This 1-week photo tour around the villages of Hetta and Kilpisjärvi in Finnish Lapland offers wonderful treats for you and your camera. Going on a husky safari, exploring the wilderness with snowmobiles, winter landscapes, snow patterns, and of course the ever-mesmerizing Aurora Borealis.
A maximum of six participants make this an intimate tour. Each person will have a lot of time for in-depth discussions regarding photos, gear and anything else.
As always and everywhere, the weather is an unknown. The program and its order might change depending on the weather conditions.
2021: final date open
minimum 4 participants
maximum 6 participants
Required photography skills
This tour is open to all skill levels, from beginners to professionals.
Required fitness level
This tour requires a basic-active fitness level. We will have short hikes through the snow. Riding the snow mobile requires some strength as well. Please keep in mind that if the nights are clear, we will spend part of it to search for Northern lights.
Double room: EUR 3,720.00
Single room supplement: EUR 300.00
Surcharge for own snow mobile: EUR 350.00
Included in price
– transfer from/to Kittilä airport (KTT) at predefined times
– accommodation in Hetta in double rooms with bathroom, breakfast and dinner included
– accommodation in Kilpisjärvi in cosy cottages (each cottage has 2 double rooms with shared bathroom, sauna, kitchen and living room), breakfast included
– aurora chasing every night
– a husky safari (12km)
– 2 snowmobile tours (2 persons per snow mobile)
– a visit to the fjords in Norway
– all other transfers to photo locations
– warm overalls, shoes and warm gloves. Helmets for snowmobiling.
– flights in and out of Kittilä (KTT)
– photo gear (camera, lenses, tripod, filters, etc)
– travel insurance or any other private insurances
– dinners in Kilpisjärvi, lunches
– alcoholic drinks
Our week together starts with the transfer from the airport Kittilä to hotel Hetan Majatalo in Hetta. After this two-hour drive we will check in and enjoy our first dinner of traditional Finnish and Lappish food. Weather permitting, we grab our camera gear and head into the night to look for the Aurora Borealis.
A dash of adventure will spice up this day. In the morning, we will visit the local husky farm and go on a husky safari. While one person steers the sleigh, the other will be able to take action photos on the go. In the early afternoon we have time to discover the village of Hetta. Afterwards we head into the nature of winter wonderland. Here in the North the sun sets (and rises) very slowly. We will have plenty of time to adjust our camera settings and find good compositions. At our accommodation, the saunas can be used. As every night, we will look for the Northern lights.
In the morning we will have a lecture on basics of photography, camera settings and aurora photography. In the afternoon we will explore the wonderful wilderness around Hetta. Pulled by a snow mobile, we will cross frozen lakes and ride through frosty forests. With some luck, some reindeer might cross our path. Our goal will be a cosy kota (a traditional hut of the Sami people) in midst of snow-covered trees. Not only awaits us the sunset there, we will also light up a fire and have dinner. The warm light shining through the icy windows onto the snow creates a truly magical atmosphere. As darkness sets we have the opportunity to explore the world of mysterious snow giants and hopefully see Northern lights. Late at night, we will head back to our hotel for a good nights sleep.
Around noon we will pack our things and drive 170km to Kilpisjärvi. Here we will spend the remaining days.
During these days we will have a diverse program with a number of possibilities. The Kilpijärvi wilderness area holds arguably the most stunning landscapes in Finland and can be entered by snow mobile only with a local guide. It is a unique and unforgettable experience and we will drive ourselves on snow mobiles! The Norwegian and the Swedish border are just a few kilometres away. We most likely will do a road trip (either day or night time) into Norway and the Lyngen fjord.
After an early breakfast this week will unfortunately come to an end and we will have to pack our things to drive to Kittilä airport.
All program is subject to the weather. As with all nature-related activities, the weather situation dictates when and which spots we visit. The goal is to provide you the best possibilities for great photos throughout the week. The itinerary is a guideline and gives you an idea of what to expect.
Both, Hetta and Kilpisjärvi are located in the municipality Enontekiö in the Northwest corner of Lapland. The population density here is around 0,24 / sqkm. Climate is rather arctic. The average annual temperature in Kilpisjärvi is about -1C (30F) and in February about -12C (10F).
Hetta is located about 220km North of the Arctic circle and 35km South of the Norwegian border. It is a village with 800 people and in normal winter conditions it is here, where frost, snow and wind transform ordinary trees into mysterious snow giants.
Kilpisjärvi is located about 170km Northwest of Hetta and lies at fell Saana. One hundred people live here, right at the borders to Norway and Sweden. Here, near the tundra, no forest grows anymore. Only downy small birches give a hint that under all that snow is some fertile soil. From Kilpisjärvi it is possible to discover the unique Käsivarsi Wilderness area (possible only with a local guide) with mountain peaks above 1,000m. Only 60km into Norway lies the fjord Lyngen with a view to the famous Lyngen Alps.
Important for night photography and long exposure photos. The tripod will minimize camera shaking. Handheld photos in darkness will not be sharp. To adjust settings comfortably, the tripod should be nearly your height.
Most suitable will be a dSLR camera where you can exchange lenses. Your camera needs to have the option of manual focus and a complete manual mode which allows you to adjust aperture, exposure time and ISO separately. There are also a bunch of suitable mirrorless cameras out there. Pocket cameras with a zoom might be ok in some cases, you can contact me for that when booking.
For night and aurora photography you should bring a fast lens (meaning wide aperture, with a small f-number like f/2.8 or better) to make the most of the available light. Lenses with f/4.0 are doing fine also but you might have to crank up the ISO. Auroras often stretch all across the sky. To capture a big part of it, you want to have a wide-angle lens (24mm or wider).
For daytime photography it is good to have a basic zoom (24-70mm, 24-120mm or the like). The variety helps you to create diverse photo compositions.
Remote control (optional)
Use during night photography or long exposures. The remote allows you to take photos without touching the camera.
If you want to take photos of smooth water or moving clouds, you will need a neutral density filter. A polarizer can be used to create better contrast between white snow and blue sky. A graduaded ND filter will help to balance the light difference of ground and sky.
Head lamp / Flashlight
Will be important during the night. If you can get a head lamp with a red light option, it will be helpful.
In cold weather your batteries will discharge quite fast. It will be important to have at least two extra batteries with you. Using hand warmers, you can revive the batteries to get the last bit of energy out of them.
To read more about aurora photography, check out my aurora guide ‘Fox Fires’, part 4.
Make sure you have the right clothing. With average temperatures of -12C (10F) in February, you need to be prepared. During the night it can be really cold, about -20..-30C (-4…-22F). You will receive an overall and thick shoes but under it it is important to have several layers.
Best is a woolen layer. For example, merino wool is excellent.
Another woolen layer and some fleece layers usually work well.
Top layer (under the overall)
Top your layers off with a winter jacket, best for them will be windproof.
Shoes, socks and gloves
They will be essential as your toes and fingers will be one of the biggest challenges to keep warm. Hand and toe warmers can easily be purchased online. Important: Operating the camera in the cold without gloves can be tough. Get a thin pair with which you are able to press the camera buttons. These thin gloves can be worn under thick ones.
Head, face and ears
Make sure to properly protect your head and ears against the cold. Having windproof, fur type of hat with ear flaps makes a big difference. A balaclava helps to keep your face warm, especially your nose and cheeks.
In case your fingers, toes or other body parts tend to get cold, it is good to bring warmers. There are many different brands, some sell variety packs like this one. Many of them are adhesive and can be put onto one of the layers under the overall.
For hot juice, tea or coffee to keep you warm during our excursions.
In case your fingers, toes or other body parts tend to get cold, it is good to bring warmers. There are many different brands, some sell variety packs like this one.
To backup your photos from the camera and editing. If we are extremely unlucky with the weather, we will do some post processing in Lightroom.
We explore the wilderness three times with snow mobiles, weather permit. Of those, we drive at two times ourselves, once we will be pulled sitting in a sledge.
Usually two people share one snow mobile and take turns in driving. If you want to drive yourself all the time, it is possible to book a snow mobile for yourself for a surcharge.
To be the driver of a snow mobile, you will need to have a valid driving license. If you rather sit on the back and don’t want to drive, no license is needed.
Before we head out for the first time, everyone will get an introduction on safety, how to drive and driving rules. During our excursions, a professional guide is with us all the time.
15% due within 14 days after registration
85% due latest 30 days before tour start
Cancellation and refunds
Up to 60 days before tour start: Full refund minus an administration fee of EUR 100.00
59-30 days before tour start: 85% refund of the entire trip’s cost
29-15 days before tour start: 50% refund of the entire trip’s cost
Less than 15 days before tour start: 5% refund of the entire trip’s cost
Feedback from participants
Here you can read what participants wrote, who were already on this photo tour. On the Testimonials-page feedback from all the tours is put together.
The Adventure Lapland tour with Thomas Kast (Salamapaja Tours) delivered much more than I had expected! Not only was Thomas able to find clear skies for us on two marvelous nights of amazing Aurora activity, but the daytime excursions gave us a great feeling for Finnish Lapland – the landscape, the people and the wildlife. Snowmobiling, sled rides, dogsledding and touring the countryside – It was like two tours in one!
As you may or may not know, being able to view the Northern Lights or ‘Lady Aurora’ is not guaranteed with any tour. Not only are the conditions for the display of this phenomena not 100% guaranteed no matter who you tour with, but weather also plays an important part. Thomas Kast is very knowledgeable of the area for his tours and was able to find a location with clear skies on two nights of amazing displays of light. This made all the difference for us.
Thomas Kast excels at ensuring that his participants in his Salamapja Tours are well taken care of. He works hard to try to make every opportunity possible for his guests to experience Finnish Lapland and capture all that they can of this enchanting country and its people and natural wonders.
“Amazing! Exceeded all my expectations. Thomas our wonderful leader and host, filled our days and nights with the best of Lapland. An experience I’ll not soon forget.”
Thank you for an unforgettable Adventure Lapland and for being so generous with your knowledge and experience. You taught me so much about photography: how to really use my camera, about light and composition, how to capture the intriguing details and the magnificent big landscape.
Your love for all things Lapland is highly contagious. Thank you for taking us out into the most amazing winter wonderland, for never rushing us, for always having a watchful eye on our happiness and safety, for being flexible to change plans, and for patiently making sure all of us capture nature’s incredible beauty with our cameras!
Your boundless enthusiasm kept all of us happily awake while chasing Lady Aurora even across state borders! Thank you for constantly checking forecasts, for teaching us how to read them and how to spot the faintest Northern Light in the sky. You turned a childhood dream into a most probably long lasting passion. Above all, thank you for gently nudging me to focus on my camera settings and helping me fine tune them before I lost my mind watching this magnificent light show happening right above our heads and all around us. Truly nights to remember!
Thank you for taking such attentive care of us. No detail was too small, no ask too big. Personally, I hope to return one day and do even more of all the above.
Es war eine schöne Zeit zusammen, mit allem drum und dran. Sehr nette, freundliche, super hilfsbereite Truppe, hat viel Spaß gemacht.
Ich wüsste nicht was man jetzt verbessern sollte. Man weiß ja vorher, dass alle Aktionen abhängig vom Wetter und “Lady Aurora” sind.
Und da war es super, dass du sofort Alternativen hattest, z.B. als der Rentierbesitzer so kurzfristig krank wurde. Hoffe sehr, es geht ihm wieder gut.
Ich kann jetzt viel besser mit den manuellen Einstellungen von meinem Fotoapparat umgehen.
Bei den Aurora Fotos, welche ich mit dem Fotoapparat eines anderen Teilnehmers machen konnte, sind auch ein paar dabei, die mir gut gefallen 🙂
Du hast dich als Guide sehr gut gemacht:
– warst immer da, wenn man etwas gefragt hat, hat man eine hilfreiche Antwort bzw. Unterstützung bekommen (vor allem für Anfänger im “Automatik”- Modus 🙂 gut)
– hast alles möglich gemacht, mit vielen Kilometern fahren, um uns eine tolle Landschaft im Aurora Licht oder Sonnenuntergang zu zeigen
– die beiden Unterkünfte waren einfach wunderbar
– es war immer genug Zeit während des Fotostopps
– dein Vortrag zu Polarlicht und Fotografie als Vorbereitung war sehr interessant
Gefehlt hat nichts, war alles da, was man sich in so einem Urlaub wünschen kann:
Lady Aurora, die Husky Tour, die wilden Rentiere am letzten Tag, Schneemobil fahren und Schlittentour mit dieser sehr guten Ausrüstung
Was ich vorab nochmal als Tipp den nächsten Teilnehmern geben würde:
– genug Sohlenwärmer bzw. Zehenwärmer und Handwärmer mitbringen (evtl. von der Firma HEAT, zum Ankleben)
– warme Handschuhe, auch z.B. von HEAT: Unterzieher: Polartec Wind Pro Liner o.a. und Shell Handschuh
Als große Lappland Fans und leidenschaftliche Hobbyfotografen buchten wir die Abenteuer Lappland Tour. Unsere Gruppe bestand aus insgesamt 6 Teilnehmern was klein genug war, um maximal von den Erfahrungen und vom Können unseres Fotoguides zu profitieren.
Die ersten Tage verbrachten wir in Enontekiö/Hetta, wo wir im einfachen aber sehr gemütlichen und familiären Hetan Majatalo wohnten. Nach der Anreise ging es gleich abends los in die märchenhaft verschneite Natur, um Polarlichter zu fotografieren und einen Vorgeschmack auf die kommenden Tage und Nächte zu bekommen. Diese gestalteten sich wie in der Reisebeschreibung: zum Einstieg ein kleiner Fotokurs zur Polarlichtfotografie und dann hinaus in die Natur, wo wir einen genialen Spot nach dem anderen besuchten. Verschneite Märchentannen, traumhafte und fast unwirkliche Sonnenuntergänge, fließende Gewässer trotz -20 Grad Celsius mit fantastischen Schnee- und Eisformationen und eine geniale Huskytour um nur einiges zu nennen.
Die letzten Tage verbrachten wir in Kilpisjärvi nahe der norwegischen Grenze, wo wir 2 Tage auf Schneemobilen in den umliegenden Fjells verbrachten und die einzigartige Gelegenheit hatten, einen Rentierzüchter samt Herde zu besuchen.
Die Landschaft, Ruhe und Friedlichkeit der Natur sind atemberaubend und die nächtlichen Polarlichtausflüge waren einfach nur genial. Insgesamt hatten wir das große Glück an 5 von 7 Nächten die Lichtshow am Himmel zu genießen und vor allem fotografieren zu können.
Fazit: ein bisschen Abenteuer, ganz viel Natur und Schnee, wundervolle und grandiose Fotos, neue Bekanntschaften/Freunde, gaaaanz viele Polarlichter in allen Farben und ein sehr engagierter sympathischer Guide.