North­ern Lights dim­ming no bigie

Travel Bulletin - - ISUES & TRENDS -

De­spite com­ing to the end of a so­lar cy­cle, the North­ern Lights are not about to pack up and dis­ap­pear. “If you are speak­ing to the lo­cals, and I am one of them, I grew up with the North­ern Lights, the cy­cles aren’t re­ally that sig­nif­i­cant in re­gards to see­ing the lights,” ex­plains Ti­etse Stelma, CEO & co-founder of spe­cial­ist tour oper­a­tor 50 De­grees North. “Of course you do see more ac­tiv­ity in cer­tain years, but if you wanted to go see the North­ern Lights in the next five or six years then there’s plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to see them, you just need to have a well-de­signed tour and make sure that you know the weather pat­terns of the re­gion.” The North­ern Lights, or Aurora Bo­re­alis, goes through a bright­ness and dim­ness cy­cle de­pen­dent on the ac­tiv­ity of the sun. It has been sug­gested the cy­cle is now mov­ing into a “so­lar min­i­mum”, where less ac­tiv­ity means less North­ern Light ac­tiv­ity. But Stelma as­sures it will still be pos­si­ble to find the lights – with the right di­rec­tion. “I think it’s im­por­tant that you speak to some­one that re­ally knows what they’re talk­ing about,” he says. “If you know the weather pat­terns and know how to de­sign a good trip by com­bin­ing coastal cli­mate and in­land cli­mate then you get a much bet­ter chance of max­imis­ing your chances to see the lights.” He rec­om­mends spend­ing at least five or six nights in the re­gion to have a “good chance”. The North­ern Lights aren’t the only rea­son vis­i­tors are flock­ing to the far north, with the north­ern Nor­we­gian Coast, Lo­foten Is­land and of course, Ice­land, par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar - some­times to the point of sat­u­ra­tion. “We’re try­ing to avoid peo­ple go­ing in the peak sea­son, Ju­lyAu­gust, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the Euro­pean hol­i­days and look, it’s still a beautiful des­ti­na­tion but I’d rec­om­mend to try to stay away from Euro­pean hol­i­days,” he ad­vises. Stelma pre­dicts vis­i­tors will spread to some of the is­lands in the North At­lantic, aside from Ice­land. “The Faroe Is­lands are fan­tas­tic, they are re­ally un­der­sold and again a beautiful des­ti­na­tion, beautiful is­lands,” he says. “I also think that large parts of the Nor­we­gian coast and coun­try­side, Fin­land and Swe­den is again very un­der­sold, there’s so much wilder­ness and na­ture in those re­gions so it is easy to cre­ate re­ally beautiful itin­er­ar­ies, but only if you know the re­gion quite well,” Stelma adds.

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