Sunday 17 July 2011

Northern Lights Route

Between the busy Norwegian port of Tromsø and the Fenno-Swedish border towns of Tornio-Haparanda on the Gulf of Bothnia, there is the Northern Lights Route.

This route comprises a section of the roads E8 and R99 which run inland from the Norwegian coast, passing the KAIRA site, crossing into Finland at Kilpisjärvi, and then down along the border between Finland and Sweden until it reaches the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, on the Baltic Sea. Throughout this region, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are sometimes visible during the hours of darkness (solar and terrestrial weather conditions permitting, of course).

It is a long way — some 610 km — and it would take at least 9 hours to drive it (some of the route is strictly restricted to 'slow speed', to protect reindeer herds).

Along the way, there are numerous signs marking interesting lookout points. When the aurorae are present, they are very photogenic owing to the scenic landscape thereunder.

The Northern Lights Route sign is marked with a five-ribbon motif. Clockwise from the top-right, these are the Sami, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian flags. The ribbon that ties them together is in the design of a marked road.

The photograph was taken just a few kilometres from the KAIRA site. There is a small carpark there, which also marks the start of several walking trails (including one to the point where the three countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden meet). You can also walk down to the lakeside there, from which the Northern Lights over the water of Kilpisjärvi itself would be quite a sight.

Hopefully we'll be able to get some photographs from there later in the year when the darkness returns. The first sunset is still a few weeks off... let alone any proper darkness.


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