Our Northern lights chase

8th Nov 2019

Our Northern lights Chase

Photo of Our Northern lights chase by SouthIndianNomads

Never thought a day would arrive when we would experience magic. There it was, the sight we dreamt of. The magic called Aurora borealis. Of course, there is an explanation of why it happens in science but it felt nothing less of a magic.

Planning :

The comfort of your travel is always dependent on the planning that goes behind it. The more research, the better. We started with reading different blogs, checking flight tickets, noting down expenses and reading reviews. We could at last come up with an itinerary that we both were happy with.

Considering our joint leave calendar we had no option but to travel in November and since November is a good time to witness Northern lights we went ahead. The first thing we had to do was SHOP. As the temperature would be at sub-zero level in Norway, we had to do our winter shopping. Right from woollen socks to heavy jackets we had to buy them all. Decathlon was our saviour. We bought skull cap, neck warmer, thermals, gloves, jackets and shoes. All these were custom made to tolerate the temperatures at Norway.

Day 1: Chennai – Oslo

We boarded the flight in Chennai and reached Oslo via Dubai. The moment our flight landed in Oslo, we had to gear up with warmers. It was snowing and there was significant drop in temperature. We were lucky to experience snow at Norway in November. The last it happened was 40 years ago. We took a train from airport station to Oslo city. Our Airbnb was 10 minutes’ walk away. We were freezing and that 10-minute walk felt like an hour. Indian food is not easily found in Norway apart from Oslo. We took our chance of having Indian food at a nearby Punjabi restaurant – Punjab Tandoori. We were surprised to find many Norwegian people enjoying Indian food. We had yummy Punjabi food, took a stroll at a park opp. our Airbnb and rested for the day.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 1/8 by SouthIndianNomads

Day 2 : Oslo - Myrdal - Flam

The reason we opted for Airbnb was that we could cook. Both of us are vegetarians and its tough to find veg restaurants in Norway. Thanks to MTR – ready to cook items, our breakfast was sorted. We walked down the streets of Oslo and visited the Opera house (known for its architecture representing a galcier). Later in the evening we took a train to Myrdal.

The train journey to Myrdal was breath-taking with amazing views and scenic landscapes. It felt like we were sitting against the backdrop of a pencil sketch. No wonder Bergen railway is voted the best train route in the world. We had to take another train from Myrdal to Flam. We could see a lot of frozen waterfalls. This train journey would have been better in summer. We reached Flam by night.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 2/8 by SouthIndianNomads
Bergen Railway

Day 3 : Flam – Gudvangen – Voss – Bergen

It was pitch dark the night we arrived in Flam. We woke up to find out that we were in a peaceful valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. We walked along a flowing river ‘Flamselvi’ to reach Fjord cruise station.

The cruise journey to Gudvangen is inscribed on the UNESCO’s world heritage list. The cruise sails on the narrow inlet of sea with steep mountains on both the sides. This must be on the bucket list of every traveller who visits Norway. This journey is ineffable and one must experience it. Towards the end of the journey the water has frozen and our cruise was literally piercing through the ice. It was quite a sight to watch. Gudvangen reminded us of the passage in the movie Narnia. We had a chance to warm ourselves at Gudvangen along with locals at a campfire.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 3/8 by SouthIndianNomads
Fjord Cruise

We then boarded a bus to Voss. On our way we could see sunlight for the very first time since we landed in Norway. We took a walk around Voss central later boarded train to Bergen.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 4/8 by SouthIndianNomads
An evening at Voss

Day 4 : Bergen

Bergen is second largest city in Norway with colourful architecture. We started our day with funicular ride to get the bird’s eye view of Bergen. Sometimes the best view comes with an easy ride too. We visited Bryggen – it’s a UNESCO world heritage centre known for the colourful houses. We ended our day with a walk around Bergen city.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 5/8 by SouthIndianNomads
UNESCO herigate site - Bryggen

Day 5: Bergen - Tromso

We took an early morning flight to Tromso from Bergen airport. The ice capped mountains beamed in gold with the first rays of sun touching them. The view gave us winter wonderland feels. As we traveled further up north, the temperature dipped to negative. We stayed indoors as our body took sometime to cope with it.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 6/8 by SouthIndianNomads
Flight journey to Tromso

We booked 2 days back to back northern lights trip from Arctic Explorers. We were a group of 10 people from different parts of the world led by a French guide. Suited up in a thermal expedition suit and warm winter shoes (provided by the tour agency), we set off to our exciting chase in a tempo traveller provisioned with a heater. We knew we were in for an adventure.

The tour guide has taken us to a exotic spot away from the city lights enclosed by mountains. It was cold beyond tolerance that warm thermal suits couldn’t help us from freezing. A hot meal around a small campfire relieved us a bit. We waited for almost 4 hours but to our disappointment the sky was covered by clouds.

Day 6 : Tromso

We got up in the morning and took a cable car to visit top of a mountain in Tromso to get best view of city. Later we were ready to try our luck on day 2 of chasing Northern lights. We had the same group and same guide but we headed to a different location as per the suggestions in the forecast app. The guide claimed to be one of the very few people who knew this spot.

It was on a shore of a sea surrounded by mountains painted in white. We could feel the stage was being set for us to witness a magic as the sky was clear with full of stars. The show started with shooting stars and all of us wished for northern lights. Meanwhile, we had dinner and warmed ourselves with campfire. We were engrossed in our conversation and all of sudden our guide has witnessed a ray of light in his camera. Although there was nothing to see with naked eye, we waited with all our eyes glued to the sky. In a matter of seconds, we could see the magical aurora borealis dancing in all her glory. The wonder that nature is, we were left speechless at this spell bounding sight. We quickly took turns in capturing one of the best moments of our lives. It lasted for a span of 15 minutes but it was worth all the wait and more.

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 7/8 by SouthIndianNomads
Aurora Borealis

As dreamy as it (Chasing northern lights) sounds, there is a gloomy uncertainty added to this chase. But that’s what makes it more exciting and special and we were fortunate enough to witness it on our last day of trip. With heavy but content heart, the next day we boarded our flight to India via Oslo and Dubai.

Tips :

Carry as less casuals as possible but carry winter clothes for sure

Book minimum 2 to 3 days of trip for chasing northern lights

Expenses in INR:

Photo of Our Northern lights chase 8/8 by SouthIndianNomads
Day 1