Discover the Arctic wonderland of Finland, while venturing in search of the northern lights, or aurora borealis, a spectacular natural phenomenon caused by the interaction of particles from the sun with the upper atmosphere near the North Pole. Explore the charms of Helsinki before flying north above the Arctic Circle to meet native Sámi in Finnish Lapland and learn about how they have adapted to life at some of the northernmost points on earth since before the last ice age—herding reindeer, using sleds pulled by dogs, and handcrafting exquisite clothing and footwear from animal products.
• Take advantage of multiple opportunities to witness one of nature’s most impressive displays: the aurora borealis, or northern lights, commonly seen after dark in the Arctic north from late September to late March. Deluxe glass-roof cabins at Aurora Village in northern Finland provide particularly appealing conditions to observe this phenomenon.
• Discover Helsinki’s charming mix of modern architecture and surrounding forested countryside. Visit Alvar Aalto’s former home and studio; be welcomed by the owner at a castle estate; and experience a Finnish sauna at a private manor.
• Meet reindeer herders in their remote wilderness homes and gain an authentic sense for this traditional way of life in Lapland. Feed the reindeer by hand, ride a reindeer-pulled sled, and learn about traditional handicrafts.
• Experience the thrill of driving your own dog sled through the Lapland wilderness and learn about how the dogs and bred and trained.
• Hunt for the Northern Lights in the tiny resort of Luosto, a hidden gem with untouched nature in the middle of Finnish Lapland; it’s popular with Northern Lights enthusiasts as there is very little light pollution and the Aurora Borealis Institute does research here.
Day 1: Arrive in Helsinki
Day 2: Finnish countryside and Castle Malmgarden
Day 3: Travel to Arctic Cirlce and Santa Claus Village
Day 4: Northern Lights
Day 5: Reindeer farm and sled dog visit
Day 6: Travel to Luosto, visit amethyst mine
Day 7: Snowmobile safari and nothern lights hunt
Day 8: Snowshoe hike and farewell dinner
Day 9: Departures
Lauren Culler is a Research Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and the Science Outreach Coordinator for the Institute of Arctic Studies within the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. While earning her Ph.D. in Dartmouth's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, she received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Polar Environmental Change that spurred her interest in the polar regions. Dr. Culler has participated in more than ten Arctic research expeditions to Greenland and Sweden and has led student educational expeditions to both Greenland and Antarctica. Dr. Culler also holds a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Entomology from the University of Maryland. Her research combines her interests in environmental change and entomology and has been featured in multiple academic journals and news outlets such as National Geographic, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic.