In the past, if you wanted the drama of racing across a frozen landscape in search of the Northern Lights, you’d have to accept that it would be accompanied by the roar of snowmobile engines. If you wanted a peaceful, meditative viewing, you’d have to ditch the machine and head out on snowshoes or skis. But now, with a new Northern Lights adventure from Off the Map Travel that features eSnowmobiles powered by renewable energy, you can have both quiet and easy speed.
Tour operator Off the Map Travel, with its team of Northern Lights specialists, seems to one-up itself every year with its aurora offerings. In 2016, it was a Bubble Sled, a heated, snowmobile-pulled mobile hotel room in which guests could spend the night watching for those dancing green lights. In 2017, it was a glass-topped hut in a part of Finland with a 70 percent chance of catching the Northern Lights.
This year, the company is going eco-friendly with its Truly Green All Day Aurora itinerary. The trip is based in the town of Longyearbyen, a designated Sustainable Destination (a quality label for Norwegian destinations that meet a set standard in responsible business practices and development) in Norway’s remote Svalbard archipelago. There, between the months of November and January, the sun is always at least six degrees below the horizon, so it’s always dark outside; guests have a good chance of spotting the Northern Lights as they cruise across the snowy landscape on sustainable snowmobiles.
“The new eBikes are snowmobiles that use electric motors that are great for the environment as well as totally quiet, permitting a closer connection with local wildlife and nature,” states Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel. So more than just allowing for a more peaceful aurora experience, the quiet engine means you’re less likely to spook reindeer, ptarmigans, polar foxes, and other local wildlife when you’re cruising the tundra in search of those dancing green lights.
And the snowmobiles are easier on the fragile Arctic environment too. Powered using renewable energy captured from Arctic winds and the midnight sun and stored in battery packs for use throughout the year, the snowmobiles don’t pollute the area.
Guests on the Truly Green Aurora experience spend three nights at the historic Funken Lodge, which offers views of the Lars and Longyear glaciers. They’ll also spend an evening at cozy Camp Barentz, eating dinner and learning about the Northern Lights, and they’ll enjoy a dog sledding excursion, go snowshoeing to an ice cave, and tour the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Trips start at $1,407 per person, which excludes flights but includes private transfers.