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17:17 Thursday 26 April 2012 

Travel review: Mission to see Norway's Northern Lights

Have you ever considered tripping the lights fantastic? February and March are the dates to pencil in for a winter adventure in Norway - and the chance to see the jaw-dropping aurora borealis. Baylis Media Ltd's Deputy Editor Glenn Mitchell reports.


Norway

 'I've got it" was the excited cry as one of our group waved their camera in the air.

Others soon started jigging with delight after peering at their viewfinders to see a night sky painted in sweeping shades of green.

Wrapped in thick winter clothing and standing in crisp, fresh snow it had been a cold hour looking towards the heavens.

We had travelled to Norway for a five-day Arctic adventure in the hope of witnessing the Northern Lights.

And when they finally appeared it was crystal-clear to everyone it was worth the wait.

We stood open-mouthed as the eerie illuminations wove patterns in the star-studded sky.

Northern Lights

The trip had started just hours before, with our party on board the first chartered flight from Gatwick jetting to the small airport of Evenes, which sits above the Arctic Circle.

The new destination is the perfect gateway to the peninsula and islands off the west coast, including Vestralen and Lofoten.

After a short drive on snow-covered roads - the hardy Norwegians don't bat an eyelid at a thick layer of the white stuff on the carriageway - we were wrapping up in preparation to go lights hunting.

The lights are amazing but unpredictable.

Even if the conditions had been awful and the lights didn't appear, the winter trip was packed with enough sights and activities to make it truly memorable.

The landscape in February and March after heavy snowfall is truly stunning.

It is the unspoilt environment that is the region's greatest asset.

A nature safari on a fjord provided picture-postcard views and the opportunity for a close-up view of majestic sea eagles swooping to pluck fish from the water.

The sound of camera shutters clicking was the only noise as we watched them fly down time and time again.

Sea kayaking was also on the itinerary. The snow was falling as we paddled out into the bay of another stunning location with the only sound that of our paddles pulling through the water.

The ancient culture of the Sami people is also celebrated in the region and their pride at being the only indigenous people in the Arctic shines through.

The sense of history came alive during a visit to working reindeer farm, where the genial Sami hosts invited us into their traditional lavvu tent.

They performed a spiritual song called a joik, their powerful voices filling the inside of the dark and moody lavvu, lit only by firelight.

The food was also a highlight, with an abundance of fresh seafood. It also provided the opportunity to taste cured lamb for the first time, which, for the record, tasted fantastic.


Norway

So is a winter trip to Norway worthwhile?

That was the question being pondered as I sat drinking a beer in an outdoor wood-fired hot tub on the banks of a crystal-clear fjord surrounded by snow-capped peaks, looking up at a night sky blanketed with stars and untouched by light pollution.

You can guess my conclusion.

    Norway

 Useful links:

visitnorway.co.uk

northernnorway.com

facebook.com/visitnorway.co.uk

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