He is called GuideGunnar and for 12 years he has been taking visitors to one of the earth’s most enchanting sights, the Northern Lights.
Now, this much-loved, down-to-earth guide is in a select group with his nomination for a Luxury Travel Guide award.
Gunnar Hildonen, to give his full name, is in the running to win the 2018 Luxury Travel Guide’s Holiday and Tour Specialist awards. Nominations come from companies and individuals across Europe, with voting by subscribers, hotel guests, travel agencies and industry experts worldwide.
His excitement and passion for his job are contagious as he describes once seeing the lights as an “amazing crazy corona, with intense rock’n’roll dancing all over, with four to five colours.”
To a writer for National Geographic magazine, Gunnar, of Finnish and Sami stock, is “the kind of man you´d want with you on an Arctic adventure: burly, knowledgeable and effortlessly charming, while equipped with a set of survival skills to rival Bear Grylls.”
Such praise was echoed by Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, a passionate outdoors person who revelled in his ski tours, huge local knowledge and “fantastic” cooking.
In nominating him, the Guide says his fresh way of running tours “combine outdoor activities in Norway’s amazingly pristine environment with the best in local, Nordic food and accommodation”. Guide Gunnar is steeped in the landscape, its moods and its creatures.
The lights, officially the Aurora Borealis, are particles hurled into space after storms on the sun’s surface, drawn by the magnetic North Pole. To him, they may be as elusive as they are ethereal, drawing thousands of visitors from throughout the globe. They are Lady Aurora and “she” calls for patience. “Sometimes she is shy, and some nights she’s just crazy… so, you never know actually what will happen night to night.”
So he cautions visitors travelling to the Arctic to consider some of the astonishing range of activities such as dog-sledding, ice fishing, reindeer racing, a midnight sun dinner, cross-country skiing, snowshoe night walks, visits to the world’s most northern wildlife park and learning of the local Sami culture. His Arctic Excursions include a number of these fascinating experiences, and all his expeditions may be booked as private tours.