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Chasing or not chasing Aurora?

Updated: Mar 21

On top of many bucket list lately you will see northern lights, and it sure has been one of my wish to experience this once in a lifetime phenomenon also known as Aurora.

Who would not want to experience this unique light show nature has to offer?

Not sure Who, but the truth is if you are curious about the wonder of this world you’ve already considered a vacation through the North Pole to chase around these amazing lights and to experience their dances, but the first questions coming to your mind are probably :

When? Where? And what?

First and in a nutshell, named AURORA, this physical phenomenon occurs when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with gases in the Earth atmosphere. The Earth magnetic fields guide the particles towards field breaches in southern or northern poles reason why this phenomenon can only be observed in the northern pole where it is called Aurora borealis and/or northern lights or in the southern pole where it is called Aurora Australis and/or Southern lights. So now that you know what to call them based on where you find them, let’s now talk about the where do we go to find them?

Below are some of the area in Europe you can consider starting your experience as up in that region, Finland, Sweden and Norway borders are all shaking hands, or most likely the Sámi community from all countries are shaking hands, but this is another article.

  1. Nordland and Troms region in Norway

  2. Abisko region in Sweden

  3. Finnmark and Rovaniemi region in Finland

  4. Murmansk region in Russia

  5. Iceland – although not in the same area

So you understood it by now the further north the better, if you are going north side, if not you can also experience them in the Falkland Islands, Ushuaia Argentina, Stewart island New Zealand, or Antarctica.

For my journey I choose the north side of the pole, in Tromsø Norway to be exact in the Troms region. A good base, I thought, for my top of the world experience.

I found the perfect little place secluded from the crowd to live my short weekend adventure, hoping that the show would be au rendez-vous and also convinced that it would be the first of many trip to this side of the world.

Searching the web, I found a lovely farm hotel on the southern west side of the island of Kvaløy called Yggdrasiltunet Gårdshotell .(Click on the link of the hotel for more info, YOU WILL LOVE IT.).

The location is the ideal spot for northern light watching as it is a good 45 minutes away from the city lights of Tromsø which can alter the intensity of the lights.

Driving to the southern coast; the further you go from Tromsø the less population you will experience, and nature there really gave me this sudden realization of the littleness of my existence in this universe.

Nature orchestrated affront of my eyes and in such a short time the wildest array of winter diversity I had ever seen despite that I live in Switzerland and trust me, I get my share of winter weather back home. From snow storm, lively fjord, nimbostratus clouds, piercing sun rays, creating of the most chaotic and mesmerizing weather yet in the most enchanting white landscape I had ever seen.

Not wonder the snow queen from Frozen come from up there, what a weather, the worst then mood swings.

And yes let’s talk about the condition requisite for lights watching, after all I just went through, really what are the key ingredients to see the lights.

The conditions:

  1. Cloudless

  2. Dark

  3. Small moon

  4. Polar nights (preferably; but you can start seeing the lights as early as mid-August, when the sun sets around 6ish. (Best months based on the locals are September, January and March).

  5. But always consider, it is almost a gamble as when you book a northern trip to see the lights.

Just like a box of chocolate… ” you never know what your gonna get”

And so I did not get so lucky with the weather; snowy, overcast, even stormy, not to mention a bad cold and cough I had been dragging for over a week, and there was my northern experience almost out the window.

But there is always a solution if you really want to see the lights, they say.

Book a local operator through the local tourism office, and there is plenty of choice, from the best story telling to the campground accommodation offer to pass the time.

Truth is, if the weather is not favorable where you stand you will embark on a lifetime journey chasing the lights in a car or bus with so many other tourists driving around the area for hours, you will most probably be crossing borders back and forth through Sámi lands, polluting this amazing nature they are trying to protect and taking the risk to spoil this part of the planet, which, to this day offers us the best nature earth has to offer.

Is that really what you came for?

Well after projecting myself in a crowded tour bus through a never ending night chase looking for Aurora, I could not help but wonder, is the chase really worth endangering our §precious... EARTH!

Haven’t we done enough already.

I guess I will have to wait some more as my meeting with Aurora in my mind looks nothing like a chase.

“One of the first condition of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken” …Leo Tolstoy

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