I am so proud and happy to be featuring a fellow Canadian’s post! My friend Jen from Businesstravelerswife.com recently visited Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and the photos are spectacular! You’ll definitely want to keep reading, whether you’ve always wanted to see Northern Lights, or have never considered it. If you fall into the latter category, this post may just change your mind!
Seeing the Northern Lights & Experiencing Yellowknife
Seeing the Northern Lights has always been one of the top items in my bucket list. My first vivid memory of wanting to witness the Northern Lights was when I watched the scene of Somebody to Love from the Happy Feet movie. lol
Luckily for me, my husband wanted to see it as much as I did. One night, we spontaneously decided to go for it! We didn’t know the best destination to see the Northern Lights so we did our research that night.
We ended up choosing Yellowknife (YK) in Canada for 2 reasons: 1) it’s always included in the lists of top destinations to see the Northern Lights and 2) it’s relatively cheaper for us since we’re already in Canada. *Later on, we learned from Joe, our local tour guide, that this is our first good decision. According to him, YK is the best place to see the Northern Lights. There aren’t any mountains or ocean nearby which make the weather stable.
After choosing a destination, we searched for a tour in YK. Although it’s more expensive, we decided to join a tour because we wanted to maximize our chances of seeing the Northern Lights. We chose North Star Adventures (here’s my review). It had an overwhelming number of great reviews in Tripadvisor. Plus, they will hunt the Aurora with you! North Star Adventures will drive you around YK to search for the Northern Lights.
The tour fee depends on the package and hotel that you’ll choose. We chose the Yellowknife Aurora Package which included a 3-night stay at a hotel, 2 nights of 4-4.5hr Aurora hunting tour, 2hr snowmobile tour (optional at $149+GST/person), and a personal airport pick-up service. We ended up paying $610+tax/person for this tour.
Our itinerary for 4 days:
We walked around the city at -20/-30ᵒc. Kudos to us!
There are Thai and Sushi restaurants, Shopper’s Drug Mart, galleries, grocery store and cinema. At the farther end (at least 30 mins of walking), is the Old Town. Here, we found the popular Bullocks’ Bistro, Dancing Moose Cafe, a frozen lake, and The Bush Pilot’s Monument. We went up the Monument and saw a beautiful view of the city and the (frozen) lake.
We didn’t expect to see any Northern Lights on our first night because it was cloudy. But when we looked from our hotel window at around 10:30pm-11pm, we saw it! Unbelievable!
- Snowmobile tour in the afternoon
- Dinner at Sushi Cafe (average)
- Aurora hunting tour in the evening
Aurora Hunting Tour Night 1 – Big D picked us up at 9pm. The tour had 3 vans with groups of 7-10pax. It was a bit crowded but we’re still happy that we joined this tour.
We went to 3 sites in search of the Northern Lights. We didn’t see it at the first site. At the second site, the Northern Lights appeared! It wasn’t as bright as we expected it to be but it was still incredible. It was all over the place, it’s unbelievable! One minute the Aurora is at one direction, the next minute at another. Our luck finally came! For a brief moment, we witnessed the Aurora Borealis dancing. ♥ It was dancing like a heartbeat. A rarer event happened.. We saw a glimpse of magenta. It seemed as if the Northern Lights was putting a show for us. At the third site, the Aurora was clearer and appeared larger.
- Lunch at Taste of Saigon (average)
- Dinner at Bullocks’ Bistro
- Aurora hunting tour in the evening
Aurora Hunting Tour Night 2 – We set our expectations low because the night started to be cloudy. When we reached the first site, clouds filled the sky. Then, we began to see stars coming out (good sign!) and the clouds were slowly opening. We all got excited and Joe kept on screaming to the sky, “Aurora! Aurora!”. lol Several minutes later, the Northern Lights appeared. It was brighter and greener than the other night! It danced for a few minutes. It was so surreal. ♥ We watched the Northern Lights for an hour until the clouds returned. Joe and his crew tried to hunt the Aurora again. They drove us for a while and we reached 2 sites but the clouds didn’t cooperate. Nonetheless, we were still ecstatic with what we witnessed at the first site.
- Lunch at the Dancing Moose Cafe
Despite the inconvenience of putting on at least 4 layers of clothes every time we go out, we loved this trip so much, this might be our best one so far! ♥ It’s definitely a unique experience,more of an adventure than a vacation. I saw the Northern Lights and watched it dance. I was even fortunate enough to witness a slight magenta. I also rode the snowmobile. With these alone, I already crossed off 2 items from my bucket list! How amazing is that??
Aside from the highlights of our trip, I love the whole YK experience. The locals are very nice (particularly the North Star Adventures crew). Our long walks during the very cold winter also added thrill to our adventure. We love the challenge! lol We even saw wildlife like foxes and wolverine (quite scary though).
- I highly recommend a trip to YK. It’s something you must do once in your life.
- Make your experience even better by taking the Aurora Hunting Tour and Snowmobile Tour with North Star Adventures! ♥
- If you want to take pictures of the Northern Lights, you should bring a camera and a tripod. Most camera phones wouldn’t be able to take pictures of the Aurora because they don’t have the required settings like shutter speed, white balance, and ISO. Tripod is needed to avoid blurry pictures.
- Don’t rely too much on the online forecast for Northern Lights because the weather changes quickly.
- If you’re planning to go during winter like we did, bring lots of layers, hand warmers and foot warmers! These saved our lives.
*Prices are in CAD
I am from Canada and have seen a bit of northern lights here in Edmonton, but NOTHING compared to what my pal Jen witnessed. Reading this post makes me want to hop on a plane tomorrow and see these beauties in action.
Thanks again Jen, I really appreciate you sharing your content with us!