North Adventure in Alta

The Ancient Ruins of Sorrisniva

The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is a big attraction here in Alta every year.  Thousands of people come from around the world to see it and walk through its magical halls. Many of them stay the night in the cold-yet-cozy rooms for a unique arctic adventure; a WAY more intense experience than putting on a jacket to visit some ice bar in a downtown metropolis.  There are even a few courageous souls who get married in the ice chapel!Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in winter glory

The hotel is constructed each winter from fresh snow and ice (you can read more about the igloo hotel in one of our earlier blog posts). Each Spring, once the winter travelers have come and gone, it slowly fades away again, back to the raw nature that gave birth to it a few months before.

And while there are thousands who see the hotel in all its winter glory, there are only a very few – some employees at Sorrisniva and a handful of locals – who are around to watch the hotel melt down to nothing.

I was out at Sorrisniva on Tuesday night as part of a tourism conference (SNOW16 – two days with 185 of one’s closest business colleagues… intense and fun).  In the middle of dinner, I slipped outside on my own and took some pictures of the Igloo Hotel in the fading daylight. I’m no professional photographer, and I was just using my smartphone, but even so the pictures are fascinating.  There is such a resemblance to stone ruins you find around the world, even though they are very modern and even quicker to disappear. Enjoy! Read more

Sunset in Alta

I came across another magic moment in Alta while poking around on YouTube today. Photographer Yigit Yuksel took this delightful video of a sunset in Alta, down at the water’s edge. By the looks of it, it was taken not too long ago – no snow or ice, and a little less light than we have now.  There are no camera tricks – no stop-frame, no animation – just sunset.

If you live in the area… when was the last time you just sat on a beautiful evening and looked out over the water or towards the mountains for a few peaceful minutes? (And if the answer was “oh, last week I guess” then you get a gold star!).  If it has been a while, or you don’t live in this part of the world, get a cup of something hot, set the video to full screen and just sit for a few minutes. The magic is all around, here, in the eager voice of a husky dog, a snowy forest trail beckoning you and your fatbike, and in the stillness of a springtime sunset. Enjoy!

Midnight Sun Hunting: Three Ideas

Alta, Norway – the biggest little town in Finnmark (Norway’s northernmost and largest county) is a popular place for travelers both summer and winter. In the winter, people come to have fun in the snow and hunt for the northern lights. In the summer, the midnight sun is the fascinating phenomenon overhead.

Midnight sun in Alta, Norway

Photo: altafoto.no

The quest to see the midnight sun is much simpler than hunting for the northern lights. The aurora borealis may or may not be in the sky on any given day. When it does show up, it can be strong or weak with no way to really know until you stand outside and wait (see our recent post about that).

In contrast, the sun at midnight is there every night. If it is cloudy, then it is simply daytime. Not cloudy? There it is! And we know exactly what days of the year the sun will be over the horizon here all night.

While you CAN simply walk out of your hotel at midnight or look out the window to see the sun, why not make the experience a little more magical? If you’ve never spent time in a land without darkness, here are three suggestions to make it more special! Read more

Blog Friends: A Dangerous Business

There’s a whole new industry out there: travel blogging. People travel from place to place, writing on their blog about their experiences, sharing photos and tweets and stories on social media, and giving travelers-to-be and traveler-wannabe’s alike a glimpse into the wonderful world around us.

Now and then, some of them even come through Alta. Whether they arrive as part of a prearranged tour or by their own planning, we often meet them either through North Adventure by request, or when they drop into the tourist office next to us, here. Sometimes, they simply go on tours and then depart town; but now and then we get some time together, to explore a little or just chat.

In February, Amanda Williams of the blog “A Dangerous Business” came to Alta along with Marie-Eve Vallieres of “To Europe & Beyond” as part of a Northern Norway tour. Though the weather was not always so great – this is the arctic, after all – they were good sports and had fun. They also said some very nice things about Alta and Tromsø; and even though that’s not a surprise to us, we were pleased that they were glad they came. Read more

4-star Experiences in Alta

Every now and then, we’re asked to build an itinerary for clients coming into northern Norway, and the travel agent or tour operator tells us, “These are very high end clients and they require 4-star accommodation”, or 4-star meals, or some other kind of 4-star thing.

That’s perfectly ok, because excellence in service and products is important to have. But here in the far north, we’re a little short on Armani suits and white gloves. You’ll find lots of Bergans coats and Ulvang wool socks, and snowmobile suits for sale pretty much everywhere, and lots of people debating whether Ski-Doo or Arctic Cat makes better snowmobiles (leave your own preferences in the comments, I’m not getting in the middle of those discussions).

And you’ll also find some delightful surprises, like a chance to eat a decidedly elegant dinner out in the middle of nowhere at a husky farm, where one of the owners happens to also have his professional kitchen. But we’ll leave the big palaces and tony hotels to the folks down south, thanks.

BUT… Read more

Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition

The aurora borealis – the northern lights – is a very popular topic in the area.  After all, Alta is “The City of the Northern Lights”, so it’s no surprise that people would be coming here for a chance to see it in the winter. We get lots of questions every year from people hoping to maximize their chances of seeing the fascinating natural phenomenon.

Aurora Borealis near Alta, photo altafoto.noWe are done with nighttime now – the sky last night at midnight was still a glowing twilight – and seeing the aurora is a thing of memory until next September.  It might seem a little late to be writing about the northern lights, but the planning for next year’s holiday never stops and we’re already fielding inquiries for next year.

So here is a little story, written out in FAQ form, compiled from conversations that I have now and then with travelers.  Hope you get a chuckle.

Q: Hi there!  We want to come to Alta because we really want to see the northern lights!

Great!

Q: Right!  So, what time of year is best?

Well… the problem is that the aurora strength has nothing to do with time of year, and the weather is totally unpredictable. So really, your chances are equal as long as it’s dark enough. Anytime between the end of September and the beginning of April is just fine.

Q: But this will be a very expensive trip, so we really need to maximize our chances.  Just give me an idea of what time of year is best? Read more

And… we’re back!

It’s been a long time since Christmas, which is when our last blog post was made.  Despite my (Jon’s) best intentions, the winter peak season (which started in early January and didn’t let go until the end of March) took away pretty much all of my social media time.  But thankfully, the Internet is still here, so let’s get back to it!

Merry Christmas from North Adventure!

It’s time for our annual holiday picture and Christmas card!  This year’s edition features Christmas hats for all, and Santa earrings for everyone but Jon (who didn’t have time to get his ears pierced before the picture). It briefly stopped snowing in the middle of a 3-day storm so we could get our picture taken, but Tanja didn’t want Jon to get confused by the nice weather so she pelted him with snow to keep him cool and ready to shovel again.

It’s been a fun year with lots of completed projects, lots of new ideas begun, and much to look forward to in the coming year.  We hope the year has been good for you, too, and we hope we get a chance to work with you in 2016.  From all of us – Henriette, Tanja, Jon and Marianne – we wish you the best in this winter holiday season!

Christmas 2015 at North Adventure

Alta Canyon: Breathtaking From Any Angle

It’s no surprise that Alta is home to awesome beauty. Almost all of Norway is full of mountains, rugged coastlines and natural viewpoints that take your breath away. One of the hidden gems in this area can be found around 25 kilometers to the south of town: Alta Canyon. Carved by the Alta River, Alta Canyon has the distinction of being Northern Europe’s largest. It’s absolutely worth a visit when you come to the area.

The Sami name for the place is Sautso (which means “canyon”, so if you say “Sautso Canyon” you are actually saying “Canyon Canyon”. Just calling it “Sautso” or “Alta Canyon” is probably best). It stretches south along the river for several kilometers, where it is interrupted by a dam at a power station. Inland from there, the canyon does continue for a while but it now serves as part of the dam’s reservoir and is mostly underwater.

From Alta, there are two established ways to get to Sautso, neither of which is as simple as “I’ll just jump in my car and head over there.” Read more

Tour Packages for Smaller Times and Budgets

As tour destinations go, Alta is very nearly at the top of the world (check us out on Google Maps if you aren’t sure where we are). But air travel makes this distance deceptive. You can get direct flights to Alta from Oslo that take only a couple of hours to fly here. If you are already in Europe, we are actually pretty close if you consider the time required to get here.  So hopping on an airplane for a 2-3 day stay is practical and convenient, and if you keep an eye out for airfare bargains, it isn’t even very expensive.

But is it really worth coming up just for a couple of days and a tour or two?

For me, that question is in the same category as, “Is it worth eating fresh fruit pie if you can only have one piece?” Well, YEAH it’s worth it!  For example… Read more