Arctic Panorama Lodge: Warm encounters up north
By Andrea Bærland | Photos: Arctic Panorama Lodge
For a chance of an unforgettable date with the enigmatic aurora borealis, it is said that one should travel north. And if you travel all the way to 69 degrees north, to Arctic Panorama Lodge in Uløybukt by Lyngenfjorden in Troms, you get both a warm meeting with the locals and fellow travellers and an unforgettable encounter with the wild.
The lodge is family owned and run by husband and wife Aud Sole Haugen and Svein Jakobsen, who focus on offering warm and personal service. “We want to give our guests ‘the lodge feeling’, a feeling of visiting old friends. Around the communal dinner table, guests, whether they come alone or in groups, engage in lively conversation, and many leave us with newfound friends,” Jakobsen says.
Northern Norwegian fare
Sole Haugen is in charge in the kitchen, and at Arctic Panorama Lodge, traditional northern Norwegian food is central. Reindeer meat and arctic cod are frequently served, but the kitchen is flexible and used to cater to international guests who may not be used to such a heavy fare. Any allergies or intolerances are also taken into consideration.
The lodge’s dining room and common area are decorated in a homely style, but the panoramic windows also provide guests with an extraordinary living room view. With Lyngenfjorden and the Lyngen Alps right outside, guests frequently have the opportunity to witness the northern lights or a hawk diving for food from the comfort of the couch.
However, to really experience the spectacular nature of Uløy, you have to venture outside. At Arctic Panorama they have made sure nobody is going to freeze, offering proper arctic attire such as snow boots, coats and gloves as part of their standard package.
Once properly dressed, guests are guided by Arctic Panorama on a real adventure in the wilderness. The people at the lodge are just as focused on offering personal experiences in the great outdoors as within the four walls of the house, and offer a variety of outings by foot, snow shoes, horseback or boat for groups of about six people. “Of course, if people are travelling in groups of ten, we’re not going to split them up,” says Jakobsen, “but we believe small tour groups have the best experiences. Walking up the mountains in a line of 50 people just isn’t the same.”
Perfect conditions for the northern lights
With only 15 inhabitants, the light pollution in Uløybukt is minimal, making the conditions for viewing the northern lights optimal. From Uløy, the aurora borealis can be enjoyed both from the top of the mountain and by boat on Lyngenfjorden. A so-called ‘summit to sea’ destination, the landscape at Uløy provides avid photographers with a number of different ways to compose the perfect northern lights photo.
With a strong focus on eco-tourism, Arctic Panorama ideally would not use snow mobiles at all, but Jakobsen explains that in a measure to make the Lyngen Alps accessible to everyone, the lodge has acquired a few. “To lie on a reindeer skin on the top of the mountain is truly breathtaking,” he says, pointing out that wherever they go it is important to leave nothing but footprints behind.
Another great way of hunting the northern lights is with man’s best friend by your side. If they like, guests can get a hands-on experience by preparing the dogs and driving the dogsled themselves. The boat can also be taken out for fishing, and in the winter the skrei (a type of cod) is particularly plentiful, with the kitchen happy to prepare and serve fish caught by guests.
In the footsteps of the Sámi
Populated for the past 6,000 years, the landscape of Uløy is steeped in history. Even Scandinavia’s indigenous people, the nomadic Sámis, have used the island as summer pasture for their reindeer for generations. “It is the oldest known Sámi reindeer pasture in the Nordics, which makes it the oldest in the world really,” Jakobsen explains.
On Arctic Panorama’s Sámi evenings, guests get a taste of traditional Sámi cuisine, including Bidos – a soup made of reindeer meat – and enjoy stories about Sámi life around the bonfire in the lavvo tent. The evening is then rounded off with a yoik – the traditional Sámi singing – performance.
Travel north and follow in the footsteps of the Sámi people to come close to nature and experience the unforgettable northern lights. Sole Haugen, Jakobsen and their team at Arctic Panorama Lodge are ready to welcome travellers with open arms and hearty meals. “My job and main focus is to make sure our guests are happy,” Jakobsen concludes.
For more information, photos and videos, please visit: arcticpanorama.com
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