Braving the arctic winter, city to city we rushedEveryday our hopes were crushed
But finally the tumultuous streams of glory gushed..
…Now the catching ends the pleasure of the chase
Oh heart!! What will you next crave ??
It’s hard to describe the Northern lights. The magical phenomena is best experienced in person!!
Thousands of travelers don their scientist’s hat and apply every possible algorithm to lock down the places with the best chance of a sighting. We were no different. We weren’t only applying science but also secretly praying for solar storms, super charged particles etc. etc. Our research helped us shortlist 3 places;
- Tromso , Norway – 4 nights
- Kilpisjärvi , Finland – 2 nights
- Cruise to the Northernmost fjords , Norway – 2 nights
I remember landing in Tromso to a group of giggly girls who’d just captured Northern lights on their camera. They saw them from our hotel for heaven’s sake!! I disliked them instantly!! Missing the lights by minutes marked the start of our chase.
The lights avoided us our first night. We took to drinking in the hope of creating the lights. That didn’t work either!!
While we were getting out of our hotel lobby the next day, we bumped into a Brazilian guy who shared his aurora experience. His pictures made us cringe with envy!! But lurking behind our envy was the hope that we’d definitely see the lights – After all, everyone around seemed to strike luck!!
Our Arctic cruise (Hurtigruten Cruises) came with the promise of the lights amidst the world famous fjords. The cruise got in one cloudy night after the other. With every passing cloudy night our hopes dwindled further!! The only silver lining was our excursion to Nordkapp (North Cape) – the northernmost point to which one can drive a car. The views are stunning but the violent gusts of winds almost reduced us from a group of three to a couple.
We decided to drive up to a small town in Northern Lapland, Finland – Kilpisjärvi. A gorgeous town covered in snow!! We snow mobiled on a frozen lake but the aurora continued to play hard to get.
With 3 days to go, we got back to Tromso dejected, resigned to the fact that we’d have to come back next year. Desperate times call for desperate measures!! We decided to do the touristy thing & join one of the groups that organized Northern Lights night tours. We picked Tromso Safari – they had 4 base camps and chose the best camp for sighting every night.
Thank God for that call ‘coz WE FINALLY SAW THE AURORA IN ALL THEIR GLORY that night!! The sky around us came alive & we were transported into something far better than a fairy land. What a surreal experience!!
We got back to the hotel relieved!! Our trip was successful and we got every cents worth!!
We decided to take it easy the next day. I remember getting back to the hotel after a scrumptious meal and as I drew the curtain, the aurora came visiting!! This time, we saw hints of pink with green. They danced about their usual dance & vanished as magically as they appeared.
The last day we decided to stake out on our own. It was a cloudy night with practically no chance of sighting the lights. We were parked for 2 hours with clouds stubbornly blocking our view. We were about to pack our camera & just then a tiny cloud window opened & out came our favorite green lights.
They were gone before we knew it but I am convinced they just came out that night to bid us goodbye!!
- Best time to go: March
- How to get there: Flight connections via Helsinki
- Ideal Trip time: Plan at least a week in Tromso. Weather plays spoilt sport on most days
- Where to Stay : Comfort Express Hotel
- Where to Eat : Emma’s, Risso, Haken Café, Steakers, Biffhuset Steak House
- Activities: Aurora chase at night (with or without dog sledding). Our recommended operator is Tromso Safari. Try riding a snow mobile on a frozen lake ( 2 hours from Tromso). Take the Arctic Cruise with Hurtigruten (https://www.hurtigruten.us/)
- Stay in Tromso to maximize the chances of sighting instead of wandering around the way we did
- Regular weather forecast doesn’t work. Weather changes by the hour. Communicate with people in different islands around Tromso
- Follow the Tromso Safari page on Facebook. They post Aurora pictures after every good sighting https://www.facebook.com/TromsoSafariNorthernLightSafari?fref=ts
- Track the live Aurora activity on http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/Europe/