We are no strangers to unique lodging – After staying in the glass pod hanging 1300 ft from the edge of a mountain in Peru & an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, it takes a bit of effort to surprise us.
As soon as we saw the pictures of these transparent cabins built on large wooden skis which get dragged by a snowmobile to the middle of a frozen lake, we knew we had to stay there.
I am so glad we did not miss out on this unique accommodation choice because it was our favorite place to see northern lights in the Finnish Lapland.
This post is part of the Finland Series. Other posts in this series:
- Best places to see the northern lights and when to visit
- Arctic adventure and northern lights itinerary in Finnish Lapland
- Adventures at the Lake Inari transparent mobile cabins – This post
- Seeing the northern lights from a glass igloo
- Staying in a lakeside chalet & experiencing the husky safari – Coming soon
- 24 hours in Helsinki and making most of it – Coming soon
- How to get to Finnish Lapland & Arctic circle using miles and points – Coming soon
Matt, one of the part time workers at the lodge, came to pick us up at the K-market. With our back packs full of provisions, we were ready and eager to start our arctic adventure. We shared some stories about Scotland with Matt who happened to be a recent transplant to Finland, and then arrived at the main lodge in less than 15 minutes.
The lodge & the cabin
We checked into our mobile cabin which was charging along with 5 other cabins close to the main lodge. It was exactly as we had expected it to be – a small mobile cabin with a glass roof, and giant window panes around the side of the bed all built skillfully on large wooden skis.
A queen bed, adjustable heating and a dry toilet along with a few hooks and benches are all that fit in the snug accommodations. It even had Wi-Fi! Perfect for 2 people to enjoy the scenery. See the video of the cabin below.
We usually travel with a point and shoot camera and maybe a go-pro which we knew wouldn’t suffice for night photography and capturing northern lights. After fiddling around a little bit with the DSLR camera that we had borrowed from Jamie’s sister for this trip, we headed to the main lodge.
The main lodge had a kitchen, warm winter gear along with skis and sleds in addition to the bathrooms and showers.
We brought our own meals for this trip because it would be inconvenient to head to town every day and so that we could eat at our schedule considering that we would be up all night. We dehydrate our favorite meals and vacuum seal them after which they can last for several months. The lodge also had barbeque options for dinner.
After a meal and a short nap, we were ready for the excitement as soon as we saw Matt pull up on his snowmobile!!
“I don’t get it! – What is this mobile cabin and how does this work?”
The cabin is built on large wooden skis and has a large tow hook on the front. The snowmobile is expertly aligned with the cabin and gets connected using this hook. Essentially, the entire cabin with us inside it, gets towed by a snowmobile to the middle of a frozen lake. Nuts!! See this video of us getting shuttled back from the lake to the lodge.
That’s not it, the owner Esko built these cabins himself.
Every evening, the cabin is towed to the lake and brought back to the main lodge in the morning.
The aurora experience
After being shuttled on to the lake, we got our winter clothes ready and prepared to take a walk on the several feet of snow that covered the frozen lake.
Because the forecast looked quite promising, we stayed up for several hours chatting and waiting for the northern lights to emerge. After several hours of waiting, we reluctantly dozed off and set 30 min alarms to wake up and check on the sky.
After several snoozes, it happened! First it was a faint hint of green in the sky and we were a little disappointed thinking that’s it – this is all the northern lights we’ll get to see. We put on our winter clothes and left our cabin to take a walk on the lake looking like stuffed penguins.
We couldn’t believe it, within 15 min the lights were dancing right in front of us – green and purple glow moving through the sky like a magic show. We sat on the edge of our cabin and experienced this performance, took a few pictures and huddled into the cabin to enjoy the rest of show from the warmth of our bed. The lights kept dancing, then fading throughout the night at various times.
After getting lucky on our first night, we knew the chances of seeing the lights again the next night would be low. To our surprise, the forecast suggested the strongest aurora for the year so far!
The 2nd night was even better. It was a perfect cloudless night with high solar activity. The northern lights danced in all directions and we didn’t know which way to look. After taking a few pictures, we decided to just take in the experience instead of trying to perfect our amateur photography skills.
It was also a bit of a futile exercise because it is difficult to record the northern lights in action, even on video, unless you have really advanced equipment.
We saw night snowmobile tours pass through the lake which is another interesting way to see the aurora (but nothing beats a mobile cabin or a glass igloo because you get to enjoy the lights from the comfort of your bed!)
We woke up early on both days with sun shining and the light reflecting and glimmering off the snow in all directions. We bundled up and took a few more pictures before we got towed back to the main lodge.
The 2 nights passed by so quickly! In retrospect, I wish we had booked one more night here.
The classic Finish Sauna experience
Sauna is a big part of Finnish culture. There are five million inhabitants and over three million saunas in Finland – which comes out to be an average of one per household.
We were ready to make the most of the classic wood burning sauna right outside our mobile cabin. After enduring the steam to a point of exhaustion, we ran outside the sauna and jumped into the snow drifts in our bathing suits! The physical experience was both exhilarating and excruciating at the same time. When immediately exiting the sauna, your skin is steaming and lobster-like. After diving into snowy powder you experience a lovely, intense and short lived freezer burn.
We repeated the sauna and snow experience a couple of times because it was so much fun!! I cannot wait to do this again.
Energized and full of dopamine, we were wide awake at night to enjoy the northern lights.
We highly recommend this experience but be careful, jumping in the snow can cause serious snow burns to the exposed skin if you are not careful.
We decided to go for a snowmobile ride on our 2nd day. We wore a winter jumpsuit on top of our snowboarding clothes. It was so warm that we couldn’t breathe inside the lodge, but this is exactly the level of warmth that’s needed for a 1 hr drive in the arctic even in March.
We decided to go together on one snowmobile. Jamie was driving and Hemali holding on the back and we followed our host / guide Esko who was expertly leading the way.
We drove through the frozen lake and intermittently through the forests covered in snow. We saw reindeers during our ride and were completely taken by the scenery.
Half way through, we switched so Hemali was driving as we passed through a long stretch of frozen lake. Also, we could really up the speed on the clear lake area because it is impossible to go wrong and hit something.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any footage of our ride because we didn’t turn on the go pro! The frigid temperatures and clunky snow mittens (along with some confusion over the helmet-camera setup) made it challenging to document the beautiful ride.
In addition to snowmobile, there are various other activities that you can sign-up for during your arctic stay such as a Husky sled safari, Reindeer safari, ice fishing with a pro, and much more.
In case it is cloudy over the lake and clear elsewhere, you can also sign-up for the aurora hunting excursions. They even charge half price if you don’t see the lights.
Just be ready for the sticker shock for all of these activities. Finland is an expensive country, in general and especially for the safaris and aurora hunting which cost between 100 to 200E per person.
The 1hr snowmobile experience was 120eur/2 persons on 1 snowmobile, single 90eur. This was the lowest price we found for snowmobiling during our stay.
How to book the cabin
Esko the owner has been operating these mobile cabins for 3 years now. Considering their popularity and uniqueness, they get booked months in advance.
At 300E per night, its not cheap but is still a better value considering that the glass igloos cost upward of 400E per night.
We recommend booking in advance with a refundable rate using this booking.com link and search “Lake Inari mobile cabins” which allows you to pay up front or at the cabin after your stay. You also get $25 off your stay if you use our link.
Message us with any comments or questions.