Northern lights holiday at the observatory – Five incredible places to visit on foot
Northern lights holiday at the observatory: While the observatory is a place of relaxation and aurora gazing, there still are a few places to walk to for those who want to experience more of the Norwegian countryside. And they are very close! Enjoy these walks during your Northern lights holiday.
The Sjøfoss estuary
Sjøfossen estuary at 15 minutes walk from the observatory
Located at only 15 minutes from the observatory on foot, the Sjøfoss estuary is the biggest on Senja island. There the fresh waters of Svanelva meet the seawater of Laksfjorden (the ‘Salmon fjord’ in Norwegian). The water generally flows from March till late December so you can take beautiful pictures of sunrises and sunsets reflecting in the water. The water temperature difference also creates low mist that is awesome to play around with, especially when the sun is low.
To access the estuary, walk back down to 860 and follow it in the direction of Finnsnes. Be extremely vigilant on the road and wear preferably bright/reflective clothing.
The observatory hills
The observatory property extends upwards to a mountain called Gammel Vetten. The close hills where reindeers and sheep freely graze are very nice to explore if you want to get some fresh air. There is a 1 km path that starts from the observatory and goes into the woods. There you can get a real feel of the arctic nature, especially in the Fall where there isn’t much snow. The path takes you to a beautiful stream stuck in a valley. In September you can also find a lot of edible mushrooms and berries to pick and cook yourself back in the apartments (warning: don’t pick any mushroom/berry that you are not 100% sure of. You can ask our guide Adrien for identification). Contact Adrien
In the winter you can still roam around even if the snow covers the path and the landscape. We have snowshoes at the observatory and there is no limit to where you can go. For those with aurora photography on the list, it’s very easy to put on our snowshoes and within a minute you are surrounded by an astounding winter wonderland. Even from the path you can be immersed in a white paradise and take dream shots like these ones taken last year:
The Salmon river – a must during your northern lights holiday
‘Lakselva’ (‘Salmon River’ in Norwegian) runs behind the observatory. From the apartments, walk back down to the postboxes and turn left on Torsmoveien dirt lane. After walking for about 15-20 minutes you will arrive at this beautiful river flowing along the right-hand side of the road. The river has cabins, lots of trees, small rapids and ponds. It is the perfect place to come and photograph the aurora or even the sunrise. In the winter you can also borrow our cross-country skiis and go for a nice trip on the 10km road to Brygghaug. The river is not covered in ice most of the year. Even when there is a lot of snow and it is -20, there is always a bit of reflection to capture.
The winter wonderland plateau of Senja is amazing to see during your northern lights holiday
If you continue on Torsmoveien you will go past Senja Camping and still continue into Senja’s coldest place: Brygghaugen plateau. Cold air descends from Senja’s
highlands and end up stuck in the plateau. The many bodies of water also amplify this phenomenon. In the winter you can experience temperatures nearing -30/-40° C. So if you plan to take a walk there, make sure to wear plenty of layers. The plateau is absolutely beautiful at any time of the day and night. Its very open landscape with few trees and the mountain background make you feel like you really are experiencing Lapland. There is also a wide variety of wildlife and it’s not rare to come across moose and reindeers. It is safe to say that you will not only see the aurora, during your northern lights holiday at the observatory.
Gammel Vetten mountain
For those who are not afraid of braving the Norwegian wilderness, we do have a more ‘badass’ hike. This hike takes through the wild hills behind the observatory and ultimately to the top of the highest mountain around: Gammel Vetten. This is a 8 km hike off the beaten path with lots of ups and downs (300m elevation) so we encourage you to take your precautions and let us know before undertaking this adventure. We can give you good advice on the best routes, what to do and what not to do. From August till December you can probably just hike to the top of foot. From December to April you will most definitely need to borrow our snowshoes. However after a 2-hour hike, you are rewarded with such an incredible view. You have a 360° vista over mainland Norway, Senja’s highlands but also the Fjord mountains. You will most likely cross path with wildlife like reindeer, moose, grouse, arctic hares, owls… Enjoy more than aurora during your northern lights experience…..
Enjoy your Northern lights Holiday at the observatory !