Aurora Basecamp March
Register here – 5 seats available
The Aurora Basecamp March is a 4-night (optional 7-night) northern lights photo tour and takes place around the village of Särkijärvi in Finnish Lapland soon after the March equinox. Traditionally the weeks surrounding the equinox are providing very good chances to observe Northern lights.
Days and nights are usually not very cold anymore, making it easier to spend lots of time outside to explore winter wonderland with our cameras. Depending on nature’s mood we can still see snow-covered trees; lakes and rivers will be mostly frozen.
At night we will try and find the ever-mesmerizing Aurora Borealis. During the day you will have the possibility to either recover from the nights or explore the area. We will also have at least one daytime excursion to some beautiful nature locations and maybe even see some reindeer. Optionally, a husky tour can be arranged.
In case you would like to stay a full week, there is also the ‘Make-it-a-week’ -option to book three additional nights of aurora chasing.
A maximum of six participants makes this an intimate photo tour. Each person will have a lot of time for in-depth discussions regarding camera settings, composition and anything else.
As always and everywhere, the weather is an unknown. The program and its order might change depending on the weather conditions.
Overview – Aurora Basecamp March
2020: 21 – 25 Mar 2020 (or until 28 Mar) – 5 seats available
2021: final date open
Make-it-a-week option: Book three additional nights 25 – 28 Mar.
minimum 4 participants
maximum 6 participants
Required photography skills
The Aurora Basecamp March is open to all skill levels: for those who are mostly used to the auto-mode as well as for those knowing their camera very well. Of course it is also possible to go on this tour without a camera.
Required fitness level
For this tour a basic fitness level will be sufficient. We will have some short hikes through winter wonderland of maximum one hour to reach beautiful spots. During clear nights we will of course search for Northern lights.
Basic Basecamp in single room: EUR 1,400,00
Make-it-a-week: EUR 1,400.00 + 850.00
Included in price
– transfer from/to Kittilä airport (KTT) at predefined times
– accommodation in Särkijärven Majat in cozy, spacious, three-bedroom apartments (one bedroom per participant with shared living room, kitchen, bathroom and sauna)
– half board (breakfast and dinner included)
– aurora chasing every night
– at least two daytime excursions to beautiful locations
– warm overalls & shoes
– all other transfers
– flights in and out of Kittilä (KTT)
– photo gear (tripod, camera, lenses)
– travel insurance or any other private insurances
– lunches & snacks during daytime (we will visit the grocery store a few times)
– alcoholic drinks
Our Aurora Basecamp March starts with the transfer from the airport Kittilä to Särkijärven Majat in Särkijärvi. After this one-hour drive we will check in and enjoy our first dinner. Weather permitting, we grab our camera gear and head into the night to look for the Aurora Borealis.
At night, we will try and find the Northern lights. In daytime we will have a lecture on aurora photography and at least two daytime excursions to beautiful nature locations.
You will also have time to recover from the nights or explore the area nearby.
After an early breakfast this photo tour will unfortunately come to an end for those not staying the whole week. Transport from Särkijärvi to Kittilä airport will be arranged.
You have the possibility to book an extra three nights from 25-28 Mar 2020. Choosing this option, you will make your stay a full week (Sat-Sat) and give yourself three more chances to chase and see the Northern lights.
All program is subject to weather and might change accordingly.
Särkijärvi is located in the municipality Muonio in the Northwest of Lapland. Around 300 people live there and the climate is rather arctic. The average temperature in the end March is about -5C (23F).
Särkijärvi is located about 170km North of the Arctic circle, 14km East of the Swedish border and at the western edge of Pallas-Ylläs national park.
Shops and restaurants: 12km from accomodation in Muonio. We will visit there several times during this tour.
Nearest lake: 30m (lake Särkijärvi)
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. If you don’t have a tripod, you can rent one for 25 Euros for your entire stay.
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.
Lenses (at least one needed)
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 to avoid blurry photos.
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 clouds and blue sky. A graduaded ND filter will help to balance the light difference of ground and sky.
Head lamp / Flashlight (useful)
Will be important during the night. If you can get a head lamp with a red light option, it will be helpful.
Spare batteries (useful)
In cold nights your batteries will discharge faster than usually. It will be important to have at least two extra battery 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 -2…-10C (28…14F) in the end of March, you need to be prepared. During the night it can be pretty cold, sometimes about -20C (-4F). 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 a 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.
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.
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