Tag Archives: 2014

Awesome Abisko Aurora

I was lucky enough to go to Sweden last year to see the Northern Lights. I confess I have seen them before so I already had a pretty good idea of how to photograph them, but I was really excited just to play around and see what I could capture.

We booked a trip where cameras and tripods were provided, and a guide is on hand to give advice and tuition during the evening. Although we had cameras of our own, it seemed like a good idea to book a guided trip, and there was a great balance between having some down time, and getting out doing other activities in the daytime.  The company is called Lights Over Lapland and for anyone who wants to experience the Aurora Borealis, I whole heartedly recommend booking with Chad and Linnea at LOL.

We were met at the airport and transferred from Kiruna up to Abisko, enjoying the snowy landscapes on our way. We had time to pick up our kit – cameras and overalls, and then had a gourmet dinner before we headed out for our first Aurora experience.

Not far from the hotel, we found some open space with a few trees for foreground interest. Our first night was out of this world. When the aurora “kick off” it’s called a Corona and the lights move so quickly that it looks like a bright green ribbon is waving across the sky.




One of my lasting memories of that night was Chad shouting out “We’ve got a Corona … woo-hoo” and it echoing around the valley.



The aurora displayed for a long time that night, and by the end of the evening we had full memory cards, cold hands and feet, and a sense of having experienced something totally amazing.

The next day we had a trip on a helicopter through the Abisko National Park. We saw fantastic landscapes, an unusual trapper’s food store, and stunning reflections in the lake.


We then had an afternoon to ourselves, and so took a walk down towards the lake by the hotel.


That evening, the weather was a little uncertain, and so we jumped into the van, and headed down to the waterfront. This was my absolute favourite landscape view. We were treated to another wonderful display, and also managed a great group shot, as well as some portraits / selfies!


Our third day saw us being driven over into Norway to the town of Narvik. It was great to see more of the landscapes and local area, and having a picnic lunch by the sea was superb! We spent time taking a few photos, and learning to skim stones.

That evening, we walked down to the lakefront to try to see the auroras again, but sadly the clouds just didn’t want to move, and so instead we made s’mores and drank my home-made sloe gin! Not a bad night after all!

Our last full day was filled with a lovely hike through the winter birch wood. It was fun to take time to enjoy the park, the trees, the snow, and just stretch our legs!


That night, our last night, we went up to the Sky Station which is located on the hill above Abisko. We had to wait till 9pm for the chair lift to open in order to get up to the station, and up to that point, the aurora were being rather shy – just showing on the horizon as a misty green glow.


As we got onto the chair lift, and started travelling up the hill (with our cameras on chairs behind us) the aurora decided to kick off in another absolutely incredible display. We had no choice but to sit back and enjoy the light show. There was such a multitude of colours, and again really fast-moving auroras that just blew us away.

Having reached the station, we were able to grab some photos and it was great getting different compositions, as well as a couple of other group shots / selfies again!


Before we knew it, sadly it was time to head home. The memory cards had been filled many times over. We’d been treated to some of the most amazing aurora displays I could have imagined, and met some fellow aurora-obsessed new friends.


I am definitely going back for another chance to see the lights in 2015. If you’ve not seen them, it seems Abisko is a really good location for them – there is a micro climate that gives you a higher than usual chance of seeing the lights. You can fly from London via Stockholm up to Kiruna, which is about 90-something kilometres from Abisko. There are a couple of guesthouses in Abisko. We stayed at the Tourist Station hotel, which serves fantastic food – including delicious gourmet dinners to keep you going as you head out into the cold to see the auroras! Highly recommended. Check out Lights of Lapland if you want a high quality organised trip however, as they took all the stress away and I would say for all first timers, it’s worth the expense. Tuition so you get the best shots out of the camera, flexible evening plans so as to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the lights, and overall great hosts too!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this update – feel free to ask any questions.


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Botswana Beauty

I am rather late writing this, but better late than never.

I was lucky enough to head to Botswana last year for a couple of weeks on a real safari adventure. The two week tour started in Maun where we stayed overnight, meeting our fellow tour-ists, and then headed off, first spending three nights in the Okavango Delta. Next we headed for a houseboat where we were on board for two nights, stopped off at a private reserve for one night, followed by three nights in the Chobe River area, before we then drove over into Zambia for two nights in Livingstone.

It was the most fantastic trip and we were very lucky with what we saw, and so I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

We started in Maun at the Maun Lodge, and we were treated to some traditional dancing as we discussed our trip.

The next morning, we were off in our truck that would be our transport until we crossed into Zambia. It was pretty rattley, and in the mornings there was no protection from the cold, but when you are sitting about 10 feet away from a magnificent King of the jungle, it enabled some of the best views for everyone in the it!


We drove off to the Okavango Delta where we stayed at the Mogotlo Tented Camp for three nights. The camp was of a really high standard and the deck overlooked the river where we saw antelope come to drink, hippos bathing, leopards passing by, and some wonderful birds too.





Whilst we were there, I enjoyed not only the daytime photography opportunities, but spent each evening trying to capture the milky way. The first evening, when the camp workers walked past me, they would giggle at this strange English woman standing out in the dark looking up at the sky. On the second night, the Camp manager asked me to show them the results of my photos, as he said they would never have seen a photo of the night sky. I was delighted at their reaction – most of them were totally amazed, and for the next two nights I was never alone out there, gazing up at the sky, but had at least 2 or 3 Camp workers who wanted to examine the back of my camera every time I took a shot!



We had a fun experience in camp, when one of the other guests ignored all advice, and kept food in her camp. The food attracted mice … which in turn attracted a snake! It was taken out of camp as soon as it was discovered, but not before we’d had a chance to take a photo or two!


Whilst we were in the Okavango region, we saw plenty of hippos, birds, elephants, and antelope … but not the big cats that we were hoping for. So, our guide Oli decided to take us to a reserve where he was pretty confident we’d see some lions – and he really didn’t disappoint! First we saw a few lionesses taking in some shade. What we didn’t realise at the time was that they were accompanied by a cub which I only realised when looking at my photos later!


We left them after about half an hour, and drove around the corner, and came across two male lions and one female. One brother (the ugly one) was definitely in charge, and happily mated with the female whilst we watched on!






We returned to camp overjoyed, and were happily enjoying a sundowner on the veranda, when the local leopard put in an appearance too! So it was a day filled with big cats!


We left the Mogotlo Tented Camp, and headed off for our final game drive. We then had a night at the Royal Tree Lodge which is a private reserve with no predators, and therefore we were able to get out and walk around the reserve. It felt really good to stretch our legs at long last.


Leaving the Royal Tree Lodge, we headed back to the Okavango Delta for our two night stay on the houseboat. This was our opportunity to see more of the wonderful birds of Africa. The river was high enough that we were able to have a night moored further up river and really feel we were on an adventure!



We were mostly watching birds in this area although there were plenty of crocodiles and hippos as well.8G9A08918G9A6559





It was interesting seeing people go about their work, as we relaxed on holiday!



I loved seeing the African Fish Eagles catch their fish by swooping down to the river and grabbing the fish in their talons before flying off for their meal. Absolutely amazing birds.



We even saw an incredibly rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. Apparently people go on 6 day trips JUST to see this owl, and we happened to slow our boat down under the right tree … it was mostly obscured, but it was there!


After two nights on the houseboat, it was time to head towards the Chobe National Park. We were upgraded to a lodge on the river front.



From there we headed out by van and by boat. We saw an amazing African Wild Dog chase and kill.


We also saw lots of elephants, who would often be pretty close to the water’s edge, feeding on the long grasses … and we even saw the most amazing elephant parade as they swam across the river from the Zambia side into Zimbabwe.


Then at sunset, we were delighted that we could see them silhouetted against the sun.




After the delights of the Chobe area, we headed off for Zambia. Aside from the flat tyre on route, it was a long drive to a boat, where we crossed over into Zambia, and transferred to a new vehicle, to go across the country lines, and up to Livingstone. We stayed in the Zambezi Sun Hotel, where we were able to walk through the grounds directly into the Victoria Falls park.

The key attraction here was the Victoria Falls … and sunrise … sunset … and all the times in between!






But we also took the opportunity to “walk with lions” which supports a charity who rescue orphaned cubs in a 5 step programme to ensure that the second generation of cubs will be re released to the wild. It was the most incredible experience and one that I will not forget.




The second thing we did that was an incredible experience was a helicopter flight over the falls themselves. The helicopter was like something that you could imagine flying in and out of ‘Nam! I sat near the back, with an open door, holding on to the roof as we banked over the falls to stop myself from slipping off the seat out into thin air! Very exhilarating and simply awe-inspiring to see the falls from that angle!





Before I knew it, the tour was over and I was headed home with a bag of full memory cards, a head full of incredible experiences, and some new travel friends to boot!


I didn’t mean the monkeys … I meant these guys …. !!


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