Wandering Owl Northern Lights Tour: The Experience

One of the experiences that we have always wanted to do is visiting the wonderous Northern Lights. It has been on the bucket list for years, but we have always been scared that we might miss them as we have always heard rumors that people go and don’t get to see them. So we were looking for a company who knew what they were doing.

Now there is one thing that we must make clear….. there is never any guarantee from anyone that you will see the Northern Lights. Good ol Mother Nature is just a little too volatile and unpredictable to promise anything. 

Why we chose Wandering Owl: Their guides and photography!

There are a few specific reasons why we were a little picky when deciding on what provider to go with. There are quite a few so you must do your research in choosing one that caters to the experience that best suits you. 

Wandering Owl takes small groups with their guides are all professional photographers and trained nature guides. This means you are able to get the right pictures and knowledge about this beautiful sight. Their tours also include thermal jackets, boots, photography equipment, and a delicious meal to keep you warm. 

With a strong focus on the sustainable side of tourism (which we love to see), this also goes into the food that Wandering Owl serves. They work with local vegetable farmers to create vegan-style food with as many locally sourced ingredients to lower the impact on the environment. 

So here is our journey, from booking to seeing the Northern Lights. Googling “Northern Lights Tour” online and there are many hits. Do your research and choose one that you like, also consider the drop-off points and what type of tours they can deliver. 

What happens on a Wandering Owl experience 

An hour before pickup, the guide is checking the weather forecast to work out the best place to see them. Sometimes you can drive 30 minutes or you can drive as north as Finland to get a clear view. This will dictate how the night goes. Remember, what it looks like in town is TOTALLY different from what it is like out in the mountains. If there is a lot of wind, they try to take you inland so you have a better chance to see them.

Our pick up Scandic Hotel at 6 pm, where we are given a briefing about the night. We then go through the safety and expectations. Our guide slash driver, Fabrice is super knowledgeable and keeps dropping pearls of wisdom during our trip. 

We get out on the road and learn about what to expect and how the lights are found. Our first stop is about an hour and 20 minutes away for the bathroom and to check weather reports. It is a service station so if you want to get a coffee or snack, this will be your last chance to do so. On our trip, the clouds are still over the region so we decide to push on toward Finland to find a clear night sky to look at. It is about two hours in the van and we are kept entertained by conversation and learning about the lights.

We find a quiet spot and hope that the cloud opens up for us. The team set up a campfire, tell stories and eat. We munch on our soup and cookies as we are shown the science of the Northern Lights. Our first night out is not to be a lucky one for us as the lights do not come out to play. However, there are some fantastic light pillars that we have been able to photograph. Lucky for us, we have two nights’ books just in case of a natural event like this. 

What you get with Wandering Owl 

For our Aurora Hunt, we had the following options:

  • Hot chocolate (vegan, can be gluten-free) 
  • A selection of soups (carrot soup, lentil soup, or seaweed soup; all vegan and gluten-free) 
  • Homemade cookies (vegan, contain gluten) 

*The seaweed soup is sourced locally from sugar kelp (Laminaria saccharina). One of our friends is an expert in the field of macroalgae and knows which ones to harvest and at what time, to have the least impact on the environment. 

We highly recommend you book more than one tour/ why do you ask? Well, in our case, you may not get a good night. So why not double your chances at seeing one of the most incredible natural wonders there is on the planet?

Our second night was totally different from the first. We met in the same location and met our guide for the night, Albert. Like Fabrice, there is a clear passion and knowledge base that comes with pure enthusiasm for the Northern Lights. It has been a pouring day all day so we are a little sad, however, the weather report suggests that it may be clear.

Our driver and guide decide to head north quickly and enter Finland. As we are driving we are now able to see stars, which means we are able to see the sky. This greatly increases our chances to see the Northern Lights. We find a great diet spot, away from secondary light sources, and set up camp.

The fire goes on and we are overlooking a frozen lake. As soon as we set up, a faint green glow starts to show from the sky. Not strong, but faint. Regardless we all get the camera out to take shots. Albert is going around helping us all take some shots. Little did we know that this was absolutely nothing compared to what we were about to see.

The lights just kept getting brighter and greener. In a few minutes, the sky was DANCING. No word of a lie, just lit up, colors changed and it looked like the light was putting on a show just for us in the sky. Incredible, incredible, incredible. We were all in complete awe as we snapped hundreds of photos and just watched in pure joy as we all saw the Northern Lights in their true beauty for this first time. 

After a belly full of soups, cookies and campfire stories, we swapped views of our pictures and talked for hours. One of the best things we have ever done is made sure we booked both nights on our Northern Lights trip with Wandering Owl.

They were organized, full of knowledgeable, helpful and it was an all-round great experience. 

So… what do the Northern Lights look like? 

People have described the Aurora Borealis in many different ways. To get the facts straight, depending on various conditions, the Northern Lights can be whiteish, green, pinkish, reddish, or blueish.

The beauty of the Northern Lights is that it can be a captivating sight with intense colors or a soft glow. You never know what you’re going to get as some nights they are so vivid and bright while other times they require cameras to capture it.

At Wandering Owl and other trustworthy firms, they really avoid over-editing images. The focus is always on preserving beautiful memories and eliciting genuine smiles from our customers through our photography services.

The memories from that evening and all the emotions attached to it can be etched in your mind. These days, excessive use of photo editing is common with adventure seekers and novice photographers wanting to have a go at color schemes – which can be a fun activity in itself.

Managing my own expectations regarding the Northern Lights

Regardless of whether you get to witness the Northern Lights or not, if you manage your expectations and approach the Arctic wilderness experience with a positive attitude, you are sure to have an incredibly rewarding adventure. Some evenings the activity is bright and colorful, on others, it can be barely visible. 

  • Have we missed a place where we need to go? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Follow us on Instagram @adventurefaktory to keep looking at beautiful destinations we have been to!

If you like this article, follow our Adventures on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram @adventurefaktory, but most importantly sign up to our E-mail list to keep up with updates and travel trends + deals!

More from Mitch

Myanmar: First impressions

As the plane arrives, we are desperately looking for where the city centre...
Read More