Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland…

‘Are you going to see the Northern Lights?’ Is the question we were asked countless times when we said we were going to Iceland. The answer was always the same ‘hopefully’. 

In all honesty, I wasn’t fully aware of how it really is a game of luck when going on a Northern Lights hunt until we were going on a Northern Lights hunt. Whilst they are always present, they aren’t always visible and there are so many conditions that can affect whether or not you will see them. Ideally you want a clear night and need to be away from the city in order to avoid too much light pollution. The Northern Lights are beautiful, mysterious forces of nature and are completely uncontrollable. You can hazard a guess at where you might see them, but even if you’ve seen them there before, it’s not guaranteed. 

We booked our excursion through Reykjavik Excursions, who were absolutely brilliant. They were always on time and had free wifi on their transport too – hurrah! The staff were always very informative and their Northern Lights tour was great value. The best part being that if you don’t see the Northern Lights, you can come again another night free of charge. There was a lady on our tour who had tried four nights running. 

We made our way to the meeting point and I had looked at the weather as well as  the chances of seeing the lights. It looked okay and I crossed my fingers. I had booked it for the second night of our trip in the hope that if we were unlucky at first, we could try again every night until we found ourselves thrown back to England. Soon enough we were on a bus out of Reykjavik and into the uninhabited depths of Icelandic countryside. Pretty much as soon as we started out snow began to fall and I resided myself to the fact that cloud cover meant poor visibility for the Northern Lights. Ever the optimist, I crossed every part of my body and hoped that we would see them. Partly because I wanted to experience the gorgeous display, and partly because it was blimmin’ freezing and I didn’t want to drag myself out in sub zero temperatures every night of our trip (I know, what a bore!). 

We were driving along a dark road when suddenly the bus took a right turn and we found ourselves on the edge of a mountain and were told that they would be visible from this point. I was so completely excited. We jumped off of the bus and started gazing into the night sky. The snow had stopped and the night was clearer. I absorbed the navy sky and luckily enough observed a vibrant green stripe dancing. It was so magical, a natural light display. Soon enough another one appeared and another until I had seen too many to count. At times they would disappear for a few moments and we would think it was over, only for them to reappear in a spectacle of wonder and colour. I loved how they moved. They moved like they were dancing to the tune of the universe and carefree. Although it was absolutely positively freezing, for about twenty minutes none of that mattered. Just the beauty of the night. Here are a couple of shots from my phone…

When I realised that I could no longer feel my entire body, we hopped back onto the coach and back to Reykjavik, taking away our new memories. I feel so, so lucky that we saw them on our first night and would highly recommend it if you get the chance.

Have you been to Iceland? Have you seen the Northern Lights?

L x

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