Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Really, who wouldn’t want to see the Northern Lights? There’s such a magical and ethereal quality to them that can’t be described, which I suppose has been a big factor in why I’ve always wanted to experience them.

Iceland’s been pretty high up on my bucket list for a while now too.  Booking a trip definitely had to coincide with a higher chance of seeing the Lights, rather than the peak Summer season with its almost 24-hour sun which renders visibility impossible. October then definitely seemed the best time to go, with the likelihood of seeing the Lights, as well as whales and dolphins in Faxa Bay (more on that in a future blog btw) pretty high.

Spoiler: I saw the Northern Lights. And some whales and dolphins earlier in the day too 🙂

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So I’m not sure if you realise this but photographing the Lights is pretty difficult. Basically; you need a decent camera capable of long exposure as well as a tripod to keep the camera steady. My partner-in-crime for the night, Elliot (drop him a follow on Instagram), had to draw on his inner McGyver when the tripod broke. Carefully balancing the camera on a pile of gloves and hats worked well, but with temperatures of -5 degrees, it wasn’t the most comfortable night. But this was okay because it was the ACTUAL NORTHERN LIGHTS!

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The Lights started out as what looked like streaks of grey cloud in the sky. After about half an hour they got stronger and you could easily see green hues, which then proceeded to dance and dart across the amazingly clear sky. For their finale, the Lights began to climb upwards, culminating in a dramatic emerald swirl which was the perfect addition to the clearest night sky that I had ever seen.

Iceland is a country that is rich in folklore, and there is much about the Northern Lights. It is said that if a pregnant woman stares at the Lights, her child will be born cross-eyed, which isn’t as cool as the elves and trolls that are said to populate the country but it’s interesting nonetheless. If the Lights move quickly, then it is thought that there is war going on somewhere in the world.

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I feel so lucky to have experienced something as captivating and compelling as the Northern Lights in a country as beautiful and unique as Iceland. Spending time in Iceland over the last week has really fuelled my desire to visit the other Nordic countries (especially Greenland – I dare you to Google Nuuk and not fall in love), and I hope to make many more unforgettable experiences in them in the not too distant future.

Photography by Elliot Green

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