A day to day account of the February 2019 trip from our photographer Renato Granieri.
Day 1: Friday 8th February 2019
Fly to Tromso in Northern Norway
We land at a freezing Tromso airport and are met with a warm welcome and a big smile by our guide, Mads. He takes us to a nice warm minivan for a drive for around 2 hours to our accommodation at Sørheim Brygge. It’s dark but now and then we get a sense of the wilderness we are passing through; driving past deep fjords and icy mountains, and crossing impressive bridges. A delicious local dinner of vegetable soup and freshly-caught shrimps is ready for us when we arrive. We’re certain it’s fresh because as we eat a fishing boat is offloading its catch through the window of the restaurant – straight out of the sea and in to the kitchen! After dinner Mads gives us a brief and fascinating introduction to Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, and then we head outside. Looking up we immediately spot some faint traces of green dancing across the sky. As our eyes gradually adjust to the darkness the lights become more and more intense. They fade before we have time to get to a good spot to photograph them, but we are very happy to have seen them so soon!
Saturday 9th February 2019
Photographing icy landscapes and the fabulous Northern Lights
Heading out in the morning we get our first sense of the area in daylight. It’s a beautiful white landscape and with the sun never getting very high in the sky the light is warm all day long, casting long shadows everywhere. We checkout a few possible locations for the night shooting, and have a go at shooting the low sun through the birch trees.
As dusk approaches we head back to get changed for an exciting evening chasing the lights. It looks very promising with a lovely clear sky and our hopes rise. We are not disappointed! As soon as we hit the road we spot a phenomenal green display flickering and dancing above our heads. We pull over, set up our tripods and click away, getting some lovely shots!
The Lights start to move so we follow suit, heading to a nearby lavvu. These were temporary dwellings of the indigenous Sami people which enabled them to follow their herds of reindeer. They offer us an opportunity to get some interesting foreground subjects for our images. We still get the green in the sky, but also a little bit of red/purple. Mads explains to us how the altitude at which the lights occur, and the gases involved causes the different colours. When the sky starts to cloud over, we decide to take a break and get inside, warming up with some Lefse – a traditional cinnamon-based Norwegian snack, and a well-deserved hot tea made with mixture of local herbs and mint. It’s delicious, warming and very welcome!
Sunday 10th February 2019
Walking through the snowy forest to a spectacular frozen waterfall
With a good selection of Aurora images already in the bag, we head out to get some of the glorious landscape too. We take a 30 minute walk though the wilderness, mainly a forest of pine and birch trees. The scenery is astonishingly beautiful and eerily silent – the only sound is the crunching of snow beneath our feet. We’re unable to enjoy the silence for too long, as the stunning and massive Rottenvika frozen waterfall comes in to view, drawing gasps of admiration from us all.
We take our time on the way back, not only photographing the landscape but having some fun sliding down on the snow – no sleds required!
Monday 11th February 2019
Meeting the Sami people and heading home
Sadly it is already our last day, but that doesn’t mean our adventure is over! A drive of just over an hour takes us to a place called camp Tamok, where we meet one of the indigenous reindeer herders that inhabit the most northern parts of Scandinavia, the Sami people.
Karen, our friendly Sami reindeer handler, is ready for us with sleds and several of her beautiful animals. They are large but surprisingly calm and friendly – none of the skittishness that you often get with horses. We board the sleds and head out on to a massive snow-covered plain, surrounded by high mountains covered in birch trees. Our ride is slow, silent and even relaxing, the vastness of the landscape and the methodical plodding of the reindeer almost hypnotic.
Karen is wearing her traditional dress and is more than happy to pose for portraits and tell us about her life and that of her people. We could have stayed with her all day but we needed to get a hot meal inside us before our journey back.
Click here for full details of our Norway Northern Lights Photography Adventure