There isn’t a single winter month that we’d push you towards. Indeed, it’s impossible to say when the best time to travel is ... it varies and largely depends on what you are looking to get from your trip. We have people travelling to the Arctic region as early as September and as late as May. So, let’s go through the options:
The early season (September - November): autumnal colours give over to the first snowfalls. You’ll avoid the really low temperatures. It’s that bit quieter.
Temperatures tend to range from 3°C through the day to -4°C at night.
The height of winter (December - March): these are the cold months and the best time to be in the Arctic to get involved in all the activities. All is at its most pristine brilliance, the landscape drenched in snow. So much snow...
Don’t fall for the fallacy that you’ll be permanently enveloped in darkness. Even in deepest winter, there are a several hours of polar light. The snow reflects every bit of available light, so it’s far brighter than most expect, often with a magnificent bluish quality. †
Temperatures tend to range from -7°C through the day to -17°C at night.
The late season (April – May): The light returns, but the snow remains. Activities are still possible – indeed the energy levels increase. Everyone wants to get out, to see and to explore! The days quickly become increasingly longer and, by the end of April, long days warm the wintry landscape.
Temperatures tend to range from 0°C through the day to -6°C at night.
As with all natural occurrences we cannot guarantee that there will be snow and in past years it has been known to arrive late or disappear early. Cue rant about global warming...
† A note about the light in Spitsbergen: the end of October is when the sun has sent its final rays for the year. The islands enter into a period of darkness, which lasts for more than two months, until the beginning of February. However, when the weather is good, the moon is full, the skies are starry and the Northern Lights are dancing, a magnificent blue light pervades. For much of this period the sun still is below the horizon, but the light from the sun reaches over the horizon and creates a perpetual twilight atmosphere. Beautiful. The sun returns in March and days suddenly and rather dramatically get longer - April and May are considered by most to be the best times to visit.
Who knows! But if we said - “yes, absolutely, definitely” - then surely this would take away the romance? Instead, here are the facts:
The Aurora season is usually from September through to early April and within this period each month presents equal opportunity. Don’t believe anyone who will tell you otherwise - they’re wrong. December to February are often said to be best, but this is simply because that offer the longest hours of darkness.
It doesn’t follow that the further north you travel, the more likely you’ll see the northern lights. This is because the aurora is most visible beneath a ring known as the ‘oval’ which, though constantly shifting, usually encircles the Earth between 60° and 75° of latitude. This slices across the regions we feature.
Due to the northern lights being a natural phenomenon, and quite unpredictable, it is very hard to say for sure when they will be at their most visible. During the current Solar Maximum period the likelihood of you seeing the northern lights has been exceptionally high. However, irrespective of what’s happening high up in the atmosphere, the fact remains that cloudy nights will always block your view. Unfortunately, cloud cover cannot be predicted far in advance. As is always the case, you take your chances with the weather.
Now for the inevitable, but necessary, caveat - the northern lights can never be guaranteed. They may be likely; but they are never certain. Similarly, if you went to Botswana to see the lions or Canada to see the bears - possible, even likely, but never certain. If you do see them you are both lucky and privileged.
Take your thermal underwear! It is then a case of layering on top of that – long-sleeved tops and fleeces/wool jumpers and jogging bottoms. Wool is ideal, rather than cotton which easily gets wet. Then bring your winter outer layers. For your feet you will have the snow boots to use but we would recommend taking a sturdy pair of walking shoes or boots with good grip.
On the vast majority of our activities you will be provided with single-piece thermal snowsuit, gloves, boots and socks.
With the activities on our trips - snowmobiling, dog-sledding, snowshoeing - it‘s not necessarily important that you are super fit. Let’s simply say instead that the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy yourself. None of the activities are particularly arduous, per se, but when it’s cold it saps your energy and you usually get a little more tired than you would otherwise. Then it depends on how ‘action-packed’ your itinerary is; you could be doing one or two activities in the day and then head out in the evening as well, particularly if you want to see the northern lights, so days can be quite long.
For the activities, we have presumed no previous experience. They are operated with beginners in mind and we want you to enjoy yourself and not feel that you are on a Arctic expedition! However, if you are opting for one of the longer (full day or multi-day) husky and snowmobiling trips, then it is fair to say you need to have a reasonable level of personal fitness.
Get in touch with us - we’ve tried all of the activities ourselves and are more than happy to talk you through any concerns you may have.
Invariably they are local, professional, safety-conscious and very experienced. This is a very particular environment and you don’t want to head out in to the Arctic wilderness with just anybody. We want someone who knows the dangers, has the skills and can draw on years of experience. They grew up in the Arctic and know the geography. And they use the equipment daily. This ensures your safety at all times and allows a fascinating insight into this new environment.
Also, by employing local people, we feel we are contributing to the local economy and provide employment in a region where there are often few other opportunities.
Our guides are fully qualified and they comply with all safety regulations. You will always receive good tuition and a thorough safety briefing will be an integral part of all activities.
There are minimum ages associated with certain activities - for example, you need a driving licence to drive a snowmobile - and other activities are better suited to kids than others. But this is the beauty of Different Snow being a tailor-made company. We’ll create a trip to suit.
You must hold a full driving licence to drive a snowmobile. No exceptions.
For all holidays that include snowmobile driving you are liable for any damage you may cause to the machines. For major damages (normally those over £500) you will be covered by the owner's insurance.
In the unlikely event that you damage a snowmobile in a significant manner, you will only be charged the policy excess not the full cost of repair. You will be asked to agree to these conditions, either verbally or in writing before driving a snowmobile, and the excess amount will be specified.
When driving, remain alert, drive considerately and always follow the guides' instructions and safety briefing closely. You can't drive if you have had any alcohol. You really must ask questions if anything is at all unclear.
We are a company who genuinely believes in tailor-making all your arrangements. Different Snow are not an online booking agency, obliging you to go on set departures, on set dates and follow the itinerary as has been devised for 500 clients. That’s the mass-market, which we eschew - we don’t believe the “reindeer rides to the right, huskies to the left, follow your flag!” mentality has a place in the Arctic. Not for us.
To book a trip, simply call us on 020 7193 7310 or complete the online enquiry form here. We like to chat with our clients - by phone or email - and ensure they are booking a trip that is right …for you! We’re not scary know-it-all’s or call centre goons; just passionate travellers who, like you, love the snow.
We need to know:
We can organise international flights to and from the Arctic region. Or, you can organise these yourself if you wish. It’s up to you.
The deposit for all of our holidays is £400 per person. This can be paid via debit or credit card (2% surcharge on credit card). When a holiday is booked less than nine weeks before departure, the full balance will be required at the time of booking. Simple.
Travel insurance is essential for any booking with Different Snow. And not just any insurance ... in some instances you will need a Winter Sports policy extension to cover all activities featured as part of your itinerary. This is usually required if downhill skiing, snowboarding and/or snowmobiling features as an activity. Dog-sledding, cross-country skiing and most other winter activities included in our holidays are often automatically covered without the need to pay a Winter Sports additional charge. If you are planning to ski or snowboard off-piste, or have any other adventurous and unusual winter activity included, then this must be brought to the attention of your potential insurer before you arrange cover. This is your responsibility. Also, if you arrange any additional activities - booked independently of Different Snow - then it is essential that you check with your insurer to confirm cover before you book.
It is not presumed in Scandinavia and you are under no obligation to tip at all. However, if you feel that service has been exceptional then feel free to tip accordingly - no-one will be offended and no doubt the recipient will be exceptionally grateful.