You know, for most of my adult life I’ve been able to say “Winter is coming” without shame, but suddenly it has become a terrible cliche. Thanks for nothing, George R. R. Martin.
Anyway, winter is coming. I know, it’s only early September now, but the light is changing already. Even though the midnight sun left us just a month or so ago, it is fully dark at night, now, and the daytime light is golden in the evening. In the daytime, it’s still bright but somehow thinner in strength. The air holds a crisp and edgy warning of harsher weather to come. The rain of autumn feels different from the rain of summer, too. It’s colder, or at least adds to the feeling that the temperatures are falling, no matter what the thermometer might say. And when the rain is finished coming down, it still lingers on the ground and in the air, almost as if it wished it could turn to snow and ice and be a part of the world all the way until Springtime. Continue reading “Winter is… on the way”
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.
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! Continue reading “Midnight Sun Hunting: Three Ideas”
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.
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?
Som turdestinasjon, er Alta nesten på toppen av verden (sjekk oss ut på Google Maps hvis du ikke er sikker på hvor vi er). Du kan få direktefly til Alta fra Oslo som tar bare et par timer. Hvis du er i Europa, er vi faktisk ganske nær hvis du vurdere den tiden som kreves for å komme hit. Så om du hopper på et fly for en 2-3 dagers opphold kan det være både lettvint og praktisk, og hvis du holder et øye med flyselskapene, så trenger det ikke bli så dyrt heller.
Men er det virkelig verdt å komme opp bare for et par dager, og en tur eller to?
Winter isn’t just important for Sorrisniva, one of the activity companies here in Alta. In a way, it’s a necessity.
The history of the company is long. Sorrisniva is a family business originally built around fishing in the Alta River for salmon. The river is regarded as one of the premier fly-fishing spots in the world, and it has been on the “must” list for royalty and the well-to-do for centuries. As the years passed and the family generations changed, the company expanded its focus to include other activities in both summer and winter.
I saw an interesting post in a travel forum today. Travelers coming to a northern Norway port by cruise ship this winter were looking at a dogsledding tour slated to begin in the late afternoon. In February, “late afternoon” in this part of the world really means “2 PM”, so a dogsledding event beginning at five o’clock really is a nighttime tour.
In the post, the traveler asked why a dogsled company would offer a tour that takes place in the dark, and that’s actually a really good question Here’s my opinion on that subject.
When people ask what one can do in Alta, it’s easy to just answer “a lot”. We could be a little less snappy and say, “Northern Lights, dogsledding, snowmobiles, hiking and biking and snowshoes, ice fishing, the Igloo Hotel, museums and slate quarries and tours and eating.”
But sometimes it helps to be more specific and say THESE tours are available at THESE times. And since we like being helpful 🙂 you can take a look at the digital version of our Winter 2016 brochure – yes, in full and delightful color – and get a better view of what you can do.
I found an interesting review of a phone app by a company called “Stray Boots”: http://goo.gl/YyHtAw
An app as a tour guide? Well, maybe… if you don’t have the budget to hire a private guide, or if there’s no guide to be had, it can be a good way to go. It sounds like they do a proper job of making the tours fun and interactive, so that’s a plus. Whatever helps people to be more engaged when they travel, is positive.