For many years I have dreamt of that typical magical Winter wonderland trip. You know, all the things we dream of, dog sledding, snow shoeing and of course the amazing Northern Lights. I had never been to Norway and from reading online articles, the very north of Norway above the Arctic Circle was a perfect spot to view the northern lights.
A popular place for the northern lights is Tromso, Norway. The town is enjoying a huge winter boom by tourists and room occupancy and rates for winter are now high. Tromso is located at latitude 69.6 degrees north, well above the 66.5 degree Arctic Circle. I did some research and it seemed ideal, plenty of winter activities to choose from, so it was March and time to set off for my Arctic adventure with a friend.
I flew using Norwegian from Heathrow via Oslo, met up with my friend and then landed at the relatively small airport of Tromso. We had not booked a rental car, we did not know if we would need one so left it and took a taxi to the Airbnb. There seem to be plenty of Airbnb places available and had no problem finding a 2 bedroom house just 10 minutes walk to the centre.
We met our host the following morning who offered to take us on a couple of trips. The first of which was a trip to the Tromso Wilderness Centre. I am a huge dog lover myself, having black labradors all my adult life, so this was an obvious choice.
At peak season they have around 300 Alaskan huskies providing dog sledding adventures during the day and at night, these are sent to other sites outside of Winter. Our luck was in and they allowed us into the puppy farm where they are all bred on site.
They explained their story and how the huskies had leaner breeds such as whippet and greyhound in them now. The traditional thick husky was being replaced by a leaner dog that can pull harder and longer in the winter. I don't want to get too religious, but if there is a heaven, I really do hope it is full of dogs, such beautiful creatures and certainly my life would not be complete without them.
Unfortunately, they were all booked up for trips, so my advice is book weeks BEFORE you arrive to make sure if you want to use the Wilderness Centre. But there are many adventure companies around Tromso, so we would find another one.
We continued with our trip around Kvaloya south island finding a small beach to fly the drone and grab our first aerial snow pictures. We grabbed lunch at the Sommaroy Arctic Hotel and then headed off to a small dock on the other side of the island to fly the drone again.
On the way there we were just constantly amazed by the breath taking scenery, fjord after fjord. It is impossible to describe the landscape, it is just more amazing every corner you turn. Just when you thought you had seen it all something trumps it.
A tiring day, we headed back to our Airbnb and crashed.
I woke fresh for the next day and a walk around Tromso, the obvious site being the Arctic Cathedral just over the bridge.
We rambled around town and ended up in Peppes Pizza. Don't be shocked at the prices in town, we paid £80 for pizza and beer for 2. The cost of living in Scandinavia takes some getting used to.
The next day for me was the set to be the highlight of the trip. All my life I have wanted to see the Northern Lights, we did some research and ended up booking a trip with Creative Vacations. We chilled in the day, slept a little as it would be a long evening and night and then went off to our meeting point at a hotel. We were taken to their home where they briefed us and supplied thermal suits. The temperature was an anticipated -15 to -20 C so a bit chilly.
We were all dressed and set off to our first location on a stone beach. This was probably the most anticipated trip in many years, and it did not disappoint. 24 hours prior had been a huge solar storm, and this resulted in the best northern lights in a while. I cannot describe what it is like to see the lights, other than to say it is calming and almost spiritual. You just stand and stare at the sky in total amazement wondering how it is possible. As I can't describe the lights or feeling truly, I guess all I can do is show you a few photos. Again, these really do not do it justice, but hopefully they give you an idea of what it is like.
With the beach location done we moved into the second location up in the mountains. We walked through 2 feet of snow to our spot. It was -15 C and I was sat in snow in the middle of the mountains at 1am looking at this. How can you possibly describe this?
It was 2am and we were finished, time to go home. The trip home allows you to reflect on an amazing life moment, something I will never forget.
But there were still more adventures to come, including snow shoeing and dog sledding, continued in Part 2.
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