Night 3 – chasing the Northern lights (Iceland)

Several people asked me; Where are the Northern lights? Well, it’s a natural phenomena so there isn’t a certain location, it’s about being patient and waiting. Seeing the lights depends on various factors; visibility, clarity, strength of the lights and weather conditions. I was tipped off by a local photographer that there’s a strong possibility of seeing the lights on this night, they were returning to the harbour at 9.00pm.

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Aurora Borealis (Northern lights) is visible from September to April. The locals suggest visiting between Nov-Jan, as the lights are more active and prominent during the winter months. There’s several websites where you can check the forecast and determine the possibility of seeing the lights; Most travellers had an app or used websites like the one I’ve provided.

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As a photographer, I had envisioned a lone farm with a rural backdrop and the Northern lights illuminating the scene, but it was not meant to be. It was spring, so the lights aren’t as active as they are in the winter months, they were so faint that me and my flat mates frantically drove around Stykkisholmur trying to find the best vantage point where there was minimal street lights. ISO at its maximum. We’d even tried to take pictures of us together, but the coastal winds kept blowing the tripod over. In photography terms, it was a disaster!

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Even though we didn’t capture the idyllic shot of the Northern lights, we were so buzzed from the fact that we witnessed it. We were out till midnight chasing the Northern lights as they danced, faded, disappeared and re-appeared across the night sky. If you’re visiting Iceland just for the lights, then you need a minimum of 7 days to do so. Tour operators across Iceland offer tours (by boat, bus or jeep) but you can go by yourself for free. Many travellers and tourists are in search of Aurora Borealis, I however happened to encounter the phenomena by chance, demonstrating the serendipitous nature of Iceland.