Think about the greatest holiday you’ve ever been on, maybe it was a romantic city break where everything was perfect; perhaps your first holiday as a family with innocent days playing on the beach; or it could be a longer trip just you and a backpack with no fixed itinerary. What takes you back there? Is it a certain smell? A sound or a taste? Maybe just looking at the photos makes you feel the rush of adrenaline and happiness of time well spent.
I’ve been so lucky with holidays and adventures that have taken me to interesting places with some of my favourite people but Yellow Zebra Safaris have challenged me to tell you a little more about the best holiday I have ever been on. For me, there was one that stuck out as a real trip to nourish the soul.
My late Grandfather loved an adventure, he and my Granny used their retirement to travel around the world. Always returning with a new story and amazing souvenirs to share the fun with their grandchildren. After my Granny died, Grandad worried he wouldn’t be able to travel so much anymore but, of course, he found a way to satisfy his desire to see more of the world.
He wrote a list of some of the places he wanted to see and we began to plan. One thing on the list wasn’t so much a place as a phenomenon. The Northern Lights. This would be a big trip and would need us to go as far north as we could go to increase our chances of seeing this incredible natural light show.
My sister and I jumped at the chance to go with him, the three of us taking the opportunity to spend real quality time together on an amazing adventure. We decided on Finland and ventured high up into the Arctic Circle picking out a small village near an Amethyst mine. After several flights and a long-winding transfer through the snowiest landscape we’d ever seen we found ourselves in a small hotel by a frozen lake at the foot of snow-covered hills. I’d been skiing before in Austria and France but somehow this was different, you got the feeling that the land spent most of its time under several feet of snow. The community around us deftly got on with life on a frozen terrain and we threw ourselves into learning how to stay warm!
My Grandad was into his 80s by the time we took this trip but I’ll never forget his excitement and anticipation, it was like he was a young boy again. We donned all in one snow suits and borrowed a seated sled so that we could push Grandad around the village easily. It was February and we were told that the chance of the Northern Lights being seen was very high, it felt like a magical time waiting for sunset in case that was the evening we would see the flashes across the sky.
Even though the reason for our trip was to catch a glimpse of the lights, we wanted to fill our days with adventure. We cuddle Husky puppies and traversed a forest by dogsled, fed the Reindeer and explored frozen lakes that blended into snow-topped moors by quad-bike. We fished through holes bored in a frozen lake and I even managed a quick dip in the water before running to a wood-fired Sauna to warm up. From toasting marshmallows over campfires in the evenings to cooking salmon in the traditional Finnish way on boards propped over firepits inside a Kota and tasting local delicacies at every meal, we threw ourselves into the Finnish way of life.
One day I left Grandad and my sister at the hotel, venturing out on the cross-country ski tracks, climbing higher and higher until I could see right out across to the horizon with Russian mountains standing darkly in the distance. Standing there, I felt full of emotion – not just looking at a beautiful frozen vista the like of which I had never seen before but at the memories we had created that week. It was a sense of knowing that this would be a shared experience which we would reminisce over for years and would cherish once Grandad was no longer with us.
Of course, we had headed up into the Arctic Circle to catch a look at the Northern Lights. On the nights where the sky was clear of cloud we headed out into the middle of a frozen lake close to the hotel with our arctic guide. We gazed up at the stars and then, suddenly, our guide’s booming voice echoed across the lake ‘look! The lights are coming’ and so they did, arcs of beautiful colour stretching across the sky. Playing amongst the stars in the mystical way that you always hoped they would, we were silent in awe of what nature can do. The images we attempted to capture never quite fully doing the light and colours justice.
We went to bed that night happily emotional that we had seen the lights in this way but amazingly were treated to two more displays on different nights before we finally began our return journey home.
This holiday was far more than the component parts, it was truly food for the soul. A bonding experience that even now, writing about it several years later, brings tears to my eyes but also a reminder of the power of nature and the breadth of experience that our world has to offer.
I’d go back in a heartbeat but I think the best holidays aren’t replicable – they are a moment in time where the people you are with, the experiences you share and the memories you make are entirely unique and ones which will continue to bring you joy far longer than the holiday lasts.
Of course there are always more trips to plan and memories to make! Phil and I are planning an African honeymoon at the moment, we hope to take in safari, South African winelands and a bit of relaxing by the beach. Africa has so much to offer and is the perfect place to make your own memories to feed your soul with a trip of a lifetime. The Tanzanian adventures that Yellow Zebra Safaris organise are guaranteed to provide you with all you need to create a trip you’ll talk about for years to come whether you want to see the Great Migration or enjoy the beaches of Zanzibar, it is well worth taking a look for your next great escape! We’d love to explore Tanzania as we dream of building memories as well as seeing some of the most remarkable natural spectacles that the world has to offer and the mix of adventure and relaxing break would be hard to beat. I’ve always dreamed of going on safari, what better person to share this with than my husband on our long-awaited honeymoon.
This post is my competition entry into #TanzaniawithYZS – this is not a paid-for ad and does not contain any affliate links.