See the Northern Lights!
When cruising the coast of Norway with Hurtigruten, passengers get wake-up calls to see the aurora. A three-night cruise from Tromsø to Trondheim starts at £566 including flights, transfers and half board. Packages coinciding with Tromsø’s Northern Lights Festival in late January are also available.
The smart option for a fun weekend break, Iceland offers a fair chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Discover the World has packages to Reykjavik from £308 including flights and breakfast. Excursions out of the city to look for the aurora in a superjeep cost £89.
Frontier Canada offers tailor-made trips to snowbound retreats such as the Inn on the Lakeoutside Whitehorse, with every chance of spotting the aurora. A seven-night package via Vancouver costs from £1,775 including flights, transfers, all meals and activities.
Fairbanks is a city of aurora-watchers and its university posts useful aurora forecasts.Alaska Tours.com arranges trips to viewing points such as Bettles Lodge. A five-day package costs from £720 including two nights in Fairbanks, two at Bettles Lodge, transfers, taxes, hire of winter gear and most meals. KLM has flights to Fairbanks via Seattle from £434 return. Prices are per person for travel in February 2009, flying from London.
Six tips for seeing the Northern Lights
- Go for several days; if the aurora appears, there is a good chance it will be seen on subsequent days.
- Get away from urban areas – ships, wilderness lodges and remote camps are good locations.
- September to October and February to March are good months for aurora spotting. The optimum time to visit will depend on local conditions; telephone ahead for advice and consult a lunar calendar to find darker nights.
- Ice hotels look their best at the start of the season. At busy times, book activities in advance.
- Wrap up, but don’t buy lots of kit – many hotels will provide or rent it.
- Read up beforehand to get the most out of the experience. Aurora: The Mysterious Northern Lights by Candace Savage (Firefly, £10.15 ) is a superb introduction; The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago (Penguin, £6.99) tells the life story of Kristian Birkeland; Lapland (Bradt, £13.99) is a useful guide to Arctic Scandinavia.