Guide to Tromsø (Honeymoon: Day 5, Part II)

We booked the Northern Lights Minibus chase by Chasing Lights for two nights. It costs NOK 1800/pax for the first night, NOK 1700/pax for the second night, and NOK 1500/pax for subsequent nights. We read that it’s better to book at least two nights of the chasing lights tour because if we aren’t lucky on the first night, the second night would serve as the back-up. We highly recommend the tour as we all had such a great experience. The guides were professional and if you need any help with your camera settings, they would gladly assist. Thermal suits and boots were provided, they were awesome against the cold (much better than the ones we brought along). If you still need more convincing, hot meals, snacks (marshmallows + cookies), hot chocolate and campfire experience are included. In addition, all digital photos taken by the guides would be sent to us (the guides were real pros at taking pictures of the auroras), and they even provided us with a description of places we had been to.

Northern lights or aurora borealis is a mesmerising light display caused by the collision of electrically charged particles from the sun. They are typically found at the extreme poles of Earth (Northern and Southern poles) as the electrically-charged particles are driven there by the Earth’s magnetic field. The varying colours of the Northern Lights would depend on the gases in the atmosphere, as well as the amount of aurora activity.

After a brief introduction on the science behind the magical northern lights by our Handsome tour guide – Jonas, the minibus drove on for about 1 – 1.5 hour drive away from Tromsø, far away from light pollution in order for our eyes to catch a glimpse the aurora borealis. We reached a place called Skibotn, one of the most popular place for aurora hunters in the Tromsø region due to its unusually dry microclimate (less clouds = higher chances of seeing the green lady). It was one of the rare chances where I get to see SO MANY STARS. The light pollution in Singapore is real.

When we got out of the minivan, Jonas immediately pointed out some aurora activity going on in the sky.  While our eyes couldn’t really make out much in the dark, the husband’s camera was able to capture some of the famed northern lights.

Disclaimer: Our eyes usually can’t really make out the colours of the northern lights (unlike the cameras).  This is because we have two different kinds of cells in our eyes to sense light. Cone cells are high resolution and detect color in bright light, and are the main cells we use for vision in the daytime. Rod cells, on the other hand, can detect much fainter light at night, but only see in black and white and shades of gray.  So don’t be too disappointed if you only manage to spot faint, ghostly white figures moving across the sky – they are indeed the northern lights.

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It was extremely cold and windy but the weather conditions seemed to add on to the romantic notion, the once in a lifetime experience. It could only get better from here.

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The flare on the right is caused by the headlights of a heavy truck.
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Photo taken by Jonas – our tour guide from Chasing Lights

The chill crept into our shoes and numbed our toes. We asked the guide for the thermal suits and he kindly helped us got dressed in them. Wearing the thermal suits did make us feel more chunky but at least it kept us snug and warm.

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When was the last time you had outdoor camping and be rewarded with such a view? (Credits: Chasing Lights)

The campfire was set up using birch wood, and Jonas explained to us that birch trees can be commonly found in Norway. Birch burns very well because of the oils it contains. We were truly appreciative of that fact as the fire provided brief reprieve from the cold. We had beef stew and hot chocolate, made all the more tastier due to the chilly weather. Little did we know that just moments after we are done with dinner, the green lady decided to show up and we were treated to an amazing show.

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Credits: Chasing Lights
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Credits: Chasing Lights
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Credits: Chasing Lights
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Credits: Chasing Lights
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The swirly ethereal light (Credits: Chasing Lights)

The husband managed to capture more great pictures too!

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I wondered what could there be behind the mountain

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It was near 3 am by the time we reached our AirBnb. We went to bed with the out-of-the-world experience still lingering in our minds…

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