The Arctic winter (Oct-Mar) means not only the best time to go northern lights-hunting, but also exploring wild seas, tundra and boreal forests, whale-watching, Arctic bushcraft and more...
Northern Lights (Dreamstime)
Expert-led lectures and dark Norwegian skies form the backdrop for ‘guaranteed’ aurora-spotting on Hurtigruten’s Astronomy Voyage cruise. Pit stops include the spectacular Northern Cape and one of the world’s most northerly towns (Hammerfest) en route to and from turning point Kirkenes.
Indeed, the tour operator is so confident that you’ll see the lights on this 12-day cruise, they promise free trips to those who don’t see them.
When: 21 Mar, 16 Oct, 7 & 13 Nov 2017
How long: 12 days
How much: From £1,420 (excl flights)
Ski Kings Trail in Sweden (Keadventure.com)
Have an aurora adventure on KE Adventure’s Inside the Arctic Circle – Skiing the Kings Trail trip. Follow the route that stretches between Abisko NP and Kebnekaise Mountain (skiing about 15km a day), with the former’s sky station and pitch black nights ideal for seeing the lights.
The route demands basic-to-intermediate skiing ability and decent fitness, but the wild valleys and panoramic views en route are more than reward.
Who: KE Adventure
When: 17 Feb, 3 Mar & 10 Mar 2017
How long: 9 days
How much: From £1,975 (incl flights)
Northern Lights in Alaska
Intrepid Travel’s Alaska Northern Lights tour mingles aurora-hunting with wild encounters.
Explore taiga forest in wild Denali NP before hitting Fairbanks to wander with reindeer at a ranch near the base of Moose Mountain, learning about the animals and their habitat.
Who: Intrepid Travel
When: 8 Feb & 4 Mar 2017
How long: 8 days
How much: From £2,045 (excl flights)
Set sail from Tromsø on Wildfoot Travel’s Whale Safari & Northern Lights trip. Spy orca and humpback whales in the frozen waters north of Norway, then trek tiny Sommarøy island, with front row seats to the finest celestial ballet on Earth.
Who: Wildfoot Travel
When: Selected dates from Oct–Nov 2017
How long: 8 days
How much: From £1,672 (excl fl ights)
Igloos view from air Kakslauttanen (Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort)
Range across vast frozen forest and fells on Cox & Kings’ Finnish Lapland and the Northern Lights trip.
Explore via dog-sled or reindeer-pulled sleigh, then bed down in either snow or glass igloos – the latter allowing you to witness the aurora ripple across the sky through your roof, which sounds pretty cosy.
Who: Cox & Kings
When: Private tours can be arranged between 1 Dec 2016 and 31 Mar 2017
How long: 4 days
How much:From £1,595 (incl flights)
Aurora (Arctic Range Adventure)
The Yukon is frontier country: a Gold Rush relic and front row place for photographing the northern lights on The Aurora Zone’s Aurora Hunters of the Yukon trip.
Head deep into the hills to scout vantage points and learn how to shoot at night, then head back to explore Gold Rush towns by day.
Who: The Aurora Zone
When: Selected dates from 1 Jan–8 Apr ’17
How long: 7 nights
How much: From £2,240 (excl international flights)
Herd of reindeer (Sapminature.com)
Sleep in lavvu tents, explore the history of the area and master your bushcraft skills, before heading to a mountain lodge to soak up pitch black skies and the aurora.
Who: Discover the World
When: Selected dates from Dec ’16–Mar ’17
How long: 5 nights
How much: From £1,614 (incl flights)
Glacier lagoon in Iceland, Jokulsarlon
Drive the sights of southern Iceland on Taber Holidays’ Hotel Rangá and the Northern Lights trip, cresting the Golden Circle.
The real treat, though, is your hotel, where its retractable roof and observatory mean you can watch the lights through Iceland’s most advanced telescope.
Who: Taber Holidays
When: Daily, until 31 Mar 2017
How long: 4 days
How much: From £999 (excl flights)
Polar Bear in Canada (G Adventures; Bela Baliko)
Strike out into Canada’s northern tundra on Grand American Adventures’ Churchill Polar Bear Experience.
Stalk boreal forest along the Hudson Bay in search of Arctic foxes and polar bears, then visit Cape Merry, where bears that have wandered into town are ‘jailed’ until release. Try your hand at dog-sledding, then strike out across frozen land to spy the aurora.
When: Selected dates from 10 Oct–14 Nov ’17
How long: 6 days
How much: From £3,239 (excl flights)
Main image: Arctic coast (Urjan Bertelsen)
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