Planning a trip just to see the Northern Lights can either mean an incredible experience – or a big disappointment if you fail to catch a glimpse.
Luckily, a new tour is designed to increase your chances, since you'll be able to chase the Northern Lights 24-hours a day. Off the Map Travel’s new All Day Aurora tour takes place in Svalbard, Norway – a far-northern archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. Come summer, the islands are famous for the “midnight sun”, when the sun shines 24 hours a day. But that also means that in the wintertime, the skies remain dark all day. The new tour will capitalise on this darkness, as it means the lights can be seen at any hour of the day.
“As the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon they are never guaranteed. To have the best chance of seeing them you need clear, dark skies and you will more than double your chances of getting just that when the sun never rises,” says Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel, in a statement.
The new tour will be available from November to late January, in the period when the sun will not rise above the horizon. But if you’re worried about surviving even a short period in such a harsh environment, you won’t be totally roughing it. Guests will stay in Funken Lodge, a newly-renovated luxury hotel in Longyearbyen. According to Visit Norway, Svalbard’s temperatures are also relatively mild for how far north it is, with an average temperature of -14 C in the wintertime.
Beyond just increasing their chances of seeing the lights, the experience of travelling to Svalbard will be an incredible journey. During the winter, the island is a snow-covered arctic tundra that is home to polar bears, reindeer and arctic foxes.
While tours can be customised, a four-day, three-night Aurora All Day itinerary costs from £1249 (US$1647) per-person, not including flights. The tour does include transfers, nights at the lodge, and activities that include dog-sledding, a snow-shoe and ice cave tour, a Northern Lights dinner, and a Snowcat Northern Lights adventure. Travellers who want to get to Svalbard can fly – it takes about three hours from Oslo and around two from Tromsø.