Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the “Northern Lights” is one of the most breathtaking spectacles of Mother Nature. This divine glow, accompanied by pulsating stripes, graces the dark nights of the countries in the Scandinavian region as well as parts of Alaska, Canada and Russia, mainly in winters.
It is a craze among travelers across the globe to have a glimpse of this rare phenomenon, but this awe-inspiring sight is as fickle as it can be. You need a real piece of luck and proper planning, more than anything else, to be able to get a glimpse of this celestial wonder.
How to plan and maximize your chances for this? Do not worry; the below-mentioned tips will help you out.
Where to go?
You can choose from many Northern Lights destinations available in the Arctic Circle as well as in the Scandinavian countries. It is imperative to make your choice based on your budget, accessibility and your interest (what you expect from the location, apart from the northern lights). Also, you will find some places with higher chances of witnessing the Northern Lights but you may need to cover the transportation costs out there.
It is a widely accepted fact that Finland, Iceland and Norway are the best three Northern Lights destinations. Finland is the cheapest and the most affordable among these three as Euro is used as the official currency. Iceland will be a touch heavier on your pocket but it is much easier to take a flightthere. You can drive around Iceland on your own comfortably, without the need of a guide.
Timing of visit
After you have chosen your destination, the next important part of your planning should be to decide on the most appropriate time to visit. Though the Northern Lights is a year-round phenomenon, it can beseen mostly in dark nights and is best visible on those long nights from September to April. Lady luck should smile on you, to give you a glimpse of the Aurora as it does not appear on some days even when there is a clear sky.
Hence, we would recommend that you plan your trip to stay at a location for a minimum of 3 to 4 nights. The longer your stay at any of these locations, the higher chance you will stand to see the aurora.
Also, one good idea is to plan your Northern Lights holiday to club it with other tours and activities. Explore other wonderful activities that the country has to offer and have an amazing time so that you do not feel disappointed, even if you do not get to see the lights.
When to book?
It is imperative that you book your flights a good 60 to 80 days prior to your scheduled departure. This will save you some money even if you have chosen the prime season to tour your Northern Lights destination, as you are more likely to strike a good deal. But if saving costs is not on your agenda, you may very well consider a last minute booking. You will end up paying more, but you may stay closer to last-minute predictions about the appearance of the lights and time your trip accordingly.
Where to stay?
You should have less light pollution to have a great view of the lights. Hence, more remote your location is the better.
Keep an eye on the forecast
Keep an eye on the Northern Lights forecast. You need to hit on the days when there is no or negligible cloud coverage. You will have a wonderful view of the lights if the sky is clear enough.
Counter the winter
Needless to say, you have to plan to counter the winter when you are wandering around the Arctic. Take good quality thermals and footwear with you.
Mode of travel
The road conditions in some of the locations may be really dangerous or difficult, because of the winter. Most people opt for a self-drive around the country side when they go on hunting for the Northern Lights. Snow, slippery roads and blizzards may add to your worries.
Alternate modes of transport such as super jeep and bus tours are also available readily.