Aurora Borealis – the paragliding/geomagnetic storm video!


I finally did it! After travelling the north 4 times within the last 20 months and taking more than 20.000 pictures I was able to choose the 9000 best ones and create a time lapse! A short video of me flying the northern lights with my paraglider is also included at 1:30.

The story and some pictures of the flight you will find here.

youtube link in case embedding does not work

Soundtrack by Suduaya:
0:00 – Snow and Stars
8:30 – Scent of light

Must see:
1:30 – Northern lights Paragliding
12:25 – Geomagnetic storm at Oksfjord

0:00 – Ivalo, Finland
0:48 – Vadso, Norway
1:15 – Inari, Finland
1:22 – Sommaroy, Norway (cabin balcony)
1:26 – Abisko, Sweden
1:35 – Hilleroy, Norway
2:46 – Sommaroy, Norway (cabin balcony)
3:20 – Norskehavet, Norway
4:06 – Karesuvanto, Finland
5:25 – Sinetta (Rovaniemi), Finland
5:45 – (near) Tromso, Norway
6:40 – Langfjordbotn, Norway
8:28 – Jokelfjord, Norway
10:27 – Langfjord, Norway
12:25 – Oksfjord, Norway
13:41 – Langfjordbotn, Norway
14:48 – Langfjord, Norway
15:05 – Ivalo, Finland

Langfjordbotn to Ivalo

After the geomagnetic storm I dont expect much. Surprisingly the Auroras are still amazingly beautiful to me in the nights to come. The ride to Ivalo is much relaxter than the one the other direction and I enjoy driving through the beautiful scenery a lot! Unfortunately I dont find any of my hosts when leaving so I hide the money in the cabin and write an email – what else to do. I get an Email from Tore later that he is in Oslo that day….

Arriving in Ivalo I meet Miro again and get invited to some of his incredibly amazing indian food. I miss india! After food I spend the night in the car again watching amazing Displays between Ivalo and Inari. Next day I get an amazing cabin in the woods including kitchen, sauna and loneliness. 3 more nights but weather forecast seems to be bad. Maybe one last chance to watch the Aurora in the last night but also possible these will be the last pictures now…. Enjoy!

Lapland – Baltikum – Vienna (on the road again)

And what can I say, even though I am pretty far south already I witness an amazing display in purple again! I watch for maybe half an hour and then I hurry to meet Miro who is an amazing guy. We have a coffee and food at his place and when we go out to smoke a cigarette the Aurora is still dancing – even in the light polluted city of Rovaniemi! We jump into the car and leave the town. Miro has not seen it that often yet to so we enjoy a lot until late night. I have to drive to Helsinki tomorrow so it should not be too late for me either!

Sun rises at 8:20, I leave later than planned at 10. Little after Rovaniemi most of the snow disappears from the road and at 64˚N I see the first liquid water in rivers. Sun sets at 17:17 a few hundred km north of Helsinki.

I get a cheap ticket for the ferry 24 hours later and spend an unexciting day resting at friends in Helsinki. Has been exhausting 850km yesterday with partly very bad road conditions (that area where it is not cold enough to freeze permanently but melts and then freezes over again). Today the sun rises at 7:53 and sets at 17:17 – already a plus of 2:30 daylight since I left Sommaroy!

In Estonia I visit another very nice friend. Its an amazing country with lots of wild jungle, flat like a pancake and swampy frozen at the moment. I stay another day and try to get an offer to fix the car – but its not worth the afford. Sun rises at 6:30 and sets at 18:39 – more than ten hours in between for the first time. When I leave snow is falling and turns all white again – no sun (still rising at 6:27). Estonia is snowy, Latvia is extremely beautiful, a cheaper finland with forests lakes and incredible beaches and Lithuania is an agricultural desert. Sun sets in Poland at 16:47. I drive most of the night and take a nap around 150km before the border to Czech Republic. When the sun rises at 6:45 I am still asleep, but when it sets at 17:25 I sit at my mothers place, drink coffee and book the next flight. Only 13:25 until sunrise! 16:42 a few days ago!


Sun sun sun here I come!

Within five minutes the greenish spot becomes a strong stripe and the show begins. I put the camera out, turn on engine and heating and enjoy. After a while I change the place… several times until I finally find a spot on a hill full of trees, a place where they put the snow from the street, enough place to park and a perfect place to put the camera on one of the snow hills. There is a little fog rising between the trees and when I am just about to prepare the camera the Aurora becomes extremely strong! All the sky is shining green, much stronger than the moon, with patterns that move very quickly. As I am on a hill the Aurora seems to be even below me shining into the fog between the trees where the dancing of the sky is reflected. “They are finally here to pick me up!” I think for a second.

This is astonishing and scary at the same time – psychedelic and unbelievable. Green, dancing fog all around me and green dancing light all above me – it feels like a hallucination as the things I know and have seen in this reality before become very little at this moment. I am paralyzed and do not manage to take only one picture of this. The fog disappears then but the Aurora continues and goes crazy all night. Its incredibly cold – outside of the car. But to be honest I the quality is much better outside so I spend a lot time outside, probably 5 minutes every half an hour!

Tonight I fall asleep a little before 4 am and wake up freezing when the display is still going on. Checking the camera I realize it to be totally covered in ice crystals. Battery out and get it warm – ten minutes later its out working again with a fresh battery. I enjoy one last time and properly say good bye to the Aurora. Tonight I will be so far south that the chances to see her again there are really slim.

When dawn is really breaking through around 6 o clock its 7 already – Finland is one hour later so the (only) petrol station (near or far) which is 17km back will already be open…. I guess….

Bad luck – opening hours 10am-10pm – damn!

So no coffee and lets head south! Its 270km to Rovaniemi only and I have all day. Sky is blue! When the sun rises at 7:49 (local time) I am in Muonio already. I go down to a little lake to shock some people who live there when making pictures of the lake from their property. The gate has been open and I did not feel bad to park there at all and as the guy turns out to be a photographer I am very welcome. We have a little chat and he tells me where I can find the next car part shop to refill my power stirring. Its incredibly cold when I find that swiss café in the village where I get an amazing cappuccino and real Vienna Sacher Torte! Yeah! And the owners are really from Switzerland!

The low sun makes an amazing light and I am really slowly – sometimes I drive less than 500m between the stops to just enjoy and to take pictures. When the sun sets at 16:40 I feel the tiredness and I am way too late in the evening to meet Miro in time. I was supposed to be there around 6pm and now its already passed 7 and I still have 40km to go on the snowy road. Suddenly I see a strange looking cloud in the front to my left. No way, I think – I am looking towards south and into the moon, and I am almost at the Arctic Circle now.

Road map

staring at the sun

The hole in the clouds is expected exactly between Sommaroy and Tromso tonight – so I don’t need to chase, I just need to wait… And I do so drinking free coffee in the lobby all sunday morning doing internet and writing the whale blog. Chatting with a friend from Helsinki she gives me a contact to stay at in Rovaniemi just a little before I leave. I am already ready to go so I am pretty straight with Miro after he confirms my friendship request and ask him if I can sleep at his place at Tuesday. He is pretty straight too and says yes. I am a little confused because not having expected this but very curious and looking forward to meet him. In the afternoon while it is still light I drive to Tromso to get Petrol, a Pizza and some supplies for tonight.

The sun sets at 15:36. Aurora forecast predicts nothing while waiting at the Pizza shop but still I leave around 7 o clock to go to a nice viewpoint at a Fjord which I had found hours ago. The weather is nice, blue sky and pretty warm at around 0˚C. As I find out the temperature here is hardly ever less than -10 because of the gulf stream… even though I am way further north than Abisko where it had around -30 in the coldest nights I have experienced.

When I arrive the half moon is out and shining strongly. I curse it because it blinds me so much I hardly see the northern lights at first… but suddenly they become stronger…. and stronger…. and stronger forming one of the most amazing Displays I have ever seen. I have seen pictures of pink and purple Displays in the last days and strongly hope for one… but in vain. Still the mirroring effect in the Fjord is just incredible and I stay until the moon descends behind the summit of a long hill a little before 2am – still more than two hours until it will be below the horizon but the blinding effct is much less and the Display too – until the moon comes out again at the side of the hill. I leave to another place in a valley where I guess there will be less light pollution. I arrange the camera and fall asleep.

Waking up I am not really freezing, it feels a little chilly but the sky is blue – I start the engine, pack the camera (missed not too much) and hit the road. Before the sun rises at 8:18 I pass Tromso quickly heading along more amazingly beautiful Fjords and enjoying the beautiful weather. Approaching the finish border the population gets visibly less. While along the Fjords there are pretty well populated villages every now and then 50 km before the border I see the last petrol station. And then it gets cold. The border is kind of a “mountain” pass – at 500m elevation a little above tree level and situated in an amazing landscape.

Another tiny village at the finish side – mostly two hotels of which one is closed, one petrol station and a shop – no more houses and this will be the biggest town for the next 200km. The landscape is empty – just the road, the sun, the nature and me. A little before sunset I suddenly notice a huge elk to the right side of the road. Krkrkrkr – the same noise like always when I hit the brakes and then I slowly roll out – hardly any grip here I go back and there they are standing in front of the setting sun! An incredible view of these crazy animals. I quickly take some pictures and then just enjoy the view. They really seem to enjoy the sun and it looks exactly as funny as in the Disney movies I have seen as a child when these huge animals start to jump around in the deep snow and go crazy for the sun! When the sun sets at 15:35 (norwegian time) I arrive at the next petrol station and ask for a place to spend the night – the rooms at the petrol station are full and the hotel behind either – next hotel 60km but no guarantee for a room.

The forecast says the cloud hole will be here tonight and not 60km east… The Aurora forecast is pretty bad for tonight so I decide to get a Reindeer steak and wait a little at the restaurant of the petrol station. Outside its around -25˚C again and the sky is clear. I am used to trust the clear sky more than the Aurora forecast and the decision to spend the night outside again was made before ordering the food already anyway. The Restaurant closes at 10 – I head back towards northwest around 7. After 10 minutes driving I recognize some clouds at the horizon in the direction I am heading to – but not a glimpse of an Aurora! I stop and watch the situation for a few minutes, the clouds are slowly moving towards me so I turn around heading where I need to go anyway – southeast, away from the clouds and the Aurora.

A little before passing the petrol station I recognize a very weak greenish spot in the sky – just for a second. I accelerate, quickly pass the light pollution and stop maybe 5km after the village. Is an amazing place, a flat and beautiful ice desert. I have always loved deserts: Jordan, Sahara, Balochistan, Thar, and many more. The similarities are astonishing, the clear skies, tiny population, life threatening but amazingly beautiful nature – the loneliness and the dependency on and responsibility for yourself. Here you can die within minutes and nobody will be near enough to help you in any way. I love this place! I stop at a small parking lot in between walls of snow next to the street having an incredible overview of the flats to the north and the moon being in the south – not being supposed to set before 4:30am – at 5:30 dawn is starting.

Road map

Finland – Norway

Friday afternoon my finish friend Ursula arrives and at that moment all problems are solved. We get a car and head north. I haven’t seen any Auroras the last two nights as it was too cloudy so today we take the satellite picture and hunt the Auroras. Clear sky should approach the Norwegian coast north of us from the west, so we head straight direction north cape and turn left to Alta after reaching the first fjord. When leaving Alta around 11pm heading west we see the first star. In the next second we see many and even though the town we are still in is fully illuminated we see the Northern lights. I turn around as the hole in the clouds is not supposed to be very big and we leave town heading back east. In the night we cross the mountains driving 5km, watching until we freeze and drive a little further. The best show starts at dawn today and it seem like Aurora and sun are fighting. Its really spectaculars when the Aurora is burning 180˚ around the sky like a whip!   After taking a little nap in the car at the beach we continue to the north cape where Ursula insults a Sami native by asking why his reindeer are so small. The weather is amazing and we really enjoy our stay, the incredible landscape, breakfast outside in the sun (end of September at N71˚!) and loads of reindeer. By evening time we move back south to go further east next. But before we can turn left a charming guy stops us by offering a nice cabin for a reasonable price. We only took a nap in the car last night so we accept.   Geir, the host is a salmon fisher an a real amazing guy. When you are around its most recommended to make a stop for a coffee at his place and take a look at his traditional style built church and Viking house. The most clean river of Norway also runs aside his property at N70˚10’38.3” E024˚54’27.1”! MAP

I keep falling in love with the north more and more. Norway is great!

Austria to Ivalo / Finland

I realized in Iceland already I became Northern Lights addicted! So when back home I did what I could to get a cheap trip to the north again as soon as possible. And here I am, in Ivalo, Lappland, Finland. The first two nights being really amazing and the first two days being cloudy and rainy. But nevermind, tomorrow I will get an opportunity to move hopefully and I will head north as fast as possible. AURORA BOREALIS SINDHABAD!