Land of the Northern Lights

Follow in Joanna Lumley’s footsteps on this special independent tour. This touring holiday using local transport begins in Trondheim, Norway’s former ancient capital. You then travel by rail across the Arctic Circle to the pretty little port of Bodø. Embark on a short flight to the great Vestfjord and the magical Lofted Islands. Continue on an overnight mini-cruise to the Arctic capital itself, Tromsø.

Day 1 – Welcome to Norway and Trondheim

Morning flight from the UK to Trondheim (via Oslo), the former ancient capital city of Norway and home to the beautiful gothic Nidaros Cathedral and colourful wharf buildings. If you would like more time to explore Trondheim why not add an extra night?
1 night TRONDHEIM – Clarion Collection Hotel Bakeriet (BB) – complimentary supper

Day 2 – Rail journey across the Arctic Circle
Early start (0735) northwards by rail, travelling alongside narrow fjords, rivers and wild mountain scenery and, of course, across the Arctic Circle, arriving in the little port of Bodø at 1728. Your hotel is a short distance from the train station so after a quick check-in, you are free to have a little walk around Bodø to stretch your legs. What a nice relaxing day!
1 night BODØ – Thon Hotel Nordlys (BB)

Day 3 – Bodø before short flight to the Lofoten Islands
Morning at leisure in Bodø. A half-hour flight in the afternoon takes you from Bodø to Svolvær where you will be met on arrival and transferred to your authentic fisherman’s rorbu beside the sea. In the evening you have the option to join a guided Northern Lights hunt with a local guide.
2 nights SVOLVÆR – Svinøya Rorbuer (BB)

Day 4 – Explore Svolvær
A free day to try one of our optional activities, hire a car and explore independently, or simply relax and potter around the beautiful town of Svolvær at your leisure.

Day 5 – Explore the Lofoten Islands
Day free to relax and explore independently or join an optional excursion from Svolvær. We recommend having dinner in Svolvær prior to boarding Hurtigruten for your overnight sailing as the ship arrives into the town at 2100 and departs at 2200.
1 night Hurtigruten (Coastal Voyage) (BB)

Day 6 – Arrive Tromsø
During the night the ship calls at a number of ports on the Vesterålen Islands and next day you sail up the coast to Tromsø arriving at 1430. En route you will enjoy the splendid Hurtigruten lunch buffet. Your hotel is situated literally a minute’s walk across the quayside from where the ship docks.
2 nights Tromsø – Scandic Ishavshotel (BB)

Day 7 – Explore Tromsø
After breakfast you have the option to either spend the day exploring Tromsø and its attractions or join one of our morning excursions: Whale safari (Nov-Jan), or dog sledding (Jan-Mar) and explore the city during the afternoon. For further details of optional activities see Excursion tab.

For those who choose to spend the whole day exploring Tromsø you will not be disappointed. Tromsø is Northern Norway’s largest city with long traditions as a departure point for polar expeditions. Set on an island, well within the Arctic Circle, the city is a popular destination for those seeking an exciting city stay offering a wonderful selection of outdoor activities and excursions. Luckily much of the city’s old wooden architecture is preserved, and contrasts well with the modern Arctic Cathedral, and you will find a bustling centre of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Well worth a visit is Polaria, an arctic themed experience centre with the fascinating Ivo Caprino film ‘ Svalbard – Arctic Wilderness’ and an arctic aquarium with bearded seals. The Polar Museum provides a fabulous insight into how polar explorers, of yesterday and today, really were and are amongst the most daring and adventurous men and women on the planet.

Day 8 – Homeward bound
Depart Tromsø for Oslo in the afternoon and onward flight to Heathrow.

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Who is this holiday suitable for?
It is suitable for adults of all ages though not really for children under the age of 12. This is not because we don’t like children, but actually because we do. This holiday is very much geared towards history, culture and scenery and the evening of Aurora hunting can have a late finish which children may find tiring and, dare we say, boring. There are exceptions however, we know that, and if you have a child who is an avid enthusiast we will do everything we can to encourage and accommodate them.

Where do I eat lunch on the train from Trondheim to Bodø?
We have pre-booked and paid for your lunch, all you need to do is go and collect it from the buffet car on the train and take it back to your seat to eat it. A choice of menu will be discussed with you at the time of booking and special diets can be catered for.

What sort of clothing will I need to wear?
The Arctic coast of Norway is warmed by the Gulf Stream which means that temperatures are relatively mild compared to many other Arctic regions. However, when you are spending a considerable amount of time outdoors admiring the scenery and waiting for the Northern Lights to appear it is important to be warm and dry. The layering principal is very important (base, mid, outer) with man-made thermal fibres or wool. In our opinion wool is definitely best, and merino wool is soft and cosy and certainly a good investment. A good, waterproof outdoor jacket is essential, and also over trousers are a bonus if you have them. Wool socks (we wouldn’t wear anything else here), perhaps a couple of pairs, and good hiking boots or snow boots are very important. Gloves, scarf, hat and you’re raring to go! Those joining a dog-sledding excursion in Tromsø will be provided with specialist thermal clothing for the trip.

Can special diets be catered for?
Absolutely, but we need to know at the time of booking so that we can inform all our suppliers and ensure delicious, suitable alternatives are provided.

What is the distance from Svinøya Rorbuer to the centre of Svolvær?
The distance is actually rather short; approximately 850 metres and 10 minutes of walking under normal conditions, however, in winter conditions this may take longer than you think. We estimate around 15-20 minutes in each direction. Again, good footwear is necessary with solid soles and, ideally, some slip on grippers.

How far is Børsen Spiseri from my rorbu?
You will be taking breakfast in Børsen Spiseri which is a short walk from your rorbu, in the main building. Svinøya Rorbuer is a complex of traditional and authentic fishermens’ temporary housing during the fishing season and the very nature of these rorbus means that they are scattered in rows along the coastline. The ground around the rorbus can be uneven and very slippery in icy conditions and good footwear is essential. There are pathways, which will be kept as clear as possible and sanded, but care should always be taken.

I am a poor sailor, would the Nature Safari by Boat be a problem? 
Hmmm, here we have to be honest and say the answer is probably yes. We would strongly recommend bringing sea-sickness tablets with you to take beforehand; many people do so and as a result have no problem at all. Alternatively, try the RIB boat sea eagle safari instead. Our own staff – Suzel and Terry – are both awful sailors, however neither of them have any problems whatsoever with RIB boats.

 

OTPIONAL ACTIVITIES
Prices are examples and will be confirmed when you book

FROM SVOLVÆR

Lofoten Panorama Tour
Mini-bus exploration of the Lofotens. Several photo stops along the way with breathtaking views and a final stop for traditional bacalao lunch. Duration 1000-1400, Tue & Fri, 1 Sep-29 Mar.
Price: £90 per person

Lofoten Nature Safari
Boat trip in the beautiful Trollfjord with a chance to see white-tailed sea eagles and other sea birds and wildlife. Fish soup served on board. Duration 0900-1330, Wed & Sat, 2 Sep-30 Mar, except 12 Sep, 23 & 26 Dec & 12 Mar.
Price: £105 per person

Lofoten Northern Lights Hunt
If you want to maximise your chances of seeing the Northern Lights then why not book yourself an evening of hunting for them?
Price: £90 per person

Snowshoe Hike
A fun activity for everyone, and a superb way to enjoy Lofoten’s splendid nature with a guide. Duration 1000-1300, Dec-Apr.
Price: £80 per person

Sea Eagle RIB safari
RIB boat trip along the Lofoten coastline for a close encounter with sea eagles and spectacular nature spots. Duration 0930-1130, Wed-Sat.
Price: £75 per person

Car hire for one day
Rental includes Unlimited Mileage, TP, CDW and tax and is based on a VW Golf or similar. Pick-up and drop-off from car hire office in centre.
Price for car: £85

FROM TROMSØ

5-Course Arctic Gourmet Dinner at Emma’s Drømmekjøkken
Emma’s Drømmekjokken is one of those restaurants where you go for a special occasion. Food is based on locally sourced ingredients so expect King Crab, cod and reindeer of course. The staff at Emma’s all enjoy working there, and it shows as they present each course with obvious pride.
Price: 5-course Arctic Gourmet Dinner £75 per person. Accompanying Wine Menu £58 p.p.

Northern Lights Dinner Cruise
A lovely, intimate evening cruise by catamaran into sheltered waters, away from light pollution, to wait for the Northern Lights. Delicious, homemade food served on board. Boat equipped for 12 people.
Price: £115 per person

Whale Safari, RIB Boat or Big Boat
Experience Arctic wildlife on this exceptional boat safari. Frequently seen wildlife includes whales, orcas, dolphins, porpoises and sea eagles.
Duration 0830-1330, departures 1 Nov-25 Jan (10 Jan for Big Boat). Includes return transfers, whale safari, tea/coffee & biscuits and warm/survival suit.
Price: £115 per person

Dog Sledding
Duration 0945-1400 or 1815-2230, departures 1 Dec-20 Mar. Includes 1 hour transfers in each direction. Includes meal and warm clothing.
Price: £140 (1 Nov-20 Dec & 21 Mar-30 Apr, £150 (21 Dec-20 Jan) & £160 (21 Jan-20 Mar)

Reindeer Sledding and Sami Culture
Duration 1000-1400, departures 1 Nov-31 Mar. Includes 30 mins transfer in each direction, 3 kms reindeer sledding, Sami activities, Sami food and warm clothes.
Price: £130 per person

Aurora Safari to Base Stations
For this Northern Lights hunting trip four base stations are set up at different locations and every evening one of these is chosen as the best vantage point to watch the Aurora, depending on the latest weather conditions. If it is cloudy at one or all of the base stations then the tour will leave the stations and chase for clear skies. This tour offers a good chance of seeing the lights and a greater degree of comfort than some of the more ‘relentless’ chases; there are lavvo tents and huts with open fires to keep you warm and toilet facilities if the wait is long! The trip includes transportation from/to the Radisson BLU Hotel, a qualified guide, hot chocolate/coffee/ tea and cake. The duration of the tour is 5-7 hours.
Price: £95 per person.

Chasing the Northern Lights with Kjetil Skogli
Kjetil is the Northern Lights chaser who chased and found the Northern Lights for Joanna Lumley during her trip to Tromsø for the BBC. He specializes in small group trips (maximum 7 people) which makes it nice and easy to jump in and out of his mini-van at any given opportunity and, if necessary, head of to Finland in search of them!  Of course, the smaller the group the more time he has to spend helping individuals with their own camera settings which is rather important if taking your own photographic evidence is an important part of your trip. Kjetil can be rather relentless so this trip is for those who are happy to be out for a lengthy period of time, are steady on their feet i.e. able to do night-time walking over uneven ground carrying photographic equipment and who love the thrill of the chase.  The trip departs from outside the Radisson BLU Hotel at 1900 (until 15 March) and at 1930 (from 16 March) and has a duration of 6-8 hours – sometimes longer if necessary….. Transportation is by Peugeot Expert Tepee mini-van or similar which comortably seats 7 passengers. Distance travelled can be 150 kms or more one-way, depending on the cloud/weather conditions but the length of the tour is not the main thing if there is a chance of clear skies somewhere! The trip includes transportation, a woven Northern Lights Chaser badge to put on your clothes, coffee/tea, sweet snacks and a thermal suit if you need one. Price: £185 per person.