Travel

Spectacular auroras

Michelle LePage goes north for a better view of spectacular auroras
  • Feb 28, 2013
  • 706 words
  • 3 minutes
Aurora Village in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, invites guests to take in the view of the northern lights from heated lounge chairs Expand Image
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Bundling up in layers of warm clothing, travelling into the northern wilderness at midnight and staring at the sky while your toes numb from the cold doesn’t sound like much of a vacation — until the spectacular show of green and red light dancing soundlessly in the dark sky appears. The weeks surrounding the spring equinox are some of the best times to spot the aurora borealis, but since nobody can guarantee a sighting of the unpredictable display, we’ve compiled a list of tours that offer more than your standard viewing experience. Aurora or not, these trips in Canada and beyond will light up your time in some of the world’s best northern destinations.

Yukon Winter Dream/Active Winter Adventure Tour, Whitehorse
Arctic Range Adventure’s outings include four nights accommodation, sightseeing flights, dog sledding, snowmobiling, wildlife viewing, a trip to Takhini Hot Springs and, of course, aurora viewing. Five days; $1,645/person; four to nine people.

Moraine Point Lodge and Wilderness Retreat, Moraine Point, N.W.T.
Take a charter flight from Yellowknife to Moraine Point on the western shore of Great Slave Lake in the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary. Visitors stay in a solar- and wind-powered lodge with spectacular aurora viewing over the massive frozen lake. Cross-country skiing, dog sledding and wildlife viewing can all be part of your customized itinerary.

Aurora Hunting, Yellowknife
Try your luck aurora hunting with North Star Adventures, an aboriginal-owned tour company that boasts “50,000 years of experience.” A Dene guide will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to prime northern lights viewing spots while sharing stories and legends about the aurora. 3½ hours; $75/person; two to seven people.

Aurora Village, Yellowknife
With a name like Aurora Village, you know it’s the place to see the northern lights, especially since the experience includes heated outdoor seats. Hot beverages and late-night snacks help keep you warm at night while dog sledding, snowmobiling and tubing keep you active during the day. 3–3½ hours; $120/person.

Aurora Packages, Blachford Lake, N.W.T.
Aurora watch like a royal at Blachford Lake Lodge, one of the stops on Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s 2011 Canadian tour. Packages include return air charter from Yellowknife, cabin or lodge accommodation, northern lights viewing and photography lessons and cross-country skiing (on your own or with a guide). Two to seven nights; from $1,225/person.

Alta-Can Aurora Tours, Fort McMurray, Alta.
With three nights of aurora spotting at a private site a short drive from your hotel, this northern Alberta tour offers an excellent chance of seeing the northern lights. Additional activities include a learning session with an astronomer, snow tubing, dream-catcher making and curling — it’s hard to get any more Canadian than that. Four days; rates vary.

Lake Athapapuskow, Man.
Located about 700 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, the Great Canadian Adventure Company’s lodge is the largest winter lodge in Manitoba. A three-level deck and outdoor hot tub make this lakeside perch the perfect place for catching a glimpse of the aurora. Four to six days; from $530/person.

Northern Lights Activity Tour, Fairbanks, Alaska
With Fairbanks — Alaska’s second- largest city and the gateway to the state’s interior — as your base, you’ll travel the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle and then go to the Chena Hot Springs to soak in the geothermal wonder while watching the northern lights. Three nights; from US$520/person.

Next Door to Nature — Northern Lights City Break, Reykjavik, Iceland
Start with an excursion to Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, then take a guided tour of Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir geothermal area before searching for the northern lights on a guided coach tour. Four days; from US$545/person; minimum two people.

Northern Lights Cruise, Tromso, Norway
Looking for a unique way to see the lights? Try land and sea. Authentic Scandinavia’s tour combines two nights in Tromso, located above the Arctic Circle, and a three-night cruise during which you can watch the northern lights far from any light pollution. Six days; from 839 euros/ person.

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