After the UK, I flew up to Tromso, in the north of Norway. Tromso lies just inside the Arctic Circle and is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. But you’re still not guaranteed to see the lights – it depends on the sun’s activity and most importantly the weather. The first couple of days I was there it was cloudy, so there was no sign of lights.
In the mean time, I went dogsledding, which was so much fun. The kennels were about 30 minutes from Tromso and they had just under 100 dogs there. We changed into heavy parkas and boots then went to meet the dogs. The dogs all looked very happy and were excited to be chosen to go for a run. We got basic instructions on how to drive the sled.
The dogs are following a track, so they know which way to go, but when you’re going around corners it is important to lean to one side so the sled doesn’t tip over. You also want to step on the brake when you’re going downhill or when you’re about to cross over a creek (as we did a couple of times). Another tourist and I shared one sled pulled by five dogs. We took it in turns to drive. Going uphill sometimes you had to step off the rails and push with your feet to make it easier for the dogs.
The weather was beautiful, as was the countryside, with all the snow.
I thought the dogs were supposed to know which way to go.
One of the dogs on the sled behind me was so happy and fond of leaping into the air.
Near the end of the run we changed drivers again and my fellow driver fell off the back of the sled. He fell into the snow and was okay. I was a bit concerned at being in a driverless sled, but the dogs knew which way to go and they brought me to the end of the track.
The forecast for that night was for clear skies, so I joined a northern lights chase tour. You get in a minibus and they drive you out of town, looking for the best location to see the lights. When we got to the first stop, it was almost completely covered by cloud. The guide said the weather can change quickly and not to give up hope. We drove up a mountain, but the skies were covered by cloud as well. He checked with some of the other tours running in other places on the island and they were just seeing clouds as well. We moved on again to a location by the beach. The guide said it was a good place to wait. An hour passed and the clouds started to clear and we saw some stars. The clouds cleared away and the sky filled with streaks of pale green light. Then half the sky lit up with swirls of green.
It was one place where my camera wasn’t good enough to capture anything. The guide took the photos below. The lights didn’t appear as bright to the naked eye, as the guide used a long exposure time (13 seconds) to capture the lights.
There was a couple from Hong Kong that had been trying to see the lights for the previous 5 nights without success. It was their last night in Tromso and when the lights came out, the woman started sobbing with joy. There was also a Brazilian couple on the tour and they weren’t used to the cold. They spent most of the night in the bus.