finnish lapland nellim husky sledding winter sun


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Where to go in November

Where to go in November

Winter properly starts to take hold in the north of Europe, with snow covering the landscapes of Iceland and Lapland preparing the way for a host of thrilling activities. In Antarctica, the cruise season is well under way including voyages to see elusive emperor penguins, while Canada remains the hotspot for encounters with polar bears. For warmth, it’s time to head Down Under as late spring in Australia sees temperatures climb.

Winter landscapes of Iceland

Iceland in winter is not only spectacular for its displays of the northern lights, but frozen waterfalls, snow-dusted lava fields and steaming geothermal pools all add to the drama. Early November still has around eight hours of daylight each day, dropping to just five by the end of the month, while temperatures in Reykjavik range from around 1-8oC. The weather at this time of year can change very quickly from one extreme to the other – sunny and dry one moment, snowy the next. It all adds up to a dynamic, exciting month, with enough light to fill your days with activities like snowmobiling and superjeep safaris, and dark nights full of northern lights potential. One of the most popular activities during winter, guided ice cave tours take you into the surreal, cerulean world of frozen caverns created each year in Iceland’s glaciers.

iceland superjeep safari winter sca

A feast of options in Norway

Norway in winter is generally a snowy wonderland: ice-fluted mountains, long dark nights, winter activities and the promise of the aurora borealis. In the far north of Norway, the sun does not rise from the middle of November until the end of January. Seafood lovers will be pleased to discover that winter is the best season in Norway for lobsters, prawns, scallops, blue mussels, halibut and salmon. When you’re not feasting on fish or hunting the northern lights, try your hand at winter adventures such as dog-sledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. In northern Norway, set sail on a Hurtigruten coastal voyage to Finnmark and the North Cape or head out on an expedition cruise in search of whales and the aurora.

norway hurtigruten voyage winter

Austral summer in Antarctica well underway

Wildlife activity continues to build to a crescendo as penguin rookeries on the Antarctic Peninsula are seized by a frenzy of courtship, nest-building and egg-laying. Elephant seals are courting and mating in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia; humpback, minke and southern right whales are returning to their Antarctic feeding grounds, while albatrosses, petrels and other seabirds can be seen flying over Drake Passage. There is also the chance of seeing the elusive emperor penguin colony off the coast of Snow Hill Island. This is one of the best months to observe penguins and seals on icebergs, while photographers will relish the pristine landscape and superb light. From November to February, the warmest weather and longest hours of daylight offer the best conditions for a land-based trip to the Falklands, hiking, wildlife watching and visiting battlefield sites.

antarctica emperor penguin couple istk

Encounters with the ice bear

For an almost guaranteed chance of seeing polar bears in the wild – and often close enough to see their breath in the frigid air – head to Churchill in northern Manitoba where, each October and November, ice bears congregate on the shores of Hudson Bay. Tundra rovers – giant-wheeled ‘snow buses’ – provide a safe vantage from which to observe these magnificent predators and, with luck, you might also spot arctic fox, caribou and several species of birds, including gyrfalcons and snowy owls. Most flights from the UK to Winnipeg, and onwards to Churchill, are routed through Toronto or Montreal, making the world’s polar bear capital a good partner for a holiday in Eastern Canada.

canada curious polar bear approaching rover churchill nha

Late spring in Australia

During spring, from September through November, daily temperatures in Australia can range from 17ºC in Tasmania and the south to 35ºC in the north, or Red Centre. The subtropical and tropical regions of the north experience a wet season, or tropical summer, between October and April when you can expect a mixture of sun and rain (and more affordable prices). Elsewhere in Australia, spring is a wonderful time for visiting wine regions, like the Yarra Valley near Melbourne, for a tasting and picnic lunch. Purple jacaranda trees are flowering in Sydney from late October to November, while many parts of Western Australia are carpeted in spring daisies and desert peas. It’s also the perfect time for a walking or self drive holiday – perhaps hiking in the Tasmania world heritage wilderness or touring the Great Ocean Road.

australia victoria road through forest yarra valley istk

Winter activities in the Far North

By November, snow has turned Lapland into a wintry wilderness, and the northern lights can frequently be observed, swishing their seductive curtains of green and crimson across the heavens. Experiencing the aurora borealis is top of everyone’s wish list, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural, unpredictable phenomenon. What is certain, though, is that you’ll have an exciting holiday, with or without the northern lights, thanks to the dazzling array of activities available. As well as snowmobiling and husky sledding, many lodges also provide snowshoes or cross-country skis to help you explore the winter wonderland. At Brandon Lodge you can take to the frozen sea in a hovercraft; the Aurora Safari Camp offers hot air balloon flights, while the Icehotel runs ice sculpting classes and moose safaris. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

swedish lapland loggers lodge snowshoe walk

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