Lapland Aurora

March 2018

Lapland 2018: Extreme Photography Trip.
I am a photographer so once I signed up for this trip I kind of ignored the “extreme” part of it…. In reality it was quite an extreme experience, almost like an elite army unit’s training camp, from daylight till midnight and even more. Very little sleep, tremendous cold temperatures, which for us, Israelis, is the number one cause to crawl back into bed and cuddle in our warm comforter blankets. On a sort of stormy rainy day in Israel we all want to stay at home instead of going to work, using the “I’m feeling sick” excuse not to go out into “bad weather”. So imagine this experience for me.

In spite of the challenge, all in all it was worth every moment. Three days on a ski motorbike (I did kind of run off on the third day with @Michal Alchadef Simon) but I learned that 12 hours on a ski motorbike is a piece of cake for me even when it feels like -25 Celsius outside, it is snowing, and you can’t see a thing ahead of you. You might find yourself turning upside down on the motorbike or driving on a narrow bridge with the possibility of falling into the freezing water beneath. So… do PLEASE stretch your boundaries, don’t be afraid and don’t reject new opportunities in advance! If it gets really tough you can always take a nap in the back seat of the motorbike (this is a true story that happened to one of the best of us).

What to see:

Lapland is approximately 400,000 sq. km long, and it is split between 4 countries – Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. The popular area for tourists is in Finland and we indeed traveled through the Finnish part and a small area of Norway. We saw a lot of snow, actually plenty of snow.. and vastness as, there are not too many mountains and hills and the area is flat at its most. Never ending forests with trees covered with snow that while driving through them you sometimes feel as if you are driving in a Fairy tale with piles of soft, fluffy cotton candy, and all you want to do is dive right into it.

What you see are Little Houses in the Prairie full of snow, frozen waterfalls that one can climb all the way to the top and then slide down them into the snow, frozen rivers with small creeks that did not freeze which are usually near the main roads.

What to Eat:

The Finish cuisine is based on Potatoes and Salmon so these will be your main dishes: Salmon soup with potatoes, salmon, mashed potatoes and some more salmon and potatoes. These are probably considered warming foods in the great cold that they live in Lapland. All in all, it is tasty but you should consider it usually contains a lot of cream/milk. Deer meet is also quite common and it is really tasty and recommended.

My tips for the day:

  1. It is always warmer if you are driving the motorbike: the handles are heated and as the heat of the motor warms your feet your body stays warm. (Hands and feet are the most problematic areas of the body when outside as the rest stays warm if you dress accordingly). So make sure to switch driving positions with your motorbike partner.
  2. Don’t forget to pack your ski face mask which protects you against the cold wind.
  3. Don’t forget your ski goggles even if you have a helmet with a shield. It is definitely not enough.
  4. If you have eyeglasses I recommend wearing contact lenses or to have Laser surgery before the trip… The anti-fog spray doesn’t really do the job and it is almost a nightmare having your glasses fogged, especially if you wish to take pictures.

Aurora Protocol: What does it entail ?

You’re up at 6:30 a.m. and travel all day in temperatures between (-10) to (-25) Celsius driving a ski motorbike (my back…oh my back…). You return around 8:00 p.m. for dinner, remove all your gear which includes a snowsuit and snow boots that will add about 10 kg to your weight (already exceeding what you like..) and as soon as you begin feeling comfortable and start stretching out on the sofa, someone, usually @Yehuda Elmaliach yells out: “The Aurora has started”.. So you put everything back on: snowsuit, boots, Ski mask, mittens, tripod, hand and toes warmer bags, and hat, and you rush out quickly to a (-15) Celsius at the least, for a minimum of 3 hours in the snow, marching from one location to another, more accurately, wallowing in the deep snow with your hands freezing every time you operate your camera to film the Aurora.

In short, this is what an extreme trip with @Phototeva – Adventure and Photography under the great guidance of @Maya Maymoni & @edo Pellach is like.

My tips for those of you who wish to go:

1. Don’t save money on gear. Bring the best there is. When your touch gloves for the camera get wet within a second and you have 3 more hours outside in the cold, the money you might save is not worth the aggravation…

2. Consider that looking at the Aurora with the human eye is a very basic sight. The camera makes the Aurora special due to the long exposure while taking pictures.

3. It is highly recommended to plan some extra days at the end of the trip to fill in missing hours of sleep and to have a good body massage.

The Northern Reindeers

The Northern Reindeers, Lapland 2018. The Reindeers are grown domestically and they live in farms. Asking a Lappy how many reindeer he owns is like asking how much money a person earns (a common Israeli chutzpah…)

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