Experienced Northern Lights holiday company, The Aurora Zone, advises travellers to book now to avoid disappointment for what it predicts will be its busiest winter yet…
After a tremendously successful 2011-12 season, The Aurora Zone has announced an expanded range of Aurora-hunting itineraries in Finland, Norway and Sweden. It is also introducing new trips to Iceland. In spite of almost trebling its capacity, the specialist Northern Lights operator is already reporting high levels of interest and near sell-outs up to six months in advance.
The Aurora Zone uses a mixture of local Lappish knowledge and geophysical forecasts to find the best places to see the Lights on a night-by-night basis. Equipped with snowmobiles, husky sleds, snowshoes and terrain-equipped heated minibuses, the Arctic experts take travellers to the best viewing points, providing the greatest possible opportunity to witness the Borealis.
Trips are graded from ‘leisurely’ to ‘very active’ to suit a range of travellers. The gentler trips are based in some of the best places to see the Lights; the active trips involve multiple excursions and make use of every form of Arctic transport imaginable. There are also plenty of optional activities – including ice fishing and visiting a reindeer park – as well as the fascinating Sámi culture to explore.
With 2013 bringing the Solar Maximum – a period of time when Auroras are at their most vivid, which won’t be repeated until 2030 – The Aurora Zone is already experiencing high demand for its Aurora-hunting tours.
Says Alistair McLean, The Aurora Zone’s Managing Director: “With the Solar Maximum fast approaching, travellers are getting more and more eager to see the Lights at their most vivid. It’s only summer now and we’re already 100% up on last year’s bookings, with some of our tours nearly sold out six months in advance. We recommend booking sooner rather than later – otherwise you might have to wait until 2014!”
Winter tours (December – March) include:
NEW: ICELAND: Ultimate Aurora Adventure (Very Active) – four nights from £1,845 pp*
A trip that truly lives up to its name, this itinerary offers travellers numerous opportunities to see the Aurora whilst also giving a detailed guided tour of Iceland’s famous Golden Circle** and other sites of natural interest. Try glacier-hiking, caving, staying in a wilderness cabin, snorkelling in a tectonic rift (yes!) and, of course, Aurora-hunting. Unwind at the end of this whistle-stop tour with a fresh lobster feast and an afternoon at the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, where the mineral-rich waters are a tantalising 37°C. ** Iceland’s Golden Circle is made up of the waterfall at Gulfoss, the hot springs at Geysir and Thingvellir, where the European and American tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart.
FINLAND: Harriniva Aurora photography (Active) – four nights from £1,995 pp*
Led by experienced Northern Lights photographer and Laplander, Antti Pietikäinen, this four-night adventure is an opportunity to capture on film both the secrets of the Aurora and the majesty of Finnish Lapland. A visual feast of inspiration for any photographer, the tour includes a photography workshop to give you the necessary tips and tricks for snapping the Borealis, a husky safari and a visit to the Lainio Snow Village – an annually sculpted ice complex of galleries, suites and bedrooms all complete with Finland’s coolest ice bar.
FINLAND: Nellim – Northern Lights over Lake Inari (Very Active) – four nights from £1,425 pp*
A favourite with Aurora Zone staff, the tiny town of Nellim (population: 100 people approx.) is considered to be the best place to see the Borealis due to its northerly location and almost total absence of light pollution. From there, go on a four-night action-packed adventure into the Finnish wilderness and try ice fishing, husky-sledding, snowshoe trekking and snowmobiling. Visit an Aurora Camp on the edge of Lake Inari and watch for the Lights, warming yourself by a crackling campfire. Extend the stay and spend a night in a glass igloo – staring out at the universe and a million stars, waiting for the Borealis.
FINLAND: Luosto Northern Lights at Leisure (Leisurely) – four nights from £1,095 pp*
Situated in a prime location in Northern Finland, Luosto has been a centre for studying the Aurora for over a hundred years. Perfect for travellers who would like to combine relaxation with a Northern Lights trip, upon arrival at the Luosto Tunturi and Amethyst Spa, guests are given an ‘Aurora Alert’ which informs them when the Borealis is ‘dancing’ in the vicinity. With a high chance of seeing the Lights, a four-night stay in Luosto offers a perfect opportunity to glimpse the Aurora while relaxing in Finnish Lapland.
FINLAND: Kittila Aurora & Snow Village Adventure (Very active) – from £1,575 pp*
Packed from start to Finnish (get it?) with winter activities, travellers may need another holiday after this four-night adventure just to catch their breath. Led by expert wilderness guides, go on three Aurora ‘hunts’ (by minibus, snowmobile and husky sled), enjoy a snowmobile safari to Lainio Snow Village and have lunch in its ice restaurant, take a team of huskies on a day’s adventure and go on a reindeer safari through the quiet Lappish forest. All in all, an exhausting, yet rewarding, winter’s break and a memorable way to experience the Aurora.
SWEDEN: Abisko – Aurora & The ICEHOTEL – Level 2 (Very Active) – four nights from £1,695 pp*
Abisko – a place almost fabled in Northern Lights circles – is the ideal place to catch some extra-special rays this winter. Through a combination of prevailing winds and a mountainous perimeter, Abisko has a unique micro-climate which drives away cloud cover, increasing the chances of witnessing the Lights. This tour provides a thorough introduction to the region and includes ice climbing on a frozen waterfall, snowshoe trekking, a husky safari and a night’s stay in the ICEHOTEL.
NORWAY: Tromsø and the Fjords – Aurora Heartlands (Active) – four nights from £1,995 pp*
This exclusive adventure begins in the sophisticated Nordic city of Tromsø and takes travellers out into the fjords and mountains of Arctic Norway. Visit the remote Camp Tamok and hold watch for the Lights, and try husky-sledding across the Norwegian wilderness. Take advantage of the glass-fronted sauna and Aurora hot tub during a two-day stay overlooking the Malangan Fjord and enjoy a boat-trip along the fjord before strapping on a pair of snowshoes for a night’s very active Aurora-hunting at Camp Nikka.
*All packages include flights (London), transfers, B&B accommodation, specified meals, activities as described and cold-weather clothing for the duration of the trip. Group size varies between 4 and 20 members; over 18s only. Tailor-made itineraries are also available for groups of four or more, including family groups of all ages.
A full list of Aurora-hunting itineraries is available at www.theaurorazone.com, including the NEW Autumn Lights range, available September – November. To discuss Aurora-hunting tours with an expert, please call The Aurora Zone on 01670 785 012.
ENDS – 5 September 2012
Note to editors:
The Aurora Zone is a brand of Activities Abroad. The company has been arranging Northern Lights tours for nine years. The Aurora Zone was created to highlight the innovative concept of Aurora-hunting (actively going out to seek the lights rather than remaining in one location) and to promote the fact that the next few seasons may offer the greatest opportunity to see the Northern Lights until 2030.