There was only one reason we booked a trip to Tromso and that was to see the elusive Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis as they are also known.
Tromso is famously known for a ‘hot spot’ for seeing the Northern Lights and the whole town was buzzing with tourists eager to see the aurora, you could say it was the talk of the town.
We booked a trip through Karl Ivar as he specifically takes photography tours and being a keen photographer it was very important to me to have someone on hand to help me capture the perfect photo. We met at the tourist office and there was lots of chat about how good it was going to be tonight as all week it had been seen and the sky was clear. So to say we were excited was an understatement! We got into a car with three students from Hong Kong and they were also giddy with excitement!
We drove for 10 minutes out of Tromso before stopping to set the cameras up with tripods that Karl provided and he helped get our settings correct so when we did see them we would be ready to capture the moment. We were also provided with crampons to help us walk in the snowy weather too. Whilst setting up the cameras I looked into the sky in hope and I saw something appearing, I thought it can’t be can it? We were too close to town, there is too much light pollution but sure enough it was them, those northern lights, the thing we had travelled all the way to the Arctic Circle for, there they were. The green shone through and was so bright, just how you imagine it. We scrambled to get our gear together and headed to a spot to set up the cameras and enjoy the view.
The green colours swirled through the sky and you could actually see it moving, there is no trick of the camera this is what it really looked like. We couldn’t believe our luck, 10 minutes into the trip and we were already witnessing it. To be honest with you even though I was dying to get the perfect picture once they were there in the sky it is all about the experience so I made sure to just stand back and enjoy. After about 20 minutes Karl suggested we head further away from the town to get an even better view of it without light pollution, we reluctantly left as they were still very much performing in the sky but we got in the car and headed North.
We drove for around an hour to reach somewhere that literally felt like the middle of nowhere, it was bleak, freezing cold and surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains. The sky was filled with bright stars and we spent a lot of time with searching the sky for the northern lights. We began to take photos as Karl suggested that if we took photos we may well see them in our pictures, he was right the green and red colours shone through in the pictures but we wanted to see them ourselves!
The picture below shows the light coming from Tromso which was at this point an hour away. You can see I’m very well wrapped up as it was pretty cold out there. I wore a singlet, merino wool long sleeve top, t-shirt, hooded jumper, Kathmandu puffer jacket along with hat, scarf, gloves and skiing mittens.
We were given some delicious tomato soup and bread to keep us warm whilst we waited in anticipation for the northern lights. They came and went but it was very weak so Karl decided to take us as far as he could to the sea side. We drove for another 20 minutes or so and arrived at our last location. Again we sat and waited but this time we only had to wait for around 10 minutes, Karl called us all and said just look at the sky it’s on it’s way. Sure enough he was right! Slowly but surely a light appeared from the top of the mountain, it could be mistaken for some clouds but it began to move and change shape and then the colours arrived. Green, then bright green then fluorescent green – we actually couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
This is pretty much how we witnessed the Northern Lights. Apart from the red colour that started to appear in later pictures (we never saw any red light) this is exactly what we saw in the sky. We had chased, frozen, got cold toes, hurt our necks but we had arrived at the amazing Aurora Borealis show in the Arctic Circle. It had all been worth it.
We knew that all too soon we would have to head back to Tromso as our five hour excursion was coming to an end. We all didn’t want to leave as they were still so bright in the sky but we reluctantly got the last pictures and hugged and agreed how lucky we had all been! We hopped back into the car and enjoyed the light show out the window for the entire journey home, we really couldn’t believe our luck!
I can’t recommend Karl Ivar ‘s guided Northern lights tours enough. It was reasonably priced at KR 1,100pp (£92) compared to other trips but what I liked the most was that they provided camera equipment, they gave advice on how to get the perfect photo and the groups were small.
There was one last ‘chase’ of the Northern lights on our journey back to London, I was lucky enough to have a window seat and I kept my eyes peeled as I knew there was a possibility of seeing them and sure enough about 10 minutes after take off there was the most incredible light show right outside that appeared from nowhere. The green lights danced through the night sky and the whole plane was whipped into a frenzy as the captain turned off the lights and announced that the northern lights were out in full force. They hung around for the next 45 minutes of the journey and I felt incredibly lucky to have seen them in all their glory not once, not twice but three times!
If you have the chance to go Northern Lights chasing in Tromso do it! I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you do finally spot them.
Read more about my Norway trip:
Have you seen the Northern Lights?