It was New Year’s Eve, our last night in Iceland and our last chance to see some (more) Northern Lights. The weather forecast was great – clear sky and the aurora strength was projected at 4 out of 9. This was the best day for us since we arrived 2 weeks ago, weather-wise. My friend and I decided to try our luck again to catch the Northern Lights near the Grotta Lighthouse in Reykjavik.
The last time we walked, it took almost 1 hour each way to and from the Lighthouse. Our hotel was near the Hallgrímskirkja church then. But it turned cloudy quickly that night and we left disappointed. This time we took a taxi, which took less than 10 minutes. Although the taxi fare wasn’t cheap, it was definitely worth every cent.
The moment we alighted from the cab, I saw the Northern Lights across the sky!
“There, there!” I pointed to my friend. And we scrambled to set up our tripod.
Despite the amount of bright lights in the area, the Northern Lights at the Grotta Lighthouse was distinct. The green colours were much brighter than the ones we saw the night before, not pale looking and easily mistaken for clouds.
Since the Aurora Borealis were right above our heads at the carpark, we didn’t want to walk to the Lighthouse. Just in case they disappear soon. Luckily we had the experience from the night before and knew what settings to use on the cameras. So we found ourselves a spot next to the breakwater and started shooting. If you need a helpful cheat sheet on the camera settings for northern lights, check this out.
In order for one to see the Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis), it is extremely important to have a cloudless night sky. Low hanging clouds are fine because there may be a chance for the Lights to peep through those clouds. But to have a clear sky like we did, in Iceland, we were blessed. Although the recommended time to look out for the Northern Lights is usually from 9pm to 2am, a local guy told me the Lights started dancing outside his house just after 7pm!
We saw some spectacular display of the aurora lights that night and what seems like millions of stars in the sky. It was awesome!
We hung around the Grotta Lighthouse area for about 2 hours, watching the Northern Lights dancing, changing shapes but also fading and eventually disappeared.
With the last streak of the green lights bidding us goodbye, we packed up and took a cab back into Reykjavik downtown to join hundreds of party revellers for the New Year Eve countdown. What a wonderful way to end 2016!
If you are not driving, I would suggest that you take a taxi from downtown to the Grotta Lighthouse. I called a few taxi companies that night but only one answered quickly. I even managed to book a taxi to pick us up within 10 minutes from the Lighthouse. That taxi company was Hreyfill, Tel: +354 588 5522. They run by the meter and accept credit cards.
To read more about my Northern Lights adventure, click here. Tell me about your Northern Lights experiences!