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!

Geomagnetic storm over Oksfjord! (KP7 at 70˚N)

I will make it short – you want to see the pictures. I had an extremely exhausting journey from vienna via ivalo to Alta. A little later I found the only place to get coffee since 45km after spending a night in the car. A charming young lady not only makes the best coffee since I left home but also is very hospitable and offers me a place to sleep. Far away from everywhere directly at the fjord in Langfjordbotn. Love it!

First night provides some Aurora in the evening but most of the night I keep watching the clear sky without any display. Next night a geomagnetic storm is predicted as well as dense cloud coverage. Clouds stay until the evening but when I go out to check around 19:30 the sky is almost clear and KP Level at 6 (rising up to 7 during the evening)!!!

Enjoy the pictures!

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

Out of the blue

The next day it snows… all day and all night. Time enough to enjoy my cottage at the beach, update my blog and learn a little more about lightroom… Friday its still too windy so I make a trip to Tromso to go shopping and have a look at the take off Arlid, the guy from the Paragliding club Tromso, suggested. An amazing place and I really have the feeling I have to come back here to fly more – maybe when its warmer.

When coming back from Tromso the wind has calmed down and I decide to make another attempt at night. When I walk up at dark the wind is pretty strong but I know the way pretty well by now and the conditions have been just like this at my first flight. Arriving at the take off there is no wind, some clouds and no northern lights.

For about five minutes. As soon as I have prepared to start a cold and stiff wind from the north blows into my face. I am just at the right take off but that wind is just too much for me. I know pilotes who would easily do it, but not me, not at night and not out in the North Atlantic…. And not if there is no Aurora! I walk back down, I need some sleep as I have arranged a whale safari tomorrow morning.

I try to see some wildlife on all of my trips and here it seems to be an amazing opportunity to watch whales which are here even though they should be in the south right now, but well, temperature at daytime is around 0˚C now…. Orcas and Humpback whales are here. I have seen Humpbacks in Husavik in Iceland but have failed to take proper pictures then. Orcas I have never seen in the wild before.

When we go out the wind is calm and the sea pretty flat, sun is shining and its an amazing day! Soon after leaving the harbor on the small boat (7m only) we see the first Orcas. But let the pictures speak for themselves!

When we come back the wind is still calm. While resting a little I prepare for another flight at dusk but wind is getting stronger again and I am actually too exhausted to run and down the rock again. I rest, enjoy an amazing sunset at the balcony and wait for northern lights in the evening – but fall asleep before they come.

Sunday morning I check out, forecast for tonight predicts a geomagnetic storm and clear sky above Sommaroy. I check out in the morning and prepare for a night outside between Sommaroy and Tromso.

Into the black

Monday morning! According to the forecast tonight is the last chance to have an Aurora flight for several days. I need some help to collect my camera after I started and to illuminate the landing area. Anders is of duty today and the staff of the hotel is incredibly busy with thousands of guests who came by the weekend. I try to find somebody all day but not really successful. At the evening its windy and cloudy so I go towards Kiruna with some other guests where we enjoy a pretty nice show in the sky. When we come back later the sky is clear at Björkliden – but no Aurora. A little later the Tirolean guys who came yesterday arrive, we have a short chat, they help me and we go to the upper end of the skiing slope between reception and camping area – 100m elevation only – but enough in a pitch black night.

When we arrive at the launching area there is a light breeze from the back coming down the mountain, hardly any Aurora visible…. I wait until the wind is a little less and start. Its an amazing flight in the dark, no problem at all and I feel totally secure. The landing site is full of light and I come down without a problem – I am only unsatisfied because I hardly saw any Auroras while flying.

Next day morning I check out. I start to really love this place but I’ve been here too long already. Arriving people believe I am hotel staff which is a proper sign to go. I contacted some paragliders in Norway who helped me a lot finding better chances than last night. Especially one guy in Tromso was very helpful and told me a site about 25km west of Tromso – without light pollution and far away enough from any airport to make it perfectly legal to fly there at night.

All the way it snows a lot, all is white and there is nothing else but white. No shadows, no contrasts only red sticks make the side of the road visible for much of the way. When I arrive at Tromso I am done. First choice of lonely planet is full and another hotel recommended by them either. Staff of the smart hotel in Tromso is very kind and tries to find a place for me. “Do you have a car?”. A little later I drive to the west, to a small island called Sommaroy where they have a room for one night. Approaching I unexpectedly see the first stars.

Road map

When I arrive at the hotel I quickly move into an amazingly beautiful room with huge windows. I test the bed but as soon as I switch of the light I see Auroras dancing in the sky. Time to explore the Island. Being maybe 500m in square Hilleroy the neighbor Island where I am when I step out of the hotel is pretty easy to be overviewed. The flat north part is protected from the light pollution of the village by a mountain, a hill, actually by a huge rock rising out of the north Atlantic. Just water between me and the North Pole!

Its totally dark but there is one small road with strong street lamps on the island – straight for about 200m leaving a flat space of maybe 20m to the sea – perfect for landing at night. The hill seems to be flyable either… Before I go to bed I have a little talk with Evva, the kind receptionist and tell her about my planes, asking if there might be a possibility to stay more than a night (“I have a Yogamat and a sleeping bag, I just need a warm place”)– she promises to check until next morning and I go to bed.

Wednesday morning the flag in the garden is hanging down 45 degrees, it seems to become a sunny day and after a little breakfast I check out my room and make ready to fly. Before I leave Evva tells me she has found a solution, one of the fishing huts for two days, same price. Its an amazingly beautiful place I move in, I just don’t really recognize at this second because in my mind I am in the air already.

The rock seems to be perfect with starting possibilities to all directions. 200m elevation are possible to be done as there is a rope to handle up all the way, still only for people who have alpine experience. Up there I see the low sun to the south and the cold, clear, blue and beautiful sea to the west. Wind is NNW so I start pretty much towards the open sea. The flight is just beautiful! It is February, I am 350km north of the Arctic Circle and paragliding at the edge of the continent, the low sun is shining in my face and I don’t feel cold at all in my 7 layers of clothes.

After landing I meet Gökay who is here from turkey and made an amazing slow motion movie of me flying. Tonight is the night and I ask him if he can make a movie at night too – he can. In the afternoon I talk to Kjell who seems to be a manager here – we have kind of the same hair style and travel habits, we like each other immediately. When chatting with him in the afternoon I miss the time and am late to get up the hill.

At this point the contact details of this place as it is for sure one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! It must be an amazing place to soar the rock in the midnight sun of summertime as well as to fly in the northern lights… and for sure it is for fishing, hiking, kayaking, whale watching, … even diving in summer time between colorful coral reefs of a crystal clear sea! Ah the contact: and of course they have a facebook account!

Little wind, clear sky, Aurora is starting to dance. When I arrive at the climbing path next to the tunnel for the military to drive up the Aurora is dancing in the sky. I hurry and when I arrive at the top a stiff and cold wind from the south is blowing in my face. I didn’t look for southern starting possibilities at all but manage to find one. Wind from the south means its blowing out to the sea….hmm.

At the first attempt to get out the wing the wind takes it and several lines get tangled. I have taken wood with me but think the wind will be less very soon so I don’t make a fire. I am busy to untangle the lines anyway which keeps me warm. When I make a break I take a drink out of my bag, drink half of it and by then the other half is frozen. All over my stuff ice crystals are forming and everything turns white.

Above me the Aurora is dancing while the wind keeps blowing, I should have made fire! I keep in contact with Gökay via phone and tell him every now and then how the things are. Around two hours after my arrival on the hilltop the wind calms down, The Aurora is dancing beautifully and I put my headlamp in my pocket as the batteries suffer a lot from the cold, the Gopro remains an ice block doing nothing but some beeps like crying for help. I will be in the warm car in 5 minutes is pretty much all I can think when making last preparations to start and two minutes later I’m airborne to enjoy the most incredible flight ever!

Its even more magic than I have imagined, I don’t feel cold at all anymore, as soon as I am away from the mountain I switch of the head lamp which is getting already lower again by the cold and just enjoy the unbelievable scenery! Much too quickly I am landing but this experience I will for sure never ever forget. I am done but overwhelmed, get the stuff together and go to the hotel.

At the reception I meet Gökay who seems to be a little shocked because he has lost sight when I switched of the headlamp in the moment he dropped a battery. I try to calm him down, fortunately all the others were not so shocked as I had appeared pretty quickly. What can I say…. YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES! DID IT!!! YEAH!

This flight is dedicated to the starman – David Bowie (before watching the pictures please click the name)

Beautiful Lapland!

Two days pass quickly in the shared room of the youth hostel in Kiruna and at Saturday I continue direction Abisko/Norwegian border. The Hostel in Abisko is fully booked so I go further to the next hostel at Riksgränzen. Also fully booked and I can get some use of my Arabic skills. The refugees are extremely kind but cant help me – and of course its not allowed for me to sleep here. But I get a hint to go to Björkliden-Fjällby, in between the border and Abisko. It has already been dark when I passed there but I had seen it and go back.

At the Gåmmelgarden I move into a tiny but beautiful single room. Symptoms of a flu become undeniable by now so I go straight to bed and only leave it at night when the sky is clear in the days to come. I experience several amazing Aurora Displays at temperatures well below -20˚C. When I get better I discover beautiful common rooms, a sauna, kitchen a real cozy place all around me!

Many people come for 2 days to see the northern lights and then leave again. Often they miss the best because of the cold and a lack of patience. A few days later when the forecast is god for Norway in the first half of the night I put two Turkish guys I made friends with in the car and we go. It takes a long time until we reach the first fjord on the snowy roads and we go on to another one for less light pollution. Unfortunately there are villages along the fjords everywhere so the light pollution just gets a little better. Finally at the bridge after Sandstrand I see the first Aurora of the night and show it to Emre and his brother. We try several spots, have some nice views and take some great picture of a relatively weak aurora.

Soon we go back to Björkliden and when we arrive there around midnight the sky is clear – but no displays all the way. The guys go straight to bed and in the hallway I meet Seth who has seen the weak Aurora from Sky Station in Abisko and is on the way to bed too. I warn all of them to stay awake because my guts tell me the best is about to come. Five minutes later when I go out to smoke and check the situation I meet Seth starring at the sky… It dances! I run back in, wake up Emre and Can and tell them to be ready in 10 minutes.

10 minutes later we all go down to the lake where we spend the rest of the night watching an incredible show in the sky. I cant resist to turn on some Psytrance and dance in the freezing night until my flu forces me back into the car. Its unbelievable amazing what nature shows us here!

Friday I have to go to Kiruna. The power stirring doesn’t work sometimes and sounds like Chewbacca. I am afraid it was damaged in my accident and hope I can do it until the Baltics where I hope to find cheaper mechanics. When I stop at the Mechanomen, the company the fixed my car in Sala, they tell me they don’t even have time to look at it before Wednesday and they recommend not to drive until then…. After some discussion they tell me to go to another mechanic who might have time. I like the guy at the QT8 petrol station near the Kiruna Forum immediately. He refills the stirring liquid (no I did not open the bonnet at -20 while having a flu) and all is fine. I give him a bottle of Jägermeister I had taken for occasions like this and he refuses any further payment.

By Saturday I feel healthy enough to think about flying. I had mentioned it at the reception several times and the seemed not really to understand what I want. Today I talk to the ski teachers and they get me immediately. Well it was my fault as it took me a few days to find out I am in an amazing little skiing area as I was awake usually at night and the days are very short and sometimes white out. At the moment there is a Blizzard pulling up but for tomorrow the conditions seem to be better to do a daylight flight at least. The guys are really interested and motivated to support me. I am really glad to be here.

In the evening I find out about the “Bastu”, the sauna. As ours is broken at the Gåmmelgarden we are welcome to use the hotel sauna. As I find out this is the social place in Sweden where to meet people and make friends. Like the hot springs in Iceland. I love it! (And it seems to help with my flu either!)

Sunday morning I meet Anders and one of his colleagues to make a first daylight flight. Conditions seem to be perfect so we get dressed, get the snowmobile and up the mountain. The sunrise is absolutely stunning and I cant wait to get up into the air. Unfortunately we got all permits and are up on the hill there is wind from the back – I can’t start up here.
Back at Gåmmelgarden I look for Katharina and her friend, the two Swedish girls who have never seen the northern lights before. Its Katharinas 60s birthday today and I recommended them to get up early as the forecast predicted clear sky in the morning. It had been clear when I got up but unfortunately not before and for the coming night – their last one here, it was predicted to be cloudy again. They seem to be not here so I go back to bed to rest and get healthier.

Sleeping until 5 I go out to smoke around 6pm. I look up and see stars and an incredible Aurora hardly visible because of too much light pollution. I run inside, tell everybody, find Katharina and her friend in the piano room and put them in the car. I am really happy to have found them, even more when they tell me they haven’t seen nothing last night. When we arrive at the lake a special birthday show starts and I am extremely happy to share the experience of the first Aurora again. Its just such an amazingly wonderful planet with such an incredibly beautiful nature!

Hemningberg to Neiden – Barent sea

Driving, driving driving through an amazing landscape towards a sudden end at neiden. MAP

Stabbursnes to Hemningberg – infinite beauty & unlimited hospitality

Unfortunately the sky is covered with clouds in this night. We enjoy the night sleeping in beds instead of enjoying the show outside. Our cabin is very comfortable and the house rule “smoking strictly prohibited – in bed!” seems extremely sympathic to us. In the morning we enjoy a breakfast in the sun meeting some of norwegians leading socialist whom had a meeting at Geirs place. I make some music and its suddenly nearly lunchtime so we pack our things and check out. I go to the counter to pay for the cabin but Geir gives me an a little insulted look saying “Hey man, we are friends!”. He gives me a filet of self caught, cold smoked salmon for the way and we say good bye.

I hardly ever experienced so much hospitality like in norway. I can say out of the more than 45 countries I visited yet it is amongst the top three. Not only because of Geir and his friends but also because of many many small stories alike that happened in the last days. Did I already mention how much I start to love norway?

The road today takes us to the far east of norway which means as far east as Cairo! The weather is great and the autumn here shows incredible colors. At night we can enjoy an amazing Aurora and the following night we spend with barent sea view.

I know some of you reading this are probably waiting for the Kirkenes story where my life was seriously threatened. I am sorry for inconvenience but before publishing this story there will be another day of beauty and hospitality. 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!