Oh wow … I was going to the Lofoten Islands! Where are they I asked? They are a large collection of small islands connected by numerous bridges just off the Norwegian coast. Flying into the airport you could see small islands for miles and miles and miles.
My connecting flight flew into Evenes Airport in Norway. I picked up the hire car (remembering to drive on the other side of the road) and started out. Initially I was a bit concerned about driving here as it had been a while since I’d driven abroad, but the roads were so quiet it wasn’t a problem.
It was late September and the autumn colours were amazing, although autumn had arrived early this year. I can only imagine how much more colourful it would have been had I travelled just a couple of weeks earlier. The scenery was stunning; a wow round ever corner is how I like to describe it! My first hotel was quite a drive away but there was plenty to see on the way.
After a good night’s sleep I then travelled to the Polar Park. It’s a lovely place set on the side of a very pretty valley with lots of autumn colour. Whilst there I saw reindeer, moose, Brown bears, wolves and Lynx. Afterwards I drove to Svolvaer, winding my way on near empty roads, over bridges and through some very long road tunnels with magnificent mountains and waterfalls on either side. The fjords were stunning, just like you see in the advertisements, and the water so blue and clear.
I stayed in a Rorbuer Cabin for the next 3 nights, a traditional fisherman’s cabin. I was pleasantly surprised; it was spacious, comfortable (very IKEA like) and warm; it even had underfloor heating in the bathroom, such a luxury! It had the most amazing view of Fløya (the mountain that forms the backdrop to the town) and the fjord. You could hear the water lapping round the stilts the cabin was built on and watch the birds scouring the shoreline for food. That night I had my first taste of Salt Cod, an acquired taste I must say. The restaurant attached to the cabin complex has a reputation for this local delicacy; in fact the whole complex has many drying racks, now empty as it was out of season for the cod catch. It was absolutely jam packed as it was a Saturday night and I would definitely recommend booking in advance as it’s quite a small restaurant and you wouldn’t want to be disappointed if Salt Cod was your thing!
Breakfasts were lovely and I was encouraged to make a picnic to take out with me each day. This was very welcome and thoroughly enjoyable eaten by the side of fabulous fjords and waterways. Some of the bridges between the islands are amazing too; huge curved suspended roads but with the most awesome views. The roads have steep channels either side meaning they look as though they are raised up from the surrounding land and poles stick up along the way. The poles apparently are telling you where the edge of the road is when there’s snow!
It snowed whilst I was there and the changes to the scenery were dramatic. There were even more waterfalls for a start and the mountains looked like they’d been sprinkled with icing sugar! I even saw a glacier, a sight I never thought I would see.
One morning I had the most amazing Rib Boat ride to see the Sea Eagles. It was very cold and very wet but absolutely exhilarating. The Sea Eagles fly right above the boat, they’re huge birds and so regal. I was so glad when we got back to pop into a local café for a nice hot drink to warm up.
I also managed to get to the Viking Museum. It’s a great place to visit with some really interesting archaeological exhibits and an audio guide to tell you all about them. Inside the longhouse (an authentic reproduction of the longhouse which was found on the same site) there are sections depicting the many handy crafts which would have been around at that time. From bowls to embellishments, and weaving to tool making, a fascinating and informative display.
One night I went out with a local Northern Lights guide. I’d had a look and the forecast wasn’t very promising but the guide thought he knew of a place where we might just get lucky and see them. It was very cold and cloudy and initially I thought I had wasted my time. However, after a couple of hours my patience was rewarded with the most stunning, dancing, white Northern Lights. The guide was very pleased with himself and I was so happy to have witnessed them!
I had the most wonderful time in the Lofoten Islands. The scenery is stunning, the food amazing and the people so hospitable. My advice if you’re going there, take your time … there’s so much to see and do. See our recommended break to the Lofoten Islands
There are just not enough descriptive words in the English language to describe the Lofoten islands in autumn. It is a Machiavellian world set apart from reality with all the seasons happening and changing within 10 minutes; with a haunting, heart breaking beauty and some of the most unspoilt landscapes that you can find.
Access to the Lofoten islands in our case was done via the 3 hour drive from Narvik Harstad airport. The beauty of this is that your sense of anticipation increases as you drive deeper and deeper into one of the most dramatic parts of Norway.
The drive to Svinoya Rorbuer, our end destination, in magical Svolvaer was amazing – every corner of the winding roads revealing a different vista of sea and land, incredible light and dark contrasts with the severe mountains surrounding small farms and green meadows whilst the rock falls at the roadsides have the most incredible moss and lichen adding to the rich colour scheme of autumn. Stopping at the polar park on the way was a good break and very interesting with lovely wolves, bears and lynx amongst the moose and deer.
After an incredible drive through mountains (there are some very long tunnels!) and over bridges, including an extraordinary humpback bridge as you arrive at Svinoya, you reach the fishermen’s huts overlooking the sea. Svinoya is a Norwegian National Heritage site with picturesque fisherman’s cottages turned into guest accommodation.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a heated floor in the bathroom and a hair drier under the sink but sad that there was no tea or coffee although there were the facilities in the cute hut (cups spoons kettle etc.). It did seem a long walk to the restaurant when the weather closed in but the food was really good and the staff were great, telling us not to forget to take our lunch from the breakfast buffet in the morning and advising of changes to the itinerary.
It was a short walk down to the quay, to find the rib boats and change into warm waterproofs, before setting off the next day on the rib boat wildlife safari to Trollfjord. Seeing the mighty sea eagles coming at a call to catch the fish that the guide was throwing into the air was something I will never forget and the beauty of the fjord where you had to peer to see the hydro power station hidden at the inlet. I was impressed with how clear the water was all around us, the cliffs reflecting back at us in a picture perfect way.
The next day was a long drive further south with many photo stops at each turn of the road when a different view unveiled itself and the autumn colours just seemed to get better because of the snow on the mountain tops that had appeared in the night. The sunlit day was cold but perfect with hardly a cloud in the sky. The whole drive was so amazing and I don’t think that you could ever tire of the clean unspoilt beauty and purity of the Lofoten Islands, even the return drive was amazing as you got a different viewing angle. However the clouds piled in that evening when it was time to go off with the aurora hunters and it was much colder with a brisk wind – but we did see a glimpse of the lights dancing through the clouds which was a lovely end to the experience.
If you want to experience breath-taking beauty, fabulous autumn colours and be mesmerised by the northern lights then an autumn northern lights holiday in the Lofoten islands is well worth a consideration.
It is a little over 10 years since Joanna Lumley, on a trip to the Lofoten islands in Norway, set of an explosion of interest in seeing the northern lights.
I remember coming into the office the day after the programme was aired on TV and saw a 400% increase in traffic to our web site and knew that the interest in seeing one of nature’s great phenomena was real.
A lot has transpired since then and the whole of the Arctic Region has benefitted from a wave of travellers from all over the world who have flocked to search for the Aurora Borealis.
Media hype has played its part and various interpretations of the science behind the aurora have been adapted to try and drive the market but the simple reality remains and that is one most nights in the arctic during the aurora season ( Sept-March) you stand a good chance of seeing some activity – clear skies being the overriding requirement.
Over time we have seen a shift in holiday makers looking for destinations where the weather is more stable and predictable and that are why destinations like Abisko in Swedish Lapland have exploded in popularity. With an 83% chance of seeing the northern lights in a 4 night visit in Abisko through the season these are the odds that most travellers are happy to take.
The Best Northern Lights Holidays of the Future
However 10 years on the basic break of aurora hunting, snowmobile and sled dog trip as the core of a break are making way to clients seeking more multi destination breaks with more luxury included. As the market has evolved so has the quality of accommodation and food in particular. There are some wonderful small lodges and cabins with private services now available.
Additionally the countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland have joined forces on a project entitled Visit Arctic Europe with the goal of developing transport links between the 3 countries in the Lapland region north of the Arctic Circle. This is beginning to bear fruit and in the foreseeable future it will be easier to do exciting multi destination northern lights holidays across the 3 countries.
Weekend a la Carte’s Aurora Nights has been at the forefront of developing northern lights holiday for 15 years and is already offering some incredible longer journeys through Iceland & Sweden, Greenland & Iceland and Sweden & Norway.
For some inspiration take a look at our Multi Destination northern lights holidays.
Of all the destinations we offer we get more requests from clients celebrating a wedding anniversary or big Birthday for a break to Lapland than any of our other destinations.
It’s really not difficult to see why as a trip to the Arctic for most people is once in a lifetime experience and so completely different to almost any other holiday they have been on before. After all if you are celebrating a silver wedding anniversary or a 40th or 50th Birthday then you want an experience that stands out from what you have done previously.
Who could not be captivated by the idea of being pulled through a pristine snowy wilderness by a team of eager to please Huskies or by the thought of staying in the world famous ICEHOTEL in an individually designed Art Suite? To crown it all of why not go Northern Lights hunting in Abisko in Swedish Lapland probably the best place on earth for consistent sightings of the Northern Lights.
In addition you have unique wildlife, the indigenous Sami culture centred on reindeer herding and all manner of unique settings from fjords to mountains and icebergs to volcanoes.
In terms of places to stay there are small lodges, wilderness cabins with private chef and the unique Tree Hotel with its quirky rooms such as the Mirror Cube, Birds Nest ad UFO! Whether you are travelling as a couple or bigger group to celebrate we can suggest itineraries that fit best for your group size.
Click on this link to see our suggested breaks for celebrating a special occasion
If you truly want to make your special moment an amazing adventure, why not combine more than one country on your Arctic Northern Lights holiday adventure. We offer great combinations of Sweden and Norway, Iceland and Sweden and Iceland and Greenland for spectacular journeys that will be forever etched on the memory.
Click on this link to see some of our longer journeys
We have, over 14 years, built up the expertise to knit together arguably the best journeys possible in the region and have reams of feedback from satisfied clients over the years. If you have a special occasion on the horizon, then give us a call to see what we can do for you.
When we first started offering our clients Northern Lights Holidays 15 years ago almost all our clients would venture into the arctic for a standard 3 night break and the return home having done a husky ride a snowmobile trip and hopefully seen the Northern Lights.
In these early days logistics were a challenge on the ground but as the market has grown so has the investment in the infrastructure and thus the opportunities we have available to create amazing journeys for our clients. In fact I would say this is a speciality of ours along with the numerous special occasion holidays we organise for our clients.
So from the humble 3 night Northern Lights holiday of 15 years ago we now offer journeys that last up to close on 2 weeks and cross the borders of Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Greenland. Each of these countries offers something fresh. Iceland the geothermal wonders, Norway the Coast and Fjords, Greenland the remoteness, culture and Icebergs whilst Sweden, in our view, offers the perfect base for clients wishing to partake of some of the best snowmobile and husky adventures as well as the opportunity of staying in unusual places like the Original ICE HOTEL or Tree Hotel. Sweden is also home to Abisko arguably the world’s top destination for witnessing the Northern Lights.
If you were to ask me which 3 breaks I am most proud of that offer clients the very best of arctic adventure and should be put on the bucket list, then I would point you in the direction of:
As flight, train, bus and transfer services improved the possibilities for moving around in the arctic will increase and offer even more choice. We will remain at the forefront of developing this with our aim of offering our clients the best Northern Lights holidays imaginable.
Northern Lights – The Age of the Aurora
Solar activities, also known as sunspots, are what regulate the intensity of the solar wind which in turn creates the aurora borealis. The sun has an 11 year cycle – or “pulse” – which regulate the intensity of the sunspots/Northern Lights and thereby also their consistency. Scientists have been monitoring this for hundreds of years and also know when to expect increases in activity.
As we now head into a period with very high sunspot activity – one could say we are in The Age of Aurora – which should therefore bring about some fantastic displays of aurora.
The next time this high sunspot occurs again will be around 2022 – so if you want to view this nature’s splendour in the foreseeable future – now is the time to book a trip to the northern latitudes where this is viewable.
To see the Northern Lights Holidays we offer.
The amazing spectacle known as the Northern Lights is an experience you will never forget and if you use your camera correctly you will be able to share your experience with others.
The Aurora Borealis occurs in the North and the Aurora Australis occurs in the south. We are talking extreme north and extreme south close to the Arctic and Antarctic circles. The majority of activity forms a kind of halo at both ends of the earth.
Camera – almost any DSLR is suitable. The deciding factor is the ability to open the shutter for long periods. Check to see if your camera has a bulb mode and maybe invest in a cable. A tripod or any other means of keeping the camera still for long exposures is essential. Lens – if you are dedicated, choose a lens with a super wide aperture. I use a f1.4 lens although I rarely go past f2.8. Wide angle is best … quite simply, wide angle improves your chances of getting a shot and also the stars start to trail much later on a wide angle.
To increase your chance of a successful aurora hunt, you need to be aware of the weather. If it is cloudy on earth, your chances of seeing the aurora grow weaker. You can increase your chances again by eliminating light pollution. A really strong Aurora can be seen in the city, but you really need to get far away from the city lights to improve your chances. The moon can also work against you. If you can see stars you have a chance, if you can see the Milky Way, you have a good chance.
Get your camera set up so that it is easy to handle. I would suggest chest height. Using a flashlight make sure your cable is connected, your lens is set just short of infinity and the camera is level. Then turn off the flashlight and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Then wait. You can use the waiting time constructively. You can practice with your bulb and find a good composition. Set your camera to f2.8 (or as wide as possible) iso 800 and take some test shots for 30 seconds. Do this in all directions but mainly due north (Aurora Borealis). You may start to see a green hue on your pictures near the horizon. This is a good sign and this is the part of the sky you need to watch.
As the aurora starts to get brighter you need to start adjusting your settings accordingly. Start by bringing down your iso. Always check the brightness of your image on the histogram and never rely on the camera preview screen. Your eyes have adjusted to the dark so an underexposed image will look fine – until you get it home!
If the whole sky explodes and the Aurora casts a shadow, you need to be quick to adjust your exposure times. The best Aurora shots occur during these brief moments. A faster shutter of 8 – 20 seconds will preserve some of the details of the display.
Sometimes you cannot avoid star trails if you don’t trust iso 800 and your lens stops at f4, you might be exposing for 2 minutes with a weak aurora. Generally it is preferred to expose for less than 30 seconds to prevent noticeable star trails.
We get asked this question more than any other question.
Firstly you can never guarantee seeing the Northern Lights. If there was a magic switch somebody would have found it by now! However there are certain places in Europe which record much higher overall levels of sightings. The three most celebrated and visited are Abisko in Swedish Lapland, Ranga in Iceland and Tromso in Norway.
The seasons vary and Iceland, due to the non-reliance of snow for the destination to work, has the longest viewing season. This runs from October – March. Abisko and Tromso have a shorter but more intense season running from December – April.
If I was to choose between the 3 destinations I would pick Abisko as the best. Not only does the percentage of nights during the season when the lights are viewed register the highest but the drama of seeing them up at the sky station is unbeatable. You feel you can reach out at times and touch them!
So having established the best location we focus on the best time. There is certainly an argument to say that the lights are seen at their best when there is low lunar light but from experience it should not be the overriding reason of the timing of your visit. We have found that what is more important is finding a spot where there is a high chance of a clear night (Abisko being the best) and then it’s down to the intensity of the solar wind bouncing off the earth’s magnetic field.
However having done this break for many years what is equally as important during a Northern Lights Holiday is to ensure you have a full programme of exciting activities to do during the day. This is where the best tour operators earn their stripes ensuring your break to the Arctic is a once in a lifetime experience with a mix of Husky Dog Sledding and Snowmobile Safaris to name but a few.
To see our Northern Lights Holidays click here.
Northern lights holidays are becoming ever popular and the arctic region of Europe continues to attract travellers from all over the world to witness the Aurora Borealis and participate in the fantastic arctic experiences like Husky sledding, snowmobiling, indigenous wildlife, ice fishing, whale watching and the unique Sami reindeer culture.
We have been doing trip to Swedish Lapland for 15 years and have seen how the traveller has grown from requesting a simple 3 night break visiting one location to now wishing to stay in multiple locations and increasingly cross borders to experience different Nordic countries.
The good news is that this is becoming easier to cross borders as transport links develop and we for one have expanded our offering of northern lights holidays to offer our clients more choice than ever before. We are able to combine the very Best of Swedish Lapland with Highlights from some of Norway’s most dramatic locations.
We are great Fans of Abisko in Swedish Lapland and unashamedly call it the northern lights capital. The stats of seeing the Aurora from here are the best we have come across and we use this as the cross roads for many of our Northern Lights Holidays. Abisko is located close to the Norwegian border and as such we are now able to connect you down to Narvik and then on to either the Lofoten Islands, Norway’s coastal crown jewel or up to Tromso, the Paris of the North.
Our Aurora Addicts break allows you to embark on an amazing journey through Abisko and up to Tromso with 4 incredible nights of aurora hunting. This is the first break to offer travellers the opportunity to visit 3 different aurora sky stations and partake in one of the amazing Lights over Lapland photo workshops in Abisko.
Our Sweden and Iceland combinations are becoming increasingly popular for those that wish to combine Icelandic Volcanic Splendours with a night at the Ice Hotel, or combining a stay in Abisko with Iceland
Finally if you want to say you have been from one end of Lapland to the other try our Coast to Coast Adventure which brings you the highlights of the Lulea Archipelago in Sweden with the majestic Lofoten Islands in Norway.
We are delighted to announce the launch of our new refreshed website for Weekend a la Carte Aurora Nights.
We think it will really help you imagine yourself there watching the Northern Lights, and experiencing the activities with many more photos, bigger photos, and lots of videos to inspire and tempt you.
Over the years we have developed many new breaks and as a result it has become quite hard for you to find your way around the website with so many breaks to choose from. The new website has been restructured so the different types of breaks and destinations are much clearer.
We have also for the first time added Norway to our portfolio. With the call for more autumn Aurora Holidays Norway was an obvious destination as an alternative to Iceland which also has strong Northern Lights in the autumn.
Whilst Iceland offers dramatic volcanic landscape and truly exciting adventure superjeep tours, Norway offers spectacular fjords and mountains that drop right into the sea.
Greenland is developing as a winter northern lights destination with more and more people combining Iceland and Greenland in one break so as to experience the full range of Volcanic wonders of Geysers, Rift valleys, Glaciers, Volcanoes, Icebergs, Snowmobiling and Husky Dog Sledding with the Inuits to remote settlements.
Swedish Lapland continues to be a Northern Lights Trip favourite with superb activities during the day to entertain you, and a high chance of seeing the Northern Lights at Abisko, called the Northern Lights Capital of Europe. The Husky Sledding and Snowmobiling really is the very best.
So with four aurora destinations we want to make sure we have made it as easy as possible for you to chose where you want to go to so as to help focus your search.
We have written a destination guide which covers everything from activities that you would undertake, expected weather, departure airports, food you should expect to eat, and accommodation by destination. It’s totally free for you to download, with no obligation, so you can peruse at your leisure to help you plan your Northern Lights Adventure.
We are here to help guide you and craft that perfect Northern Lights experience for you. Do give us a call on 01722 744695.
Some people like the idea of a cruise, visiting different places on the way and being able to see the lights from the deck of the ship. There are then those who would prefer to stay on land in a hotel and take a trip out to appreciate the lights instead.
However, the question for the uninitiated is: where are the best places to visit to really appreciate the aurora borealis and get some truly breathtaking views?
The very name of this country is in fact misleading, and indeed there is the well-known joke that Greenland and Iceland should swap names as Iceland can be very green, with the snow and ice focusing on the Glaciers. Having said that Iceland is full of volcanoes and lava fields. This gives it a rugged, harsh look and makes it a very dramatic back drop for seeing the Northern Lights.
Out in the countryside in the South of Iceland, you’ll have an unreserved view of the sky, giving you some fantastic chances to take pictures of the very reason you came to visit; the Northern Lights. The area around Hella is particularly good as it has little artificial light to interfere with the Northern Lights, and has a great incidence of sightings of the Aurora Borealis. There is a great 4 star Hotel option in this area with a superb restaurant, as well as a wilderness cabin for those looking to enjoy the peace and serenity on their own. In the North of Iceland you get away from the crowds and have the opportunity to enjoy the Aurora in isolation over waterfalls and a quiet estuary.
It’s not all about looking up at the sky in Iceland though. The snowy, mountainous areas are perfect for enjoying various adventurous activities like ice climbing with crampons, snowmobiling on the Glaciers and amazing off road Super Jeep tours with an experienced local guide right in the heart of the wilderness, and away from others.
Iceland is also famous for its Gullfoss Waterfall and the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts about every 5 minutes, as well as its black volcanic beaches and extraordinary volcanic landscape in the north. Whilst the best time to see whales is in the summer with an incidence of sightings at 90%, winter sightings are also high with an average of 70-75% and non summer Whale Watching is now increasing in popularity with the best sightings in the Aurora Season at either end near the equinoxes in March and October. You’ll get spectacular views of the Icelandic nature whatever time of the year you visit, so be sure to pack a good camera.
One of the most popular places to visit in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon. This thermal spa is situated near the capital city of Reykjavik and simply cannot be missed. The water temperature is around 37 to 39 degrees Celsius, making it a stark contrast to the fresh, crisp air temperature. A most pleasurable way to spend the afternoon is having an in water massage followed by a steam bath or sauna.
To see all our Iceland Northern Lights Breaks
Sweden and Lapland
This is one of the most popular places to visit; with various cities and villages giving great views of the Northern Lights.
Abisko is found in the north of Sweden, 300 kms above the Arctic Circle, and is a tourist attraction ideal for Northern Lights hunters. Due to its unique climate it has the highest incidence of seeing the Northern Lights in Sweden, if not in the whole of the region.You can take a snowmobile or a pack of huskies on a sled out over the frozen rivers and lakes, away from the light-pollution caused in the cities and towns. This wilderness will give you the perfect open space to chase the Aurora and get the best possible views.
Professional photographers often frequent the region so you may be able to pick up some tips on how best to capture the Northern Lights. Alternatively an evening in the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko is a wonderful way to see the northern lights. The IceHotel near Kiruna is worth including on your trip to Sweden. Made entirely of ice and snow, this hotel was the first of its kind to exist.
Visit the IceBar for a relaxing drink as a completely alternative setting to what you’re used to, and if you go at the right time of year, you may glimpse the Northern Lights here as well.
For the ultimate Northern Lights hunter -do the coast to coast adventure. Start off in Lulea in Swedish Lapland and take a snowmobile over the frozen Archipelago. There are some great opportunities to go ice fishing here, while the vast open plains are fantastic for spotting the northern lights. You can then move on to Sorbyn further inland and spot wild reindeer.
There’s also a chance to stay in the special aurora camp located in the Rane River valley; a truly unique experience for the more adventurous holidaymaker. Then make your way across the Arctic Circle to Abisko where you not only have the Northern Lights but you can try your hand at ice climbing in this vast National Park or ice fishing on Lake Tornetrask. When you finally reach the Norwegian Fjords, another train ride away, you’ll get some breathtaking views of the mountains and have the chance to ask the locals about the Northern Lights.
To see our Northern Lights Trips to Sweden
This emerging destination is a very special place. Can you imagine anything more spectacular than watching the Northern Lights over gigantic Icebergs in the north west of Greenland in Ilulissat?
With numbers limited by very small flight capacity this destination remains a spectacular foray into true wilderness, though equally boasts the most northerly 4 star hotel in the world!
Take a Husky Safari with a Innuit to a remote hunting settlement during the day or go on a snowmobile safari or ice shoe walk in the wilderness as you wait for the evening and the display of Auroras!
To see our Aurora Adventures in Greenland
Norwegian Lapland was put on the map by Joanna Lumley. The scenery is truly some of the most spectacular with dramatic mountains, fjords and the Northern Lights reflected in the sea. Whale watching has also become a popular pastime in the Fjords with autumn being the prime time for viewings of both whales and northern lights.
To see our Norwegian Lapland Aurora Breaks
The Northern Lights can be viewed in a number of different places around the northern hemisphere and the location you choose will largely depend on the type of holiday you want. If you’re after an action-packed, white-knuckle adventure, you’ll have a different idea of what you expect than if you want a relaxing, chilled-out hotel stay with some spectacular views.
Whatever you’re seeking, you’re sure to find it in one of these places. Just be sure to wrap up warm and take your camera; these are some sights you’ll never want to forget.
There are three main types of travel. The first are the beach holidays. Flights, car hire and a hotel/villa and you’re all set. These are great for when you just want to get away and have a relaxing break. They are perfect for those that don’t want to plan and just decide as they go what they do with tomorrow. This is the sort of trip for someone who wants to keep full control of their schedule. They are simple, easy trips. Pick a beautiful location and half an hour on Expedia, and it’s all done.
The second category is the full set tour package. Whether it is a case of you travelling alone, wanting to meet new people, or whether you are just unsure how to put together everything you want to do, these are the breaks for those wanting someone else to plan out the A’s to B’s. It could be a case of too much to organise or just not knowing how. City breaks are easy to organise, but how about a trip to the arctic on a northern lights holiday? How do you organise a husky sled tour? Or maybe you are travelling around. Organising a trip to the arctic Circle would be quite daunting for most people. This is where the tour package excels; it gives you effortless travel without the worry. Trying to arrange this sort of trip would feel like a comparison search for new car insurance at the end of the day, and that rather defeats the point of a wonderful holiday!But there is a downside to the second category. What if you don’t get on with everyone in the group and you spend part of your coach or cruise trying to avoid set people? Also, it means many early starts, which feels contradictory taking into account that for a few days/week etc you want to escape the alarm clock! Lastly, whilst you’re happy to get up early for a tour you are looking forward to, there are always parts of the ground programme you have no interest in, and that’s when getting out of bed early, packing the case and checking out of your hotel to be driven to the next place, just feels like too much hard work.
Onto category three. At Weekend a la Carte most of our clients have done many of the previous types of trips, and they know what they want. This includes hassle-free travel and to be looked after, but not to be part of a group and have no say on their itinerary. Everything we do is bespoke travel, reaching from an African Big 5 Safari, Venice Carnival package, Northern Lights trips, to city breaks. We know you want control of your holiday, but we also know you want someone else to work on the finer details. Most of our travellers are celebrating special birthdays and wedding anniversaries. These are our forte. We know how to make your trip special. You won’t be waiting for others to get on the bus, we won’t take you places you have no interest in, your hotel won’t be away from all the local sights
The travel dates, hotels and duration are for you to decide. We are very flexible! We have many clients who want us to arrange ground only and then leave them to their devices, and if you want a second snowmobile trip or a extra night at the wilderness cabin, we can do this. We have been doing it for thirteen years, and are constantly looking at ways to improve our breaks, extensions being one of the main ways. We really do have something for everyone. Why not take a look?
Weekend a la Carte – a chocolate box of trips including Slovenia, Russia, Prague, Jordan, India and Vienna.
Aurora Nights – northern lights inspired trips to Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Greenland.
Italian Short Breaks – Verona Opera, Venice Orient Express Train, Venice Carnival and the Siena Palio.
The Big 5 Safari Company – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.
Now the only hard part is for you to decide where your next adventure takes you!
This was written by Chad Blakley, a professional photographer whom we work with offering Northern Lights photographic evenings in Abisko in Sweden.
Here are a few tips to help hopeful photographers prepare their camera for the lights before they have an opportunity to join one of our tours:
Your camera will need to be set to full manual program mode including manual focus.
Start with an ISO and exposure time of 1600 and 15 seconds. Exposure time will vary but this is a good place to start.
Use a wide angle lens with a fast maximum aperture. F 3.5 or faster is preferred.
Use a headlamp with a red bulb to preserve your night vision.
Bring extra batteries! The cold Arctic temperatures present in Abisko will cause your batteries to drain much quicker than normal.
Before bringing your camera into a warm room after your night in the park be sure to put it in a plastic bag. Let the camera slowly warm itself to room temperature to avoid condensation on your lens.
The Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights (and the southern hemisphere’s Aurora Australis) are caused by the interaction of the Earth’s magnetic field with the flow of highly-charged particles from the Sun, known as the “solar wind”. Auroras are normally confined to polar regions, which are nearer the magnetic poles.
When the ions from the sun first collide with air particles, each causes a different reaction, and each reaction causes a different color to explode. Neutral nitrogen particles will create a purplish pink color, while ionic nitrogen transforms into a brilliant blue. If an ion crashes into oxygen in a lower altitude, it becomes the most common aurora, a yellowish-green color. If however, it collides with oxygen at a high level it will create the rarest blood red aurora.
The temperature above the surface of the sun is millions of degrees Celsius. At this temperature, collisions between gas molecules are frequent and explosive. Free electrons and protons are thrown from the sun’s atmosphere by the rotation of the sun and escape through holes in the magnetic field. Blown towards the earth by the solar wind, the charged particles are largely deflected by the earth’s magnetic field. However, the earth’s magnetic field is weaker at either pole and therefore some particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gas particles. These collisions emit light that we perceive as the Aurora.
The lights of the Aurora generally extend from 80 kilometres (50 miles) to as high as 640 kilometres (400 miles) above the earth’s surface.
Winter in the north is generally a good season to view lights. The long periods of darkness and the frequency of clear nights provide many good opportunities to watch the auroral displays. Usually the best time of night (on clear nights) to watch for auroral displays is local midnight.
For our full range of Northern Lights Holidays in Greenland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland
Many people believe that they should base their break around a new moon in order to increase their chances of seeing the Northern Lights. We wanted to address this issue directly and advise that it really is not the important influencing factor.
Infact the professional photographer Chad Blakley from Abisko Sky Station actually says he had taken some of his best shots during a new moon. Please see the photos and video below taken during a full moon.
Obviously the sky will not be as dark during a Full Moon and so the contrast is not as great. However much more important is the state of the Solar Pulse generating the Northern Lights and how overcast the skies are. Even if the Northern Lights are out if it is overcast and cloudy you will not get to see them.
It is also important to get away from artificial light as this distracts heavily from your Northern Lights viewing experience. It is for that reason that we base our Northern Lights viewing experiences in rural areas such as Abisko and Hotel Ranga.
Please see the photos and video below – all taken during a full moon
For the full range of Northern Lights Trips we offer in Iceland, Sweden, Greenland and Norway