Why Is My Northern Lights Tour Cancelled?

January 23, 2020
Posted in
January 23, 2020 Þröstur Freyr Hauksson

Why Is My Northern Lights Tour Cancelled?

Why is my Northern Lights Tour Cancelled?

Why is my Northern Lights tour Cancelled?

Weather in Iceland is notoriously variable due to our small island being situated right by the Arctic Circle and in the path of the North Atlantic Current. Luckily, this exact location is ideal for Northern Lights tours, as we normally have some activity! The biggest problem is the cloud cover, as the clouds can block any sighting.

Being a professional Northern Lights Guide holds a great deal of responsibility. We appreciate you have limited time and finances to spend in Iceland and part of our responsibility is to help you spend both wisely. Therefore, we feel we must cancel our tour when chances of a sighting are low, and go ahead with the tour when chances are good.

Each day our team of experts makes an intricately thought out Go-or-Cancel decision. This decision is based on advanced forecasts and real-time data of both Earth and Space weather, laced with hands-on knowledge and experience. Hence, our overall 90% success rate in finding visible-to-the-naked-eye Northern Lights on our tours.

Sighting and Cancellation rate

Out of the times we believe in a sighting and go ahead with the tour we are 10% wrong. In the same way, out of the times we don’t believe in a sighting and cancel the tour we are also 10% wrong. Therefore, inevitably it does happen that we cancel a tour on a night which then turns out to have a sighting.

On average, we cancel our tour, due to weather, 50% of the time. This means that overall on any given night during the Northern Lights season in Iceland there is a 50% chance of a sighting. On our Go nights the chance is 90%. And on our Cancel nights the chance is 10%.

Because of this high cancellation rate we normally recommend you book your tour on your first available night here. This leaves the rest of your stay available to re-schedule in case of a Cancel or to join a free re-run in case of a non-sighting. This gives you the biggest window of opportunity.

So, tour companies in fact cancel their Northern Lights tours as part of a good service. They don’t spend your time and money when the chance of a sighting is low. This is the norm for most companies in Iceland, including us.

What if you want to take that 10% chance but all tours are cancelled?

We meet this demand by offering another tour option. This option has a guaranteed departure every night to search for Northern Lights, regardless of the success percentage forecast.*

To offer a Northern Lights tour, in good conscience, with a variable 10-90% chance of a sighting we decided on these basic requirements:

  • We must guarantee a departure each night, for all you optimists out there.
    Easy, we have the most enthusiastic and determined guides!
  • The vehicle must be comfortable to allow for longer drives with a small group.
    Minibus, 16 people max and plenty of space to stretch your legs.
  • We must include a unique and reliable value to make up for non-sighting tours.
    A visit to the one-of-a-kind Aurora Basecamp, Northern Lights Observatory, where you will see a real-time simulation of the Northern Lights as well as gain a wealth of information and insight into the Aurora science.
  • With an overall 50% sighting chance we can’t offer a free re-run, so we wanted the price to be lower than our other tours, without compromising our ambition to provide a valuable experience in a small group.
    Minibus: a slightly larger group per guide but still small enough to remain intimate.
  • The guide must have extensive experience and knowledge of Northern Lights hunting, be able to keep people entertained with information and stories during an extended search and be able to capture good photos when the lights appear.
    Easy, that’s all our guides!

Northern Lights Guaranteed?

Our new Northern Lights Guaranteed tour has everything we wanted and more! This tour option is a breakthrough in service to Northern Lights chasers who have come here from far away. No more cancellations and no more leaving the country without trying, however small that chance may be.

Our impossible dream is that all our guests can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights during their stay in Iceland. This new tour option is another tool in our toolbox of making dreams come true.

With a low chance of a sighting it is tricky to be in the right place at the right time, but if there are lights to be found our team will find them!

*We do of course cancel the tour when safety calls for it due to storm alerts etc.