We spoke with Gudmund, our current Operations Manager and guide. He is a native Norwegian and has been a guide in our company since 2018. Get inspired by his Arctic experiences!
How did you start working for Best Arctic?
I was living in Ireland, where I had started my own company, bringing Scandinavians to Ireland for adventure tours. I soon realized that a lot of Irish people also were interested in traveling to Norway. Many had “seeing the Northern Lights” at the top of their bucket
lists. I started doing some research and discovered a company that caught my attention due to its focus on sustainability and local development, including supporting local landowners in creating their own businesses, which I found really appealing. I contacted Best Arctic and they interviewed me for a guide position.
How is it to be a guide in Northern Norway, above the Arctic Circle?
I’m very used to being outdoors. I’m from the southeast of Norway (Odalen in Hedmark) where it actually can get colder in wintertime than around Tromsø, so I am used to it. Also, the scenery up here is out of this world with all the mountains, fjords, valleys, and islands,…. My homeplace further south doesn’t have any mountains or fjords, but plenty of lakes and forests. It seems to be a classic case of opposite attracts.
Why do you enjoy guiding so much?
I believe it has something to do with the reaction of the guests and experiencing how excited and happy they become when their dreams come true. Some of our guests come from far far away, having saved up for their life-changing journey for nearly a lifetime. Maybe they are on a honeymoon or celebrating a special birthday. All the excitement and
happiness from the guests come as a huge reward for us, guides!
Why do you enjoy this tough nature and tough weather so much?
There is nothing like waking up outside during the polar nights and marveling at the everchanging colors conducted by the winter sun just below the horizon. It’s like living your dream inside the blue hour, mixed with a radiant glow before sunrise and after sunset. Life is good!
For the most part, I have been guiding ice fishing and snowshoe hikes during the daytime and northern lights activities during the evening and nighttime (Aurora Safari Camps and Aurora Safari Minibus). I still remember the first time I guided here in Arctic Norway. I was
both excited and nervous but had prepared myself really well, so the guests seemed very happy during the tour. We were also helped by a great Aurora display.
After taking on the role of Customer Experience Manager a key task is to organize all the Aurora tours and make sure we have buses, drivers, and guides available.
Do you feel tired or low on energy during the polar nights when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon?
It doesn’t affect me negatively at all. I do take ‘Sana-sol’, a multivitamin syrup supplement with 10 vitamins, which definitely helps boost the immune system. It’s important to regularly get outdoors and take in all the natural beauty we are surrounded by. Working as an
outdoor guide is ticking all the right boxes in that regard.
Do you want to be a guide forever?
It’s as the old saying goes – “Once a guide, always a guide”. If you have it in your blood, it will always stay with you!
How do you manage your private life when you guide long hours during the night?
Well, I do work a lot during the Aurora season (from September to March), when there is a lot happening and a lot to do. Then from April to August, I spend a lot of quality time with my kids. I’m the opposite of the brown bear: Working a lot during the winter and “hibernating” a bit during summertime.
Why guide here and not somewhere else warmer like Africa?
I actually used to be a camel guide in Sahara (laughs). No, that was a joke. I guess I never really thought about that before. I do like the heat as well, but it’s just probably more natural for a Norwegian to work in a colder environment than in a warm one. Also, I like being up here in Arctic Norway. I like to test and challenge myself, and as earlier said, I just can’t get enough of the outdoors.
What are the most asked questions during the tours?
The most asked question during the northern lights tours is: “What are our chances of seeing the northern lights tonight?” or “Can you see the northern lights with a full moon?” – and yes, you can still see the northern lights with a full moon. During the polar nights and particularly when we have a lot of snow and strong Aurora activity, the moonlight can really add an extra dimension by brightening up the beautiful landscape.
Many visitors are also curious to find out how locals live their daily lives, referring to Norwegians residing in remote places for example tiny villages along the fjords and coast. Sometimes they also ask why do we have so many lights in the windows – it is to welcome the crew on the fishing boats safely back home!
Some guests have also asked me if there are polar bears in Tromsø. I also heard from another guide during an Arctic Midnight Sun hike that guests were very surprised and even a little bit disappointed that the midnight sun wasn’t a completely different sun to our “normal” sun.
What is it about Tromsø that fascinates you?
So many things! The nature here is fascinating, the mountains, the fjords, the islands,… And it’s completely different across seasons. The people of the North of Norway and Tromsø are friendly, easygoing and not least have a rather wicked sense of humor that I like. Tromsø is a lively student city with lots of cafés, restaurants, pubs, and bars.