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Private Aurora Tour

PRICE STARTS AT
$1,095
August 17 to April 24
Nightly
8 Hrs
Private Aurora Tour

We have taken our popular Anchorage Aurora Quest and put a more high-end, private spin on it. Welcome to our Private Aurora Tour! Much like our Anchorage Aurora Quest, this tour is designed to maximize your opportunity to see the northern lights at scenic locations. We utilize a variety of science-based apps and websites, along with our historical data of recent aurora seasons, to determine the best nights and locations to go. We also provide photographic instruction to those desiring to photograph the northern lights, and provide complimentary professional portraits of you with the aurora, taken by our professional photographer guides.

But we add some special touches to this tour, including an initial presentation about the science of the northern lights at our office (along with drinks and snacks), a hot soup or stew with artisan bread, dessert, and a portable bonfire while out on location and a longer tour duration to maximize your opportunity to see the lights and enjoy them. Finally, unlike our Anchorage Aurora Quest tour, we will pick you up at any location within a two-hour drive of downtown Anchorage. This driving time would be included in the total time of your tour. (Of course, for locations that are farther away, the office presentation would not be available.)

Additionally, starting two days out from your tour, we give you a personalized forecast (at no extra cost) for both the weather and aurora conditions to give you an idea as to the likelihood that the tour will proceed on your scheduled night. If conditions are not looking good, we work with you early to potentially reschedule in order to maximize your success in seeing the northern lights.

Who

This is a private, small group northern lights tour for photographers and sightseers alike.

When
  • Nightly, August 17 to April 24 when conditions are right, which means at least Kp1 and less than 50% cloud cover. We run the tour during these dates because there are at least six hours of nautical twilight in the night.
  • Departure is generally between 8-10 pm, depending on the season and cloud conditions. You will receive an email with tour confirmation and pickup time at your Anchorage location by text and/or email no later than 4 pm.
  • Duration is  approximately 8 hours.
Where

We have several favorite spots within a 120-mile radius of Anchorage that offer wonderful views of the night sky, and great land features such as reflective lakes, forests, coastal waterways, and mountain peaks. After pickup at your Anchorage area accommodations, the locations we visit for this northern lights photo tour are based on conditions at the time. We may travel to 1-3 locations during the evening.

How To Prepare

  • Rest up before your scheduled booking(s).
  • Dress in warm layers! We may be away from the vehicle for up to 1-hour. It’s important to gear up appropriately and plan to keep moving while out. It’s also better to wear one pair of warm socks than two. This is because the more socks you add, the more likely you are to constrict circulation. Try to leave a pocket of airspace around your foot in the boot. Also wear a warm, moisture-wicking under layer, mid layer [preferably fleece] and thick, snow proof outer layer, along with hat, scarf and gloves. Arctic gear including bibs, parka and boots are available to rent at Sixth Avenue Outfitters or Alaska Outdoor Gear Rental in Anchorage. For purchasing your own winter gear in advance of your trip, visit our Winter Outdoor Gear idea list on our Amazon storefront!
  • Use the restroom in advance. There are very few restrooms open in state parks this time of year, and limited public options available in the wee hours of the early morning when the tour takes place… though there are complimentary trees and bushes available at all locations. 🙂
  • If capturing the northern lights on camera is your main objective, we recommend reading a How to Photograph Northern Lights before the tour. You’ll receive additional coaching in the field.

Conditions

This is a moderate activity that involves short walks on snow and ice. Weather conditions may include wind, and temperatures range from -20ºF [-29ºC] to 50ºF [10ºC].

What's Included

Anchorage area hotel pickup and drop-off (Girdwood and Alyeska Resort bookings may be made for groups of 6 or more).
Narrative on the science and lore surrounding auroras provided by your guide.
Hand and toe warmers
Creative and technical photography instruction is offered by your professional photographer guide.
Professional portraits of you with the aurora borealis or night sky are complimentary.
Tripods are available for loan.
North Slope-rated heavy winter parkas/jackets are available for loan (indicate during booking if you need to borrow one).
Soup or stew, artisan bread, dessert, hot drinks, and water (we strive to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the environment, so fresh water from a jug along with refillable cups).
Pick up at any location within a one-hour range of Anchorage. This pick up time is included in the tour time.
A Sony mirrorless camera is available for loan. You are also provided a flash card that you can take home.

What To Bring

If your aim is to take home aurora images of your own, you will need the following:
Camera with manual settings
Smartphone users are recommended to upload an aurora app and bring a phone tripod
Headlamp
At least 32GB memory card
Lenses ranging from 14-70mm with f/2.8 aperture (f/4.0 will work)
Camera with manual settings
Smartphone users are recommended to upload an aurora app and bring a phone tripod
Headlamp
At least 32GB memory card
Lenses ranging from 14-70mm with f/2.8 aperture (f/4.0 will work)

Transportation

Vehicle will depend on the size of the group. Groups of 1-2 will enjoy the comfort of our Toyota Highlander, for larger groups, a clean, spacious passenger van. Driver is your photography guide.

Important Booking Information

  • Cancel your reservation at least 48-hours in advance if your plans change and we will provide a full refund. If you are not available for the night you reserved and the tour runs, you will be charged for the tour.
  • You will be notified if the tour is canceled due to cloudy, rainy, or snowy conditions. You will be fully refunded in such a case.
  • As this is a private tour, there is no minimum booking required.
  • Payment is confirmation of your acknowledgment of the risk inherent in this natural phenomenon; once it’s received and the tour departs, no refund will be issued if auroras do not appear as expected.

FAQ

A: Aurora viewing is dependent on both space and earth weather. While forecasts for the former are based on much scientific data coming from many tracking stations, space weather tracking and research is still in its infancy, and data is available only from a limited number of satellites. It’s best to expect the unexpected. Based on the previous year’s statistics, conditions were right to run 51% of the scheduled tours. Of the tours that ran, the aurora borealis was seen with the naked eye 80% of the time. So, you should be aware that although we only run our Anchorage northern lights tour when conditions are good for viewing the aurora, approximately 20% of the time the aurora is not visible with the naked eye. Your chances increase greatly the more nights you have available to tour. This is why our four-night pass is a great option!

A: We do our very best to run the tour when forecasts indicate conditions are optimal to see auroras. Nature sometimes surprises us in pleasant and unpleasant ways. Forecasts and the models they rely on are not 100% accurate, and sometimes we do not see the aurora borealis with the naked eye. Whatever happens, it is our aim to make the best of it. We will show you a variety of night photography techniques and prepare you for taking advantage of a better aurora viewing situation you will hopefully experience in the future. Once the tour commits to run and you have submitted payment, there are no refunds regardless of conditions. However, if we do not see the aurora at all during your tour, you can join us on a subsequent night for a free make-up tour if we have paid guests booked for that night.

A: Enjoy your day in Anchorage and if the weather is favorable, it might be wise to take an afternoon nap. We will notify you via email by approximately 3:00 p.m. the status of your tour and, if it is running, the pick-up schedule for the tour.

A: Our destination each night will vary according to conditions, but we usually travel within a 100-mile radius and visit 1-3 locations.

A: Up to 1 hour. There are some locations where we may stay within close range of the vehicle, and others where we may walk up to a half of a mile. Much depends on conditions and capability of the group.

A: Not many. Most State Park restrooms are closed this time of year and there are few other options available in the wee hours of the night, other than a bush or tree. Depending on the route, we may stop at a gas station for a bathroom break.

A: Yes! This Anchorage northern lights tour is guided by a professional photographer who will help you set your camera in advance and explain what the settings do. We want you to enjoy seeing them and photographing them!

A: No! We have many sightseeing guests. Your guide will take a complimentary portrait of you with the aurora, and it as well as scenic photos taken by your guide are complimentary parts of the tour.

A: Anchorage is within the aurora oval (region on earth where auroras are most frequently seen), and has its fair share of viewable nights. In a given season, the aurora borealis is visible on 75% of the nights the skies are clear. There are also some distinct advantages for aurora chasing in Southcentral Alaska.

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