Thursday, October 16, 2014

First Glimpse of the Arctic Circle

To many, a winter filled with snow is normal.
To us, who never get frozen lakes, it is a fairy tale :)

On our first 2 nights in the Arctic part of Finland, we stayed at Hotel Korpikartano which was by the shore of Lake Menesjarvi.

In choosing accommodations, the most important factor we considered was the light pollution - the darker the area was at night, the better it was for viewing the Northern Lights. And we moved every few nights, to change our backdrop.

Every now and then, friends would ask me about the Northern Lights. But their first question always has nothing to do with it. 

"So what do you do during the day?"

Well.. let me start by showing you our first glimpse of Arctic daytime..

Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

We arrived at around noon time.. and loved our rustic hotel the moment we stepped on the wooden stairs..

Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

It used to be a school.. converted into a hotel.. and there are a few buildings in the complex..

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

This is the lake view terrace..

Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

The hallway to our rooms..

Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

And one of them.. Before the invasion of the cameras, coats, beanies, and boots ;)

Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Now out to play!

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Those are covered snowmobiles, and kayaks waiting for summer..

Behind is the Lake Menesjarvi.. frozen..

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

This is Timo, the very nice owner.. who picked us up from Ivalo Airport, an hour away.. 

He is paving our play area ;)

Winter Activities at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

So here it is! A few of what we did during the day!

Aside from the Reindeer Sleigh Ride and the Husky Dog Sledding which I have already shared ;)

Winter Activities at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Kick Sleds, Snow Sleds, Toboggans.. 

Winter Activities at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

A kick sled.. should not be used downhill.. so please don't follow this! :P

Winter Activities at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Back to the main building where dinner is served.. 

Dinner at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

We usually had Reindeer Meat.. Reindeer Stew, Reindeer Stroganoff, Reindeer Shepherd's Pie.. 
Cooked and tasted similar to Beef!

Snowshoes at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

The next day.. some of us borrowed snowshoes..

Snowshoeing at Lake Menesjarvi, Finnish Lapland

To walk on deep snow.. (but actually just to have fun ;))

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

The others learned how to build a fire in the Glass Roofed Fire Hut..

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Finland

Frozen Lake Menesjarvi, Finland

Now.. time to go down to the frozen lake again..

Frozen Lake Menesjarvi, Finland

Careful not to fall into the cracked, melted part..

Snowman at Lake Menesjarvi, Finland

The snowman on the left was already in the middle of the lake when we arrived..

And since we just finished watching the movie Frozen, we wanted to build Olaf the Snowman..

Snowman at Lake Menesjarvi, Finland

Unfortunately, we did not have Elsa's magic.. and with our powers combined.. still failed.. haha!

It was harder than we thought.. and we ended up with Olaf's fat uncle! :P

Winter at Hotel Korpikartano, Arctic Circle

Dinner time.. and then Sauna..

Snowmobiles on Lake Menesjarvi, Finland

And snowmobiles on the way home..

 Lake Menesjarvi, Finnish Lapland

On these first 2 nights, we gathered at the lake from 9 PM until 1 AM to wait for the Northern Lights. 

Unfortunately, the clouds were too thick.. and we were not able to see the green lights.

However, these waiting games, made us appreciate seeing the lights on the 3rd day even more!!

You can click Northern Lights Over Lake Inari, Finland for the story :)

Lake Menesjarvi, Finnish Lapland

I would say that having at least 2 crazy friends to hang out with in the dark, freeeezzzing cold of a night.. is a must!! :) 

You need to have dancers, singers, jokers.. to endure 4 hours of shivering! :)

Winter at Lake Menesjarvi, Arctic Circle

Ah yes.. some of those crazy friends! Who made shivering lake nights bearable! ;)


Full Trip Itinerary and Budget - Finland and Estonia - Northern Lights Itinerary

Helsinki to Ivalo - FinnAir or Norwegian Air
Ivalo Airport to Hotel Korpikartano - Arrange with the Hotel

Hotel Korpikartano -
As of Oct 2014 - Room Rates Per Night, Breakfast Included - EUR 75 to EUR 126
Lunch - EUR 16 / Dinner - EUR 26 - No Restaurants Nearby
Fire Hut, Sauna, Toboggans, Kick Sleds, Snow Sleds - Free of Charge


  1. Most of regions through which the circle passes are uninhabitable due to harsh cold climate, however several towns do exist within the circle.andørja kirke

  2. Hello
    Nice pictures
    beautiful spot