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See the Northern Lights from the wild beauty of Northwest Canada

Join the Cloud Appreciation Society for a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to the remote Northwest Territories of Canada. Amongst the frozen lakes of this epic landscape, you will stay at an eco lodge that we consider one of the best destinations in the world for experiencing the awe-inspiring aurora borealis.

17 – 22 February 2020 and 21 – 26 February 2020

The aurora over Blachford Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada spotted by Bobbie Turner (Member 34,187)

A remote eco lodge, an untouched frozen lake in prime aurora territory

This epic landscape of ice-covered lakes and ancient pine forests is, in our opinion, one of the world’s best locations for experiencing the beauty of the Northern Lights. A 20-minute flight by ski-plane from Yellowknife, capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, Blachford Lake Lodge is located on a jewel of a lake set in the frozen splendour of the remote Canadian north. The spacious, handcrafted log lodge offers a blend of rustic charm and modern comfort. Visitors can stay in the eco lodge or, for a real feel of the wilderness, in one of the cosy trapper’s cabins, warmed by a wood-fire stove. Gourmet meals are prepared by the Red-Seal certified chef, and there are a whole range of fantastic winter activities included, from snowmobiling to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating on the frozen lake to ice fishing and learning to build an igloo. The lodge includes an open dining area, bar and lounge, and even a hot tub outside under the stars. This sky adventure is being hosted by Cloud Appreciation Society founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney. He will be giving inspirational, illustrated presentations about the sky. We will also be given an introduction talk about the aurora as well as help and advice about how best to photograph it. Blachford Lake Lodge was one of the destinations on the royal tour of Canada by William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, soon after they married. The lodge is remote, rustic and eco, with all the creature comforts.

We believe Blachford Lake is the world’s best destination for experiencing the Northern Lights in an unspoilt winter wilderness.

A video taster of Blachford Lake Lodge, Northwest Territories, Canada.

“This was a perfectly planned and perfectly executed trip — Just spectacular in every way.”
L.H.R. (Member 3660 and Canada Sky Holiday attendee)

The Northern Lights: A must-see for sky lovers

The swirling greens, pinks and yellows of the aurora are a sight you will never forget. The colours are caused by charged particles originating from the Sun, which have become trapped in Earth’s magnetic field, interacting with the molecules and atoms in the upper reaches of our atmosphere. The intensity of the displays depends on the dynamic interaction between the flow from the Sun of these charged particles, known as the ‘solar wind’, and our shifting, stretching magnetic field. We at the Cloud Appreciation Society know more than most how impossible it is to make promises about what will happen in the sky on a particular weekend. But we have chosen the location for this amazing trip to maximise the chances of us witnessing a stunning display of the Northern Lights.

Blachford Lake Lodge is remote enough for us to be away from artificial light pollution, and we are timing our trip around a new moon to ensure the reflection of moonlight off the snow and any clouds will be minimal. The lodge is situated right beneath the ‘aurora oval’, the ring around the geomagnetic pole within which the Northern Lights form directly overhead. We’ve chosen this time of year for the best combination of longer nights with time for daylight activities and reduced likelihood of low cloud cover. The great advantage of staying at Blachford Lake Lodge is that we don’t need to travel to see the lights. When they show, they appear directly overhead. You can just step out onto the lodge viewing platform, stroll down to the silence of the frozen lake, or enjoy them from the warmth of the outdoor hot tub!

Our destination is perfectly situated in the Canadian wilderness, away from any light pollution and right beneath the ‘aurora oval’.

We are timing the trip around a new moon since the reflection of moonlight off the snow and any clouds will slightly reduce the apparent intensity of aurora.

“Best holiday ever! Magical evenings were spent standing in awe of the aurora. Days were action-packed with a variety of activities. All the time surrounded by talented, well-travelled and kind cloud enthusiasts.”
S.C. (Member 33510 and Canada Sky Holiday attendee)

Yellowknife: Vibrant capital of the Northwest Territories

Before taking the ski plane out to Blachford Lake Lodge, we will explore Yellowknife, the capital city of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Located on the shores of the Great Slave Lake, this vibrant settlement was founded in the 1930s, during region’s gold rush era. The mining activities have now given way to the business of government of the Northwest Territories region, but the cabins and fish shacks of the Old Town still have a tangible gold-rush atmosphere. The friendly community is a mix of indigenous Inuit, Dene, and Métis peoples with a whole range of immigrants from Europe, North America and elsewhere. The day’s tour of Yellowknife at the start of our trip will be the perfect introduction to the rich culture and history of this unique region.

We will enjoy the warm welcome and frontier spirit of Yellowknife, capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories.

“Well organized, interesting, fun, beautiful, delicious, culturally relevant… you all made it look and feel easy! A Northern Lights trip was top of my ‘bucket list’ and this far exceeded my wildest dreams!”
N.B. (Member 45110 and Canada Sky Holiday attendee)

The Itinerary

Day One – Arrival

Arrive in Yellowknife and enjoy the welcome

When you arrive at Yellowknife Airport, you will be transferred to the Explorer Hotel, your home for the first two nights. Winter clothing rental is included in your package (down-filled parka, ski pants, lined winter boots, mitts and hat). If you have arrived on an earlier flight, you will have the opportunity for a fitting during the afternoon. If you arrive later, there will be a fitting the following morning. You will receive your Cloud Appreciation Society Welcome Bag, which will include all the necessary information as well as CAS goodies and your exclusive Society embroidered patch to commemorate the 2020 trip. Take some time to rest from your flight, but don’t forget to look up at the sky! Sometimes the aurora borealis can be seen from the city.

Overnight: The Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife.

The Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
A special commemorative patch will be included in your welcome bag

DAY TWO – Yellowknife

Explore the capital of the Northwest Territories

After a leisurely breakfast, you will be met by Rosie Strong, your host for a day of touring Yellowknife, the vibrant capital of the Northwest Territories. Located on the shores of Great Slave Lake the city boasts stunning arctic landscapes. Our tour of Yellowknife will give us an understanding both of the town’s fascinating mining past and its equally interesting legislative assembly, as well as visiting the Old Town and the infamous ‘ice road’ heading north over the frozen lakes. Your day will start with a tour of the Yellowknife Mining Heritage Center for an insight into the colourful history of this city that was founded on the gold rush. Then you will take in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. This is a fascinating introduction to this remarkable part of Canada and its pioneering consensus system of government. After lunch at the city’s famous Bullocks Bistro, we will get a city tour of Yellowknife. From the ice road, to the characterful streets of the Old Town, where the pioneer spirit is alive and well, and taking in the views of Pilot’s Monument, we will explore it all, with time for some shopping for anyone who is interested. In the evening we will gather at the hotel for welcome drinks, where you will meet Cloud Appreciation Society founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney. We will then all head out to the fantastic Woodyard Brewhouse & Eatery for dinner.

There will be an optional activity after dinner, which will depend on what is happening in the sky. Either you will be treated to an exclusive Dene cultural performance – an entertaining celebration of the cultural heritage of this wonderful region. Or if the weather is right and the aurora is active, you will driven away from the city lights to enjoy your first view of the amazing aurora display.

Overnight: The Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife.

Yellowknife: the welcoming capital of the Northwest Territories sits beside the Great Slave Lake.
With down-filled winter gear provided for everyone, our 2017 guests stayed comfortable even though Yellowknife is the coldest city in Canada.

Day Three – Heading East

We take the bush plane on skis across to the frozen wilderness

Throw open your curtains and take in that glorious, sparkling snowy vista! Enjoy breakfast at your hotel, and pack up your things – you’re heading east. You will be met in the lobby to be taken to the ski-plane base for the next part of your adventure. At approximately noon today, we depart for Blachford Lake Lodge, located in the true wilderness, 100km east of Yellowknife. Enjoy the breathtaking landscape as we soar over the frozen lakes, forests, and snowmobile trails below. Upon arrival, you will meet the Lodge team, and enjoy a delicious hot lunch. You’ll get a tour of the facilities and have time to settle into your accommodation for the next three nights. Try out one of the hiking trails, peruse the northern library, or relax in the hot tub before an evening talk about the aurora borealis with advice about how best to photograph it. Spend the evening talking to guests and taking in any aurora displays in the vast night sky of these truly stunning surroundings.

Overnight: Blachford Lake Lodge.

The bush plane lands on a frozen lake beside our eco lodge in the Canadian wilderness
There’s always plenty to do at Blachford Lake Lodge (Photo: Suzanne Thomas)

Day Four – Blachford Lake

Skis, skates, snowshoes, igloos and the lights

This morning you’ll have a chance to enjoy the unspoilt wilderness around you. Go snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, or skating (guided or un-guided). Get to know the remote Canadian beauty of the frozen lakes. This afternoon there will be an igloo building workshop for you to take part in. Ever wondered how difficult it is to build one of those ice houses? You’re about to find out! After spending the day outside, head back to the lodge and enjoy a hearty home-cooked dinner and an illustrated Tour of Our Atmosphere talk by Cloud Appreciation Society founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney. Take a nap if you’d like, but don’t forget to step outside for Mother Nature’s ultimate light show. If you would like, the Lodge staff on ‘Aurora Watch’ will always be happy to wake you up when the aurora is active after you’ve tucked in.

Overnight: Blachford Lake Lodge.

No light pollution and in prime aurora latitudes, Blatchford Lake Lodge is an ideal location for the Northern Lights.
We'll enjoy gourmet meals are prepared by the Lodge's Red-Seal certified chef.

Day Five – Snowmobiles

Snowmobiles, saunas and a celebration dinner

After breakfast, at your leisure, there’s another full day of activities in store. Why not try ice fishing this morning (in line with the Lodge’s barbless “catch & release” program)? Today is free for you to choose which of the different activities you would like to take part in. Included in your package is a two-hour snowmobiling tour to Great Slave Lake. You’ll glide across ice and snow trails on a skidoo – the most common mode of winter transportation in the north. Relax in the sauna or hot tub before we gather for the group celebration dinner. Take part in our Canadian Skies quiz – with prizes – and savour your last evening in aurora-watcher’s paradise.

Overnight: Blachford Lake Lodge.

Snowmobiling over the frozen lake is an experience not to be missed!

Enjoy the pristine wilderness of Great Slave Lake by snowmobile

Day Six – Back to Yellowknife

We head back west

You are free this morning to go for a last hike, skate, ski or snowshoe. Your flight departs the lodge at approximately 12:30pm for Yellowknife. From there, you’ll have time to connect to Edmonton, and your flight home. Or why not extend the trip for another night or two (not included in our package). There is plenty more to see in Yellowknife such as the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre, which is the North’s top museum. It showcases the art, culture, industry and history of the territory, with displays featuring everything from mooseskin boats to old-time bushplanes. Blachford Lake Lodge can help you with booking additional nights for you if you’d like.

Time for a last relax in the hot tub before we depart? Or spend your final morning snowshoeing, skiing or finishing off the igloo.

“This was absolutely the best trip of my life. The activities were excellent and the experience is something I would never have achieved otherwise. A truly magical adventure!”
M.W. (Member 23652 and Canada Sky Holiday attendee)

Prices and Details

Accommodation in the Lodge:

$4455.00 CAD
(+5% tax +$300 staff gratuities)

(Canadian Dollars) per person

Approx. $3360 USD (+5% tax +$230 CAD staff gratuities) / £2620 GBP (+5% tax +£180 GBP staff gratuities) / €2980 EUR (+5% tax + €200 EUR staff gratuities) / $4730 AUD (+5% tax + $320 AUD staff gratuities), depending on the exchange rate at time of purchase.

Price includes everything listed in the ‘What’s Included’ section.
Discounts and supplements: There will be a discount of $150 CAD per person for bookings of three or more sharing a Lodge room. We are not able to accommodate single occupancy of a Lodge room.

With access to shared shower and washrooms, lodge rooms are dressed with down duvets, and feature huge windows with expansive views.
Just leave the sign out on your door if you want the staff to wake you when for an aurora display

Accommodation in a traditional trapper’s cabin:

$3875.00 CAD
(+5% tax +$300 staff gratuities)

(Canadian Dollars) per person

Approx. $2925 USD (+5% tax +$230 CAD staff gratuities) / £2275 GBP (+5% tax +£180 GBP staff gratuities) / €2595 EUR (+5% tax + €200 EUR staff gratuities) / $4120 AUD (+5% tax + $320 AUD staff gratuities), depending on the exchange rate at time of purchase.

Price includes everything listed in the ‘What’s Included’ section.
Discounts and supplements: There will be a discount of $150 CAD per person for bookings of three or more sharing a cabin.

The cosy traditional log cabins each have a lake view, electric lighting and power and feature a minimum of four beds with down duvets. All cabins have en-suite bathrooms and washbasins and are heated by wood stoves, which the Lodge staff can keep roaring for you. For those who like the easy life with the cosiness of real fire, Raven’s Roost and Eagle’s Nest cabins have pellet stoves, meaning no need for fire-lighting skills!

All with en-suite toilets:

Raven’s Roost cabin, with en-suite composting toilets and wash basins.
Raven’s Roost interior
Old Trapper's was the original cabin on the site – a perfect example of a traditional Northern home.
Old Trapper's interior.
Eagle’s Nest cabin, also with en-suite, adjoins Raven’s Roost but faces east.
Eagle’s Nest interior
Point cabin is on a rocky outcrop a magnificent view over Blachford Lake. It can comfortably sleep five in three beds and one double bunk.
Beaver Lodge cabin sleeps four to six guests. On the lakefront, it is the furthest from the main lodge, about three minutes on foot.

What’s Included:

  2 nights’ accommodation Yellowknife

  Yellowknife meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Day 2, breakfast on Day 3

  Winter clothing rental: down-filled parka, ski pants, lined winter boots, mitts and hat

  Yellowknife city tour

  Visit to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories

  Welcome reception (finger food, wine and beer) in Yellowknife

  Yellowknife evening cultural activity / aurora viewing (depending on conditions)

  All group transfers in Yellowknife

  Flights Yellowknife –> Blachford Lake Lodge –> Yellowknife

  All meals and snacks at Blachford Lake Lodge

  Non-alcoholic beverages with group meals

  3 nights’ accommodation Blachford Lake Lodge (cabin or lodge, depending on package)

  Use of all Lodge facilities (lounge, tipi, hot tub, sauna, Northern Library, etc.)

  Use of seasonal equipment: over 25 km of groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoes, skis, skates, fat tire bikes, kick sleds and ice fishing equipment

  Two-hour snowmobile tour to Great Slave Lake

  Lodge staff as guides for daytime activities

  Cloud Appreciation Society talks at Blachford Lake Lodge

  Aurora photography and camera advice from the Lodge staff

  Option to participate in different handicraft activities

  All gratuities for Lodge staff

  A Cloud Appreciation Society welcome bag with special commemorative embroidered patch to mark the trip

What’s Not Included:

  Flights between Yellowknife and your home city (but the Lodge’s air department can help arrange these for you when you make contact about your booking)

  Alcoholic beverages

  Travel insurance

  Additional tours in Yellowknife

BOOK THIS 2020 CANADA SKY HOLIDAY TODAY!

To reserve your place on this Sky Holiday in either Group 1 17-22 February 2020 or Group 2 21-26 February 2020, email your details to Kate and Katherine at Blachford Lake Lodge at [email protected].

1) The number of people in your party, 2) Which dates you are interested in, 3) Lodge or Cabin package, 4) Your phone number (including country code).

Kate or Katherine will, of course, be happy to answer any queries you have.