We never imagined we would be able to see the lights “live” and in person dancing right above us. It was during a trip to Lake Tekapo in New Zealand that we found out about the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) and that was when seeing the lights moved to the top of our bucket list.
We chose to visit Tromsø as we read that the chances of catching the lights there are pretty high. But do remember, it still depends on the weather and light activity. We took advantage of the Chinese New Year public holiday long weekend and flew to beautiful Tromsø for a week.
Fly from Singapore to Oslo by Emirates (look out for fare deals). When you are in Oslo, you can reach Tromsø by domestic airlines SAS or Norwegian. To get to Tromsø town, you can bus or cab in.
We stayed at a very warm and cozy Airbnb apartment. It has everything you need and is within walking distance to town. Highly recommended!
A guide and driver picked us up from our apartment every night. We were educated, briefed and cared for the entire time. The van was heated, spacious and comfortable. It even had Wifi! Thermal suits and boots were provided and they took down our sizes when we booked our trips so that everything fits well. Such attention to detail! The suits and boots kept us warm and dry. On one of the nights, we were exposed to conditions below -15 celsius.
Upon reaching a viewing spot for the night, a campfire will be made and hot meals and beverages served. Everyone gathers around the campfire and we all sit on reindeer skin on top of thick snow while eating and sharing stories with the lights above us. For the 4 chases we went on, we stopped at different locations every night, ranging from 15 minutes away from Tromsø to 4 hours away in Finland. Do remember to bring along your passport.
Our guides also provided for all our photography needs – tripods, photography tips and photo taking services. Don’t worry if you are not good at taking photos, they took professional and high quality photos and shared them later via dropbox. You can ask them to take as many as you want. They are more than happy to do so. Do bring extra batteries as they deplete extremely fast in freezing conditions.
Note: We booked 4 chases to maximise our chances of seeing the lights, but on hindsight 2-3 chases would be sufficient.
1. Layering is important. Good thermals, warm socks/gloves and waterproof pants/jackets. You can get these from Uniqlo and we also bought heat packs from Qoo10.
2. Everything is expensive in Norway, so to save money, prepare your own meals. We also brought some instant noodles/meals from Singapore. If you are staying in a hotel, do eat more during breakfast.
3. Be careful when planning activities in the day. Northern Lights chases are done at night and you could be back quite late from 1 to 4am, depending how far you go. So do plan out your activities to avoid early morning starts the very next day.