LAND OF NORTHERN LIGHTS
The winter in Iceland is so harsh you cannot help wonder if nature is trying to make you stay home. But if you push yourself, it is a special time indeed to discover new adventure. Just step out and enjoy the breathtaking scenery and the phenomena of the Northern Lights. Swaying high in the sky, dancing like a light show, the spectacular phenomenon can be seen only in a handful of places on Earth, and one of them is Iceland.
The landscape of huge mountains and vast open fields is what Iceland mainly consists of. The country is located in the perfect latitude for closely observing the Northern Lights at the North Pole, and makes their observation possible up to eight months a year (September to April). With the help of a favorable weather forecast and luck, we really hoped to see the Lights as planned. Travelers and photography enthusiasts need to be patient, as some days the Lights may appear very late or very briefly. But for those who are patient enough, the reward is well worth the wait.
Reykjavik is Iceland’s compact capital with sparsely-spaced houses. The trip started here by car as the only means of transportation to explore outside the city, including observing the Northern Lights. There are no trains.
We chose to travel along the south coast where the scenery was spectacular, and made several stops at tourist spots along the way, including Blue Lagoon Hot Springs, Seljalandsfoss, and the Large Skogarfoss waterfall. We stopped for dinner at Vik, a lovely little village along the coast. Snowmobiling over the Myrdalsj kull Glacier is a great activity for those looking for excitement and extreme cold at the same time.
Late in the evening, we checked in at the South Central Hotel, located along the highway. When we woke up at around ten o’clock at night, we were stunned by the green streaks of light in the dark sky, where one faint light turned into two, then three, and scaled larger into waves. The movement of the light is different every second – sometimes a straight line, sometimes a wavy one, beautifully swaying repeatedly back and forth. The experience was beyond words.
There were already many people with their cameras set up for the pictures when we rushed outside. Excited expressions were on their faces while taking pictures and watching the natural illumination show. We could never guess what the next scene would be like.
Our tour guide tried to explain this natural phenomenon, but it barely registered as our eyes were riveted by the beauty of the sky. By midnight the show had come to an end. We felt so fortunate to see the Northern Lights on the first night of our trip, especially after learning Iceland had been hit by a storm the day before. After we returned to our rooms, we were too excited to sleep and kept sharing our impressions of this unforgettable, natural event. And yes, we agreed that this would not be our first and only trip to Iceland.