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Alta

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

19th March, 2013

Wrapped up for snowmobiling

We passed the Lofoten Islands in the late afternoon on fairly calm seas, but above us cloud prevented any possible sighting of the Northern Lights come nightfall.

The next day dawned much brighter with the sun reflecting off the snow covered mountains. Our pilot joined around coffee time and the Sapphire skirted the northern islands as we approached Alta Fjord in the afternoon.

Our berth, close to the end of the local airport runway, could only be approached once permission had been given from the control tower.

In this part of Norway during the winter the temperature is always below freezing so they never say minus before giving the figure, so it was 5 degrees on docking, less the wind chill. I won’t tell you what I had on to ensure comfort, but you can be assured that it wasn’t a pretty sight.

The first ‘lights spotting’ tour left before 8 pm, heading for the local golf course to get away from any light pollution, but unfortunately a layer of cloud had returned and resulted in only the slightest glow being seen much later in the evening. This Aurora was becoming rather elusive.

A very cold night ensued, with the wind increasing enough to cause lying snow to drift across the airport runway. It makes no difference to the locals though - planes still operate on schedule, cars and buses drive around the frozen ungritted roads between compacted two meter banks of the dirty grey stuff.

The tours of red jackets left completely unhindered and my wife and I managed to get on the afternoon snowmobiling excursion. This was no ten minute ride around a small wood, but a two hour bumpy excursion up onto the high plateau.

The beautifully crafted Ice Hotel

RJ’s had to be dispensed with as they provided us all with a one piece that was more akin to a NASA space suit, along with helmet, boots, mittens, etc. Even so, the wind was cutting. Once we had gone ‘off piste’ and climbed through the tree line I felt as though the tears were freezing onto my cheeks.

The heated handlebars were great for the palms. My fingertips however felt as though frost bight was just a whisker away. We stopped for a short break on the plateau and an amazing view over a desolate frozen landscape awaited us.

By the time we returned to a lower altitude, blood was circulating again and there was nothing but smiling faces as we arrived back at the Ice Hotel (perhaps of relief, but I hope more of achievement).

Our reward was a complimentary ‘Blue Igloo’, which was most effective and served in glass made from frozen water. The lady very kindly said I could keep it... how droll!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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