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7 minute read

5 Must-See Natural Phenomena

March 26, 2024

Earth boasts many spectacular natural phenomena you simply must see to believe. From the aurora borealis illuminating the night sky to millions of blooming cherry blossom trees ushering in springtime around Japan, these events inspire wonder in all who witness them. Here are five natural phenomena you can see on an Odysseys Unlimited small group tour – and the time of year to experience each one.


Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

According to Icelandic folklore, many early Icelanders believed the aurora borealis to be the spirits of the deceased searching for their final resting place, while others saw it as a sign of good fortune on the horizon. One thing is certain, though – no one who sees the phenomenon firsthand ever forgets the experience.

An aurora occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere, producing little flashes that fill the sky with vibrant light to create the aurora borealis. Generally, you’re most likely to see the aurora borealis above a latitude of 60° north – which means Iceland’s position at a latitude of approximately 64° north makes it one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights.

While many factors may impact your chances of seeing the aurora borealis in Iceland, you’ll likely find the most favorable viewing conditions on a September or October departure of our Exploring Iceland small group tour.


Great Migration

From humpback whales traveling between breeding and feeding grounds to birds flying south for the winter, many of the world’s animal populations participate in some sort of seasonal migration – and the wildlife of East Africa is no different. Every year, millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle embark on the Great Migration, traveling in a continuous loop from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of food and water. The treacherous journey covers some 1,200 miles, crossing crocodile-infested rivers and plains patrolled by prides of hungry lions along the way.

East Africa’s dry season typically kicks off the Great Migration, making July an optimal time for migration game viewing, though it occurs throughout the dry season from June through October. See our Classic Safari: Kenya & Tanzania and Tanzania Adventure tours.


Tulip Season

What could be more quintessentially “spring” than strolling through the world’s largest flower garden amidst a never-ending sea of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths? Holland’s tulip season heralds the beginning of springtime in Europe, and every year between March and May, thousands flock to Amsterdam’s renowned Keukenhof flower garden to do just that.

All April and May European Tapestry departures include a special tour of Keukenhof flower garden.


Cherry Blossom Season

Japan’s national flower is the cherry blossom, and for good reason – every spring, the country comes alive as millions of cherry blossoms reach full bloom. You’ll find dozens of cherry tree varieties around Japan, and while most produce light pink or white flowers, some cherry trees have dark pink, yellow, or even green blossoms.

Prime cherry blossom viewing times vary from region to region. Tokyo’s cherry blossom season reaches its peak from late March to early April, making that the perfect time to take our Insider Japan small group tour.


Midnight Sun

If you’re anything like us, you likely spend much of the winter counting down the seconds until the days start getting longer – and nowhere in the Northern Hemisphere are summer days longer than in the Arctic Circle, a.k.a. “The Land of the Midnight Sun.” Occurring when the sun is visible at midnight local time, the midnight sun appears in the sky above parts of Canada, Alaska, and Northern Europe during the summer months, and it gets brighter the farther north you go.

The summer solstice – which falls between June 20th and June 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere – represents peak midnight sun season, making May–July the best time to catch the phenomenon for yourself on our Norwegian Splendor, Untamed Alaska, and Exploring Iceland small group tours.


Ready to experience some of these natural phenomena for yourself? Click here to learn more about each of these tours, and to view detailed day-by-day itineraries and departure date information.


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