Martti's Cottage in Karhujärvi, Finland -
the tip for all aurora observers!
The Cottage

The cottage lies in Karhujärvi very close to highway 5 between Kuusamo (92 km) and Kemijärvi (52 km) about 10 km south of the arctic circle at the lake Hietajärvi. This lake is covered with ice in the winter and one has a nearly free view towards skies from its center.

The comfortably furnished blockhouse offers place for up to 7 persons and is equipped with shower, WC, sauna, washing machine, television, radio, open fire-place and kitchen with dishwasher, electric kitchen stove, oven, refrigerator and coffee machine.
There is also another fishing hut, where freshly catches fishes can be prepared at the open fire.


Cottage at Night

Fishing Hut at Night

Lake, looking north


First fly to Helsinki and from there with Finnair to Kuusamo or Rovaniemi. >From here it is advisable to rent a car (with full winter equipment like engine heating system and spikes) because a bus to Kemijaervi goes only twice a day. In addition one has to drive for the daily shopping to Räisälä (17 km), Kemijärvi (52 km) or Salla (60 km). An internet cafe about 13 km away at the polar circle can also be reached most comfortably by car. Recommendable links for flight reservations are e.g.:

Who nevertheless wants to stay without a car, should inquire with Martti about getting piced up at Kuusamo airport.

Another possible journey is by ferry (e.g. Superfastferries, operates daily between Rostock and Hanko), however one should take 4 days into account for the journey and the own car has to be extremely winterproof.


The cottage costs about 500 Euro per week, regardless of the number of people. The exact price can be inquired with

Martti Sinisalo
Phone -358-9-784965

Bring along bed linen or sleeping bag, please!

Observation conditions and weather

The observation conditions are unusually good and the limiting magnitude lies above +7mag! Deep of Sky objects such as the Presaepe/Beehive Cluster (in cancer) or the North America nebula are easily recognizable with the naked eye! Only with clouds very smal areas of light pollution are visible close to the horizon. These can be attributed to Kemijaervi in the north, Rovaniemi in the far northwest and a nearby road crossing in the southeast (this pseudo northern light however expires regularly at 11pm when the lights are switched off).

Karhujaervi lies in the east of Finland and is continentally affected. Thus, the winter is usually cold (temperatures to -40°C are not a rarity) and dry. In addition this area lies too far away from the mandatory Arctic Sea and Baltic Sea low pressure systems, in order to be lastingly affected by them. And, since all good things are three, Karhujärvi lies in the Lee side of the Scandinavian mountains.
All this has the consequence that bad weather periods don't last very long or even do arrive at all. Who likes to get a view on the weather forecast should follow these recommended links:

Support by Martti and Co.

Martti and his friends, in particular Jorma and Reino, do everything, in order to let the stay and above all the auroral observation become a great experience. The service includes a heated tent in the middle of the lake, in order to warm the cameras and above all the observers. The most beautiful experience howeveris a nocturnal snowmobile tour to a neighbouring hill, where the northern light observation becomes a real adventure with open fire barbecue and hot coffee.

Also the days can be spent in a typically Finnish way with Martti's assistance. If you want to do some ice hole bathing after the sauna, rent some wintersports equipment, purchase some Finnish specialities and prepare them in a Finish fashion, do some ice hole fishing and prepare the fresh fishes - Martti is always there with his advice and helping hand.

Martti during the salmon preparation

Ice hole fishing

Snow-shoe hike

Auroral observing

on the lake (left top)
at the tent (left bottom)
and during the nocturnal snowmobile tour (top).

Tips for short trips to nearby locations

Each aurora observer should take himself one day time, in order to visit the Geophysikalische Institute in in Sodankylä (180 km). After previous arrangement both guidance and a common auroral observation are possible.

The Arktikum in Rovaniemi is very interesting, but according to our opinion the relative small exhibition about the lappish wilderness and culture does not justify the high admission fees, particularly since the Aurora Borealis multi-vision show is not shown in the winter term. In any case however within the adjacent shopping area the probably most beautiful northern lights postcards in Finland are sold.
Who decides to do the trip to Rovaniemi, should necessarily stop at the Santa Claus village at the arctic circle on the way back. There you must take a look into the Santa Claus Office and visit the Santa Park. There the polar light fan can buy books, T-shirts, coffee cups and other souvenirs with the loved Aurora motive.

Who would like to do a reindeer sledging or a Husky tour should visit the Reindeer Park in Salla for a day. One can also participate in feeding, led snow shoe hikes and lappish evenings there. The prices are not really cheap, therefore one should aks Martti before whether there is a possibility to do a more inexpensive tour under his guidance. But the small, but affectionately made and free predator exhibition in the entrance hall is recommendable.

If the weather is fine, one should take the somewhat smaller road via Hautajärvi - Hirsavaara on the return trip from Salla. From this road a view of the somewhat higher snow-covered Russian mountains in the Paanajärven national park is offered from time to time. Also the excursion via Onkamo and Kalluki shows a beautiful landscape which is worth watching!

The Oulanka National Park north of Kuusamo offers also in the winter a breath-taking landscape. There you can admire for example the ice-free rapids, millions of diamonds, which are conjured on the snow by the spring sun and a quantity of rare singing birds. The 9 km long Bear Trail, starting in Juuma, is accessible in the winter with snow shoes.

For the downhill ski fans there are several hills in the nearby area:
In approximately 20km distance lies the 408 m high Suomutunturi, somewhat further away (approx. 80 km), south of Salla, the 462 m high Sallantunturi is prepared for skiing and in Ruka (25 km north of Kuusamo) lies the Finnish leisure and downhill center and the 491 m a high Rukatunturi presents itself richly wired to the visitor. 28 ski pistes (22 of those are illuminated), 18 ski lifts, 2 half pipes for snow boarders, 180 km cross-country trails as well as a ski school can be found there.

On the tracks of Finnish history one can walk in Joutsijärvi. In the periphery of 25 km there are many war shelters which were build after the Finnish winter war, and which were used in the war against the Soviet Union. Several of those shelters were renewed and are now accessible for visitors.

Further tips for trips into the closer environment can be found here.

Other Tips

Further links

Aurora Borealis - Northern Lights

Field reports