FAQ

Availability?
When is it whale season in Tromso?

Whale season is between early November and early Februay. This is not exact, since it is different from year to year.

During season 2016/2017 will we have whale watching trips from 1st November to 10th February.

There can be some whales here before and after these dates too, so you are welcome to join our fjord cruise then, searching for them. It is the same trip as whale watching, but another name, since less chances to see whales then, but it is still possible.

Prices?

All pr person:

NOK. 1650,- for the first northern lights chase, and 1550,- for all following days.

NOK. 1350,- for fjord excursion, and 1250,- discounted for the same trip when joining other trips too.

NOK. 1995,- for whale watching, but 100,- discounted for the same trip when joining other trips too.

NOK. 1500,-, for fjord cruise, but 1400,- discounted when joining other trips too.

NOK. 22000,- for sailing expedition Svalbard 4 days

NOK. 44000,- for sailing expedition Svalbard 8 days.

NOK. 29000,- for ski & sail in the Lyngen Alps.

Payment?

Payment is done by card when you book. You will be given the option to pay 25 % deposit, or 100 % full payment, if it is more than one month before the trip. If one month or less before the trip, you pay 100 %.

If you choose to pay 25 % deposit when you book more than one month before, then we will send you the 75 % rest payment link by mail one month before the trip.

We do not accept cash payment. We prefer card payment. If you for some reason can not pay with card, we prefer bank transaction.

Bank transaction details:

Name: Arctic Explorers AS
Company Address: Hjalmar Johansens gate 100 E, 9007 Tromso, Norway
Bank: Dnb
IBAN: NO2215033251995
BIC/SWIFT: DNBANOKKXXX

How many days do i need to book, to see the Northern Lights?

You can be lucky and see great northern lights on your first trip, or you can be unlucky and get only clouds all places possible to drive for a week or more. The sun and our coastal weather are both very unpredictable, and can not be predicted weeks ahead. 1-3 days is a gamble, but can be enough. Normally you see some northern lights during a 5 days stay in Tromso in Sept-April, but not necessarily.

Can I book northern lights trip several days, and If lucky to see good lights the first day(s) cancel all following days?

No, we ask you not to do that.

It will not be fair to others we have to say no to, if you book more days than you actually plan to join, and then decide to cancel some trips last minute since you have seen enough northern lights the first day(s).

It creates chaos to us, since we then need to spend hours trying to find others to take your seat(s), and maybe we even need to rearrange vehicles and guides.

We hope people join the trips they have booked. There will always be a new experience no matter what. The northern lights will never be the same. It can be different colours, different shapes, and different brightness. We also drive to different locations, and it it will normally be different people in the vehicle.

When is the best time to see Northern Lights?

Northern lights can be seen well between appr mid Sept to end of March. Can also be good early Sept and early April.

All months can be very bad, and all months can be very good. Solar activity and coastal weather are both very unpredictable, so you can not plan ahead which dates that will be good. The most important for you if you want to see good northern lights, is to have enough days in Tromso, waiting for a good day with lights activity and clear skies.

All months have advantages, and all months have disadvantages. We have northern lights in average every second day, so our answer is; have enough days. It does not matter which month you come, as long as you have enough days here.

Full moon or new moon when chasing Northern Lights?

Many read online that moonlight is bad for seeing good northern lights. This is a myth, and it is wrong. Most local photographers prefer some moonlight, because mountains, fjord, snow, and the ocean are incredibly beautiful in moonlight.

Our nicest pictures are normally from northern lights trips with half to full moon. Yes, the faintest northern lights gets a bit fainter with a full moon, but the nicest pictures are often taken in full moon.

Choose new moon if you want to see more stars, shooting stars, satellites, and the milky way. Choose moonlight if you also want to capture our world class landscape on your northern lights pictures.

Why is Tromso maybe the best place in the world to see Northern Lights?

LATITUDE
The best places in the world to see northern lights are places between 68-74 degrees latitude. Tromso is on appr 69 degrees latitude, so our location is perfect. This means we can often se northern lights even when the forecast is 0 on the kp-index.

CLIMATE 
We are located in the Arctic, so many believe it is very cold here. Wrong. Normally in Tromso we have around minus 5 degrees celcius in the winter. It can be colder inland. Places in Canada or Alaska on the same latitude are much colder places.

CITY LIFE 
Tromso is in the "middle of nowhere". You can enjoy city life, and sleep in your hotel bed every night, because Tromso is located close to amazing nature. We have dark places ideal for northern lights viewing only 20 min away from the city.

MOUNTAINS
There are not many places on earth with chances of seeing northern lights, that have as many mountains as Tromso. This is very important, and the main reason we think Norway are better than Iceland for northern lights trips.

The reason is because we some times have the same challenge as Iceland; a lot of clouds coming from the ocean. Iceland are surronded by ocean on all sides, which means a lot of clouds that can come from all sides. We only get ocean clouds coming from the west.

When these clouds hit our mountain range with mountains up to 1830 meter above sea level, they rise. When rising, pressure changes, and we get condensation. This is called adiabatic process. It makes the clouds dissolve, and on the other side of the mountain range, we have the driest place in Norway, Skibotn. Dry means a lot of clear skies, and often ideal for seeing northern lights.

Wikipedia Rain Shadow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_shadow

And if Skibotn also have clouds, we can chase into the flat areas of Finland, away from all clouds often. But sometimes, of course clouds here too.

Why choose Arctic Explorers?

OUR GUESTS LIKE US! 
We have (Aug 2016) 793 excellent reviews on Tripadvisor, and that is much more than all other 64 tour operators in Tromso. We have appr 98 % happy guests that rated us very good or excellent.

WE ARE THOROUGH
as you will see. Almost perfectionists. Our goal is to be the best in all areas, meaning we think and analyze every day how to become even better.

QUALITY IN ALL AREAS, IN EVERY DETAIL 
Quality cars, checked at official garage more often than normal, the warmest expedition suit possible, warm socks, warm mittens, warm hats, quality head torches, quality winter boots, dedicated and passionate guides that have taken countless pictures of northern lights, great pictures all sent to you free of charge after the trip, warm food, warm drinks, long chases,  sleeping mattresses to sit on, often campfire when weather allows, and much more.

SMALL PERSONAL GROUPS ARE ESSENTIAL 
when chasing northern lights. It is easier to get to know the guide and the other guests, or it is easier to get a bit away from the rest of the group if you prefer that, and just enjoy the northern lights and the silence of nature.

A big bus can never start earlier, must finish earlier, can not drive as far, and can not stop all over. With up to 12 guests pr vehicle, can we adapt to nature, which is important. 

In a small group, the impact on nature is not as big as in a big group, and we manage easier to be in nature without disturbing the wildlife unnecessarily.

EXAMPLE WHY A SMALL GROUP IS BEST
Sometimes weather forecast shows us that early evening have most clear skies and maybe highest activity, in Finland. When this happens, we can change pick up time, so we can start earlier. When the buses start at 6-7 pm, we are often already in Finland seeing amazing purple lights. When the bus drive back normally around midnight, we just wave bye bye, and stay longer. We are more flexible, and that is so important!

WE KNOW THE BEST PLACES TO DRIVE TO
After living here for more than 30 years, spending decades exploring around, and loving every minute of it, we know most good places to see lights from. If weather permits, we choose the most scenic spots. All guides know all these spots.

WE DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Several cars work together in different directions, contact with other tour operators, contact with meteorologists on-call duty, checking webcams, calling friends living all around the county to get them to see if clear skies above them, calling petrol stations, and having people back home to check online forecasts. We adapt to nature and chase at the time that looks best, if guests can change pick up time.

But, there are also many other very good tour operators in Tromso. If we are sold out, we will put you in contact with some of the other quality tour operators.

How do you chase the Northern Lights - Itinerary?

A normal day on a northern lights trip with us would be like this:

When we wake up, we check weather forecast and solar activity forecasts right away. If there are any doubt which place that is best to drive to, we call the meteorological institute in Tromso. They check their real-time satellitte images, and tells us which place that looks most promising.

We also check webcameras, call friends around in the county, or call petrol stations, to find which place has most clear skies.

We will email you the estimated pick-up time. It will be around appr 04:30 pm to 6:30 pm in Sept-early March, and a bit later in late March and all of April because of more daylight. Pick-up time can change if the weather forecast show that we have to drive far away. Please be ready on stand-by from appr 03-04 pm, in case an earlier start is important because of clear skies earlier, long drive to the best place, or similar. We don`t start earlier if you are not ready earlier, of course.

If you hear nothing, it means the pick up time we have mailed you is good. If we need to change pick up time because early or late evening looks best, we will ask you if it is ok to change pick up time, to maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights.

We then pick up people at different hotels, or sometimes the same hotel. Then we drive to our warehouse to dress you up in warm clothes. After that we start driving to the area that looks best that evening. It can be 30-40 min to the coast, 90 min inland, or even 2,5 hours to Finland.

We make many stops on the way. If weather permits, we will have one main stop to eat well, drink, relax, maybe a campfire if weather allows, and just enjoy the great outdoors for a while. Sometimes we can stay there under clear skies, and sometimes we have to change location because of clouds coming.

We are back at the warehouse normally after 8-9 hours, often around 01-02 am, but if we suddenly spot good lights late in the night, it can be even later, but normally never later than 03 am. We then drive you to your hotel.

If clouds and difficult weather, we work together to find clear skies. We can call the meteorologist until 10 pm, we have one person back home that can check online forecasts and webcams, we have contact with other tour operators, we can call petrol stations, and friends living in different places. All our cars also work together by spreading out in different directions, and helping each other to search for clear skies.

Itinerary - Fjord Excursion?

We pick you up at your hotel, normally around 10 am. We make sure you have warm enough clothes. We then drive to the coast to Whale Island. We stop at different scenic places to walk into nature, take pictures, maybe walk on frozen lakes, maybe walk on frozen beaches, eat well, and just enjoying the great outdoors.

You spend most of the time outdoors, not in the car. We choose this area because we think it is among the nicest landscapes we have up here. You can see things as fjords, mountains, beaches, fishing villages, reindeer, whales, and other things on this trip. We can sometimes drive to fjords inland, if bad weather at the coast. Whales can be seen normally between mid Nov to mid Jan. In the dark season can we sometimes see northern lights on the way back.

We will drop you off at your hotel appr. at 3-4 pm, but this is not fixed. In the dark season maybe a bit earlier, and if amazing weather, maybe a bit later. Weather, and what people wants, plays a parts in when we finish.

This trip is adapted to the northern lights trip, so you can take both on the same day. You normally get time to relax between the two trips. This is a very popular trip, and a great way to see world-class Norwegian fjord landscapes.

Do you guarantee that we will see the Northern Lights?

No, we do not. No one can do that. We will do our best to find northern lights, but no one can guarantee a natural phenomenon that are visible most days, but not all days.

Will you give us a new trip for free the day after, if we don't see the lights?

No. We can not work for free. No small groups tour operator can do that, and survive economically. We can not keep 12 seats open the day after, in case our guests see nothing. If they then are happy after day 1, we suddenly have nothing to do on the other day.

We offer the same service, and have the same expenses, both with and without lights. Only big buses with countless seats available can offer something like this, so if you want this, choose a big bus with 50 people around you. They have shorter chases, can not stop all over, people all around you, less personal, no warm clothes, etc, so this is not something we recommend.

What do you do if it looks like a bad day for chasing the Northern Lights?

If it looks like a cloudy day all over and small chance for seeing northern lights, we give you four options by meeting you/mail/call/sms/via the hotel receptionist:

- Try anyway. (There is always a chance forecasts are wrong. It happens every month)
- Cancel and 90 % refund.
- Change date, if other dates you can join are available.
- Change to another trip, normally Fjord Excursion, whale watching, or fjord cruise.

Do you ever cancel any trips?

No, we never cancel as long as it is safe to drive, except unforeseen events like blocked road, or similar. If bad weather, but safe, we give you the four options mentioned earlier. The only time we cancel without asking what you want, is when the meteorologist says it is dangerous to drive. It can be because of storm, avalanche risk, or extreme ice on roads. I assume you agree that we have to cancel if dangerous conditions. We can not risk your health, or worse, because you reallly want to see the northern lights, or our nature. Safety above all.

What if bad weather in Tromso?

Many people check the weather in Tromso, or the weather forecast for Tromso, before a northern lights chase. No need to do that, since we do not chase clear sky in Tromsø. We drive either to the coast, inland, often to the driest place in Norway called Skibotn, or even to Finland or Sweden. Some evenings we drive in both Norway, Finland, and Sweden on the same northern lights trip.

Often we drive into the rain shadow behind big mountain ranges, and the weather can be completely different there. To check the weather forecast more than 3-5 days ahead is no use, and to check Tromso weather, or Tromso weather forecast is no use either. We have coastal climate that can change within minutes and hours.

Toilet?

Northerh Lights trips: We have a toilet in the place we dress you up, and several toilet stops on the way out, and on the way back. Not all places we stay have toilets, because the best places are in the dark in the middle of nowhere, places with no civilization, and therefore no toilets. We make sure you get enough toilet stops.

All boat trips: Toilet on board.

Fjord Excursion by car: Several toilet stops.

 

Food?

We serve warm energy-rich expedition food. The main point with this food is to make you warmer, so it is a lot of energy in this food. It also needs to be quick to make, since we sometimes get clouds and have to change location quick. We also have food for vegetarians, gluten-free food, lactose-free food etc.

Which clothes do I need to bring, and which clothes do you provide?

You need warm winter clothes in Tromso, when you are not with us. With us you need warm clothes to have under the expedition suit. The best is to have thick wool from top to toe, a warm hat, a warm scarf, and a warm mid-layer, like a small down jacket or a warm sweater.

We provide an expedtion suit, winter boots, thick socks, a warm hat, and warm mittens. For kids we have down jackets, winter pants, balaclava, wool underwear, warm socks, and mittens. You need to provide shoes for your kid yourself.

Which hotels do you recommend?

We show you in the booking process which hotels we recommend.

Do you have dog sledding, reindeer sledding, or snow mobile?

No. We have northern lights trips, whale watching trips, fjord excursion by car and boat, hikes, and Svalbard sailing expedition.

From other tour operators we recommend dog sledding with one of these, that we mean are the best dog sledding operators here. You have to google them, and book these yourself.

Arctic Adventure Tours
Active Tromso
Aurora Alps (They also have snow mobile trips)

We do not support the use of animals in tourism, if this means making them do the same thing all day, all winter, surrounded by people all day, with little room for relaxation and silence, so we will not recommend any reindeer sledding.

Dog sledding can be ok, if they are not pushed too much and too often, because working hard is what huskies love most of all, but we do absolutely not support reindeer sledding. Reindeer should be running wild on the mountains, like they are meant to do. We play on team with nature and the animals. We are an ecotourism company.

How to get to Tromso, which airline, and which airport?

Most guests fly from Oslo Airport Gardermoen to Tromso Airport Langnes. Appr. 1h 45min with a plane from Oslo to Tromso. From Great Britain, many skip Oslo, and fly straight to Tromso from Gatwick Airport or Stansted Airport with Norwegian Air Shuttle. From Oslo, or other Norwegian cities, the most normal airlines to use are Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), or Norwegian Air Shuttle. From some small places nearby Tromso, you can fly with Wideroe.

How to get from the airport in Tromso, to the hotels?

No need to book this ahead. There are normally taxis/airport shuttle bus/local bus outside the airport. It takes only appr 10 min with taxi to most hotels.

Which camera do I need to get good pictures of the Northern Lights?

Preferably a DSLR-camera. New small cameras can also be good enough, but normally not as good as a DSLR-camera. You need to be able to adjust ISO, shutter, aperture, timer, and focus manually. You also need a tripod! That is important. We recommend wide angle lenses, so you can get more nature and more northern lights on the picture.

Just as important is that you know how to operate your camera. We will help you with this, but we don`t know all the cameras in the world, and sometimes it will be too cold to learn this outdoors.

If you don`t know your camera, we will of course try to help you, but then you loose valuable time; time that could be used taking pictures of the northern lights. Maybe you miss the ultimate picture, because you did not read up before the trip.

Other tips to get a good Northern Lights picture?

Focus your lens at infinity during the day time and mark an area on your lens with a pen so you know exactly where to turn it in the dark. Find your settings home, or in the warm car on the way to the spot. Often to cold to do this outside.

Aperture as low as possible.
Shutter as low as possible.
ISO as low as possible but still get good pictures. Normally 800-2500 ISO is best.
Use timer. 
Turn off timer sound.
Lens on infinity.
Shoot in RAW format, if possible.
Set LCD Brightness to low.
Remove the filter from your lens, or you will end up with an undesirable aberration on all your images.
White balance best to set to appr. 3000-4000 Kelvin.
Have at least 2 batteries, and recommended 2 flash cards. Change often and keep in warm place.
Use a tall but sturdy tripod.
Use your lens hood to protect against frost/condensation on your lens.
Put black tape over your red processing light under the wheel.
Have some references like mountains, ocean, building, lakes etc.
Have a nice foreground, not only the sky. Be creative.

Do you take pictures on your trips, and send them to the guests?

Yes, we do on all trips, except our boat trips since the guide there often stands behind the guests, to give guests the best photo opportunities.

We have taken countless pictures of the northern lights, so we know how to get the ultimate picture. We also know the nicest spots, so we do all possible to get the best pictures. Some of us are professional photographers, and all of us know how to get the ultimate picture. We send you the pictures we take on all trips you join us, as soon as possible, and free of charge.

Do you pick up at all hotels?

No, but we pick up close to all city center hotels. Not fixed place. We will mail you where to meet.

 

Pick-up time?

We will email you the estimated pick-up time. It will be around appr 04:30 pm to 6:30 pm in Sept-early March, and a bit later in late March and all of April because of more daylight. Pick-up time can change if the weather forecast show that we have to drive far away. Please be ready on stand-by from appr 03-04 pm, in case an earlier start is important because of clear skies earlier, long drive to the best place, or similar. We don`t start earlier if you are not ready earlier, of course.

Age?

To book a trip from us, you must be 18 years old the day the trip will take place.

Only people above 10 years old on our northern lights trips, since the trips last long, and we are often back late.

Kids discount?

We have same price for all. Kids need same seat space as an adult, they need much more attention outdoors, extra kids seats, expensive down clothes, often sleeping bags, campfire if weather allows, etc, so no reason to have discount for kids on outdoors trips, because we provide more for them than adults. With small personal groups with up to 12 guests, we can not have discounted seats, except for the offers we already have.

Where to eat in Tromso
Arctic Explorers local owner, Øystein, recommends these restaurants:

Best seafood restaurants:
Arctandria

Fiskekompaniet

Best pizza:
Yonas
Casa Inferno

Best tapas, also arctic tapas:
The place called "T", on the main square. Love this place!
Presis

Best burger:
Blå Rock
Torghuken

Best, and only Indian food place I know here:
Indian House

Best beef and meat:
Biffhuset
Steakers

Best overall, best gourmet, most expensive, and most famous we have:
Emmas Drømmekjøkken

Best hotel restaurant, I think, without having tried them all:
Clarion Edge

Great too, with different food, and good prices:
Egon

Best bacalao, and a bit other food, and best atmosphere. It´s is among our most famous pubs, with maritime decoration. Not a restaurant, but they still have good food:
Skarven