Best possible chance of Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are unfathomable, enigmatic and shy; you never know when they will show up. Or how long they will last. And if there are clouds overhead, you won't be able to see the Northern Lights. So if you want to maximise your chances, you need to be mobile and able to go where the skies are clear. And that's what Arctic Guide Service in Tromsø does – they take you out into the black winter's night to chase the Northern Lights.
The best place?
The Northern Lights are at an altitude of about 100 kilometres (60 miles). That means that you will see the same Northern Lights from Lofoten to the North Cape, just from a different angle. It also means that within this area, there are no locations that see the Northern Lights more often than others. A good Northern Lights location is a place with clear weather, and as we all know, that's something over which we have no control. However, the topography around Tromsø is extremely varied. High mountains mean that thick snow can be falling on one side, while stars glitter in the clear, biting cold on the other. It means that in the Tromsø region, you can find very different weather conditions by driving relatively short distances. Arctic Guide Service have extensive experience here, follow weather reports closely, and have an excellent network of contacts across the entire Tromsø region.
A new experience every time
Even when rainclouds lie heavily across the whole area, the Northern Lights often still dance over the distant summits by the Finnish border. When the snow clouds form a blanket over Tromsø, the Aurora casts a green reflection across the still, cold Storfjord. In a heavy blizzard, you can be lucky and see the Northern Lights out to sea over Håja, the island of cliffs. In clear, cold weather, you need spend no more than half an hour driving to see the Northern Lights play above the impressive range of peaks in the Ersfjord. The Northern Lights are never the same twice, and even our Northern Lights guides can sometimes be completely overwhelmed by the experience.
Aurora Borealis is extremely unpredictable, even under a glitteringly cold winter sky. Aurora likes to keep us in suspense by making us wait. Perhaps she will only tease us with a hint of green light that isn't much different from the nearest cloud. So patience is a virtue, because suddenly she can flame up, maybe for half a minute, or maybe her rays will stretch across the sky from south west to north east for hours.
Route unfolds on the move
When you set off on a Northern Lights chase, you never know how far you will go. You have to be prepared to drive a good two hours to the Finnish border, but you're equally likely to end up just outside the city. The guide gives everyone reflective vests, as it's important to be seen by other motorists when crossing an icy winter road. En route, you will hear all about the Northern Lights, about life in an arctic winter city like Tromsø, and about the landscape you are driving past. The guides also provide a basic course in the settings on SLR cameras; many people have these cameras but are not sure how to set all the buttons. They also come round the bus and check everyone's cameras. When you have arrived at a suitable place to wait, the bus stops and everyone gets out. A few minutes' walk will bring you to the waiting point. If you get too cold, you can walk back to the bus and warm up. Hot chocolate and cookies will also be served. If the weather is not looking so good, you will probably move on.
Trips with Arctic Guide Service
Arctic Guide Service operates trips from mid September to the first few days of April. The trips start at about half past six, and last until half past one in the morning. These are the hours in which you statistically have the highest chances. It's impossible to guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights, but Arctic Guide Service has an excellent success rate.