Iceland – The Northern Lights

Iceland – The Northern Lights

When you saw the title of this blog post, I expect there’s a good chance you were anticipating the ‘classic’ Northern Lights shot of a ribbon of shimmering green winding across a clear night sky.

Well, as you can see, my Northern Lights experience didn’t quite work out that way.

Admittedly, this being an urban environment – in Vogar, on the outskirts of Reykjavik – it was far from being the ideal place to see them. The pictures here reflect that our experience of them is simply not comparable to the footage shot in documentaries, or the results you get in Google Images. You have to be in truly remote wilderness for that to happen. But it was still a great and dramatic experience to see them all the same.

The lights faded in and out of view over a 20 minute period for us, and it was very hard to tell if we were getting good pictures of them! But as you can see, a few of them have managed to come out OK.

It’s hard to describe this most spectacular of natural phenomena without lapsing into cliché, so I’ll simply say they are truly dramatic…even, in one incarnation, a bit terrifying, when two bands of green were split down the middle by a gaping, sharpened chasm of pure inky black, giving them an almost apocalyptic look.

The rest of the time they resembled a distant, vast, naturally-occurring lava lamp, blooming against the crystal clear night sky – itself dramatic with its low-hanging, yellowed moon – that simply took our breath away.

They may not have been as spectacular as they can be. But we still felt lucky and privileged to have seen them, and that it was not a ‘failure’ in the least. Sure we would have liked to have seen them in a more glorious way, but it was better to have seen them in a ‘reduced’ format than to have not seen them at all. A fitting way to bring our Iceland trip to a close.




  • Jitaditya Narzary

    May 11, 2017 at 5:32 pm Reply

    Not as colourful on the pics as I’d imagined. But surely you had a great time watching this natural phenomena. I like the honesty in this post without exaggeration!

    • Joe

      May 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Thanks 🙂 I’m guess I’m saying that not every bucket list experience turns out in the way its hyped up to be. And it’s ok to admit that has happened to you! But yeah, I did enjoy seeing them; better this than not at all!

  • The Travel Ninjas

    May 12, 2017 at 3:36 am Reply

    We’d love to see the Northern Lights too. I’m sure it was amazing to experience. Sometimes the weather or other conditions don’t cooperate with our imagination of a place. We’ve had that happen too, but the point is always to experience whats actually there for yourself.
    The Travel Ninjas recently posted…Binh Quoi Village – Bamboo Oasis in the CityMy Profile

    • Joe

      May 12, 2017 at 6:15 am Reply

      Amen to that 🙂 So many factors have to come together for you to see them, and when you think about that, we were indeed lucky to see them at all…

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    May 12, 2017 at 5:27 am Reply

    You are right. When anyone reads the title as Iceland – the Northern Lights, one expects to see in the post the green shimmering sky in the night. But this is not bad. This is good and am sure you would soon head back to Iceland to see it. I would say that your experience is no less.

    • Joe

      May 12, 2017 at 6:16 am Reply

      Thanks! It was a breathtaking experience at the time, just not as photogenic as the ‘classic’ experience…

  • Chiara

    May 12, 2017 at 9:19 am Reply

    I’ve always wanted to see the northen lights, one day maybe 🙁 Thanks for sharing!

    • Joe

      May 13, 2017 at 6:07 am Reply

      Keep the dream alive 🙂

  • Mallory Lindsly

    May 15, 2017 at 11:40 pm Reply

    I would love to see the northern lights
    Mallory Lindsly recently posted…Wrapping up the trip of a lifetime – Yellowstone and Grand TetonsMy Profile

  • Neni

    May 16, 2017 at 12:43 pm Reply

    Seeing the Northern Lights is an unique experience. I had the chance to see them in Finland and I couldn’t get enough. I’d love to see them again, maybe someplace else.

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