Chasing the Northern Lights in Tromsø

Image by Meda, Chasing Lights

Once I saw the northern lights I was never the same. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Some people can’t get enough of it. Like our guide Jonas, who came from Sweden to work in Tromsø, Norway. He’s working for the second winter chasing and photographing the northern lights. Or our guide Meda who came all the way from Latvia in search of adventure. Both were as excited as we were to see the northern lights that night.

The minibus picked us up at the hotel around 17h. After everyone was on board, we started driving west from Tromsø to the north part of Kvaløya. During the 30 min drive, Jonas and Meda explained a few things about the northern lights. They asked us to be patient. The Northern Lights take their time, and it’s different every night. It can’t be predicted. The only thing we can hope for is clear skies. And that we had my friends! For the last couple of days, the skies were ridiculously clear. And that night was the same. We could see all the stars in the sky.

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We stopped at a beach in Kvaløya and waited. Meda and Jonas helped everyone to set up the tripods and cameras. They had overalls, boots, and gloves at the back of the minibus in case anyone needed. The temperature was around -10°C with no winds, which is pretty pleasant for a winter night in the Arctic.

To make things more fun, we played with light painting to pass the time. We stayed there for 40 min but still no sign of northern lights, so we moved on to another location. We went north to Dåfjord, Ringvassøya. After a one hour drive, we stopped by the fjord. We enjoyed some hot chocolate and biscuits while our driver prepared a bonfire. We laid some reindeer skins on the ground, sat, and waited.

And then the magic happened. In the beginning, the Northern Lights were a bit shy. It started as a little green line in the north. But it grew bolder and stronger until it filled the sky. And then, when everyone thought it couldn’t get any better, it started to dance. We were mesmerized.

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The lights came and gone as they pleased all night. Every time it went away we waited anxiously for it to come back. We enjoyed its company until around 2 AM. It was quite a show. But as suddenly as it came, it went away. We were all tired and cold but sure we were happy. It was almost 3 AM when we decided to pack and head back to Tromsø. On the way back, Jonas kept his eyes in the sky, ready to jump off the bus at first sight of the northern lights reappearance.

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On the next morning, we received by email all these amazing pictures Jonas and Meda took. I am very glad for that night. I’m sure I will never forget.

We booked the same tour on the night before we left Tromsø. But this time we saw nothing but clouds. We drove all night, all the way to Finland. To make things worse the temperature was around -20°C, which is a bit too cold for me. I guess I can’t get lucky every time.

I booked the tour with the Chasing Lights, which is the best-rated tour company in Tromsø. I arranged a 2-night package to maximize my chances to see the northern lights. Sure you can rent a car and drive on your own looking for the aurora. But going on a tour increases your chances to see something and can be way more fun.

First of all, the guides from all companies communicate with each other all night. The first to spot the northern lights tell the others. Secondly, the guides know the best spots for pictures. They are great photographers, and they will take amazing pictures of you with the northern lights in the background. You don’t have to worry about a thing. If you are an amateur photography like me and need some tips to take that perfect shot, the guides can help you set up your camera. They also bring some extra tripods for anyone who need. Last but not least, they bring hot soup, biscuits, tea, and marshmallows to roast over the fire!


Also published on Medium.

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