Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 30, 2013

Reindeer, scientifists and northern lights

One of the reasons we wanted to spend Christmas in Lapland was to see the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis. What better way to do it than to set off through the snow in a reindeer sleigh?

We were driven to the reindeer farm at night by Timo and Visa to be introduced to our sleighs and reindeer. It was very dark so I took most of the photos by pointing the camera in the general direction of something and hoping for the best.



Jodie and Allan’s reindeer had the most amazing antlers.

We were given sled instructions by Visa. ( not MasterCard or American Express, his joke, not mine)






And soon we were off. I could see my reindeer’s very nice bottom.



The only sounds were reindeer hooves on the snow, the crunching of the sled and the swish of the wind through the pine trees. The clouds cleared and the sky was full of stars…I have never seen so many in the sky.

Soon we stopped in the forest and Timo and Visa lit a fire to make coffee while we kept watch on the sky.




Visa entertained us with stories of the northern lights and bear tales. He told us the scientifists’ explanations for the northern lights as well as the traditional Sami reasons. (scientists will forever be scientifists for me from now on) He had the most delightful accent and we heard rolling Rs in words that usually don’t have any.



Timo prepared the coffee.



The reindeer dined on some very fine moss Timo had brought for them.


We all gazed expectantly at the sky and we did see some faint lights but nothing strong enough to photograph. It didn’t really matter, the stars were spectacular.

Soon it was back to the sleighs for the trip back to the farm. Just like the huskies, the reindeer behind liked to catch up to our sleigh for a chat.



We saw some more lights on the way back, but you will have to take my word for it.

The reindeer were released from the sleighs and sent to bed for the night.



It was a great night. We saw some lights in the sky, met some reindeer and listened to Visa’s tales of Lapland.



  1. What a magical experience! Thank you for sharing it with us, Debra.

    • The reindeer were very special…smaller than I expected. Have a wonderful 2014.

  2. Thanks for all the beautiful winter Christmas moments. Best wishes for 2014.

    • Message from June Taylor

    • It was a very interesting Christmas. Have a great new year.

  3. Although it seems the lights didn’t give you the show you desired, this still had to be one special evening.

    • We didn’t see spectacular lights…an excuse to go back one day. We really enjoyed our stay in Saariselka.

  4. You seem to have covered all the wonderful experiences possible!!

    • We also tried snowmobiles…photos still to come. Have a happy and healthy new year.

  5. Thank you for all these wonderful dog & reindeer sled photos Debra. Those antlers are incredible. I have always wanted to go but I have now left it too late. Can’t do everything but I’m trying to talk my son & d.i.l. into going on my behalf. They are presently living in England. Happy new year! Hot out here in Qld. What a contrast to what you are experiencing.

    • Soon the reindeer will shed those antlers. The velvet was coming off and they were starting to look a bit ragged. I wonder if it hurts them. Have a great new year.

  6. Thank you Deb- you have a captive audience on this one – loved it – wanted the story to go on and on. Thank you for introducing us to Timo and Visa and the reindeer – a memorable Christmas for you .
    Its 34 degrees here – cyclone off the coast of WA and humid here but it is going to be a spectacular New Years Eve to herald in the big 2014. Happy New Year

    • I will be having a fun new year party at Bar Italia. Happy new year to you.

  7. What a wonderful experience and thanks so much for sharing with us! Happy New Year to you!

    • We had a very special Christmas indeed. I hope 2014 is wonderful for you.

  8. Not a lot of snow Deb – we did the same thing in Norway in the Arctic Circle but there was a lot more snow, it is a lovely thing to do

    • There was plenty of snow, not as much as usual for this time of the year, but the upside is that it wasn’t as cold as it might have been.

  9. Debra,

    Here’s a tip about photographing the night sky that I learned from a National Geographic photographer: Set your (I presume) digital camera for an ISO of 6400, open the lens to f2.8, and expose (on a tripod, of course) for 60 seconds. If there had been lights, you would have probably been able to see the stars behind the lights and still gotten good exposure for the lights. Better luck next time on getting an Aurora display! Looking forward to meeting you in late April/early May in BdL!


    • Thank you for the tips. We will go back one day to try again to see the lights.

  10. What an absolutely magic experience! Happy New Year to you, from Venice. Buon Anno!


    • How lovely to be in Venice! Havd a great new year.

  11. So beautiful dear Debra, Thank you. Happy New Year, love, nia

    • It was great fun. Have a wonderful new year Nia.

  12. Wow, what a great experience, I’ve always wanted to do something like that, it looks great!

    Have a great new year!

    • It was fun. The whole Lapland experience was wonderful. Maybe next time we will see the lights. Happy new year.

  13. Hope you had a great time, out there in far north.

    Wish you a wonderful year ahead.

    • It was an excellent adventure. Have a healthy and happy new year.

  14. the pictures around the fire and the ones with the storyteller- they are just terrific! I felt like I was sharing something really special with you. Thanks, Debra and a very Happy 2014 to you and Jim. Hope to see you in Bagni soon!

    • Have a wonderful new year. Perhaps we will see you in 2014.

  15. Looks like a wonderful, yet cold trip.

    • It wasn’t nearly as cold as it might have been. We were lucky.

  16. Your reindeer are so adorable! What a wonderful account of a sleighride in a place full of wonder. I can picture all those stars covering across the sky…amazing photos. Thank you! Happy New Year

    • The reindeer are beautiful. It was a great experience and a great way to spend Christmas.

  17. So beautiful!

    • Our Finnish Lapland experience was all we expected and more. I hope I go back one day.

  18. Debra, Your travel stories are always fascinating, but this one was extra special. Thank you, John & Sandy

    • I think everyone needs to go to Lapland at least once. it is a magical place.

  19. What a thrilling thing to experience. The reindeer are smaller and prettier than I expected and have such wonderful antlers. Shame about the Aurora Borealis but that is a valid excuse to slog all the way back I should think? Have a very Happy New Year Deb and thank you for the enjoyment your blog gives.

    • I definitely want to go back again to try to see the lights. We were not disappointed with our Lapland visit, there is much more to see and do than just the lights.

  20. Wow!♡

    • It was great fun. You will have to go one year.

  21. Cold, cozy and beautiful!

    • We were lucky that it wasn’t as cold as it can be in Lapland at this time of the year. It is a magical place.

  22. Cool! I have been a reader of your blog for a few years now Debra; you document your experiences with delectable photos and succinct commentary. Love it!. Great to see Kirsi and family in these recent blogs. Happy New Year to you all! Cheers, Gerry

    • We all had a great time. Kirsi and family are now on their way to New York for more cold weather.

  23. Great post! I happen to be reading a book right now set in Lapland!!! Where exactly is it? Sweden or Finland? I would love to see this part of the world. I bet it would remind me a bit of Northern Minnesota. MTV feat grandfather came from Sweden a d my maiden name is Anderson! So I had a lot of curiosity.

    • I wonder if that is the same book that I have just read about an American girl who sets off to Lapland to look for her father. We were in Finnish Lapland in a place called Saariselka, not far from Inari in northern Finland. My grandfather was born in south eastern Finland.

      • This book was actually written in 1978! My dad recommended it. It is called “The Gift of Acabar” by Og Mandino. He is an inspirational writer somewhat similar to Paolo Coehlo.

  24. What a wonderful way to spend Christmas, Debra. Great pics as always. Those antlers are really something!

    • Saariselka was a wonderful place to have a white Christmas. I hope I go there again one day.

  25. It’d be great to see it in pictures but it still for sure an envy-inducing adventure experience, even if it’s just reindeer and coffee in the cold outdoors alone. Love the jokes. 😆

  26. shame about not seeing much in the way of photograph-worthy lights but looks like you had a magical evening all the same

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