First group of Bahraini girls cross the Arctic Circle
What would you give to catch sight of something so majestic, it seems surreal? Sara Sami, an avid traveller, was always fascinated by the Northern Lights, it being on top of her wish list to witness one day. And ending 2018 on a high note, she finally achieved her desire by travelling with another group of well-determined and eager Bahraini girls coming under the adventure organization for women called ‘Campfire.bh.’A trip that was challenging yet intriguing, Sara left for Finland on November15 and from the 21st to 28th, she enjoyed the vast ambience of remarkable views in Iceland, before returning back home. In conversation with Weekender, Sara looked back at her thrilling adventure, giving us the nit grits on how everything fell right into place.
W. How did you manage to enjoy the wilderness in freezing temperatures?
Sara: The experience involved hiking in zero degree temperatures with hardly any daylight! While discovering the Finnish ways of survival in winter, the locals taught us how to start fires, catch reindeers, and survive in the cold without electricity and water. We even experienced hiking through pitch-black forests for hours just to make it to an abandoned cabin where we had to survive for a night with nothing but nature around us and our only source of water being the lake and wood for the fire to keep us warm until the next day. We also took a bus day trip to Norway where we were challenged to swim in the Arctic Ocean. Basically, their tradition is to enter a Sauna, and then jump into the freezing ocean in -4 degrees. It was such an intense experience but definitely worth the while.
W. What was your first response upon sighting the Northern Lights for the first time?
Sara: We were very lucky to get to experience the Northern lights at all, as many people visit that isolated area but don't actually get to see much due to poor visibility because of the bad weather. Thankfully we got to see it dance in the sky for almost two hours and it was such a blissful and surreal experience. No matter how many pictures you see of it, it's nothing like it is when you see it in front of you. It was a dream come true truly.
W. How exciting and different your trip to Iceland was from Finland?
Sara:I was with the girls for a week and after our trip, they returned back to Bahrain while I continued my trip to Iceland which was a 3-hour flight from Finland. I thought it would be scary to discover an entire country on my own but I surprised myself and got to see most of the things I had on my list. I do want to visit it again but maybe when it's not so cold because you have very limited daylight during the winter and I couldn't visit their hot springs and lava tunnels. I did get to see their breathtaking nature though while driving around the island in a rented car for hours and hours. I got lucky as I was told it's pretty dangerous to drive during their winter but thankfully it was snow free when I got there.
W. What do your travelling expeditions look like for 2019?
Sara: My main goal in life is to visit as many countries and learn from different cultures that exist out in the world! My favourites before this trip have been Spain for its art scene and Japan, both of which I would like to visit again. As for my future plans, I have yet to decide on where but hiking Mont Blanc is definitely something I'm working towards.
W. Lastly, around how much the trip cost you and what is the best time to travel to catch the Northern Lights in their pure majesty?
Sara: You can catch the Northern Lights during the freezing winters only, so around November to February I believe. As for the price, it depends on what kind of trip you're looking for. We had a lot of activities planned which cost extra but they are definitely not cheap countries. Especially in Iceland, where I has to spent around a 100 dinars just on petrol for 4 days!