Seeing the Northern Lights has always been one of the top items in my bucket list. There are many wonderful destinations where you could witness this magical event. Mr. C and I are lucky enough to see it twice, first on our tour for the Northern Lights in Yellowknife, Canada and second on our flight to Iceland.
We ended up choosing Yellowknife (YK) in Canada to see the Northern Lights for 2 reasons:
1. It’s always included in the lists of top destinations to see the Northern Lights
2. It’s relatively cheaper for us since we’re already in Canada
*Later on, we learned from Joe, our local tour guide, YK is the best place to see the Northern Lights. There aren’t any mountains or oceans nearby which allows the weather to be more stable.
After choosing a destination, we searched for a Northern Lights or Aurora Tour in YK.
Although it’s more expensive, we decided to join a tour because we wanted to maximize our chances of seeing the Northern Lights. We chose North Star Adventures because it had an overwhelming number of great reviews in Tripadvisor. Plus, they will hunt the Aurora with you! They will drive you around YK to search for the Northern Lights. *Click here for my review on the North Star Adventures.
The Northern Lights or Aurora Tour fee depends on the package and hotel that you’ll choose.
We chose the Yellowknife Aurora Package which included a 3-night stay at a hotel, 2 nights of 4-4.5hr Aurora hunting tour, 2hr snowmobile tour (optional at $149+GST/person), and a personal airport pick-up service. We ended up paying $610+tax/person for this tour.
On our first night, we didn’t expect to see any Northern Lights because it was cloudy.
When we looked from our hotel window at around 10:30pm-11pm, we saw it! Unbelievable!
1st Night of Aurora Hunting Tour
Our tour guide picked us up at 9pm. The tour had 3 vans with groups of 7-10pax. It was a bit crowded but we’re still happy that we joined this tour.
We went to 3 areas in search of the Northern Lights. We didn’t see it at the first site. At the second site, the Northern Lights appeared! It wasn’t as bright as we expected it to be but it was still incredible. It was all over the place, it’s unbelievable! One minute the Aurora is at one direction, the next minute at another. Our luck finally came! For a brief moment, we witnessed the Aurora Borealis dancing. ♥
The Northern Lights was dancing like a heartbeat.
A rarer event happened.. We saw a glimpse of magenta. It seemed as if the Northern Lights was putting a show for us. At the third site, the Aurora was clearer and appeared larger.
2nd Night of Aurora Hunting Tour
We had low expectations because the night started as cloudy. When we reached the first site, clouds filled the sky. Then, we began to see the stars coming out and the clouds were slowly opening. We all got excited and our tour guide kept on screaming to the sky, “Aurora! Aurora!”. Several minutes later, the Northern Lights appeared. It was brighter and greener than the other night! It danced for a few minutes. It was so surreal. ♥ We watched the Northern Lights for an hour until the clouds returned.
We tried to look for the Northern Lights again. They drove us for a while and we reached 2 sites but the clouds didn’t cooperate. Nonetheless, we were still ecstatic with what we witnessed at the first site.
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Here’s our 4-day itinerary:
- Checked in at Capital Suites (my hotel review)
- City tour
- Dinner at Bullocks’ Bistro (my food review)
We walked around the city at -20/-30ᵒc. Kudos to us!
There are Thai and Sushi restaurants, Shopper’s Drug Mart, galleries, grocery store and cinema. At the farther end (at least 30 mins of walking), is the Old Town. Here, we found the popular Bullocks’ Bistro, Dancing Moose Cafe, a frozen lake, and The Bush Pilot’s Monument. We went up the Monument and saw a beautiful view of the city and the frozen lake.
- Snowmobile tour in the afternoon (my review)
- Dinner at Sushi Cafe (average)
- 1st night of Aurora hunting tour
- Lunch at Taste of Saigon (average)
- Dinner at Bullocks’ Bistro (my food review)
- 2nd night of Aurora hunting tour
- Lunch at the Dancing Moose Cafe (my food review)
Despite the inconvenience of putting on at least 4 layers of clothes every time we go out, we loved this Northern Lights trip so much, this might be our best one so far! ♥
It’s definitely a unique experience, more of an adventure than a vacation. I saw the Northern Lights and watched it dance. I was even fortunate enough to witness a slight magenta. I also rode the snowmobile. With these alone, I already crossed off 2 items from my bucket list! How amazing is that?
Aside from the highlights of our trip, I love the whole YK experience. The locals are very nice (particularly the North Star Adventures crew). Our long walks during the very cold winter also added thrill to our adventure. We loved the challenge! We even saw wildlife like foxes and wolverine (quite scary though).
Tips on seeing the Northern Lights:
- I highly recommend a trip to YK. It’s something you must do once in your life.
- Make your experience even better by taking the Aurora Hunting Tour and Snowmobile Tour with North Star Adventures!
- If you want to take pictures of the Northern Lights, you should bring a camera and a tripod. Most camera phones wouldn’t be able to take pictures of the Aurora because they don’t have the required settings like shutter speed, white balance, and ISO. Tripod is needed to avoid blurry pictures.
- Don’t rely too much on the online forecast for Northern Lights because the weather changes quickly.
- If you’re planning to go during winter like we did, bring lots of layers, hand warmers and foot warmers! These saved our lives.
*Prices are in CAD
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