A fleeting, delicate dance.
That’s how I would describe my experience watching the Northern Lights in Iceland.
It was a mad rush trying to see it. It had been raining the last 3 nights in Iceland, and all operating tours were cancelled. On our last night, the skies cleared up abit just enough for operating companies to resume tours.
You can imagine the rush of people trying to see it. We booked last minute with Greyline tours– there were 6 giant mega tourist buses load full of people.
There is no specific spot to watch the Northern Lights. The experience is more like a hunt. The tour guides radioed each other and with their office base to check where the location of the last sighting was.
Many people plan to go to Iceland to see the Northern lights. I have to admit one thing: I had always wanted to see the Northern lights, but I planned to see it somewhere else (like Finland or Norway). I haven’t been to either countries so my opinion is just based on research. I believe that the Northern lights are more stark and evident in those places- because they are higher than Iceland in terms of geography.
However, in all countries in the world where you can see the Northern lights, it is only in Iceland where you can see it from the country’s capital. So, Iceland is the most convenient place where you can see the Northern lights. You need not venture far from Reykjavik.
Airstrip in the dark.
Our first stop was in the middle of an airstrip (a small runway Not in Keflavik). All 6 buses unloaded the tourists. There were close to 400 -500 people that night. And the night was at it’s darkest. All buses switched their lights off.
Zombie and I lost each other in the dark and happy melee of people excited to see the lights. No use finding each other so I, along with everybody in the group, stood freezing in the open airfield waiting for the slightest hint of green or red in the skies.
There were close calls, and many people went back to the bus due to the cold. When a glimmer of colour would show up, the tour guides would bang at the buses to rouse the people who couldn’t take the cold, and out they would scramble into the cold again.
After about three times of this watch-freeze- little excitement-and- then-gone cycle, the tour guides declared it a night/day. It was 1:30 AM.
Defeated? Not Quite.
Everyone was cold and exhausted, and rather disappointed not to see anything. But that’s nature. It’s the name of the game. It’s not a Vegas show that goes on time every day.
You cannot ask for a refund however your ticket is valid for the next 2 years until you see the Northern Lights.
As the buses drove back, I started to fall asleep.
It was a good 20 minutes of sleep when the tour guide’s voice blasted through the bus speakers.
“EVERYBODY WAKE UP!”
The buses screeched to a halt. On automaton mode, Zombie and I just quickly rushed out of the bus without any questions.
We were in the middle of a field, already close to Reykjavik.
And finally, we saw what people travel thousands of miles for.
We had 2 hours of sleep that night/day as we headed to the airport for our flight to Paris at 5AM.
You do have to agree. it was worth the headache and eyebags the day after.
Click on the other Iceland adventures below!