Trips by dog sled, snowmobile or reindeer sleigh; you can have a lot of fun in the snow in Northern Norway. And if you’re out enjoying the snow at night, you may also see the Northern Lights. For example at Lyngsfjord Adventure in Tamokdalen.
The Tamokdalen valley is a dry, inland valley near Tromsø with a particularly good record of Northern Lights appearances. Choose whether you want to go by dog sled, reindeer sleigh or snowmobile – the adventure trip will take you out into the wilderness where the skies are darkest. You’ll have a lot of fun along the way, you’ll stay warm, and you’ll catch every single glimpse of the Northern Lights.
An inland climate means clearer skies
Here in the valley there are cold, continental winters with little precipitation and little humidity. So there is every chance here of getting a clear night. Clear skies are the most important conditions for the Northern Lights to appear. In other words, if you travel one-and-a-half hours out from Tromsø to Tamokdalen, you’ll considerably increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
The skies in Tamokdalen are some of the darkest you can get
It is impossible to say when or whether the Northern Lights will appear, but typically they tend to come at some time between 6pm and midnight. The trips to Tamokdalen take so long that you are under the open heavens just about the entire evening. And you’re also warm and active all the time. If the Northern Lights appear, you’re bound to see them.
Dog sledding in the darkness is an unforgettable ride
The dog sled trips go along a side valley with undulating terrain. But the darkness isn’t a problem, for the moon and stars shine brightly and everyone is equipped with headlamps. All that is required is a quick introduction to driving the dogs, and then you set off. The dogs make a terrific racket before you start, but once you’re underway they are virtually silent. Two guests share a sled, and while one concentrates on the driving, the other looks for the Northern Lights.
Snowmobile trips take you up onto a mountain plateau
The trips by snowmobile go in a completely different direction to the other trips. The trail goes through wooded and scrub areas up towards the mountain, and you arrive at a viewing spot high above the treeline. On clear, starry nights, you can see the mountains in silhouette against the night sky, and every movement of the Northern Lights is well visible. The drive through the Tamokdalen valley goes at a controlled speed, and the trail also offers technical challenges that add a bit of spice to the excursion. Once on the bare mountain, though, you get to put your foot on the gas.
A Reindeer sleigh ride is for those that like to take in their surroundings
The oldest form of transport on land in Northern Norway is the pulk or reindeer sleigh. Reindeer are no sprinters, so the drive into the woods goes at a leisurely pace. The reindeer owner, one of the local Sami reindeer herders, goes ahead and checks out the trail. This is the perfect trip for lovebirds, and at that pace nature can be observed at close hand.
Tamokdalen offers peace and calm for aurora photographers
Photographers keen to capture the Northern Lights are enthusiastic about coming into Tamokdalen. These guests don’t want to be disturbed by dogs or snowmobiles, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are good, and there is almost total darkness – for them it is the good photography conditions that count. They wait patiently by their tripods, and are supplied with hot coffee by the guide.
Practical information about Lyngsfjord Adventure
Lyngsfjord Adventure have a great website with all information about tours and experiences available there. Arctic truck driving and ice fishing are also options not elaborated on in this article.
Lyngsfjord Adventures offer transport for guests from Tromsø centre to Tamokdalen and back again in a comfortable coach with local driver. You’ll pass through Ramfjord, the mountain pass of Lavangsdalen and then along the icy waters of Balsfjord before entering the more inland mountain terrain. Make sure you have the camera ready for the journey.
Layers are more important than one big furry coat. We recommend thermal underwear and a good warm jumper with coat over the top. However, at Lyngsfjord Adventure you’ll be supplied with a full body thermal suit, so don’t worry too much about being cold.
Visit Tromso are the local tourist advice bureau found in the new harbour terminal in downtown Tromsø. Here you can find information about all the companies offering tours in the city. There are people there to help give advice all day during the winter season in person, by phone and email.
Lavvo restaurant offers outdoor dining in the Arctic
At the end of the evening, all the participants, irrespective of which trip they have been on, gather together in the big, Sami lavvo (tent) for dinner. Traditional Sami bidos made from reindeer meat or fish soup or lamb stew is served, followed by locally baked lefse for dessert. The meal is rounded off with coffee, brewed in the traditional way in the big, black coffee pot over the campfire in the middle of the lavvo.
You can spend the night in a lavvo, but remember your hat
Some people go that bit farther in their desire to see the Northern Lights, so they spend the night in a Sami lavvo. In Tamokdalen the thermometer sometimes dips to minus 30C, but most winter night temperatures are between minus 10C and minus 20C. A typical tent is well insulated and heated with a wood-burning stove. In a good, warm sleeping bag and with a warm hat, it’s really comfortable.