AURORA BOREALIS IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
February 18 – 23, 2020
LOCATION: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
LEADERS: Kevin Adams
LIMITED TO: 5 participants (Minimum 4)
(Double occupancy; single supplement $1,100)
Among nature’s greatest spectacles, seeing the aurora borealis is at the top of many bucket lists. I’ve been fortunate to witness this event several times and I can state without hesitation (and with all due respect to the Ringling Brothers) that when the lights are “dancing,” it is the greatest show on earth.
You can reliably see the northern lights at a few locations, but perhaps the most reliable on Earth that is easily accessible is Yellowknife. The city lies directly beneath the aurora oval, where the most intense displays occur. Also, winter weather in Yellowknife is typically clear. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you’ll see the lights, but for the five nights you’ll be in Yellowknife on this photo tour, your chances are excellent that you’ll see them on at least a couple of nights. On my past two photo tours, we experienced the lights 4 out of 5 nights. On one of those nights, they danced for us in the most spectacular show I’ve ever seen.
Our main focus will be on capturing the northern lights in different settings, so if you want to photograph aurora, this photo tour is for you. But we’ll be doing other things as well. During the short daylight hours, we will explore and photograph many locations and subjects in and out of town. Past participants have enjoyed photographing not only the natural history of the Yellowknife region, but also experiencing and capturing the winter lifestyle of the people.
Did you know that Yellowknife was the setting for the first season of Ice Road Truckers? That’s right, the ice road on the show begins in Yellowknife. The first 70 kilometers is open to the public and provides access to some of our aurora shooting locations. We’ll branch off this road, called the Ingraham Trail, and venture onto frozen lakes. Yes, in Yellowknife, they use snowplows to create roads on their lakes!
Yellowknife too cold for you? Yep, it’s cold up there in winter, and if you’re a summer-only creature, maybe this photo tour isn’t for you. But I’ve found that even people who aren’t fond of cold weather do quite well in Yellowknife. It’s just SO cold that the weather itself becomes an integral part of the adventure and everyone seems to enjoy the quest not only to survive it, but to embrace it.
Witnessing and photographing the most awe-inspiring phenomenon in nature
Experiencing and photographing the lifestyle of a people living in a cold northern latitude
Savoring the culinary delights of Northwest Territories restaurants
Being able to tell your friends and family that you survived Yellowknife in winter
Guiding and instruction
Six nights lodging beginning Monday, February 17
Hotel features fitness room, steam room, and sauna
Airport shuttle to hotel
Winter clothing rental from February 18 to 23
Transportation during the photo tour
Drinks and snacks throughout the photo tour
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
Transportation to and from Yellowknife
The photo tour officially begins on the afternoon of February 18 and ends when we finish our night shoot on the morning of February 23. As I do with most photo tours, there is not a set itinerary for this trip. However, the routine will be basically the same each day. We’ll head out each evening to photograph the northern lights at various locations outside of town. During the day, we’ll catch up on sleep and do a little exploring. Dinners will be together with the group. Breakfast (if anyone gets up that early) will be on your own, and possibly lunch as well. On some days, depending on how late we stay out the night before, we will have lunch or brunch as a group. (This is a requisite for at least two days, as we must eat lunch at the inimitable Bullocks’ Bistro and have a mimosa with the best brunch in the Northwest Territories at the Dancing Moose Cafe.)
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS & PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS
All our photography will occur very close to the vehicle, so there won’t be any strenuous hiking or walking through deep snow unless you choose to do so on your own. The principle consideration for this trip is how well you accept and handle the temperature. Yellowknife is cold in winter. You can expect temperatures at night to be around minus 20F to minus 35F. On a few nights during past photo tours, the thermometer hit minus 40F.
Now, the good news. To help make everyone as comfortable (if not downright toasty) as possible, I’m including winter clothing rental in the registration. This includes pants, parka, hat, and a balaclava. Past participants say this keeps them quite comfortable. Having the proper clothing is vital on this photo tour and for this reason I am including this clothing package as a mandatory requirement for participating. Even if you already own the proper clothing, you’d have to bring a separate suitcase to carry all the bulky stuff. (Chances are you don’t have the right gear, anyway. You can’t buy this stuff at REI. The coats alone cost up to $2K! ).
Another bit of good news regarding the cold is that our vehicle will always be very close to us and the engine will always be running with the heat on. When your hands and/or face gets cold, you can always slip into the van for few minutes and warm up.
I know some have been apprehensive about coming on this tour because of the cold. I can tell you that I’ve never had a participant tell me that they regretted joining us because of it, or anything else for that matter. For them, the temperature became not a barrier to prevent them from having a rewarding experience, but rather became a part of the reward. The sense of adventure and accomplishment–the reward–is as much due to the winter atmosphere as it is seeing the dancing aurora borealis.
LODGING & TRANSPORTATION
Airfare is not included. You will fly into the Yellowknife airport (YZF). The hotel has a shuttle for the 5-minute drive from the airport. If you arrive the day before the photo tour begins, as most participants do, I will likely pick you up at the airport. All transportation during the photo tour is included. Your registration material will include more info about flying into Yellowknife, which can be quite an adventure.
Our host hotel is the Chateau Nova, Yellowknife’s newest and finest hotel. Six nights lodging beginning Monday, February 17 is included. This is for double occupancy. If you arrive early or stay late, you will need to pay for those nights. We will be happy to make those arrangements for you at our host hotel. Note that the photo tour doesn’t officially begin until the afternoon of February 18. We are including your room for the 17th because everyone will likely arrive on the day before the photo tour begins.
REGISTRATION & PAYMENT INFO
A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your space. The balance is due 120 days from the start of the photo tour, including any extra room nights or single-occupancy charges. You can pay the deposit and balance using our online registration system. You can register online by clicking the “Register Now” buttons on this page. If you prefer to pay by personal check, please contact me. Payment plans are available.
The $500 deposit is nonrefundable unless we cancel the trip. If you cancel up to 90 days prior to the event, we will refund all money paid, less the $500 deposit. Cancellations made between 90 days and 30 days prior to the event will be refunded 50%. No refunds will be given for cancellations made within 30 days of the event. However, if we can fill your space, we will provide a full refund, minus the $500 deposit, regardless of when you cancel. In the unlikely event we must cancel the photo tour for any reason, we will refund 100% of all money paid.
Please note that we cannot change this policy for anyone or for any reason. We strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance as soon as you register. Insurance will cover you in the event you must cancel the trip or you are unable to attend because of travel complications.