Read the four day tour discription from our camper guests Jan & Linus from Germany.
Arriving at Tromsø airport
Friday 20:45 o’clock. Henning from Arctic Campers is handing over the Comfort Van outside of the airport building. He showed us the camper and gave us some ideas where to stay for the night. Afterwards we went straight to the grocery store. We bought everything we needed for dinner and breakfast. We bought beer and wine before hand, in the duty free shop in Oslo (Henning recommended us by mail).
Finding a camp spot for the night
22:15 o’clock. It was dark, windy and cold. But the camper was comfy and warm. We drove almost two hours to a camp spot based at the Lyngen Fjord. It is called Hatteng and it is also marked in the theier online tour guide. We spent a short time to install us in the back of the van before we started to prepare dinner. While waiting for the pasta to be ready, we spotted our first Northern Lights. It was floating quite bright on the partly clear night sky. It was super exiting and we have been too nervous to fix the camera and tripod.
23:30 o’clock. After we had dinner we spent some time outside at -7,5° Celsius waiting for more Aurora action. But instead the sky became cloudy and snow started to fall. We arranged the bed, had a last sip of wine and fell asleep pretty fast.
Saturday 9:30 o’clock. The noise of a snow cleaning truck woke us up. We slept pretty well. The Diesel heater was running all night long. It was warm and we didn't´t need our winter sleeping bags. The bedding provided with the camper was warm enough.
The cool thing about this camp spot is the heated toilet and washing room (free of charge). We shared the camp spot with a couple from the Netherlands. They came all the way up with their 4x4 Land Cruiser. We had a coffee together and they had a sneak peak into our camper van. They have seen more vans driving in Lofoten.
Hitting the road towards Finland
12:00 o’clock sharp we hit the road and drove towards Kilpisjärvi in Finland. We had to stop several times on the way, since the nature was just absolutely breath taking. We took many pictures and installed the GoPro outside of the van. The Skibotndalen is surrounded by high mountains and the road E8 is following a river, which sometimes becomes a canyon. The deeper we drove into the valley the more the temperature was dropping.
At 14:00 o’clock we arrived at the small town of Kiplisjärvi. The landscape here is very different compared to Norway. It is really reminding us that we are many kilometers above the Arctic Circle.
First we went to a place called Kilpissafarit, to reserve two snow scooters for the next day. The owner Jussi is a very friendly guy and offers the full package of Finnish charm. We agreed to pick up the snow scooters on the next day in the morning. We paid upfront and he gave us instructions what we should wear. We paid 160 Euros for each snow scooter for an 8 our self guided trip. Sounds expensive, but if you break it down to hours, it is 20 Euros per hour. That sounds already better.
15:30 o’clock we went shopping at Kilpis Hallen. It is a very crowded supermarket close to the petrol station. It was packed with Norwegians buying beer and meat, since in Norway everything is much more expensive. We bought a nice piece of reindeer meat and some fresh vegetables. In the same building you will find also a sports wear shop. We bought some more warm cloths, since Jussi told us what we should bring for the trip tomorrow.
Having Sauna under the Northern Lights
16:30 o’clock we drove to the Hotel called Tundrea. The cousins of Jussi. They are renting out nice flats with an own sauna for little money. But we booked the sauna down by the lake for the night and parked our camper van at their campsite. It comes with toilets, showers and a kitchen.
Since the sun was still up and the weather was nice we had a small hike on the lake of Kilpisjärvi. Many people passed us on a snow mobiles, even kids with their own scooters. Seems to be the way of getting around here. Even shopping is done by snow scooter.
At 18:30 o’clock we started our sauna session. The sauna has a lot of space and we had a relaxing time. Between the sauna turns we where sitting outside. Having an obligatory sauna beer and we had also some Northern Lights showing up.
Grabbing a beer or two
23:30 o’clock. After our fabulous reindeer dinner in the van, we went to the only bar in town. If you want your Finnish Kaurismäki moment, the Bar Haltinmaa is a perfect place. Very silent music, a mirror ball spinning in the corner and in the stove a lively fire is up. The walls are decorated with moos heads, old wooden hiking track signs and neon lucent plastic reindeers. Maybe seven people sitting on tables, drinking beer, barley talking to each other. Everybody is checking us out. The guy behind the bar is classy unfriendly but the beers tasted good. We had several before we went home under a firework of Northern Lights. Unfortunate we have been slightly to drunk to take Aurora pictures.
At 02:30 o’clock we turned the lights off in our camper van. Falling sleep while the temperature outside had dropped to -17,5 Celsius. Our camper had comfy +22 Celsius.
Getting lost in deep snow
Sunday 09:00 o’clock. With a slight feeling of a hangover we ate a rich breakfast, since we are facing an 8 hour snow scooter trip. We also prepared some food for our trip because there will be no shop or restaurant on our way.
When we showed up at Jussis place, he was already waiting for us. He gave us helmets and a short introduction how a scooter works. After 15 minutes we were good to go. It was the first time on such a vehicle for both of us. But since we made it down to the frozen lake and there was nothing we could hit, we became more and more used to it. Took us maybe 20 minutes until we dared to push full throttle.
At 12:30 o’clock we reached the spot where the borders of three countries meet: Sweden, Finland and Norway. We continue on the Norwegian side. With a bit more confidence we took of the lake and drove into deeper snow. That was a mistake - I got stuck with my snow scooter, and the more I pulled the throttle the deeper the belt went into the snow. It took us tons of sweat and maybe 45 minutes to free the scooter. But since the weather was sunny we called it a nice little extra adventure. But after that experience we skipped the deep snow for that day.
We also went all the way down south of the lake. Driving a scooter is real big fun. When we returned the scooter at Jussis place our mileage showed 115 KM. We forgot to eat our prepared food, which was by now completely frozen in our rucksack.
17:30 o’clock we went back to our campsite and decided to eat at the Tundrea Restaurant. We were to exhausted to prepare any dinner ourselves. So we ordered the reindeer burger with the devils jam! It might have been my best burger. Maybe because we have been so hungry …
Bid farwell by the Aurora Borealis
At 19:00 o’clock, we started our way back to Tromsø. Our flight was going on the next day in the morning. We spend the night at a great spot, which Henning told us. Close to the airport, but far enough from the city so no disturbing streets lights, which allow the sight of Aurora. The roads have been busy; we assume that all the locals have been driving back from their cabins. We arrived at the camp spot in Tromsø by 21:45 o’clock. After one final beer and already getting ready to sleep we experience a real strong Aurora show above us. This time we managed to take some pictures. After the show we fell asleep - fully satisfied with this great day.
Monday 07:15 o’clock. We woke up, packed our bags and drove to the next petrol station. Where we had coffee and fresh cinnamon buns for breakfast. We also cleaned the camper with a vacuum cleaner and filled the Diesel here. As agreed with Henning he was waiting for us in front of the airport building. We had short chat and handed over the camper. We have been way to early for our flight. Tromsø is a small airport and it seems like you need to be there not longer then one hour before the departure.
Our conclusion: We will be back!
We had a great four day trip. We drove about 380 km and used 55 liters of Diesel. The heater was almost on all the time. Even if it was ice cold outside, we have been never cold inside the van. Each of us spent about 850 Euros including flights from Berlin, food, drinks, snow scooter, Diesel, Campsite fee, Restaurant and the camper rental. Sounds expensive, but for a Scandinavia trip in winter with activities - I think it is absolutely ok. We experienced everything what we have been seeking for - the Northern Lights and a day trip on a snow scooter. Also the frozen landscape and the Arctic light will definitely stay in my memories.
We will be back!
Thanks guys for this cool tour discription! Next time I should join you, sounds like you had massiv fun!