Breakfast and dinner is half board in Kakslauttanen and the soup is always a hit! They do offer vegan or vegetarian options.
- The Kelo Glass Igloos are my favorite! It is a mix of cabin and Igloos. The Cabins are 2 bedrooms and the glass Igloos in the west are the newest ones.
- The area is 800 acres of land with the new side being the west. I stayed at the East side and felt it very cozy. The Kelo Glass Igloos are on the west and both Igloos are on east and west. On a clear sky, you can see the norther lights anywhere in Kakslauttanen due to low light pollution.
- The best time to see the Northern lights is usually between end of August and mid April. In my opinion, the skies are clear during March/April and August/September/October that gives you a higher chance to see the lights daily like I did.
- From June to August, the sun doesn’t set at all. Daytime temperatures are around 20 degrees Celsius. So the chances to see the lights are zero percent. However it is a fantastic time to visit for hikes, day trips and exploring the Arctic Wilderness.
Like many, it was a long time dream of mine to see the Northern Lights and learn about the community in the Arctic Circle especially Ivalo. Ivalo is at the edge of wilderness. A place I will always want to visit at least once a year!