Lapland Winter Paradise
Register here – 6 seats available for 2024
This 6-day photo tour around Äkäslompolo in Finnish Lapland takes place after the end of the polar night. Your guide will be Thomas Kast, a multiple international award-winning photographer. We will have special light conditions, because the sun does not rise very high from the horizon, so there will be usually several hours of moody light. Photo subjects range from winter landscapes, snow-covered trees, details in the snow, reindeers, huskies and of course the ever-mesmerizing Aurora Borealis. Through the nights we will have partly moonlight which makes the snow sparkling and casts tree shadows on the white snow.
A maximum of six participants make 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.
2024: 14-19 Jan 6 seats available
2025: final date open 6 seats available
minimum 4 participants
maximum 6 participants
Required photography skills
This tour is open to all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. Of course it is also possible to go on this tour without a camera.
Required fitness level
For this tour a basic fitness level is sufficient. We will have short hikes through the snow and riding the snow mobile requires some strength. Please keep in mind that if the nights are clear, we will spend part of it to search for Northern lights.
Price per Person 2024
In double room: EUR 3.220,00
Single room supplement: EUR 250,00
Surcharge for own snow mobile: EUR 150,00
Surcharge for own husky-sleigh: EUR 90,00
Your guide for this tour will be Thomas Kast.
Included in price
– transfer from/to Kittilä airport (KTT) at predefined times
– accommodation in cottages (1 room per cottage with bathroom, sauna and mini-kitchen)
– all breakfasts
– aurora chasing every night
– two snowmobile tours / 2 persons per snow mobile
– a 25km long husky safari / 2 persons per husky sleigh
– warm overalls and shoes. Helmets for snow mobiling
– all transfers to photo locations
– flights in and out of Kittilä (KTT)
– photo gear (camera, lenses, tripod, filters, etc)
– travel insurance or any other private insurances
– snacks during day time & dinners (grocery store and restaurants nearby)
– alcoholic drinks
Our photo tour starts with the transfer from the airport Kittilä to the log cottages of Äkäshotelli. After a one-hour drive we will check in and go out for dinner. Weather permitting, we grab our camera gear and head into the night to look for the Aurora Borealis.
During these days we will visit several locations to photograph those snow-covered trees, open water and much more. Two snow mobile excursions are planned to reach locations which are otherwise extremely difficult to access during winter. We will have a lecture on the aurora borealis and how to photography them and also visit the local husky farm to go on a 25km long safari. There you can enjoy and capture the wildnerness only hearing the sound of your dog team.
Some locations we might visit twice – in daytime and night time, which provide very different light situations. 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 tour.
As mentioned, the sun will be only above the horizon for a few hours. Nevertheless, we will have lots of hours with great light. To give you an idea, on our first full day, the sun will rise just after 10.30 and set just at 14.30 (2.30pm). At nights we will have partly moonlight creating fairytale-like sceneries with sparkling snow and tree shadows.
After breakfast this tour 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.
Äkäslompolo is located in the municipality Kolari in the Northwest of Finland. About 140km North of the Arctic Circle and 25km from the Swedish border, here live 500 people. The village lies at a lake and is surrounded by seven fells. Temperatures in January are on average about -15C (5F) and can drop down to -40C (-40F) for short periods. In normal winter conditions it is here, where frost, snow and wind transform ordinary trees into mysterious snow giants.
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 couple of lenses. A zoom (24-70mm, 24-120mm or the like) for diverse photo compositions. A lens like 50mm f/1.8 will be useful to emphasize details in snow or trees, leaving the horizon of the photo blurry.
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 three 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 -15C (5F) you need to be prepared. The temperature might drop down to -25…-35C (-13…-31F). You will receive an overall and thick shoes but under it it is important to have several layers underneath.
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. Please bring those with you. 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 in Lightroom.
During this workshop we will explore the nature twice on snow mobiles. These excursions usually lasts between 3-6 hours, with the main focus on photography. Usually two people share one snow mobile and can 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, everyone will get an introduction on safety, how to drive and driving rules. During our excursion, a professional snow mobile 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
Here you find informationen about the precautions, measures and rules during the tours, the refund and rebooking options and the travel regulations into Finland concerning the Covid-19 Virus.
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 name says it all on the Lapland Winter Paradise Tour by and with Thomas Kast/Salamapaja: The landscape around Äkaslompolo in Finnish Lapland is a true winter wonderland and offers great opportunities not only for winter sports enthusiasts but especially for photographers.
Among other things, we roamed through snow-covered areas to photograph snow covered trees, snow and ice formations, drove to the fjells with snowmobiles to capture the magical light of the arctic winter and of course went out in the evening to hunt for the magical northern lights. Thomas is a selected Aurora expert and is always available to help and give advice to everyone.
It was a fantastic time in a chilly but absolutely wonderful winter paradise. Can’t wait to get back again!
Das hat sich wirklich gelohnt! Eine sehr gut organisierte Reise mit tollen Erlebnissen und vielen Polarlichtern. Auf unserer 5 tägigen Reise hatten wir das Glück, fast jede Nacht Polarlichter zu entdecken und zu fotografieren. Thomas weiß wo sie zu finden sind und wie man sie aufs Bild bekommt. Sensationell!
Die Reise vom 18. – 25.01.2020 war ein Lappland-Winterparadies im besten Sinne: Herrliche Winterlandschaften, Sonnenauf- und -untergänge und mehrmals Polarlicht. Thomas Kast hat mit seiner bewährten Organisation und Durchführung, mit Engagement und eigener Begeisterung auch diese Fotoreise zu einem großen Erlebnis werden lassen. Fotografische Fragen wurden sowohl fachgerecht als auch verständlich erläutert, Beispiele gezeigt und, wenn gewünscht, eigene Fotos besprochen. Großartige Natur wurde mit Lernen auf fotografischem Gebiet erlebnisreich verbunden. Auch individuelle Wünsche wurden erfüllt und Polarlicht findet Thomas Kast fast immer. Wir sind auch diesmal wieder hoch zufrieden und mit unvergesslichen Eindrücken und Erinnerungen nach Hause gefahren.
Ich war Teilnehmer bei der Fotoreise “Lappland Winterparadies” im Januar 2020. Die Unterkunft war sehr charmant und liebevoll eingerichtet. Während den sechs Tagen durften wir zwei Mal Schneemobil fahren, eine 25 km lange Huskysafari mitmachen, mit Schneeschuhe durch die wunderschöne und verschneite Winterlandschaft spazieren sowie selbstverständlich auch die Jagd nach dem Nordlicht durfte nicht fehlen. Thomas ist ein humorvoller, lustiger und ein begeisterter Fotograf. Er kann fliessend Deutsch, Englisch und Finnisch und kennt tolle Orte zum fotografieren. Ebenfalls ist er spezialisiert wenn es um Nordlichter und schneebedeckte Landschaften geht. Meine hohen Erwartungen an diesen Fotokurs wurden vollumfänglich erfüllt. Hatte nichts zu bemängeln. Aus diesem Grund kann ich die Firma Salamapaja sehr empfehlen.
If you have questions related to the workshop, your photo gear or anything else, please use the contact form.