Nature’s awesome show in Norway

The Northern Lights in the Vesteralen Islands of northern Norway. '' Picture: PA Photo/Paul Goldstein/Exodus.
The Northern Lights in the Vesteralen Islands of northern Norway. '' Picture: PA Photo/Paul Goldstein/Exodus.
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It’s pitch dark and I’m flat on my back on a frozen lake in the middle of nowhere.

Above me, it seems that almost half the sky is lit up with a sash of minty green light that appears to ripple and dance.

This isn’t some surreal dream, I’m watching the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.

It’s only my second night in the Arctic Circle and it seems Lady Luck is shining on me as brightly as the aurora – most people I’ve talked to about chasing the lights have been disappointed, flying miles to cold climes only to find heavy cloud cover and a no-show.

But here, in the Vesteralen Islands of northern Norway, I will see the lights throughout most of my stay.

I’m here with Exodus, who specialise in adventure travel and, if the lights had proved elusive, the trip would have more than made up for it.

Over the course of five days, I meet Sami and their reindeer, go sledding with dogs, skate on a frozen lake, try snowshoeing, ice fishing and horse riding.

It feels as far from the humdrum of daily life as it’s possible to be, and the dreamlike quality of the whole experience is heightened by the epic landscape – think Narnia meets Lord Of The Rings - with its snow-capped peaks and great expanses of tundra giving way to wave-lapped shores and fjords.

We’re based on Langoya, one of Norway’s largest islands, in the town of Sortland, which has an impressive selection of quirky 
Scandi eateries and shops stocked with cosy knitwear.

Our guides for the trip are Norwegians Jeremy and Matheos, who are experts at Arctic survival and have the patience of saints with a bunch of Brits for whom even a light drift of snow is a train-cancelling event.

In winter, there’s only around four hours of daylight so we need to make the most of it.

We set off on a walk through a winter wasteland, alongside a frozen stream flanked by mountains.

In a wooden shelter overlooking a lake we find Nigel from Lincolnshire, a former Royal Marine stationed in Norway who fell in love and has been living here for 20 years. He and his wife run Andoy Friluftssenter, a cosy wooden restaurant and log cabins overlooking a fjord.

They own an incredible 4000 acres and forage cloudberries, used in the dishes they serve.

While Nigel cooks up a delicious lunch of moose and veggie stir-fry over an open fire in the shelter, Jeremy drills (small) holes in the icy lake and we try fishing. Half an hour later, one of our group has caught a trout.

In the evening we set off on our first Northern Lights hunts. We arrive at a frozen lake just before they put on what Jeremy describes as the ‘brightest and best’ show of the year so far.

A band of green swirls across the sky, like the blurred headlights of heavy traffic on a cosmic super-highway. It arcs and expands, then curls and morphs into endless cloud shapes. We lay back on the ice and watch.

On our last day, and after plenty of adventures, we’re off to the dogs. Thirty lean husky-type hounds are chained up in a snowy enclosure and after briefing, we help to put them in their harnesses.

They are born to run, says the owner, which is why they’re so eager.

In the evening we spend a very relaxing hour half watching the Northern Lights from the warmth of a hot tub.

We’ve seen so much of them, they’re beginning to feel like a permanent fixture in the night sky.

Kate Whiting was a guest of Exodus (exodus.co.uk; 0845 863 9601) which offers the five-day Arctic Circle Adventure from £2,499 pp, including return flights from Heathrow with SAS airlines, hotel accommodation and some meals.