Sunset in Alta

I came across another magic moment in Alta while poking around on YouTube today. Photographer Yigit Yuksel took this delightful video of a sunset in Alta, down at the water’s edge. By the looks of it, it was taken not too long ago – no snow or ice, and a little less light than we have now.  There are no camera tricks – no stop-frame, no animation – just sunset.

If you live in the area… when was the last time you just sat on a beautiful evening and looked out over the water or towards the mountains for a few peaceful minutes? (And if the answer was “oh, last week I guess” then you get a gold star!).  If it has been a while, or you don’t live in this part of the world, get a cup of something hot, set the video to full screen and just sit for a few minutes. The magic is all around, here, in the eager voice of a husky dog, a snowy forest trail beckoning you and your fatbike, and in the stillness of a springtime sunset. Enjoy!

Midnight Sun Hunting: Three Ideas

Alta, Norway – the biggest little town in Finnmark (Norway’s northernmost and largest county) is a popular place for travelers both summer and winter. In the winter, people come to have fun in the snow and hunt for the northern lights. In the summer, the midnight sun is the fascinating phenomenon overhead.

Midnight sun in Alta, Norway
Photo: altafoto.no

The quest to see the midnight sun is much simpler than hunting for the northern lights. The aurora borealis may or may not be in the sky on any given day. When it does show up, it can be strong or weak with no way to really know until you stand outside and wait (see our recent post about that).

In contrast, the sun at midnight is there every night. If it is cloudy, then it is simply daytime. Not cloudy? There it is! And we know exactly what days of the year the sun will be over the horizon here all night.

While you CAN simply walk out of your hotel at midnight or look out the window to see the sun, why not make the experience a little more magical? If you’ve never spent time in a land without darkness, here are three suggestions to make it more special! Continue reading “Midnight Sun Hunting: Three Ideas”

Blog Friends: A Dangerous Business

There’s a whole new industry out there: travel blogging. People travel from place to place, writing on their blog about their experiences, sharing photos and tweets and stories on social media, and giving travelers-to-be and traveler-wannabe’s alike a glimpse into the wonderful world around us.

Now and then, some of them even come through Alta. Whether they arrive as part of a prearranged tour or by their own planning, we often meet them either through North Adventure by request, or when they drop into the tourist office next to us, here. Sometimes, they simply go on tours and then depart town; but now and then we get some time together, to explore a little or just chat.

In February, Amanda Williams of the blog “A Dangerous Business” came to Alta along with Marie-Eve Vallieres of “To Europe & Beyond” as part of a Northern Norway tour. Though the weather was not always so great – this is the arctic, after all – they were good sports and had fun. They also said some very nice things about Alta and Tromsø; and even though that’s not a surprise to us, we were pleased that they were glad they came. Continue reading “Blog Friends: A Dangerous Business”

4-star Experiences in Alta

Every now and then, we’re asked to build an itinerary for clients coming into northern Norway, and the travel agent or tour operator tells us, “These are very high end clients and they require 4-star accommodation”, or 4-star meals, or some other kind of 4-star thing.

That’s perfectly ok, because excellence in service and products is important to have. But here in the far north, we’re a little short on Armani suits and white gloves. You’ll find lots of Bergans coats and Ulvang wool socks, and snowmobile suits for sale pretty much everywhere, and lots of people debating whether Ski-Doo or Arctic Cat makes better snowmobiles (leave your own preferences in the comments, I’m not getting in the middle of those discussions).

And you’ll also find some delightful surprises, like a chance to eat a decidedly elegant dinner out in the middle of nowhere at a husky farm, where one of the owners happens to also have his professional kitchen. But we’ll leave the big palaces and tony hotels to the folks down south, thanks.

BUT… Continue reading “4-star Experiences in Alta”

Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition

The aurora borealis – the northern lights – is a very popular topic in the area.  After all, Alta is “The City of the Northern Lights”, so it’s no surprise that people would be coming here for a chance to see it in the winter. We get lots of questions every year from people hoping to maximize their chances of seeing the fascinating natural phenomenon.

Aurora Borealis near Alta, photo altafoto.noWe are done with nighttime now – the sky last night at midnight was still a glowing twilight – and seeing the aurora is a thing of memory until next September.  It might seem a little late to be writing about the northern lights, but the planning for next year’s holiday never stops and we’re already fielding inquiries for next year.

So here is a little story, written out in FAQ form, compiled from conversations that I have now and then with travelers.  Hope you get a chuckle.

Q: Hi there!  We want to come to Alta because we really want to see the northern lights!

Great!

Q: Right!  So, what time of year is best?

Well… the problem is that the aurora strength has nothing to do with time of year, and the weather is totally unpredictable. So really, your chances are equal as long as it’s dark enough. Anytime between the end of September and the beginning of April is just fine.

Q: But this will be a very expensive trip, so we really need to maximize our chances.  Just give me an idea of what time of year is best? Continue reading “Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition”