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The group of islands known as Lofoten and Vesterålen are considered by many to have the most dramatic scenery in Norway. One of the northernmost islands will be the stunning destination for our 2018 Scandinavian Sky Holiday in search of the Northern Lights.
We will be based at the picturesque Andøy Friluftssenter lodge (the Andøy Wilderness Lodge), which will be exclusively ours for the trip. The lodge, which is located amid the fjords and mountains of Vesterålen in an area of low light pollution, will be our base for nighttime sky viewing as well as a fantastic range of daytime activities.
We will experience a whale safari off the coast of Andøya Island to see sperm and humpback whales feeding on schools of herring. We’ll make a trip to the near-by Andøya Space Centre, the world’s largest Northern Lights research base, to learn from world experts about the science behind the aurora borealis. We will enjoy a winter snowshoe excursion into the neighbouring valley, where we’ll lunch out in the open. Led by Nigel Turrell, our wilderness chef and the co-owner of the Andøy Wilderness Lodge, we’ll take in the stunning mountain scenery and even try some ice fishing. For those who are interested, there is also the option to book a additional dogsledding trip (additional fee, group numbers permitting).
Every evening, we will be perfectly placed for viewing the Northern Lights should conditions and aurora activity be favourable. The lodge is located right beneath the ‘auroral oval’, which means that any aurora will tend to appear directly overhead. Since our location is well away from artificial light pollution, and we have timed the trip to coincide with a new moon, we will be be able to view any aurora at their very best.
This Sky Holiday is being hosted by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Cloud Appreciation Society founder and Member 0001. He will be giving an inspirational, illustrated presentation about the sky, and will be with us throughout the holiday. We will also get experienced advice from Nigel on how best to photograph the aurora borealis. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the unforgettable sight of the aurora within a truly stunning Norwegian wilderness.
The swirling greens, and sometimes pinks and reds, of the aurora are a sight you will never forget. The colours are caused by the interaction of solar winds – streams of charged particles emitted by the Sun – with the molecules in the upper reaches of our atmosphere. The intensity of the displays depends on the sun-spot activity, and they increase in the days after a ‘mass solar ejection’ as a solar storm of particles comes hurtling towards earth.
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 any particular date. But we have chosen the location of this amazing trip to maximise our chances of witnessing a stunning display of the Northern Lights. Andøy Wilderness Lodge is away from artificial light pollution and we will be there during a new moon to ensure the background sky is as dark as can be. The lodge is beneath the ‘aurora oval’, the ring around the geomagnetic pole within which the Northern Lights form directly overhead.
The great advantage of staying at this location is that we don’t need to travel to see the lights. When they show, they are within easy view. If we are lucky enough to be treated to a good display, we can just step outside or sit out in the hot tub to experience the rippling lights of the aurora borealis above dramatic mountain scenery and reflected in the waters of the fjord.
The Vesterålen Islands are off the northwest coast of Norway, just north of the Lofoten Islands, and they are about 160 miles / 260 km inside the Arctic Circle. This magical region, with its dramatic, snow-clad mountains rising from the turquoise waters of the fjords, is considered by many to be the most spectacular in Norway, if not Scandinavia as a whole. In addition to our organised group activities, you can hire the lodge’s cross-country skis or snowshoes to explore, or just relax in the hot tub with amazing views to the mountains across the fjord.
Although the islands are within the Arctic Circle, the winter temperatures are relatively mild due to the warming influence of the North Atlantic Drift ocean currents. The weather can be as changeable and varied as the Northern Lights themselves but if there is low cloud cover, the steep mountain ranges tend to break up any layers, which can itself result in beautiful effects of cloud mixed with aurora.
Arrive at Harstad/Narvik Airport and transfer to Andøy Friluftssenter
Upon arrival at the international Harstad/Narvik Airport, in Evenes, Norway (EVE), you will be transferred by mini-bus to the Andøy Wilderness Lodge, amid the fjords and mountains of Norway’s Lofoten Islands. At the lodge, your CAS welcome bag will be waiting for you, including CAS goodies and your exclusive Society embroidered patch to commemorate the 2018 trip. Before dinner at the lodge, we will enjoy welcome drinks during an introduction to the Andøy area by Ingvild and Nigel Turrell, owners of the lodge, and a welcome talk by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
After dinner, if conditions are favourable, we can step outside at any time to appreciate the full beauty of the aurora borealis.
Overnight: Andøy Friluftssenter, Buksnesfjord, Andøy, Vesterålen, Norway.
Dinner and welcome drink included, as is group transfer from Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE), based 0n guests arriving on the 15:50 flight from Oslo (Flight SK4094, 15 March 2018 – OSL 15:50 –> EVE 17:30). If you want our agency partners, Steppes Travel, to arrange the best flights for your needs, just let them know when you make contact about booking.
We set sail on a whale safari
After a leisurely breakfast, we drive across to Andøya Island for a whale safari. The Lofoten area is known for the many species of whale that come to feed on the abundant fish. Sperm whales are most common, but we might be lucky enough to see humpbacks or others like fin whales, pilot whales and white-sided dolphins. We will also have the opportunity to learn about the species that frequent these waters.
When we return to the lodge at the end of the afternoon, why not take a walk along the fjord to enjoy the mountain skies and spot the many seals and otters, or take a rest and make use of the aurora photography advice provided by the lodge owner Nigel Turrell. He’ll give us tips on the camera settings to best capture any aurora displays.
After a delicious dinner, we will enjoy an illustrated talk about our atmosphere by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society and Member 0001. If the lights are on display, just step outside to enjoy them and leave him talking to an empty room!
Overnight: Andøy Friluftssenter.
All transfers and meals included, as well as entry to the whale safari (we will be sharing the boat with others).
We learn the science of the aurora borealis
Throw open your curtains and take in that glorious mountain view! Enjoy cloudberry jam with your breakfast. The delicious berries grow wild here during the summer, and they are made into a delicious jam at the lodge. Today we will be heading to the nearby Andøya Space Centre, which is the world’s largest Northern Lights research base. We will be given a tour and a talk about the science of the aurora borealis by one of the Centre’s experts. They will show us how the aurora forms using the interactive displays of the visitor centre. We will also hear about their research into noctilucent clouds, the highest clouds in our atmosphere, which form right at the fringes of space. There will even be time for a virtual trip into space to see how the Northern Lights appear from orbit.
Back at the lodge after lunch you can take some time to relax or hire the lodge’s cross-country skis or snowshoes to explore the area. There will also be the opportunity for a dogsledding optional add-on (there will be an additional cost for this, and availability depends on enough people being interested. Let us know at time of booking if you are interested to find out more.)
After dinner, why not enjoy the night sky from the comfort of the outdoor hot tub? Whether you are beneath the cloudscapes of the setting sun, the multitude of stars or the aurora borealis itself, you will be perfectly placed to enjoy the Norwegian night sky.
Overnight: Andøy Friluftssenter.
All transfers and meals included, as well as entry to Spaceship Aurora at the Andøya Space Centre. Dogsledding is an optional extra – see ‘Prices and Details” box below.
A frozen lake wilderness adventure
After breakfast, we set off on a full-day wilderness excursion in the nearby valley. Our guide will be Nigel Turrell, co-owner of the lodge, who has over 30 years wildlife experience. We will walk out to the frozen lake, where we can have a go at ice fishing. Nigel will be our wilderness chef, cooking us a delicious lunch out in the stunning wilderness of this special landscape. The scope and nature of the day will depend on conditions and on group fitness and preferences. Those who want more outdoor activity can, once we return to the lodge, do some cross-country skis or snowshoes (modest equipment hire fees apply).
After some well-earned rest or a soak in the outdoor hot tub, it will be time for our celebration dinner. We will eat around the crackling fire of the lodge’s ‘lavvu’ hut, a construction typical of the Sami people who are indigenous to this arctic region. There will even be a ‘Norwegian Skies Quiz’ – complete with prizes! And then one more chance for a Northern Lights display. As always, the lodge will be happy to turn off the lights to make the most of our dark-sky location. Take a nap if you’d like, but don’t forget to step outside for Mother Nature’s ultimate light show.
Overnight: Andøy Friluftssenter.
All meals included as well as wilderness excursion. Celebration dinner includes two alcoholic drinks. Cross-country skis and snowshoes available for a modest hire fee.
After breakfast, we will travel by mini-bus back to the airport in time for your flight back home.
Breakfast and group transfer to Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE) included, based on guests departing on the 10:40 flight to Oslo (Flight SK4083, 19 March 2018 – EVE 10:40 –> OSL 12:20). If you want our agency partners, Steppes Travel, to arrange the best flights for your needs, just let them know when you make contact about booking.
Approx. €1820 EUR (incl. tax) / $2230 USD (incl. tax) / $2750 AUD (incl. tax), depending on exchange rates at time of purchase.
Price includes everything listed in the ‘What’s Included’ section.
Single Travellers: The per-person price is based on two guests sharing a twin room. We can, however, try to pair any individual travellers with another guest of the same gender. For single room occupancy there will be a supplement of £475.00.
Credit Cards: Payments by credit card incur a 1.75% fee. For AmEx the fee is 2.5%.
Deposit: A deposit of £375.00 per person is payable at the time of booking. The balance will be due ten weeks prior to the departure date.
Options Extras: A 2-3 hour dogsledding trip on a neighbouring island can be provided if there is enough interest. This optional extra costs £175.00 per person, and involves running your own team of Alaskan Huskies through the Norwegian wilderness. Let us know when you make contact about your booking. Availability is dependent upon a suitable number of guests being interested.
Flights: Our partner agency, Steppes Travel Ltd, will be happy to arrange the best flights to suit your needs into and out of Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE). Flights to and from the airport are not included in the above price. The group transfers between the airport and the lodge are included and are based on everyone arriving and departing on these flights:
15 March 2018: Oslo (OSL) 15:50 –> 17:30 Harstad/Narvik (EVE)
19 March 2018: Harstad/Narvik (EVE) 10:40 –> 12:20 Oslo (OSL)
Accommodation in a shared room
All meals during the trip
Transport from and to the airport
All group transfers during the trip
Guiding throughout the trip
Entrance to ‘Spaceship Aurora’ at the Andøya Space Centre
Whale safari boat trip
Wilderness excursion including ice fishing
Use of the lodge outdoor hot tub
Tea & coffee during meal times
Welcome alcoholic drink and two alcoholic drinks during the celebration meal
Use of lodge cross-country skis and snowshoes
Cloud Appreciation Society talk
Aurora photography and camera advice from the lodge staff
A Cloud Appreciation Society welcome bag with special commemorative embroidered patch to mark the trip
Last-night feast in the lavvu hut
Flights between Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE) and your home city (but our partners at Steppes Travel can arrange these for you when you make contact about your booking)
Dogsledding trip (see ‘Prices and Details’ box for this optional add-on)
Skis & snowshoes (modest rental charges apply)
Any travel visas (check whether you would need one to travel to Norway)
Any photography equipment
Warm, waterproof walking boots
Wind- and waterproof top clothes