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Sean's cozy Yellowknife bed & breakfast, with aurora chasing tours nightly.jpg

Hey there.



WELCOME TO YELLOWKNIFE,
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

...where you'll find us: 
the warmest, cosiest little guesthouse
with intimate aurora chasing tours nightly.

Come on in; we've got lots to share, and
I think it'll feel pretty good to you.


 

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Hey there.



WELCOME TO YELLOWKNIFE,
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

...where you'll find us: 
the warmest, cosiest little guesthouse
with intimate aurora chasing tours nightly.

Come on in; we've got lots to share, and
I think it'll feel pretty good to you.


 


hi, i'm sean
of sean's guesthouse & aurora chasing up here in yellowknife,
and i'm so glad you're here.

YOUR EXPERIENCE: This little guesthouse is full of Scandinavian decor, candles, an awful lot of cozy fabrics, the occasional cluster of photo frames, and a small living wall of succulents. Each evening, my guests will have the option to travel with me into the countryside where we'll bask lakeside under starlight to watch, photograph, and enjoy the northern lights together with warm drinks until the early morning hours.


Scrolling down will take you through a nice amount of detail about your entire experience with me, some good-to-know information about what to expect, and of course a little of who I am too. But if you're really eager to get straight to the details of my northern light tours & humble little guesthouse, don't love long winded writing, or just hate reading, my simplified guide below will serve you extremely well. But I do hope you'll take the time to get to know us too. 

YELLOWKNIFE - YOUR QUICK GUIDE

 
 
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YOur Guesthouse


A HOME FULL OF COSY

Home swede home; there's no warmth in the world like it. Come on in, leave all of your worries at the front door, and find your comfiest spot. 

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YOur Guesthouse


A HOME FULL OF COSY

Home swede home; there's no warmth in the world like it. Come on in, leave all of your worries at the front door, and find your comfiest spot. 

I'M FOR ALL THE AMAZINGNESS THAT IS THE HOME


"Hygge" lives here.

A word of Scandinavian descent, 'hygge' - pronounced [hue-gah], is in essence, as much about creating a cozy atmosphere with good people as it is an intangible way of being. Well being fits closely into the meaning of hygge, although it really just scratches the surface. It's a warmth and contentment in our relationships with each other; it's a very comfortable, very warming feeling. The warm glow of candlelight on a winter's night is hygge. Sitting around a table with friends & family, discussing all the small and big things in life, sipping something warm or comforting to drink - that's hygge too. If you've got a minute and twenty-two seconds, you can get a better idea of 'hygge' from this great little clip

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The road from Vancouver to Yellowknife began May 11th 2015, which included some 2,500 kilometres and just a little bit of furniture and home decor shopping. We spent the first few weeks in Yellowknife tearing out half a kitchen, painting impossibly high walls, and assembling more IKEA furniture than any human should ever have to. But as a result, I've got something a little bit cosy, that feels of warmth and comfort, where it'll always be (maybe too) clean, for you to feel right at home in.

Our guestrooms aren't huge, it's okay, I'll admit it. But the lighting is warm, the pillows, duvets, and throws are soft and plentiful, and I've done my very best to maximize space (coming from a studio apartment of 4.5 years, so I promise you're in good hands).

Whether you're looking to do a little work, just relax and lounge, or cuddle up on what I hear is the comfiest sofa in the world, I'm happy to share our living areas with you. My place is your place. In the kitchen you'll find a virtually bottomless supply of loose leaf teas and coffee at the push of a Keurig button. (Coffee aficionados - don't fret; there's a French press just for you.) Breakfast in the morning is included, and is mostly self serve. You'll have plenty of options between yoghurts, cereals, breads and bagels with a choice of cream cheeses and jams. I'll also be around, probably not before 9am, to blend a fruit smoothie for you should you feel so inclined (I'd recommend it).

April 2016 update: I've found Icelandic Skyr!!! It is the most fulfilling, tastiest yoghurt that you may have ever (not) known about, and you'll now find it for breakfast here. 

PRICING

Rooms begin at $95/night based on single occupancy, or $110/night for two guests.

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Northern Light Tours


YOUR AURORA DREAMS LIVE HERE

Everything you need to know about the greatest game of hide and seek with the world's most beautiful lady - the aurora borealis. All your Yellowknife aurora chasing information begins here.

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Northern Light Tours


YOUR AURORA DREAMS LIVE HERE

Everything you need to know about the greatest game of hide and seek with the world's most beautiful lady - the aurora borealis. All your Yellowknife aurora chasing information begins here.

WHAT TO EXPECT ON TOUR


...FROM ME

(I've made some important changes here)

For those of you who book directly with me (ie. not Booking.com), you have priority on joining me aurora chasing. During the check-out process when you make your reservation to confirm your stay at the guesthouse, you'll be able to let me know a) if you are interested in joining me aurora chasing during your stay, and b) which dates specifically you'd like to commit to. If you'd rather not to commit to specific dates, you're welcome to leave your decision to the last minute - and if say, for example, at 5pm on the night of a tour, you decide you'd like to go, you're welcome to grab any free seats. But please also understand that it is possible my tour seats may become booked by other guests should you choose to wait.

Now, if you haven't booked directly with me, or aren't staying at the guesthouse, it is still possible you'll be able to join me aurora chasing. You'll be able to book any available seats online through my 'Book Now' link inside of 14 days to the tour date.

What this means: It means I'm opening myself up to the opportunity to connect with as many guests as I'm comfortably able, on something that we can all really appreciate together; an intimate, caring, and focused northern light chasing experience. For simplicity's sake, let's just call it maximizing happiness. 

What this doesn't mean: It doesn't mean the tour sizes are getting bigger - we're staying at a maximum of five guests. And it also doesn't mean you're committed to going out on tour if we determine the weather is unfavourable and it's not so optimistic that we'll be able to find clear skies. That part of things hasn't changed. I'm still keeping things extremely honest, and cosily personal. 


So while it is possible we'll grab one or two more guests to come out with us for the evening, ultimately there will be a maximum of six of us, and we will be keeping a very watchful eye on the weather and auroral activity through the day. This smaller group size will allow us to decide if heading out a little earlier is something we should prepare for, because there are times beautiful auroras will grace the skies early, although in the hours around midnight is usually best.

Leaving Yellowknife in our uniquely beautiful Ford Flex, which will have glass over your head no matter where you decide you want to sit - you'll have plenty of room to stretch out to get comfortable and decide if a quick drive-thru run at Tim Hortons (get familiar, my international friends) is necessary or not (this is your call to make!) ensuring we're well supplied with warm drinks and sweets/Tim-bits. 

Driving out of town and into the countryside surrounding Yellowknife, we'll watch out the windows and moonroofs as the stars become brighter maybe getting our first glimpse of the aurora overhead. Sipping coffee, tea, hot chocolate, warm apple cider - whatever you like, we'll talk as lightly or in-depth about the science behind the aurora as you like, and of course touch on some of the beautiful tales and legends that follow her as well. But just don't wave at her, because she may just come down and take you away from the Earth... 

As we arrive at the edge of a lake, or more likely on one in the middle of winter, the best game of  hide and seek begins. We'll huddle around the car, venture off a little, and watch for the aurora, enjoy the stars - shooting stars, and the nature surrounding us. If you've got a camera, I'll help get you set up on your tripod, and go through your settings to help you choose what's going to work best.  We'll chat a little about photography, and how to take great images out here. Depending on the progression of the evening and how each of us feels, if we're up for continuing to view, photograph and enjoy the aurora from a new location for some different scenery, then we'll be sure to carry-on there too.

Departure times throughout the year will vary, however generally speaking, we'll aim to leave our guesthouse around 9:30pm, returning home somewhere around 2am. Although as I said, there will be nights we leave earlier, and of course nights we return later. I just hope we have enough hot chocolate.

 

...FROM THE AURORA

You're on the verge of booking your flight up into one of the most beautiful parts of Canada, you've got your tour & accommodation all lined up - you know exactly where you want to stay (...no bias here), you've wanted to see the northern lights for as long as you can remember, or for as long as your friends & strangers alike have been tormenting you by posting photos of the northern lights to their 'Wanderlust' travel boards on Pinterest - but what can you really expect? Is it as breathtaking as it looks in all the photos you've seen? 

It's a tricky thing to explain, so yes and no; and here's why...

Many of the great cameras today have actually become more sensitive to light than the human eye, and with that greater sensitivity to light combined with the longer exposures required to photograph a night sky, a faint-to-the-eye aurora can be quickly translated into more intense colours than we're able to perceive them as. This is of course true of the northern lights, and all night scenes, because of the way our eyes are wired with cones and rods. The cones are responsible for much of the colour we perceive during the day in brighter environments, but are much less sensitive than the rods. So in dark environments, our rods, being so much more sensitive to light, allow us to continue to perceive, albeit with significantly less sensitivity specifically to colour.  Our rods also virtually cannot detect reds, which is why headlamps, iPhone star gazing apps etc. use red, to preserve our night vision - which takes at least thirty minutes to fully achieve.
 

So what does this all mean, then? 

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What this means, is as you witness the aurora, especially as you're getting used to what to look for, your eyes will pick up the brightness of the colour green much more easily than it will the deeper magentas. All the colours of the aurora are ultimately visible to us, but it does take some getting used to, and we all perceive a little differently too, of course. 

Now to speak from my personal experience, there have been nights I've seen some reds, purples and pinks weekly, along with some oranges and yellows/limes on nights of really good activity. The northern lights can become so bright, it'll turn the snow green, it'll light up the entire landscape to the point where we can actually see one another clearly, and you may even be able to read a book under them. And I promise you, on a good night, the colour and movement of the aurora will both literally take your breath away, and leave you laughing at a loss of words. They can move so fast, you won't know what to do with yourself. Seriously.


 

WHEN TO VISIT


UNDERSTANDING OUR CLIMATE AND WEATHER PATTERNS;

Choosing your personal experience, understanding the differences in comfort, and how it all plays into viewing the lights with the photography of them.

AUTUMN:

Warm, longer northern days make it more likely to combine the sunset and subsequently gorgeous twilight skies with the northern lights all in one. If you've ever dreamt of seeing the aurora dance while witnessing a lightning storm in the distance, this is the time of year for you. Reflections of the northern lights off the water will take your breath away before things begin to freeze up in November. We'll leave the parkas inside for these few months.

August; late evening sunsets will take us right into our aurora chasing hours which can present us with spectacular photography opportunities. The days are warm, the nights are beginning to cool down - even to 5ºC, and the skies often clear - my favourite conditions.  Of note: particularly during the first half of August, it's likely our tour length may be reduced based on longer summer days. We may not depart until as late as 11pm, and return home between 2a - 4am, but we will ensure we take advantage of the unique night sky we do have this time of year!

August; late evening sunsets will take us right into our aurora chasing hours which can present us with spectacular photography opportunities. The days are warm, the nights are beginning to cool down - even to 5ºC, and the skies often clear - my favourite conditions. 

Of note: particularly during the first half of August, it's likely our tour length may be reduced based on longer summer days. We may not depart until as late as 11pm, and return home between 2a - 4am, but we will ensure we take advantage of the unique night sky we do have this time of year!

September; because the autumn equinox falls within this month, it's not uncommon to witness heightened aurora activity through September, and into October. The weather is generally quite favourable carrying over from August, although there will be nights we need to chase clear skies. Temperatures begin cooling off in the evening, but are still mostly very pleasant.

September; because the autumn equinox falls within this month, it's not uncommon to witness heightened aurora activity through September, and into October. The weather is generally quite favourable carrying over from August, although there will be nights we need to chase clear skies. Temperatures begin cooling off in the evening, but are still mostly very pleasant.

October; beginning the plunge into temperatures below freezing, October is still a very nice time to visit giving us longer nights of the aurora before things really get cold. (If I look underdressed in October, it's because I'm trying to get my body adjusted for winter again). We may see a few more cloudy evenings than September, but as in the image above, clouds do roll through - and in this particular circumstance, the aurora towered over a distant lightning storm.   For late October: see November below.

October; beginning the plunge into temperatures below freezing, October is still a very nice time to visit giving us longer nights of the aurora before things really get cold. (If I look underdressed in October, it's because I'm trying to get my body adjusted for winter again). We may see a few more cloudy evenings than September, but as in the image above, clouds do roll through - and in this particular circumstance, the aurora towered over a distant lightning storm.  

For late October: see November below.

WINTER:

While there's certainly no question these months can bring us some challenging conditions, it's what being north of 60º is all about. These months will provide some of the greatest payoffs in terms of your experience. November and early December may mean longer drives chasing for the aurora in the way of searching out clear skies, but we'll find music you enjoy, and conversation that's inspiring while you stretch out and keep warm in my Flex. This to me, is what aurora chasing is all about, these are the nights that thrill me the most. And for those evenings where we may see the temperature drop to -40ºC, we'll keep you warm bundled up in Canada Goose gear, or inside the vehicle if you prefer - where you can take in the aurora through the panoramic moonroof. There's nothing like being here in winter.

November; some tour companies up here shut down, but not me. In fact, in the 2014-2015 aurora season, November was the third clearest month (August-April). We will pay more special attention to weather patterns here, and drives in November may be longer some nights, but all with the intent of getting us in the direction of clearer skies. And all of that means one thing - the best chance of viewing the aurora; where the results will be breathtaking and worthwhile in a particularly beautiful winter wonderland of trees and landscapes all covered in fresh snow. Of note: while I would never (in a million years) recommend gambling with just a one night stay up here seeking out an experience under the aurora, I particularly don't endorse single night stays this time of year because the weather can be more unstable. Give yourself an extra night or two or three. 

November; some tour companies up here shut down, but not me. In fact, in the 2014-2015 aurora season, November was the third clearest month (August-April). We will pay more special attention to weather patterns here, and drives in November may be longer some nights, but all with the intent of getting us in the direction of clearer skies. And all of that means one thing - the best chance of viewing the aurora; where the results will be breathtaking and worthwhile in a particularly beautiful winter wonderland of trees and landscapes all covered in fresh snow.

Of note: while I would never (in a million years) recommend gambling with just a one night stay up here seeking out an experience under the aurora, I particularly don't endorse single night stays this time of year because the weather can be more unstable. Give yourself an extra night or two or three. 

December; November was cold, until you're into December. But as colder nights return, so do the clear skies which once again give us better odds of seeing the lights. If Yellowknife has had a particularly cold beginning to winter, it's possible the ice roads will open up toward the end of the month, although January is a more sure bet for that. 

December; November was cold, until you're into December. But as colder nights return, so do the clear skies which once again give us better odds of seeing the lights. If Yellowknife has had a particularly cold beginning to winter, it's possible the ice roads will open up toward the end of the month, although January is a more sure bet for that. 

January; the holidays have come and gone, and how many of you got goose down parkas for Christmas? Because you're going to need them. Just kidding, we've got you covered, but this is the month to bundle up. Temperatures can be frigid, but wonderful opportunities to lay out on frozen lakes where the landscapes around us will be painted green from the aurora dancing the entire sky overhead will be plenty.

January; the holidays have come and gone, and how many of you got goose down parkas for Christmas? Because you're going to need them. Just kidding, we've got you covered, but this is the month to bundle up. Temperatures can be frigid, but wonderful opportunities to lay out on frozen lakes where the landscapes around us will be painted green from the aurora dancing the entire sky overhead will be plenty.

SPRING(ISH):

Ahhh, March 21st, the first day of spring. Rejuvenation, rebirth, everything's blooming, all that stuff. Except March in Yellowknife has seen -35ºC, there's still ice on the lakes in May, and the winds aren't exactly 'warm' just yet, which makes spring in up here a little different. What isn't all that different is the way the days lengthen so quickly. Sunset stretches later into each evening, bringing back the possibility to view the aurora under a deep twilight coloured sky. Then, there's the excitement I personally feel this time of year - knowing the aurora is closing in on it's final days before giving way to bright summer nights where this far north, we won't see the lights back in the sky again until August.

February; carrying right over from January, we can expect very similar conditions in terms of weather and temperatures. Although clear skies remain abundant, and still the nights will be very cold, warmer temperatures (around the -20ºCs) can bring in occasional cloud. Few things rival the clear, still, nights enjoyed under great big skies on great big lakes.

February; carrying right over from January, we can expect very similar conditions in terms of weather and temperatures. Although clear skies remain abundant, and still the nights will be very cold, warmer temperatures (around the -20ºCs) can bring in occasional cloud. Few things rival the clear, still, nights enjoyed under great big skies on great big lakes.

March; beginning to exit the more harsh temperatures of the last few months, March is when the days flip to become longer than the nights. While some inconsistency in the weather can be expected as the seasons begin to shift, it's likely longer spells of clear nights do continue into April. In my experience, this time of year has brought some of the more dramatic displays of the northern lights that I recall. Also, through the last two-three weeks of the month, it is possible to enjoy the sunset, twilight and the aurora together should we be blessed with the right timing and right auroral activity which is something we will monitor with great eagerness. Overall, there's no question this is a great time to chase the aurora in Yellowknife!

March; beginning to exit the more harsh temperatures of the last few months, March is when the days flip to become longer than the nights. While some inconsistency in the weather can be expected as the seasons begin to shift, it's likely longer spells of clear nights do continue into April. In my experience, this time of year has brought some of the more dramatic displays of the northern lights that I recall. Also, through the last two-three weeks of the month, it is possible to enjoy the sunset, twilight and the aurora together should we be blessed with the right timing and right auroral activity which is something we will monitor with great eagerness. Overall, there's no question this is a great time to chase the aurora in Yellowknife!

April; moving gently on from the spring equinox, the days have now become considerably longer than the darkness of the nights, and warming days and nights are well on their way! Amongst all this good news, is that April usually gives us long strings of clear skies as well. Along with August, this is one of the best months to combine twilight skies into aurora viewing which obviously makes for exceptional photography under the right conditions. Please note: during the last few weeks of April, there is a probability that tour lengths may be shorter than through other parts of the year because of the increased daylight hours late into the evening. It may not be uncommon for departure times to be as late as 11pm, with our return ranging anywhere between 2a - 4am.

April; moving gently on from the spring equinox, the days have now become considerably longer than the darkness of the nights, and warming days and nights are well on their way! Amongst all this good news, is that April usually gives us long strings of clear skies as well. Along with August, this is one of the best months to combine twilight skies into aurora viewing which obviously makes for exceptional photography under the right conditions.
Please note: during the last few weeks of April, there is a probability that tour lengths may be shorter than through other parts of the year because of the increased daylight hours late into the evening. It may not be uncommon for departure times to be as late as 11pm, with our return ranging anywhere between 2a - 4am.

My aurora tours are $95 per person, per night.

And in case you haven't noticed...
I love sharing what I'm passionate about, what I love, and what I think you may love too, so I've put together a small collection of some of our most memorable moments under the world's greatest night light recently.

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Sean Meets Yellowknife


Something that started as a 'one day' dream in Scandinavia, began unfolding very quickly in my own backyard upon discovering a city called Yellowknife - way up in Canada's beautiful north.  

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Sean Meets Yellowknife


Something that started as a 'one day' dream in Scandinavia, began unfolding very quickly in my own backyard upon discovering a city called Yellowknife - way up in Canada's beautiful north.  

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THE UNFOLDING OF SOMETHING SPECIAL


TAKE ME NORTH, WESTJET!  

Blessed at the time with Westjet flight benefits, and the knowledge of my love for the winter and the north, I pulled up Westjet's route map online, and literally just chose the furthest city north that they flew into, which happened by chance, to be Yellowknife. And just like that, I was all in, before I even knew what I was getting in to, which at the time was very literally a Canada Goose Expedition parka at an outdoors store in downtown Vancouver. Just three days from purchasing a piece of winter clothing that has no business being worn in Vancouver, I stepped off an aircraft, following an icy ramp down onto the airport tarmac where the wind was blowing snow sideways and my nose hairs were frozen in a single breath - I was in Yellowknife, in the dead of winter, and it was the best feeling. I loved it, and I knew it already.

From that first weekend forward, I was rapidly becoming the best packer of a 22" Tumi suitcase that fit snuggly into Boeing 737 overhead bins. The empty space on the second page of my iPhone home screen quickly filled with weather app, after weather app, after solar weather app, to now housing 14 weather separate apps, and 13 solar weather/aurora forecasting and information apps and pages. Over the next several years as my work schedule at the airport allowed, once or twice each month through the fall, winter and spring, my alarm would sound repeatedly at 5:45a getting me up and out of bed, to walk my suitcase - which I had now learnt how to stuff with my tripod, camera equipment, parka, insulated winter boots along with other pieces of insulated winter gear, through the airport to where I'd board Westjet flight 108 with service to Yellowknife. Weekend after weekend in trips ranging from just a single night to upwards of a week, it was becoming increasingly more difficult returning home to Vancouver with each one. Weekends of exploring forested islands in the middle of Great Slave Lake, appreciating so much of the beautiful local handicraft through Old Town, enjoying dinners with dear friends at our favourite local restaurants, and eagerly awaiting nightfall to begin chasing the northern lights onto frozen lakes outside of the city lights was becoming all too familiar. 

It was now, from my little studio apartment in Richmond, BC, that I was watching AuroraMax live so many nights feeling a little wave of anxiety rush over my body being in a city physically so far from the lights, and the whole of Yellowknife, that it had become increasingly obvious the dream of which was born here. While time and time again - no matter how often, or for how long of an evening it had been, staying under and photographing the northern lights was never something I was ready to be home from... regardless of having chased, enjoyed, and photographed the aurora some dozen times over the last couple years in Vancouver itself. Then two trips, totalling a couple months through Iceland really locked the feeling of this up for me. I found myself staying in inspiring guesthomes through Iceland, meeting other couples - talking to them about the northern lights, helping them see it... This was all the best feeling in the world, and here we are now, some four years, and few dozen trips, from that very first ever experience of Yellowknife.