Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the cancellation policy due to unfavourable weather conditions?

1. What is the cancellation policy due to unfavourable weather conditions?

Each northern lights tour is a unique experience with different weather conditions and a varying northern lights’ activity.

In our experience during the majority of tours, we need to search for areas with good weather conditions and perhaps in half of them, we will be driving for more than 1.5 hours inland in the direction of the Finnish border in order to reach an area with convenient weather.

Therefore, we can say that the weather is one of the key factors of a successful northern lights tour. During the northern lights’ season, approximately one third of the time the weather conditions around Tromsø are good. However, the weather around Tromsø can change rapidly, within only a few hours. This means that in order for us to decide whether to proceed with the tour or to offer you a cancellation instead, we will often need to wait until the very last moment before a planned departure.

Based on our experience from the past seasons, we have established what we believe to be a fair and reasonable refund policy:

1. For cancellation 14 or more days prior to your booked date, you will get a full-price refund.

2. If just before the tour the weather forecast shows no possibility of finding any clear sky within the tour area, that is not even offering a possibility of a partly clear sky, we will usually offer our customers the cancellation of the tour with a full refund.

In case of available seats for the next day tour, we are happy to offer the available seats to our customers. However, this is not always possible, because the tour(s) for the following day(s) may already be fully booked. In such case you can either get a full refund of your money or you can choose to go on tour in spite of the difficult weather conditions.

Please always bear in mind that the weather forecast is only a prediction. It can occasionally cause us to miss moments of the northern lights appearing in the sky as the forecast made it seem unlikely. Available information about the current weather forecast before every tour is a key element in our effort for a trusting relationship with our customers.

In case we have four or more participants who want to go on the tour despite the bad weather conditions, we will usually proceed with the tour. There is always a limited possibility of success and we have seen beautiful northern lights during certain nights with an initial bad weather forecast. This is the beauty of the nature and a potential of an amazing reward in the form of seeing the northern lights is always there if we do not give up at the very last minute of our tour. However, the chances of this experience in bad weather are still relatively small and therefore we cannot take upon ourselves the responsibility of guaranteering the customers that they will see the northern lights. We reserve the right to not proceed with the tour in case of unfavourable weather conditions that could be dangerous both to our clients and guides.

3. What if the weather forecast was wrong and despite the promising weather forecast from the beginning of the night, we spent all night travelling under a cloudy sky?
Unfortunately, this does happen from time to time even when we closely follow three independent weather forecast applications.
In such case we usually offer a 30% refund to the customer. This reflects the fact that our guides still work the same on those nights. This includes making ready, driving on icy and snowy roads, food and drinks preparation, helping the customers with clothing and shoes. The weather forecast is a responsibility of other institutions and we are unable to guarantee its accuracy.

Therefore, we believe that the 30% refund represents a fair deal with the customer and guarantees a fair reward for our guides as from this amount we also have to deduce additional Norwegian tax.

2. Is there a guarentee for seeing the northern lights?

2. Is there a guarentee for seeing the northern lights?

Since the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, there is no guarantee that they will be visible every night. However, we will do our best to find a spot with the best possible weather conditions within a three-hour drive from Tromsø (or 220 kilometers one way).
Please read our section on weather / cancellation policy which will provide you with detailed information about our cancellation policy and on when and what refund can be offered.

However, we kindly ask that our customers take into account the following scenario might also happen: we may go on the tour because we will have sufficiently clear sky and therefore expect seeing the northern lights. Yet on very rare occasions it might happen the northern lights will not appear, therefore we cannot guarantee seeing them. Please read our two sections on the northern lights.

We do understand that our customers would appreciate being certain of seeing beautiful northern lights on each night they booked our tour, however, we must remind them that it is not in our power to create the northern lights as this depends on nature alone.
Please be aware that the weather factor is very important also and that 50 to 70% of the night weather around Tromsø is quite challenging and that the tour requires long drives on snow and icy roads.
The tour often finishes late, meaning you might be back in your hotel room /accommodation very late at night or very early in the morning, even at 3.30 AM or so. That is because we believe that there always is a possibility of seeing the northern ligths until the very last possible moment of every night and so we use every opportunity to see them until the last moment.
Yet, we may not be lucky on some occasions. In these cases, we are unfortunately unable to offer you a free tour on the next night.

The northern lights’ journey can be a really beautiful experience but it can also be challenging. We always appreciate your trust and we will do our very best every time.

3. What is the best time of the year to observe the northern lights?

3. What is the best time of the year to observe the northern lights?

Our customers often ask us which day, week, month or time of the year is ideal for observing the northern lights.
Even after four years of experience, we are unable to offer a quick answer to this question. During all four of the previous seasons, we did not record a result that would be consistent enough to state precisely which one month specifically is the best one.

During each month from September to April we experienced some evenings with magnificent northern lights and a number of evenings with normal or average northern lights. During those same months, however, there were also some evenings with very little activity such as little and not moving northern lights and a few nights with almost zero northern lights’ activity such as the northern lights that were visible on our cameras only.

Generally, the months of September and March are considered to have better solar activity, but that doesn't mean that we have seen better displays of the northern lights then. It is a purely scientific fact, which may or may not be confirmed by our actual experience of seeing more spectacular displays of the northern lights.

Nevertheless, we have found that two evenings within the same week can bring forth very different result. This depends on stronger or weaker solar eruptions reaching the Earth's ionosphere in the form of electromagnetic plasma. For an effective experience, what is needed, is a specific magnetic reaction with the Earth's magnetic poles.

Eruptions on the Sun are predicted only two to three weeks in advance.
The northern lights above the planet Earth are happening approximately 72 hours after the Sun's eruptions, because to the electromagnetic plasma, which is a result of a major solar eruption, it takes about 72 hours to fly through the space to the Earth's ionosphere.

Since no two evenings are the same, we do recommend customers book two northern lights tours, so as to increase their chances of seeing the northern lights of greater variety and beauty.

For this reason, we offer an advantageous price for multiple bookings of two or more nights and also discounts for larger groups. In order to receive more information on our discounts and prices, please contact us via e-mail.

4. How do we see the northern lights with the naked eye as compared to the pictures taken with the camera (and its long exposure time)?

4. How do we see the northern lights with the naked eye as compared to the pictures taken with the camera (and its long exposure time)?

The northern lights is a natural phenomenon related to the strength of eruptions happening on the Sun. These eruptions are reaching the Earth approximately three days later.
Aurora applications provide estimates of aurora strength via forecast two to three weeks in advance. Yet, there is no guarantee that it all will happen as predicted.
It remains only a prediction calculated according to the expected solar eruptions.

Based on our experience, we have observed beautiful northern lights from early September until the beginning of April.

The strength of eruptions on the Sun is often a key factor for having the possibility of seeing more beautiful colours with the naked eye.

It takes one to thirty seconds for a camera to take a single picture, so during this time more colours are captured in every picture taken with our camera.

Unless we are experiencing important levels of the northern lights, something that only happens two nights a week on average, we will not be able to see the same rich (compressed) colours with the naked eye as is seen in the pictures.
Soft and medium levels of the northern lights offer the visitors a display of grey/white/greenish colours which often remind people of a grey cloud. Tiny bits of pink can be observed during short moments at the climax; however, they are only more obvious when the northern lights reach stronger levels.

Only when the northern lights are really strong or at their maximum, we would see almost the same colours with the naked eye as we see captured on camera.

Kp number.
In general, we have a better chance of seeing spectacular and well visible northern lights with Kp number 2 and higher.

However, we have also often experienced beautifully colourful northern lights with Kp 2 and lower.

If we would only rely on Kp prediction, we might miss approximately 40% of very colourful northern lights.

Even if higher Kp numbers (2 and higher) increase our chances of seeing very colourful northern lights, there is no guarantee of seeing vivid colours even with such high Kp as 5 or 6.

Strong moonlight can also take some colours away from the northern lights, but the surrounding nature and pictures will still look great.

Sometimes, the northern lights appear like slowly moving lines, at other times they move really fast and yet at other times, unless we compare two pictures, we almost don't see them move at all.
The northern lights that move fast enough so that we are able to observe them with the naked eye are not visible every night.

Therefore, based on our experience, we always recommend our clients to book at least two tours in order to increase chances of seeing beautifully colourful northern lights.

5. What to wear for the northern lights tour, how cold will it get?

5. What to wear for the northern lights tour, how cold will it get?

In order to prepare well for our ARCTIC NORTHERN LIGHTS TOUR, please read all the instructions and information below very carefully.

Between the months of September and December typical temperatures are between +5 °C (41 °F) and -10 °C (14 °F).

Between the months of January and March the temperatures are between -10 °C (14 °F) and -30 °C (86 °F).

Therefore, in order to make sure the experience of the long arctic night is comfortable for you, it is very important that you come wearing warm clothes.

The time we spend outdoors, outside the car, may vary from three up to seven hours. We will be seated on chairs covered with warm Sami reindeer skins/hides by the camp fire. However, the temperatures there will be very low meaning you will still need several layers of warm clothing to ensure enough insulation layers are protecting your body.

We will provide thermal suits and snow boots which are very helpful in protecting against the cold weather. However, several layers of warm clothing are an essential part of your own equipment. Therefore, we kindly ask you to bring them with you to your experience of the Northern Lights Tour.

How to cover your legs:
We strongly recommend that you wear two pairs of wool/polyester sweatpants, long johns or thermal underwear.
Ideally, we also recommend wearing windproof and/or waterproof hiking pants with warm filling on top of that.

Socks:
Please wear two pairs of warm hiking socks (ideally made of wool).
Wearing two warm pairs of socks is necessary to create insulated layers inside your snow boots.
Please do not wear cotton socks as they cause moisture resulting in cold feet.
If you cannot come wearing two pairs of socks in the shoes you will be wearing on your arrival, please bring with you one extra pair of socks, so you can put them on while changing into your snow boots.

Shoes:
Because of varying weather conditions we may need to drive for up to three hours before we reach our destination. From there we will observe the northern lights.
During this first part of the tour we may stop a few times (toilet stop, weather check, or quick northern lights’ observations) and it is common to have up to 30 centimeters of snow on the road and parking areas where we stop.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you bring high snow boots or very warm and if possible waterproof hiking shoes. Then, at our final stop, we will provide you with a pair of warm snow boots suited for temperatures between -40 and -100 °C (-40 and -148 °F).

Please do not wear tennis shoes, sneakers or any shoes made of soft/light material which might get wet during our first few short stops (or while changing) as your feet would get cold for the rest of the night.

Upper body:
As above, please wear two base layers. If possible, choose one thermal underwear with long sleeves.
Add one warm shirt.
Add one warm jumper (fleece or, ideally, wool).
Add hiking waterproof and windproof jacket (ideally thick down shell, or insulated).

Accessories:
For your stay in Tromsø, you will also need to bring with you a warm hat and gloves. On the tour we will offer you our mittens and hat (once we will arrive at our location for the observation of the northern lights).

Important information about your own clothing / equipment.
Once we arrive at our final location, which may be up to three hours away from Tromsø, our guide will help each client with putting on the thermal dress and snow boots. It may take up to half an hour for the guide to finish assisting everyone.
We kindly ask you to dress warmly so that while waiting for your turn to be dressed, your own clothing is sufficient to keep you warm.

Please note that we may have to make several short stops on the way to our chosen destination, which means being warmly dressed in your own clothing and equipment will be absolutely crucial for your comfort and for your enjoyable experience.
Depending on where we may need to drive, we know to expect the temperatures to be 10 to 20 °C lower than the official weather forecast for Tromsø, so please take this into account.
Usually, Tromsø has much milder/warmer temperatures than any other places further inland or than Finland f.e., where we may be travelling.
Windy weather conditions make cold temperatures feel even colder. We kindly ask that our customers take that into account during their preparation. After all, we will be visiting the Arctic, where the winds can be very strong.

We would like to thank you for the time and preparation you will dedicate to our northern lights tour. We assure you that this effort to prepare well for the tour will be worthwhile. When you come well-prepared from your hotel (accommodation), it makes a great difference and enhances your experience.

6. Your camera night photography setting - please learn a few basic steps from YouTube videos before your northern light tour.

6. Your camera night photography setting - please learn a few basic steps from YouTube videos before your northern light tour.

During each tour we take five or so pictures of you and the northern lights with our professional full frame camera. Their number will depend on the weather and on the northern lights’ activity. We understand that you would also like to take pictures with your camera, too.

There are six things about your camera you should know and learn online. It should be possible to make all these six important steps while in the Manual mode (which has a shortcut “M” on your main wheel).
There are numerous tutorials for every model on YouTube. Just write your model and its number (e.g. Canon 5D ii) with the questions below:

1. How to adjust ISO on your camera?
We wish to use ISO somewhere between 1600 and 5000.

2. How to change aperture of your camera?
This is also called an f-stop. We wish to use as low a number as possible, anything from 1.4 - 4. An even lower number is even better.

3. How to adjust the shutter speed of your camera?
We wish to be able to change it very fast, because the range of 1-30 seconds makes a very big difference as far as brightness of your pictures is concerned.

4. How to change to MF - manual focus of your camera?
Most likely you have your camera set on AF - autofocus, which isn’t recommended for the night photography.
Please follow those instructions online on how to change to and use the manual focus.
Please note that not every camera has that option, so if yours doesn’t, it is quite possible that you will not be able to use your camera during that night without artificial lights of the surrounding buildings or such lights which are unlikely to occur during our northern lights tour.

5. How to switch the live view on your camera?
We always wish to see everything on your screen, not to be reduced to looking into the small viewfinder.

6. Digital magnifying. How it works?
This is for not zooming / turning with lens itself. For the northern lights photography we wish to use almost always the widest open lens e.g. 20milimeters, so we don't want to use the zoom on your lens, or the picture will be much smaller.
Most of tthe time we wish to focus on stars or house lights which are very far and we may need to magnify the view digitally (or crop it, in other words). If your camera allows this feature, you can snap nice and sharp images.

Do practice all these functions at home and outside of home at night.
Please remember that in order to achieve good and sharp pictures, you will need to use a camera tripod or place your camera on some firm support such as the ground, table, chair, etc.

Please learn also how to use the shutter delay (2 seconds, or 10 seconds for a selfie) as it is another very practical and important feature for the northern lights’ photography.
Also check the use of the remote control, which is even more practical.

We will take pictures of you and the northern lights with our camera, but if you are interested in photography, please learn all those steps and above-mentioned functions beforehand.