Thursday, January 10, 2013

Norway, Disappointing Northern Lights Tour


After finishing an enjoyable dinner at Presis, I take a leisurely walk to the Rica Ishavshotel the pick up location for an evening tour of the Northern Lights. I have mixed expectations of seeing the lights as the other guests at Home Sleep after being out the previous two nights with different companies did not have any spectacular sightings.


NO Tromso Day 1 020Although the skies have been clear during the day (twilight), recently they have become cloudy at night due to the unusually warm weather this time of the year for Tromso.




As this is an outing that depends on the ever changing ways of Mother Nature, most if not all of the tour companies offer “to chase for the lights” with some even suggesting you bring your passport in case the chase takes you into Finland.

At about 7pm I am picked up along with others from the lobby of the Rica to join Tromso Friluftsenter Northern Lights Chase With Lavvu Visit. We are driven in a mini-van about thirty minutes outside of Tromso to meet our guide for the evening.

At first it is a bit exciting as we are led into a replica Lavvu with a warm welcoming fire. We are told a little about the Sami people and culture along with some interesting things about reindeer. The ones here that pull sleighs are neutered to prevent problems with the females while working. Poor Rudolph.

Next we take a short walk to a beach area to attempt to listen for whales in the bay. I can already sense this is not going to be a good night for seeing the Northern Lights when our guide has us out listening for whales. To his credit it is a nice distraction from the cloudy skies which show no signs of clearing anytime soon.

Back in then Lavvu we are offered more hot beverages and pieces of chocolate cake from a Tupperware container. Our guide seems less than optimistic that we will see any lights here and offers for us to be taken to another location although he does mention having to pick someone up at the airport by midnight.

In signing up for the tour I knew it was advertised for four hours but when our guide has a prearranged outing then I know there is not going to be much of “a chase of the lights”. He does offer to have his girlfriend run around with a flashlight if we don't see any official Northern Lights which I think would be quite amusing.

We leave our location and join up with the guide at a gas station where he has left his car then head up to a mountain area. Here the clouds seem even thicker as we move around along a mountain road trying to keep warm. Eventually I give up and return to the less cold warmth of the mini-van.

With everyone back on board the best part of the evening comes when I am offered a warm drink by one of the passengers and told not to ask any questions just drink it. Now there's someone that came prepared to have a good time no matter what.

At 720NOK about US$130, I am more disappointed in the way Tromso Friluftsenter ran the tour than I was in not actually seeing the Northern Lights. I think a little more head work would have given us a better chance of see the lights. Going from one cloudy location to another in my book is hardly considered chasing. I would have preferred to see the guide's girlfriend running around with a flashlight.

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