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Seeing the Northern Lights: A trip of a lifetime

Seeing the Northern Lights: A trip of a lifetime


Start your week with some travel inspiration from our Charlie Contributor, Charlotte Lyons. Is 2024 the year for you to plan some big adventures?

Written by Charlotte Lyons

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the Northern Lights yourself?

To watch dazzling shades of green and silver sparkle across the Arctic sky?

Well, I was lucky enough to appreciate the beauty of the Northern Lights first hand on my recent trip to Tromsø, Norway.

And while I may not be able to articulate my experience as eloquently as Arthur Phillip Pullman does, I thought I would share with Charlie what my trip was like!

Charlotte Lyons amongst the Northern lights!

Firstly… what are the Northern Lights?

The Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights, are dancing ribbons of natural light that are spotted in high-latitude regions.

These lights have fascinated, intrigued and inspired people around the globe for centuries.

It is a bucket list item for many!

How my Northern Lights tour began…

It is a gamble as to whether or not you even see the Northern Lights on your trip.

As soon as we hopped on the minibus for the tour, our guide said “There is no guarantee we will see them tonight…”. I panicked.

Did I really just fly halfway across the world to potentially NOT see these lights?

I soon understood that this is a routine warning at the beginning of every tour because, at the end of the day, nature is unpredictable.

The lights’ occurrence depends on solar activity, geomagnetic conditions, and atmosphere.

They are also not visible through clouds, so the the sky has to be totally clear to see any sort of light activity.

Our “Seeing the Northern Lights” tour started to feel more like a “Chasing After the Northern Lights and Hoping for the Best” tour…

Chasing those lights…

But, it was that exhilarating experience of hunting down the lights that made the tour so special.

We were completely immersed in the Norwegian Artic for hours until we found the most promising spot for light-viewing.

It felt more like an adventure, a voyage, an expedition.

And less like a standard tour.

After two hours of driving, the guide found a beautiful spot for us on the coast of Tromsø, overlooking a frozen lake and mountains.

We set up camp and waited.

The Northern Lights can sometimes appear when you least expect them, and they can also show up for fleeting moments at a time.

So, unless you are outside and ready, you could miss them completely.

Waiting for these lights involved lots of standing around in -20 degree weather!

The guide even gave us snow suits to wear on top of our thermals, jackets, balaclavas and scarves for some extra warmth.

Actually seeing the lights…

After a bit (or a lot) of waiting and anticipation, striking strokes of green and silver began to illuminate the sky.

The lights appeared as unique shapes and patterns.

They emerged as mere stokes, as well as curtains, loops, rays and spirals.

They even twirled across the sky, back and forth.

The sight was so picturesque that I felt like I was staring at a postcard.

It was mesmerising!

Charlotte Lyons mesmerised by the Northern lights.

A final note from Charlotte

Thank you for reading about my experience searching for the Northern Lights! I hope this has inspired you to go seek them out yourself on your next adventure.

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