2014/2015 Northern Lights Expeditions to Norway, travelling by road and snow scooter, staying in mountain cabins. Including food, ice fishing, snow scooter use and optional photo/video tuition. You must book your own flights or other transport to Tromso.
SORRY ALL 2015 TOURS ARE SOLD OUT. BESPOKE TOURS FOR GROUPS OF 4 OR MORE CAN STILL BE ARRANGED.
2016 TOUR DATES WILL BE ANNOUNCED AT THE END OF FEB 2015.
The tour dates are timed for optimum moon conditions. You don’t want a bright full moon making the Aurora hard to see! Before booking any Aurora trips please ensure that the moon conditions have been taken into account. While the prices may seem high, do consider that food is included for most of the trip. Eating out in Norway is very expensive, breakfast, lunch and an evening meal could easily cost £65-£100 ($100-$150) per day. A one day snow scooter safari costs between £300 to £500. We are out on the snow scooters almost every day, so I hope you can see that these adventure tours really are excellent value. For more pictures from previous tours see the Aurora photo gallery.
Please use the contact form to hold a place and for more details. Spaces limited.
Every year I run small expeditions to Norway. These trips have proved to be so popular that I have had to turn people away most years and many people come back year after year.
These are magical experiences of a lifetime. The winter of 2013/2014 should be a great time to see the Aurora as we will still be in the period of higher activity that surrounds the solar maximum. Solar maximum occurs once every 11 years, so it could be quite some time before we get similar conditions again. These expeditions are very different to the more normal Northern Lights excursions to Tromso where you will often be transported by bus to commonly used Aurora viewing locations with 40 or more people all trying to get the best vantage point, tripping over cameras and tripods and dazzling one another with torches. In addition when out for the night on a bus, if you get cold there is nowhere to go and warm up. This is not my idea of fun and it spoils the moment. That’s why I developed these expeditions. Please refer to the video below for an example of what you might see and experience, then read on for the full details of these incredible adventures.
The first day is the arrival day. You must make your own way to Tromso in Northern Norway. For the first night we stay in a comfortable hotel close to the airport. After diner if the weather conditions are right and the skies clear we will spend the evening watching the Northern Lights from one of several locations that offer great viewing and photo opportunities. These first night excursions are useful as a shake down of camera equipment for those taking photos and very often we will see the Aurora on this first night. Being close to the city the view can sometimes be spoilt by the orange glow of the city lights, that’s why the next day we leave for the Arctic Plateaux, the FinnmarksvIdda.
On Day 2 we have an early start to make the long but interesting drive along the “Northern Lights Highway” across the very top of Finland and back into Norway. This journey takes us through some of the coldest parts of Europe where deep snow and temperatures below -30c are not unusual. At lunch time we make a short stop in Finland for a snack and to stock up on any last minute supplies (food and drink is cheaper in Finland) before continuing on back in to Norway. At about 3pm we will arrive just outside the small town of Karasjok which is the Sami capital of Norway.
Here we exchange our mini-bus for snow scooters as we prepare to head off into the remote Arctic wilderness. There will be 3 snow scooters with sledges. Some people can ride on the back of the snow scooters, some in the sledges wrapped in thick blankets and reindeer skins. After a 60 minute (20km) snow scooter ride up through a beautiful snow covered forest, up beyond the tree line and across frozen lakes we will come to a group of small huts at a remote place called Ravnastua.
This is a magical place, far from the stresses of our modern lives where life is simple, the air is clear and fresh and the scenery breath taking. After a hearty diner of local food in the communal dining hut we will spend the evening watching out for “Thor’s Chariots” or the Northern Lights. The small valley the cabins nestle in shelters us from the wind. If you get cold you can pop back inside to warm up by the log fire or enjoy a drink or two. This is one of the real beauties of this trip, you only have to step outside of the warm cabins to have pitch black dark skies. You can stay outside to watch the Aurora for as long or as short a time as you like, so there is no need to get cold.
Day 3 is spent exploring the local area by snow scooter. We often encounter Reindeer herds and husky dog teams. I run optional video and stills photography workshops during the short day. Sunrise is at 9am, the sun starts to set around 2pm, but takes a couple of hours to go down, giving an incredible two hours where the light is breathtaking. This is Golden Hour and it’s invariable beautiful to see the orange glow of the low arctic sun glinting of the snow and ice.
Our accommodation in the cabins is shared, 4 beds to a room. Heating is from a log stove. Toilets and washing facilities are very basic as it is too cold for running water. Outside it can get down to -40c. The coldest one of my expeditions has experienced is -36c (-16c to -26c is typical) but you will be prepared for the cold and I can even arrange clothing rental if needed. We are never far from a warm and cosy cabin. Inside it’s warm, comfortable and the atmosphere in the evenings is social and highly enjoyable sitting around the log burner enjoying our host “Oskar” and his local stories and songs, enjoying a drink and watching the stars and Aurora. Ravnastua was chosen as the final destination due to it’s mountain location. The locals say that when the temperature gets down to -20c then the sky will be clear. Our experience is that this is indeed true and every year we have seen the Aurora from this location on the majority of nights.
Day 4 will be spent further exploring the local area, possibly with an excursion to Mollysjok, Karasjok, Alta or ice fishing on one of the frozen lakes, weather and snow conditions permitting. Those that have not driven a snow scooter before will get a brief lesson on how to drive and handle a snow scooter. Again the evening is spent watching for the Northern Lights. On at least one evening Oskar will prepare the traditional Sauna Hut. This is a purpose built communal sauna hut with a large cast iron log burning stove. Water is poured on the stove to create steam and the hut becomes a very hot Sauna. This is how the locals stay clean. Rolling in the snow between sauna sessions is optional, but highly recommended! When you get back to your nice warm cabin after the Sauna there is no need for a hair dryer as you’ll be able to just brush out the ice. Your hair will freeze during the short walk to the main huts, but I promise you won’t feel cold at all.
Day 5 is a free day at the mountain cabins where you will be free to explore on your own by snow scooter. In the afternoon, if wanted, there will be fun snow scooter egg and spoon races out on a frozen lake. Weather permitting we may take an excursion to another group of mountain cabins at Mollysjok further up the Finmarksvidda.
Day 6 is another early start as we depart the cabins by snow scooter and head back down the valley to collect the mini-bus. We now start the drive back to Tromso, only this time we will travel back via Alta passing along frozen rivers and taking the beautiful coastal route that winds along twisting roads along deep Fjords. We cross two fjords by ferry (in the case of high winds or storms this may not be possible). Along the way we will stop for photos by some of the frozen waterfalls, lakes and fjords that are common along this route. We also cross one of the highest mountain passes in Norway and this can be an adventure in itself as the weather can be quite extreme across the tops of the mountains. We spend the last night in Tromso and if the sky is clear we will find interesting vantage points to view the Northern Lights.
Day 7 is departure day. If your flight is later in the day you can explore some of Tromso’s museums and galleries in your own time. If you wish you can extend your stay for extra nights at your own expense.
From some of my guests from previous trips:
Judy & I have been back from our Northern Lights adventure for four days now and we are browsing photos and still buzzing! Being lucky enough to see the Aurora on five nights was sufficient, but thanks to you and your ‘in-house team’, we did so much more – so many new experiences.
From your comprehensive pre-trip advice on clothing, conditions and timetable we really were as prepared as we could have been and the whole group agreed that, once there, the leadership balance was right – a good mix of precise arrangements and flexibility for us to do what we wanted within a safe environment. Ice fishing, riding the ski scooters, ‘cross country’ skiing, sauna and naked snow rolling were all optional but were taken up by most of the group. And still time for us to take in the local (-24ºC) environment on our own, or enjoy your company in Oskar’s warm and cosy hut.
And we never thought we would get used to an outside loo in -24ºC but, this included, we wouldn’t have changed anything about the trip! Thank you, Alister
Judy & Ian
‘Thank you’ seems so inadequate to describe one of the best adventures of our lives. Our trip with you (January 2012) to Ravnastua in Northern Norway was exceptionally well organised, perfectly prepared and inspirationally led. We were lucky enough to see exceptional Aurora activity on 5 consecutive nights, but also experienced, and enjoyed, stars and galaxies, snow scooter rides, skiing, reindeer herds, husky sleds, fishing through a hole in the ice, sub-zero temperatures down to -32°C., sauna and jumping (naked) into snow drifts, meals of elk, reindeer, pike, snow berries and the most flavoursome salmon ever, fabulous frozen vistas and bonding friendships that can only come from such an adventure.