Mackay Lake Lodge
Home of the Aurora Borealis near the arctic circle.
Wildlife: Barren Land Caribou, Muskox, Arctic Wolves, and Tundra Grizzly Bears and more …
Fishing: Arctic Grayling, Monster Lake Trout and Northern Pike, on the 100 mile long Mackay Lake
Bird migrations by the thousands to nest in the arctic and then fly south in the fall before the coming winter.
Mackay Lake Lodge is 150 air miles north of Yellowknife, a 50 minute flight. Or a 7 hour drive on the ice road in the winter.
The lodge is made up of about 20 buildings, located on a gravel esker on the south shore on Mackay Lake. It has its own 3500 ft. aircraft runway, 6 guest cabins, a main dining room and a conference and recreation lounge with Internet and Wi-Fi services.
Fall Aurora and Wildlife Specials
Charter flights to the lodge on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
2 nights, 3 days — $1950 (plus GST)
- Overnight Monday and Tuesday and fly back to Yellowknife Wednesday
- Overnight Wednesday and Thursday fly back to Yellowknife Friday
3 nights, 4 days — $2250 (plus GST)
- Overnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday fly back to Yellowknife Monday
Charter flights to/from Yellowknife – return
Semi-private cabin accommodations for couples or shared up to 4 persons
Meals including northern cuisine buffet, group pot variety, and shore lunches cooked on open fires.
- Night time aurora viewing from the lodge
- Day time boating, fishing and wildlife viewing
- Day time hiking, wildlife viewing and berry picking
- Day time shore lunch with boat trip
- Day time cook out at camp TeePee
True North Safaris and Wild Aurora Bear Camp
Where the Wood Buffalo roam and the Aurora is wild.
Wildlife: Wood Bison and the largest land mammal in North America and they share this range with Black Bears, Woodland Caribou, Sand Hill Cranes, Rabbits and Grouse.
An easy 2-hour drive from Yellowknife with a stop at the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, Wild Aurora Bear Camp was first established as a Tlicho hunting and trapping cabin and has evolved as a tourism and learning centre. It now includes some tent frames, cabins and trailer with sattelite communications and solar power.
Winter Aurora and Wildlife Viewing includes bus transportation from Yellowknife, accommodations, meals and activities:
- 2 nights and 3 days — $975 per person (plus GST)
- Extra days — $325 (plus GST)
- 3 nights / 4 days — $1300 (plus GST)
Accommodations are in cabins or tent frame with heat and electrify. Sleeping bags are provided
Meals include breakfast and dinner at the Camp with the option to pack lunches from the camp or eat at restaurants at your own expense, that are part of the day trips to Fort Providence and Behchoko.
Wildlife viewing is done primarily along the highway with day trips to Providence and Behchoko but off road, trapper trails with Ski-doos or ATVs can be planned with an extra charge for equipment and guides.
Photographing the Aurora
Capturing the Aurora on film is a great way to remember your aurora viewing tour, although night photography is a bit different. Follow these basic tips and tricks and you’ll be able to capture the spectacle of the northern lights.
1. Eat Prior to Going Out
Shooting the Aurora can be, depending on the season, a cold experience, so eating a full meal about an hour before you go out will help your body stay warm when you are out late at night sky-watching.
2. Gather Your Gear
After eating, gather all your equipment. You’ll obviously need a camera, film or digital. It doesn’t have to be a fancy camera, either — it simply needs to be able to perform a long-enough exposure to capture the aurora. The exposure time can vary anywhere from 10 seconds to 60 seconds, depending on the brightness of the aurora (more on exposure times later.) Old, manual film cameras are best, as you don’t have to worry about battery life, but the newer cameras work just as well. Pack extra batteries, a wide-angle lens, a cable release, film (400 speed or faster) if necessary, and a flashlight so you can see in the dark. Lastly, depending on the season, dress warmly!! Most likely, if you’re cold, you’re not going to enjoy your aurora viewing experience.
3. Camera Settings
If you are using a single-lens reflex camera, whether it’s digital or film, you will most likely want to use the bulb setting with a cable release so you can time your exposures. If you are using digital, set your ISO to 400 or higher. Likewise, if you are using film, use ISO 400 or higher. If you are using a newer camera, turn off autofocus and use manual focus mode. Set your focus to infinity, and set your aperture to it’s biggest opening, which is usually the smallest number.
Whether you are using film or digital, you will want to determine your shutter speed based on a combination of ISO and Aperture. Photography is basically painting with light, so what you are determining is how much light you will be exposing the film or sensor to. The faster the shutter speed, the better, as that will be a more accurate representation of the aurora you are seeing in the sky. Typically, anything longer than a 30-second exposure will give you slight star trails, due to the Earth’s rotation. Use your ISO and your F-stop and the chart below to determine your shutter speed.
And that’s about all you really need to know to capture the aurora on film. True North Safaris has the ideal facility for aurora viewing, as it sits directly under the Aurora Oval, and you’ll see some of the most spectacular Aurora displays on Earth. Preserving the experience on film is a great way to share the experience with others and remember the trip forever.
The following are sites that have information about the Aurora.
Astronomy North www.astronomynorth.com
The only Yellowknife-based aurora site, has a wealth of information on the aurora, including Aurora Forecasts, an Aurora photo gallery, and much more.