Inside the Arctic Circle – in winter

Before we did our Scandinavian road trip to Nordkapp to find the Midnight Sun, I couldn’t really get the whole ‘sun never sets’ concept. Same with the Arctic Circle’s seasonal opposite, where the sun never rises. It sets in late November and doesn’t rise again until late January. I thought it meant that it just stayed dark the whole time. Well, it’s close to that, but thankfully for the locals it does get light for a few hours during the day. It starts getting light here in Abisko at around 8am, and is totally dark again by 2pm. The light is dim, but all the snow reflects it and makes it seem brighter. I keep wondering how people managed to live here before the invention of gas and electric lights and figured that they must have just gone to bed for the winter, then stayed up all summer to get stuff done.

We have seen some Lights! The sky is very clear tonight (it’s currently 7pm), and there are aurora over the lake. They look like long green curtains, flowing and moving along from north to south.

We are camping in a hollow near the railway line, just off the main road. Greg brought an extra tent fly which we have put over the tent, and anchored all around with snow. It’s very comfortable inside the tent, we brought compresed foam squares to make a floor inside, and then use a lightweight inflatable Thermarest camping mattress, 2 sleeping bags and a thermal sleeping bag liner. All that plus a layer or 2 of thermals keeps us warm. We slept in the car last night because we got here in the dark and couldn’t find anywhere suitable to set up the tent. A lot of people go snowmobiling beside the main road, so we had to find somewhere that our tent woudn’t get mown down by snowmobiles – not so easy as very few side roads are cleared by the snowploughs that keep the main road clear. We got lucky and found a clear side road this morning. It goes up to a power sub-station, and there is just enough space to park the car off the road, with space for the tent not too far away.

A couple of vehicles drove up the road while we were there, and no one stopped to tell us to leave. We think that maybe they thought if we were crazy enough to camp in the snow, they would just leave us to it.

We are now spending a few nights in an apartment at Riksgransen, which is very close to the Norwegian border. There is a supermarket downstairs and a restaurant/bar. The barman told us that a lot of Asians come to this part of Sweden to see the aurora, and that it will be very busy tomorrow because snowmobilers like to come here to do their thing. We found Santa’s reindeer on the way here, in a stockyard. It was -1 outside and they didn’t look particularly cold – I guess they are used to it, must have good cold-repelling fur!

Reindeer in stockyards
Greg clearing the tent site in the snow
The tent set up, as it gets dark at 1pm
The tent set up, as it gets dark at 1pm


Cooking dinner in the shelter of the rear of the car
Cooking dinner in the shelter of the rear of the car

4 thoughts on “Inside the Arctic Circle – in winter

    1. Well, thank you David. It’s mostly himself, you know. I always say that he was born in the wrong century. He would have been an explorer if he’d been around a couple of centuries earlier than now. I guess I would have just stayed home and darned socks.

  1. Hi Judy

    With so little daylight , do the locals have to take lots of vitamins in the long winter? xx
    I think you are so brave to leave all that lovely warm weather in Australia and have a holiday in the cold and snow. Not for me , just like to be warm.
    Have a good day
    Margaret xx

    1. Hi Margaret, I think a lot of the milk has Vitamin D in it, as it does in the US, but I’m not sure what else (if anything) they need to take. As for leaving the warm weather, I guess we tend to take our lovely warm weather for granted, but here we are doing something that we just couldn’t do at home, ever. It never snows in ADL

Comments are closed.