Northern Lights, Igloos & Tantalizing Tallinn
Feb 18 – 25, 2023
Price is listed below the daily itinerary
Can you say Aurora Borealis three times fast? A glistening Arctic kingdom of snow and ice awaits for what will be your coolest vacation ever! This trip to the Top of the World is one that AFS clients constantly beg us for a repeat but this time, we’re doing it even cooler with off-the-charts scenery and large fun for what is truly an Arctic Disneyland for adults to defrost your hearts. You’ll witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights dancing across snowscapes as only part of this bucket list trip that also includes snowmobiling, dogsledding, and woodland saunas. The frosted fairyland that is Finland’s Lapland is truly a Winter Wonderland. It’s the land of thrilling escapades in the snow with eye-popping scenery in an untamed wilderness with nature in its purest form. Winter in the Arctic Circle is high season here as it becomes a playground of adventure. Thermal suits are provided to ensure you’ll stay warm and cozy while taking in the pristine scenery that was the basis of Disney’s acclaimed movie “Frozen.” Our past 5 AFS groups loved it all. We fly north from Helsinki to Ivalo, the ultimate destination for those who truly want to experience winter fun. Our home is the unparalleled Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, with its stunning glass igloos that allow you to stargaze and watch dancing Northern lights from your own bed! These are the original epic igloos that other properties try to copy but can’t compare. Our Snow Safari begins with an adrenaline rush by donning snowsuits and zipping through the shimmering snow-blanketed arctic forest on snowmobiles. The kid in you is sure to come out as we visit with the true Father Christmas and his elves. And just when you thought you couldn’t have enough fun, you’ll meet dozens of happy huskies at the Husky Farm for dogsledding across frozen rivers and fields. You’ve never breathed air so crisp and clean. Enjoy Lappish cuisines, a reindeer experience, horse sleigh rides, snowshoeing and more. Each evening on our Arctic Adventure, we have the chance to see those magnificent Northern Lights as they shimmer across the night sky. We’ll return to uber-cool Helsinki and explore this ultra-modern Finnish capital. For more diversity, we then ferry to the country of Estonia to explore the fairytale-like Medieval capital of Tallinn. You’ll wander the cobblestone streets of this distinctly Eastern European city and feel you have been transported to another world. Don’t miss this AFS Arctic Blast, limited to just 24 people. Lapland is a costly destination, but we negotiated a great price for you. Awaken your child-like spirit of adventure and exploration. Come join us to witness a magical place like no other. It’s a once in a lifetime Snow Safari you’ll treasure forever!
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Feb 18 Fly USA to Helsinki. Plenty of airline choices. Air and trip details coming soon and AFS Trip Tips.
Feb 19 – Arrive Helsinki Land tour begins today. Tervetuloa Suomeen! Welcome to Finland! We arrive at Helsinki’s ultra-modern Vantaa Airport in the morning and head to our hotel, Scandic Helsinki which is at the airport next to Terminal 2 and can be reached through a partly covered walkway. So convenient for any air arrival times! The Finnish capital of Helsinki is known for its great mixture of neo-classical buildings, orthodox style churches and chic bar and restaurant scene. Alvar Aalto, a world-renowned Finnish architect and designer has contributed to much of the functionalistic architecture in Helsinki that is loved and hated by so many. This is a walking city with heated sidewalks in the main pedestrian area! There’s so much to do in this cool capital, you may want to extend your trip pre-or post. Your afternoon is free but this evening we will get introduce to your fellow group members followed by a Welcome Dinner.
Overnight at hotel Scandic Helsinki Airport (1 night) D
Feb 20 – Fly to Ivalo Lapland! After breakfast, transfer to Airport for our morning to our flight north to magical Kakslauttanen in Saariskelka arctic wilderness. We’ll go directly to our magical Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort so we can check out our Glass Igloos! Years of research went into this marvel of development on these futuristic domes, the coolest igloos on the planet. Polar nights are magical here, one of the world’s best places to watch the Northern Lights! These sparking domes provide a unique opportunity to admire the Northern Lights and the millions of stars of the crystal-clear winter sky while enjoying a comfortable room temperature of about 70°F. Built from a special thermal glass, the temperature inside the Igloo always stays at a normal level. It also prevents the glass from not getting white frosted, hence keeping the view clear even when the temperature outside drops to under -20°F. (We recommend that you bring only the essentials to the igloos because of their size. While there is a toilet and sink, the showers and saunas are shared and nearby.) On arrival you’ll be briefed with a presentation of activities here like a Reindeer Safari with herders, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice fishing, the Sami experience, planetarium and more. A very Finnish thing to do it to enjoy and evening sauna. Finns take saunas seriously for the healing warmth and brings both physically and spiritually. There are 3 different smoke saunas here, one is the largest in the world holding over 100 bathers at a time, each with a fireplace and dressing rooms. Afterwards, you can take a dip in the cold spring water pool for total rejuvenation. There is an Ice Bar and 2 restaurants offering local Lappish cuisines of the freshest fish, salmon, reindeer and local delicacies. Also see the new art gallery and gift shops for local handicrafts. This evening we will depart for Aurora Hunting on a 2-hour adventure to see the Northern lights. Seeing these dancing colorful lights casting their magical glow across the Arctic sky is always an unforgettable sight. There’s no guarantees with nature but studies reveal that late February to early March are your best chances. Dinner is served at our hotel. Overnight: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort B,D
Feb 21 – Snowmobile Safari + Visit to Santa’s home After breakfast, head out on a thrilling morning Snowmobile Safari through the arctic forest. The best way to see the fell landscape in Lapland is by zipping across the frozen landscape with a snowmobile. We’ll be taken to the activity location and provided with instructions as well as thermal outfits to keep us toasty. Each snowmobile sits two with one driving and other on the back, but feel free to swap drivers halfway. There is an option to have the snowmobile all for yourself, or if you can choose to ride in the back of a sleigh (for extra cost). Head into the wilderness with a bit of adrenaline and get immersed into the arctic nature. After the ride, we’ll have some hot juice and a Finnish treat together before heading back to Kakslauttanen.
Later in the afternoon, it’s time to drop in on Santa. Young or old, a visit not to miss! Mrs. Claus will greet us by the reindeer fence for great photos and then take us into Santa’s cozy and beautiful crafted home where guests can experience Christmas around the year! Meeting Santa in person is a moment to that will bring out the kid in all of us. Selfies are a must! We head to the impressively decorated Celebration House to enjoy a hot drink. Along the way you might see some elves as well! Our dinner will be back at our hotel. Overnight: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort B,D
Feb 22 – Husky Safari After breakfast, get ready for today’s Husky Safari – an unforgettable journey through breathtaking winter scenery. Mushing is a must here. These dogs love to run! Again, we will be provided with thermal outfits at the husky farm. Then it is time to meet the friendly dogs who are eagerly waiting in front of the sleds. Husky dogs can’t wait to get going! You’ll hear them barking in anticipation as you arrive. Our guide will give instructions on how to stop, turn and drive the husky sled pulled by the team of dogs. The sled is for two people unless you wish to have your own alone (for extra cost). One person is seated in the sleigh while the other is standing and mushing in the back, you can swap drivers halfway. You will enjoy riding in the wintery forest as much as the dogs! Then we return to the farm and thank our dogs for our adventure together, it’s time for a hot drink and some husky stories. The rest of the day at leisure. There’s plenty of choices for your free time at the resort like the Ice Pool challenge, more snowmobiling and horseback riding through a snowy forest. Buses run regularly to nearby Saariskelka with its Ski Center and Finnish spas. There’s miles of Nordic cross-country skiing trails and lessons, tobogganing and snow tubing. Overnight: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort B,D
Feb 23 – Farewell Lapland, Hello Helsinki! After breakfast, we head back to the Ivalo airport our Finnair flight 10 to 11:45 AM back to Helsinki where we will enjoy a 3-hour guided City Tour. This comprehensive tour will introduce us to the most important and interesting parts of Helsinki, such as the Helsinki Cathedral at the Senate Square, the Presidential Palace, City Hall, the Parliament building, Finlandia Hall, the Opera House, the Helsinki Music Centre, and Central Library Oodi. Our hotel is the Crown Plaza Helsinki Hesperia is in a great location with plenty nearby to see and do. So much to explore here… Book a Taste of Helsinki Foodie Tour, Instagram Tour or the Red Rib Survivor Experience if you like! There’re sauna tours, museums, heated outdoor pools, ice bar bars and more. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Helsinki Hesperia (2 nights). B
Feb 24 – A Day trip to Tallinn This morning transfer to Helsinki harbor to embark on a 2-hour ferry ride across the Baltic Sea to captivating Tallinn. The medieval capital of Estonia, the walled city of Tallin is the trendiest part of this region and a world away from the modern sites of Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, or Copenhagen. We walk the historic old town, a UNESCO world heritage site with photo ops around every corner. See grand merchant houses, 13th century Gothic Townhall, Saint Nicholas church, Parliament and more. Streets are lined with cozy cafés for special p easant local cuisines and shops filled with Estonian treasures. Prices are so good here, it’s where the Finns come to shop. Tallinn delights everyone! We’ll return to Helsinki in the evening by ferry. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Helsinki Hesperia B
Feb 25 – Depart For USA Today you will transfer to Helsinki Airport to catch your return flight for home.
Land Price $ 2995 + $469 internal air flights (plus $85 pre-paid for licensed guides, drives, and porters) Deposit $600 Based upon 24 participants. (Internal air price increased $227 due to high demand and this is reflected in the price of $469)
- INCLUDES Accommodation on twin / Double sharing room basis at listed hotels above or equivalent
- Stay for 3 nights in Small Glass Igloos at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Buffet Breakfast at all hotels Welcome Dinner in Helsinki at residing hotels
- 3 dinners during stay at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Aurora Hunting by Bus |Duration 2 Hours| at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Visit to Santa home |Duration 1.5 Hour| at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Snowmobile Safari |Duration 2 Hours| at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Husky safari |Duration 2 Hours| at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Return Ferry ticket from Helsinki-Tallinn and vice versa.
- A bottled water person per day during the tour in the vehicle.
- All transfers, sightseeing’s and excursions by deluxe coach.
- Accompanied Tour director on entire tour. English speaking guides during city tour Entrance fees to monuments as per the given program.
- All taxes and services charges
THE TRIP TIPS LAPLAND FEB 18
Prepare to be thrilled by an Arctic adventure like no other! Our past six groups loved Lapland, particularly Kakslauttanen. February will come sooner than you imagine, but anticipation is half the fun. This trip sold out the day it was posted, so you are the fortunate ones. I know most of you and with GTL Carol, the 24 of you will have a blast! The world is open now. If any Covid rules change, I will email you. For now, connect on your private Facebook group. Your link is in your welcome letter when booked.
Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information. Updates and addendums will be posted here. Check back from time to time. Final payments are due soon. Sorry so fast but the Arctic resort terms are strict and nonrefundable as countless tourists waitlist for the igloos every year.
• FINAL PAYMENT DUE NOV 15. Wetravel is our new data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase. As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price. If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080
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Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)
Carol Huntington has been on countless AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 92+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for the past 25 years in the banking industry. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve and keep clients happy. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel
• Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
• Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages. We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email. Also, good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
• To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
• Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
• Vaccines – Bring your vaccine card. Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it. You can take photo of both sides and store on phone.
• All airline rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! It’s your responsibility to know your airline rules that can change right up to departure. Airlines are in the process of making scheduling changes now.
• The local supplier and AFS may require you sign a Travel Pledge before departure. If so, we’ll email a form to you prior.
Fitness level – No trouble walking. This is especially important in deep snow and icy conditions.
Air – We set up group air on FINNAIR from JFK, but it came in way too high. It will be less expensive for you to get your own air now home vis JFK to HEL (Helsinki). Your air dates are February 18-25 and land tour begins February 19.
Doing Own Air– it’s easy to arrange your own area round-trip to Helsinki. Airlines include FINNAIR, American Airlines, United Airlines, British Airways, SAS & more. You can start looking now for any specials or wait until we may get group air.
You may find a good rate direct from hometown on own. This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend trip. We strongly recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed. (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free. Guides greet you on airport arrival and if any flight changes, we had your back. Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.) We like Google Flights and Momondo. 3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems. Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you. Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan. If you can afford to splurge on business class, contact our guy: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone is 305-676-2314. For economy seats call our friend Raj who’s an air expert at (281) 912-9173 email@example.com Give him your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.
Airport Transfers- With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can be no pick-up or drop-offs. Unfortunately now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each persons air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. The past few groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like. If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary, day one when trip begins. If your arrival or departure times do not align with Group Air times, you’ll need to arrange your own airport/hotel transfers.
Meet Up With Group- On Day 1 a time will be set to meet the group at the hotel for a briefing. More on this later in departure note.
Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland. You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale. (If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges.) Apple AirTags work great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on. The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID inside and out of carry-on and bag to ensure your bag never gets left behind.
Packing – Our past groups to Lapland overpacked with giant bags and it’s not necessary. You’ll be comfortable in wonderful warm hotels and accommodations throughout Google weather in Helsinki a week before departure. Casual winter clothing – fleece, thermal undergarments, scarf, hats, gloves etc. For activities Kaks, snowsuits will be provided. Dress in layers for better warmth. Best material is synthetic fiber. Wear thin socks under thick socks. Bring warm snow boots and swimsuit for saunas. The Finns go naked, but you don’t have to. After sauna warms the body’s core temperature, they jump into ice pools for a stimulating experience. Try it, be a Finn!
Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug. AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers. Plug – C & F
Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card. Always bring some cash!) Change currency on arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM. Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Master Card and Visa widely accepted. Amex rare. Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases. Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.
• Currency Exchange Rate $1= 1.03 Euro
• Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet
Gratuities – (Prepaid) It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff in Helsinki and Tallin. Guidelines have increased globally. A $85 will be added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum. For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.
Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly. All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room. If you use a porter, please tip. For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!
Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad. Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate. Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.
Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation. Thieves not only want your money but also your data. Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.
• In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
• Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
• Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night. Never carry your passport outside of the room.
• It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own. To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
• Travel health – When abroad always drink bottled water versus tap. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium. Need meds or shots? Book a Tele-chat with a travel doctor for shots and meds at runwayhealth.com. Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc.
Photography – The polar lights produce incredible photos. February is the best month for chance to see the Northern Lights.
Retail Therapy – Our groups find the coolest things here! Unique Xmas ornaments, lamp of handicrafts, Frazier chocolates, special licorice and quality vodkas, Fried fishes, reindeer rugs, hand knit sweaters and more.
Websites of Interest: Please read all on our Arctic resort at www.kakslauttane.fi Also good – www.visitfinland.com/winter and finally www.lapland.fi
Chewing- All Nordic mash cuisines are 100% organic and fresh, but the food is expensive here. Cocktails are very expensive, drink local beers or wine. Enjoy reindeer, smoked fish, barley flatbreads, almond potatoes, endless fresh berries and more.
Accommodations – Our itinerary has links to each hotel. Hotels can change, but it’s rare.
Roommates – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all. Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching. 99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night. (The best option is to invite a friend. We be able to give you a $100 discount.). Note, kindness begets kindness. How many of our season travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise. We share rooms only to sleep at night. If AFS room list ends up with unbalance gender, and forces a single room, will offer it to all or share of the cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip.
Leisure Time – For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions. We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results. Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.
Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination. Arranging private tours during free time. We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.
Private Facebook Group Page – The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour. The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit. (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)
Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/ More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.
Cancellation Penalty – At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less 50% until 6 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date. Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.
Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation. Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com. CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive. Note that no company covers for fear.
Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage. The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period. We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.
• Click here to Buy Travel Insurance
Snowmobile insurance. Two past AFSers crashed their snowmobiles (No injuries.) Everyone must sign a waiver of liability with a $1000 deductible incase you wreck it. The guides are experts giving driving instructions. Two per vehicle. Take turns driving.
`Travel Psychology 101 – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit. If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience. Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude. Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting