/ Northern Lights and wild camping - Norway

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martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
Hi guys, haven't been on here for a long while!

I've always wanted to go see the northern lights and I've got a few days off in the beginning of December to spare, so was thinking of taking 4-5days off to go have a little explore of northern Norway! I know there's no guarantee of seeing them, but with the near permanent darkness in December there should still be some awesome sky's if the weathers right!

So the plan so far, fly into tromsø and go straight over the bridge into kvaløysletta. Maybe stay over night here if it's late, or if not, he's straight into the mountainous area.
Now we are talking December in northern Norway, so obviously it's going to be cold, snowy and very possibly wet, but I can handle that for a few days... It's all part of the fun after all!!
From here I'd do a big circle of the 3 major lakes in the region and back round to kvaløysletta before flying home.
Wild camping would be the accommodation of choice, and walking my method of travel.

So, has anybody been to this region before and have any advice on best locations or ways to go about things?
Has anyone been to Norway at this time of year to comment on the lack of sunlight? And if it's worth doing?
Anything I've maybe overlooked that anyone can think of?

Thanks for your time

Doug on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner: don't know anyone who's been there early December, but that far north I'd expect walking to be difficult & skis (or maybe snowshoes) a much better option
martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
Sorry Doug, I thought I put that in, but obviously not haha
I'd be using SnowShoes...
dale1968 - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner: stating the obvious, if its cloudy you wont see anything, as long as your in the Arctic circle location isn't an issue, best of luck as Aurora borealis is worth seeing
martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
Haha cheers for that!

Yeah I suppose that's a risk I'll have to take... or seeing as it's only flights I'll be booking, it may be a better option to wait for the long range/mid range weather forecasts to come out, and risk a late flight booking? I'm not sure...
dale1968 - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner: Think I would go down the road of long range, purely anecdotal but it is cloudy and snowing a lot of the time! HTH
In reply to martinturner: I've been to Kvaløya summer and winter, although I've not been in December. I'm not sure which major lakes you mean though. There are various little mountain lochans in the hills but no major lakes. There's not that much room really because Kvaløya has lots of fjords that cut deeply into it. As long as its not cloud the whole time, I would hope you get to see the lights. I always have when I've been up that way. Tromso is nice town as well and quite a few people live over the bridge on the first part of Kvaløya so I'm sure there must be plenty of buses running etc.

From what I remember the bit of the island above Kvaløysletta is sort of a flat topped moor. You're not far from lights of Tromso there. You might want to go a bit further onto the Island (going west) to get a bit further from the city lights, although having said that you can see the runway from the top of Baugen so you're never that far away.

Have you used snow shoes before?
estivoautumnal - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner:

You could try Scotland. We had a great display a couple of weeks ago. View from the Stein Inn was amazing.
martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
Thanks for the advice Toby...

When I say major lakes, I just meant to set them apart from the smaller pools that often frequent the islands. If you look at a map of kvaløy, there are 3 lochans that are considerably larger than the rest around the south of the island. These are the ones I mean. Major lakes was probably an exaggeration, however, I was just trying to set them out from the rest.

Would you say that it would be better to stray further afield? Or would that be too far to travel in the time frame I'm looking at?

And yes I have used snowshoes before :)

Thanks for the reply
TOS on 21 Oct 2012 - 194-105-170-51.ifb.co.uk
In reply to martinturner:

Just out of interest why Kvaløysletta? it's mainly residential suburbia.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure there are camping restrictions for the three lakes above Kvaløysletta - they feed the water supply for Tromsø apparently.

Whilst you can get a bus from the Airport to Kvaløysletta, it's only about 40mins walking time. There are two supermarkets, a garage and two eating places (pizza / pasta and a thai takeaway), but other than that it's just housing.

If you went up Røtind, just a bit further West from where you're taking about, you'll get a cracking view over towards Store Blåmann etc
Whilst you do get a good view of Tromsø on the way down from the lakes, while you're up there it's just as Toby said, rolling moorland.

One other thing, you don't have to go out into the middle of nowhere to see the Northern lights in Tromsø, you can easily see them from the town centre.

martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
Well as I say, that's only the plan so far, it's not gospel at all.

If there are better places, as I imagine there is, then I'd happily look into those instead! But a city break isn't something I want, so going into the lesser inhabited bits is what I'd prefer :)

Thanks for the input!
Only a hill - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner:
A friend of mine went on a solo trek in Norway a few winters ago, on snowshoes ... they regretted the decision and wished they had a) taken skis; and b) gone with other people!

(I must hasten to add that my only personal experience of Norway is during the height of summer...)
TOS on 21 Oct 2012 - 10.112.195.14 [dab-bas2-h-70-4.dab.02.net]
In reply to martinturner:

Sorry if my post seemed a bit negative, I've been up to the lakes a few times in recent weeks for a stretch of the legs and it doesn't strike me as a place I'd fly half way across Europe for. Just being honest...

Try looking at going over the other bridge; if you go the the wikipedia page, the panoramic photo what taken from up there, you could do a winter ascent of Tromstalstind(sp?) while you're up there. In your shoes, that's what I'd do.
martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
This picture?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Panorama_fjellheisen-improved.jpg

You seam very clued up on the area, I'm guessing you live close by?
If so, what is the bus transport like at this time of year and the kind of place I would want to go?

AndyC - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner:

I guess you know that there will be zero hours of daylight in Tromsø in December?
martinturner - on 21 Oct 2012
Very close to if not none, yeah.
In reply to martinturner: I should add there are good maps aimed at trekkers, skier etc available both for Kavaloya and the Tromso Fastland (the area east of the city before you get over to Lyngen). East of the city there is also some massive astrology installation which, IIRC, is for studying the aurora. I have no idea but I wonder if they have an tours for the public? If you are going that far to see the lights, you might be interested in the science as well?

I think if you main thing is to do some winter camping and hopefully see the lights you won't go too wrong in either direction.

I filmed this Ersfjord on Kvaloya http://www.vimeo.com/10726311 - when I turn to the left (where you first see the yellow glider, the area you can see across the fjord is the area I think you mean with those three lakes on it
In reply to TobyA: and obviously I now look a complete tit for writing "astrology" rather than "astronomy". I do mean radio telescopes and geeky dudes with massive computers, not some woman wearing too many bangles and producing airy platitudes that could mean anything to anyone! :-)
Doug on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA: "massive astrology installation" - did you mean astronomy ? (don't let Coel know you confused the two:-)
In reply to martinturner: ...and I asked about the snowshoes because I've found in cold temps on deep powdery snow whilst they are better than nothing sometimes it feels like not much! ;-)
ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to Doug:
> (don't let Coel know you confused the two:-)

According to your fellow Parisian UKCer who thinks the peer review system is all bunk and scientist make stuff up to serve their political beliefs, there's not much difference between the two. ;-)
Doug on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA: but he's an engineer, not a scientist :-)
Mark Bull - on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner:

Having been there a couple of times I cant imagine wandering round Kvaloya in the dark would be much fun. Most of the terrain is pretty knarly and low level options avoiding the roads are very limited. You might be better of heading north east from Tromso on the mainland where there is a network of trails on lower ground and a couple of huts.
martinturner - on 22 Oct 2012
Hmmm that 'astrology' ;) centre looks a good shout, will look abit more into it :)

So looks as though heading east will be a better option? I've spotted a campsite in a decent location in the east... Have sent them an email to see if their open in the December month. Does anyone know any links to the bus services in the area?

Thanks for the replies though!
wbo - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner: You would be better off finding somewhere to ski than thrashing around in snowshoes, but I don't know the area at all. Very often if you look around there will be cut ski trails over lakes, and learning on those will not take long and almost instantly be easier than walking.

Camping will be ok if you're prepared, or look for a hytte, and base yourself out of that. It will also make the lack of daylight a bit easier to deal with mentally

You will not get wet. Dehydration will be a bigger issue.

I would be surprised not to see some aurora
martinturner - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to wbo:
I've never touring skii'd before, but I have found a company in tromsø who hire out ski's, boots, poles and skins for about £130 for 5 days! So I suppose I could learn on the trip, dependant on how hard it is :) ha, although snowshoes would be a fine second option if not.

Campings fine by me, Im one of those people who could happily live in a tent.

Thanks for the reply
In reply to wbo:
> but I don't know the area at all. Very often if you look around there will be cut ski trails over lakes, and learning on those will not take long and almost instantly be easier than walking.

that sounds like inland Swedish or Finnish Lapland. Tromsø and Kvaløya are sea level and surrounded by the sea that doesn't freeze. I can't think of any sizable lakes around there. I'm sure there are ski tracks made in some places (probably more likely on the mainland east of Tromsø) but my sense is that's more of spring thing. Don't know what snow is like in December though? Could be loads of unconsolidated power or none and rain I guess.
Paul Evans - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to martinturner:
If you want to see the Northern Lights your best bet may be Sweden rather than Norway. Read up on Abisko..it's in a natural bowl of mountains which means that it's more likely to be cloud free than most of Northern Norway or Sweden. That's why the Swedes have built their national centre for the aurora there. I'm off there in Feb, with fingers crossed. I briefly considered camping and then wimped out and decided me and my cameras would be better off in the local hostel.
Good luck whatever you do!
Prime time is apparently between 9PM and 2AM, and moonless nights are best.
It's a solar maximum around 2013 which is a good thing!
Paul.

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