Starting as early as September the aurora borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights, begins its dance in the night sky. The aurora borealis is one of natures most spectacular and beautiful phenomenons.
Naturally occurring in the northern latitudes, the northern (and southern) lights are the result of charged particles streaming from the sun being drug by the Earth’s magnetic field to the north and south poles where they bombard and react with the atmosphere. The result is a beautiful, constantly moving and changing light show.
The aurora display takes on many different forms, sometimes its just a flicker of light whereas other times it lights up the entire sky with its colored hues.
Often times, the aurora is so faint to the naked eye that only the long shutter exposure on a camera can detect their presence. Sometimes, if your lucky, the light show is brilliant and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
In order to maximise our chances of witnessing the mysterious lights, we arranged to spend three nights chasing the aurora borealis with Greenlander, a company based out of Tromsø. Our tour guide and owner for all three nights, Markus, picked us up at 6:30pm directly in front of our hotel. Hailing from Estonia, Markus has an up-beat personality, a positive attitude and a huge knowledge of photography and the northern lights.
Markus would entertain us with personal stories or provide educational facts about the northern lights during our drives into the darker parts of Norway. Unlike many of the other companies, Greenlander takes out smaller groups of 6, in their super awesome Land Rover Defender, which ultimately provides a more intimate excursion and more individualised photography tips.
The first night we headed out of the bright lights of the city of Tromsø towards the clear skies and mountainous landscape of Sommarøy. As we headed to our final destination, we made a quick stop where we all piled out of the van hopeful to spot the first sign of the Aurora. In the partly cloudy night sky a sliver of silver flitted behind the clouds.
I quickly set up my tripod and camera, I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds, clicked my remote and waited. After a long 30 seconds my photo appeared and with it, a streak of green light!
After we finally made it to Sommarøy we set up our tripods again and waited. Markus laid out reindeer skins on the frozen ground for us to stand or lay on to keep warm. He also vegan hot chocolate and warm tea which we drank out of wooden cups. Markus provides a delicious vegan meal, usually consisting of homemade vegetable soup and other healthy snacks.
The next night we went to Tromvik where we witnessed a few glimpses of the elusive lights but ended up getting stuck in a minor snow storm. The last night we made it out to Hansnes where the solar weather reached a maximum and we were able to witness the most incredible display of lights that lasted for hours with varying degrees of intensity.
It was right before we were leaving that the aurora burst into a kaleidoscope of colour twisting and flowing all over the entire sky. We were so excited. It was an exhilarating way to end our trip!
Tips Before Your Trip
- Make sure to reserve your Northern Lights Chase excursion with Greenlander prior to your arrival in Tromsø.
- Tours usually run from September to April
- They also offer the Fjord tour by car for daytime adventures and kayaking tours to see the Orcas and Humpback whales!
Update: I have since been Northern Lights chasing with Greenlander 5 different times! I absolutely love this company and Markus is easily the best tour guide in Tromsø!