image Searching for Northern Lights in Iceland

Tuesday 5th January 2016

I am so excited, the forecast for seeing the lights is great so fingers crossed im going to see them. It’s my first night in Iceland and the next few nights’ forecast isn’t looking as good as its going to be cloudy and you need clear nights or breaks in clouds.

The tour company Gray Line pick me up from the hotel and take me to the main office to get onto a larger coach. Im on the 7pm tour and its nearly full I have a spare seat next to me and I think there are only a couple of spare seats so it’s really popular. There are tours leaving at 8pm and 9pm.

I get chatting to a couple who have been out previously and didn’t see anything, they said if you don’t see something you get a free tour. It’s really surreal it’s like we are hunting for aliens or something.

We pull up outside a café where you can get a hot drink and snack. It’s still pretty early and someone said the lights don’t normally show until 11-1 so it could be a long wait. Everyone seems to be excited, there is a great atmosphere as we all stand in the cold looking up at the empty sky.

It’s so windy and cold. Im taking pictures but it’s just darkness. I didn’t even think about setting my camera before going but some guys who are getting greats shots talk about what settings they are using so I earwig and play around with both my cameras. Two other coaches arrive they must be the 8 o’clock tour and the drivers have a little chat and decide were moving on.

There is a tour guide on this bus but he isn’t very informative or interesting, in fact it’s really hard to listen so I switch off.

We move on to another viewing point this time it’s just like a carpark. It’s even more windy here, I get out of the bus but don’t last long as I’m being blown over I decide to get back on the warm bus until people start seeing the lights then I can get off again.

The tour guide says it’s very faint but it’s there. Well I can’t see anything and neither can the people I’m chatting to. The guy sat in front of me is getting some amazing pictures I’m so jealous.

We’re told that even though it was a slight sighting we are entitled to our free tour as it wasn’t easily seen. We head back to Reykjavik, I’m a bit gutted I didn’t see anything but I am here for 9 nights so plenty of time yet. I thought they would be easy to spot and I didn’t realise we would be driving around hunting for them I imagined  just looking up into the sky and see the green glow.

Wednesday 6th January 2016

I was booked on a northern lights cruise, but this was cancelled due to the weather. Im pretty happy about this as it’s so windy and the sea is really rough, I was dreading going on it. I got an email late in the afternoon as they don’t know until then if it’s still going to go ahead or not do if you have tours booked keep checking emails for any cancellation’s or updates.

I use this time to get to know my camera and google what the best settings are to get pictures of the lights. I find out a high iOS, long shutter speed and low aperture are the best. I think I got it sorted now for my next hunt.

Thursday 7th January 2016

After being on a day tour the guide informs us that the light tours are going ahead and its looking highly likely they will be seen tonight. Excitement cascades through the coach and I decide to get off in the centre so I can go to the booking office to see if I can get on tonight’s tours.

There are spaces on the 9 o’clock tour but I have to go back to my hotel to get picked up, I ask why I can’t just come to the office as this is where the coach leaves from and I could just get some diner and come back but there not sure where it’s going to leave from and have to pick me up. That’s ok I go for dinner then chill in my room for a bit until they come to pick me up.

First we stop by a church. There are about 6 coaches already here. Our coach parks right on a path of ice. The tour guide puts some sand down but it’s well slippy and dark so I don’t want to keep getting on and off the bus. It looks like the lights are coming but there are so many artificial lights here every time you take a picture it’s just picking up the lights. After about ten minutes of being back on the bus the tour guide comes on to say there showing round the side of the church, most of us go and have a look. I cant see anything. My camera picks something up but I think it’s just from the lights around here. This is real chaos so many people here all banging into each other as there walking around looking up at the sky. It’s horrible I go and get back on the coach feeling miserable.

We go down to the south coast which is about 1 hours’ drive. I can’t help wondering what the site must look like 5 coaches driving in a convoy down the road I bet the locals are like “bloody light hunters”.

“this is going to be our stop for the night now it’s looking really good” said our guide. She is so much better than the guide from the other night she is entertaining and tells us some interesting things. She’s also really enthusiastic which is making a great atmosphere on the bus as she keeps saying we are going to see them.

This time we stop by a restaurant where the guide says you can get some great lobster soup. I got off but as the wind whipped up all the little stones and they attacked me so I got straight back on the bus. I decided once the lights show people will start making a commotion then I can get off. Omg the wind is wild the bus is rocking like a bucking bronco.

All the lights are turned off so were sat in pitch black. Me and two other girls have a little chat, others go to sleep. Some are in the restaurant and a few brave or stupid souls are stood outside. After an hour there is nothing, we go home disappointed again.

Friday 8th January 2016

Over cast and tours are cancelled

Saturday 9th January 2016

The tour I had been on during the day dropped me off outside the office so since I was there I thought I would pop in and see if there were any spaces on the tour. To be honest I was tempted to just go home as it’s been a long day and I’m knackered and hungry.

I got a seat on the 7 o’clock tour but as I got to the bus he wouldn’t open the doors it was only 6.50. He finally opened the door and said we have no space. “But im booked on the 7 tour”. He contacted the office who said they would send another bus for me and off he drove.

A bus pulled up after about 10 minutes but the driver just got out and walked to the office. When he came back he said are you on the northern lights deluxe tour. No I’m on the normal one but the bus drove off without me. He also contacted the office then said “I have been told to take you to the other bus terminal”.

When we got there they tell me the bus had left we will book you onto the 8 o’clock tour. I was tired and getting ratty so said no thank you, please arrange to take me back to the main office so I can get to my hotel. They did lots of talking in Icelandic and then said we have decided to upgrade you to the deluxe tour which is to leave in 5 minutes is this ok. Of course it was lol

I was actually gonna ask if I could pay the extra and go on the deluxe one but got it for free instead so can’t complain.

It was a little bus the guide was also the driver and was really friendly such a contrast to the other tours where they treat you like cattle. You even get a bottle of water and a blanket.

I would highly recommend going on the deluxe tour even though its twice the price it just felt more special. We went to a lovely restaurant called the cow shed which is literally a converted cow shed and you can even hear cows (obviously there not in the restaurant but sheds next door) and we are given lovely volcano soup which is a beef broth very delicious (mushroom option for vegetarians) and homemade bread. It’s great when they include food as it’s such an icebreaker for people as they chat over dinner then the tour seems better as everyone is more familiar with each other.

Then we drive to the waterfall Seljalandsfoss. I had been to this during the day but it looked totally different at night time. It was magical, the stars were so vivid and bright I had never seen stars like it before my pictures really don’t justify it as I didn’t have a tripod so not the best.

After a few minutes of looking up at the sky I get back on the bus to warm up. Everyone else soon gets on and we start to drive off. Im looking to the right as it looks like a big cloud and then the others start looking and the driver stop after a few seconds it starts to get brighter and the driver says “that’s it everyone back off”. ooo it’s so exciting we all scramble off the bus.

Omg this is so spectacular and so worth the days of waiting I suppose it made it more special as I really thought I wasn’t going to get to see them. Maybe if I had seen them on the first day I might have not appreciated them as much.

To watch them by this beautiful waterfall as well was amazing.

I don’t want to lessen the majestic of the lights but it’s not as neon as it shows on the pictures though it is still very special and definitely worth seeing.

My camera picked up the lights though again not brilliant I was a giddy little kipper as so chuffed with what I was getting. We were given some hot chocolate as we watched the lights. They looked like they were dancing as they moved about. After about ten minutes they started to fade.

We drove off and a few minutes down the road we could see them appearing again so the driver pulled over. Wow these ones were vertical and horizontal and they were also dancing. There was one point where two little clouds made a cross in the middle of the lights.

Some stupid girl kept taking photos with her flash though I said you don’t need a flash and she totally ignored me but it was ruining people’s pictures as she didn’t have a clue and also I was stood behind and saw that all she was getting was black. It was quite irritating and if I was a serious photographer I would have been pretty pissed off.

I have now seen the lights im so happy as I get into bed at 2am cold and knackered but absolutely worth it.

Tuesday 12th January 2016

I have moved to Keflavik now which is near the airport. It’s a lovely little village by the sea with little sailing boats, great views of the mountains and excellent place to look at the sea.

I’ve already seen the lights so wasn’t planning on going on anymore tours as it looks like even the ones from here would take you into Reykjavik anyway.

I was lying in bed watching TV when I noticed something moving in the window. I looked outside and was amazed to see the green glow from the lights.

I went outside but it was hard to get photos due to the street lamps but they were easy to see by the naked eye. It’s more like a glowing cloud. I walked up to the cliff past the street lights where it was pitch black and the view of the northern lights were amazing. A totally different perspective of how I had seen them a few days ago. It was right over my head instead of in the distance so when you looked up half the sky was green it was truly beautiful and I so happy I have seen them like this too.

I can’t stay out here too long as my over imagination starts to worry about being on a cliff in the pitch black on my own, plus I came out without my gloves and my hands are starting to really hurt.

This however is one of the best things I have ever seen, another tick on the bucket list, now I have to think of something truly amazing to do next…… (suggestions welcome)

10 comments

  1. I had no idea you had to hunt for the Northern Lights. I guess that makes it more exciting when you find it? I would be pretty disappointed if I hadn’t seen them at all during a trip to Iceland, especially since it seems like one of the major attractions for visitors and I wouldn’t see it at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yea i thought u would just look up
    and see them but it was a lot of driving around and a few disappointing nights of nothing. In Keflavik you just look up as there isn’t many artificial lights around. I would of been upset if I hadn’t seen them as it was the reason I went lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those photo’s still look amazing to me! I can’t believe you had to hunt those lights though, I didn’t expect them to but still. Hunting lights, and you comment about the locals and the light hunters, so funny and probably 100 % true!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Northern Lights have been a dream for us for some time, we hope to make it someday in our lifetime. Indeed it must have been an exciting experience, and yes I think no camera can do justice to the real experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This blog post on the Northern Lights is the real deal! You have explained in great detail the things you have to go through to experience a truly magical moment. Indeed, no pain, no gain. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I want to see northerns lights too!! Luckily, they could be seen in lower latitudes as well, since Iceland it’s not cheap to travel too, but still, I live in Italy and to find a proper spot to find them I have to travel a bit anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

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