Remember the quote, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away"? When i came face to face with the Aurora Borealis surrounded by a gazillion stars, i was not just blown away by what i was seeing. All my favourite memories from the last 20 years came running through my head and a sensational surplus of happiness and thankfulness took over my heart. Perhaps, my heart told my brain, "I can die now." That was a close shave but well worth it!
When you google Iceland, you will definitely come across amazing shots of the elusive Aurora Borealis aka Northern Lights taken by super talented photographers. Before we left for our Iceland February 2016 Winter trip, we realised that seeing it is one thing and capturing exactly what you see is not easy-peasy. My husband is the more talented photographer between the 2 of us and he did all the reading up on how best to capture the gorgeous movements and colours of the Northern Light should we get to see it!
Quick tips before you head out for your Northern Lights hunt:
1. Get a DSLR and do some homework on the settings needed to capture the Northern Lights.
2. Bring with you lots of patience. We started our Northern Lights Hunt at 9pm and only saw it at 2am.
3. Get an extra cup of coffee for that much needed energy boost to stay awake till late. (Especially if you are used to getting to bed early!)
4. Have zero expectations and know that the Northern Lights are unpredictable. The Aurora forecast might be good for that day but then again, you never know what to expect. Go to Iceland and have a great time! If you get to see the Northern Lights, awesome. If not, it will still be awesome! Trust me.
OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Tour group we chose for the Northern Lights Hunt: Time Tours
What we liked about Time Tours:
It's a small group of 16 people to 1 guide in a mini van instead of a huge bus load of around fifty. With a smaller vehicle, you get to drive to the possible sighting areas quicker. Plus, the guides are super patient, super resourceful with their fancy apps that give them a sense of where sightings might appear and the chance of spotting one as the night goes by. Most importantly, they are willing to spend 5 hours with the group to hunt down the northern lights. We heard from other travelers that the tour companies they went with were only willing to wait till 12AM. Go read Time Tour's amazing reviews on TripAdvisor here.
Duration approx: 3-5 Hours
Departures: Every night (Weather permitting)
Estimated cost: 7600 Kr. (SGD 83)
Note: They will notify by email for cancellation of tour due to bad weather/cloud forecast between 18:00-18:30 on tour date. If the aurora is not visible during your trip, you can re-book a free trip at another date. So, if you are staying in Iceland for 5 days, sign up for the tour on the 1st day itself.
Dress code: Dress warmly and go all out with your winter wear. The temperature dropped to -12°C when we drove up to the mountains! Brrrrr.
Here comes the insanely magical images of our 1st encounter with the Aurora Borealis which went on for almost an hour.
OUR SECOND ENCOUNTER WITH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The second time around, we met the Northern lights in our PJs right outside our Airbnb apartment. It was spectacular and totally unexpected! This time round, the Aurora Borealis started at around 12AM and mingled with us for a good 45mins. We were so darn lucky!
If you are planning to explore the West of Iceland, i strongly recommend you to stay here. We stayed here for 2 nights and saw the Northern Lights on our 1st night here!
There were 3 reasons why i booked this place:
(1) Value for money
(2) Super delicious complimentary breakfast buffet
(3) Sightings of Northern Lights by previous guests!! (SOLD!)
Here are some shots from our 2nd encounter with the Aurora Borealis which went on for 45 mins right outside our Airbnb.
May the Northern Lights reveal itself to you! :))