Watching the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis is on many people’s bucket lists. It’s a unique natural phenomenon. It happens due to the collision between electrically charged particles from the sun with the neutral atoms in the earth’s atmosphere. Watching the majestic Aurora looks like nature is painting the sky with exuberant colors like green, pink, violet, and yellow. Occasionally you can see orange, white, red, and blue too.
The best time to see the Northern Lights is from late September to March. There are better chances of seeing it in a place with less or no light pollution. Norway is one of the best countries to experience the Aurora. This Scandinavian country offers breathtaking views and many places to choose from where you can see the lights. The Lofoten islands, Hammerfest, Narvik, Svalbard, Tromsø are great places to go for watching the Aurora.
I remember looking outside my window on cold winter nights to see the Aurora without much luck! On a random winter day, I booked tickets from Oslo to Tromsø to make my dream come true. 350 km north of the Arctic circle, Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway. In the days preceding my trip, I hoped and prayed with all my heart to watch the Northern lights.
I finally reached Tromsø. Christmas was just around the corner, the city beautifully lit. Among all the glimmer and glamour, I wondered if I would be able to see the Aurora this time. Well, what I saw was far beyond my imagination. The whole experience was truly magical and to be cherished for a lifetime.
So how did I chase the Northern lights?
I took a local tour of the Aurora hunt with eight other people. We drove to the whale island called Kvaløya. It was far from the city lights and had a clear, starlit sky, which is the perfect condition for viewing the Aurora. It was cold, and after making a bonfire, we waited to witness the most spectacular light show offered by nature.
I had heard stories about people having to wait for many hours in the cold before they could see the Aurora. Our guide also told us they sometimes drive tourists to the Finnish borders, where the weather conditions might be completely different and better than in Tromsø. It would mean staying awake the whole night as the drive both ways would take several hours, he said. Although I was ready to go to that extreme to see the Aurora, I was hoping not to. Fortunately, after about one or two hours, we started seeing the magical lights. It was unbelievable. We mostly saw green, yellow, violet, and a little bit of red (which is quite rare to see).
Nature has so many wonders which leave me awestruck. I can never forget the splendor and beauty of that starlit sky with the Northern Lights dancing above us and hundreds of shooting stars to add to its glory.
The lights were so magnificent that I wished to watch them all night. However, it was too cold (-15 degrees Celsius) to stay outside all night. On our way back, we saw a full moon with the Aurora in the backdrop. It was as if the Aurora was paying tribute to the moon, the countless stars for shining with all their strength and grandeur.
This experience was yet another testimonial that when you want something with all your heart, the entire universe conspires to help you achieve it. So believe in your dreams. :)
Other things to do in Tromsø
During my stay in Tromsø, I also went for a Reindeer sledding trip with the Samis who owned the Reindeer. Samis are the indigenous people of Scandinavia inhabiting the Arctic regions and are very warm-hearted. I was amazed to see how proud they were of their heritage. They were also so eager to share their culture with us. I requested one of the Samis to Joik (a Norwegian friend had introduced it to me), and he was very kind to do so. Joik is a traditional song deeply personal to the Samis and often dedicated to a friend, an animal, or a mountain. Here’s the link to one of the joiks I like listening to.
Have you witnessed the Aurora or other such amazing natural wonders? Do share with me in your comments below.