Philip Clapé

Philip Clapé

Philip Clapé

Iceland | Northern Lights

Holidays Beckon - Cairns, QLD

We came to Iceland in search of the Northern Lights, arriving in Reykjavik in the late afternoon.

The trick to spotting the Northern Lights is to make sure your eyes get accustomed to the darkness. Shield your eyes, or turn away, from approaching car lights so that your pupils don’t constrict.

As we gazed into the clear night sky one of our party exclaimed: “I think I see them!”.

Sure enough, a faint grey-white glow was developing against the sky, almost like a cloud.  We could see them when they were faint and we could definitely see them when they glowed, bright & shimmering. We could make out the verticals and we could make out the dancing. It was simply magical!

My Personal Travel Experience

We came to Iceland in search of the Northern Lights, arriving in Reykjavik in the late afternoon. It was cold!

Our pre-booked transfer from the airport to our apartment went smoothly. Once settled we walked the short distance into the city centre.

Reykjavik is an enchanting city, with many colourful buildings, bright shop fronts, and some great places to eat.

The next morning I woke to find we had all slept in!  I was first up and it was already 10:00am, but it was still dark outside! The days are short at this time of the year! Something us Australian’s are not used to!! In any case, it was a lovely relaxing way to start the day.

After breakfast (well almost lunch!) we headed into town to find an information centre where we could investigate tours to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. We found a great place called What’s On in Iceland, where we booked a small group 4WD tour with Happyworld Iceland for later that night.

We walked around Reykjavik for a while, had a late lunch and headed for the supermarket to buy supplies for tonight’s home-made Minestrone soup, something to warm our tummies in preparation for the cold night ahead.  At about 8:30pm we were collected by our tour guide, Gunner. The 4WD was quite high, so much so that the height challenged amongst us required a step ladder to get in the vehicle!

The lights of Reykjavik were soon behind us as Gunner took us to a remote roadside stop where we set up our cameras and waited for the Northern Lights to appear.  We were incredibly lucky that no other tour group stopped at the same location for most of the time we were there.

It was cold standing out there in the darkness!  Even though we had dressed appropriately with thermals & base layers, together with neck warmers, jackets, and double layered socks, you could still feel the cold slowly seep through your shoes and start creeping up your legs.

Gunner told us that the trick to spotting the Northern Lights is to make sure your eyes get accustomed to the darkness. If a car approaches you need to shield your eyes, or turn away, so that the light doesn’t make your pupils constrict.  Every time a bus or vehicle approached we’d all quickly turn away or shut our eyes. Maybe this left the impression that we didn’t want them to stop!

As we gazed into the clear night sky one of our party exclaimed: “I think I see them!”.

Sure enough, a faint grey-white glow was developing against the sky, almost like a cloud.  We soon learnt that the human eye doesn’t see the Lights quite the same way a good camera can capture them! So it was that as we took photos we saw the green colour of the Lights. Even so, we could see them when they were faint and we could definitely see them when they glowed, bright & shimmering. We could make out the verticals and we could make out the dancing. It was simply magical!

I can’t express the wonder at witnessing the Northern Lights except through pictures, so here are some that were taken during the couple of hours we stood outside, pointing, laughing, gasping & mesmerised.

After a couple of hours, a nice cup of hot chocolate and a shot of Icelandic Brennvín, translated directly to “burning wine”, we decided it was time to move on.  Brennvín is made from fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway and a popular distilled beverage, also known as the “Black Death”. You could definitely feel it “burn” all the way down, but it soon warmed us up! Skál!

As we left the roadside stop we’d called our own for a couple of hours a big bus pulled up & out poured a number of tourists. Thankfully the Lights had already put on their performance for us and we were pleased to leave. On the way back to Reykjavik we saw the Lights start to dance even more than they had previously!  Gunner had also seen this and found a place to safely stop. We jumped out of the 4WD and watched in awe.

As the Lights started to dim we piled back into the 4WD and headed back to Reykjavik.

We were truly blessed to have seen the Northern Lights on our first attempt! A lot of people travel all this way and don’t get to see them. It all comes down to the weather (you need clear skies) and relies on the solar winds causing a disturbance in the magnetosphere that results in  charged particles fall into the upper atmosphere.

By the time we got back to the apartment it was after 1am. We were weary but at the same time elated by the experience.

Read About My Travel Experiences

My Accreditation & Awards

Certificate III in Travel (SIT30216) Open Colleges 2017
International Fares 2 - Travel Training Australia
CLIA Master
CLIA Cruise Champion
Azamara Club Cruises certified
Holland America Line Certified Expert
Norwegian Cruise Line Associate Degree
P&O Australia Flagship Master Class
Princess Academy Certified Expert
Royal Caribbean International certified
Silversea Academy Graduate
Uniworld River Cruise Specialist
Aussie Specialist Agent Tourism Australia
Australia's Outback: Northern Territory
Matai Specialist Tourism FIJI
South African Certified Specialist
G Adventures National Geographic Journeys Specialist
Rocky Mountaineer Specialist TRACKS program
Aussietravel Cover Insurance certified
Covermore Travel Insurance Authorised Representative
nib Travel Insurance certified

Travel Advisors listed on Find A Travel Expert are:

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  • Your Travel & Cruise is a member of ATAS, CLIA and the Magellan Travel group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Helloworld Travel.


My Reviews

Have already started booking next years holiday

Quick trip to HK, booked flights and accomodation. Hassel free, and kept up to date about situation in HK, had no trouble. Not many tourists in HK so queues where either very short or non existent.
Have already to started booking next years hloiday!!!

- Ken Barrie, VIC
Rock the Boat

Philip Clape was very helpful to us. Everytime we had a question or request, and the cruise itself was a real blast. We had more fun than I could have imagined.

- Anne Robbins, Kyabram, VIC
Professionalism & responsiveness made it easy

Philip helped us with a recent overseas trip and his service and helpfulness made everything run smoothly! Philips’s professionalism and responsiveness made all the organising very easy and the trip was a great success!

- Brydon King, VIC
Once again Philip has organised a fabulous holiday

Once again Philip has organised a fabulous holiday for us. This one was just for a week but Philip still came up with great suggestions, and put every effort into making it all run smoothly as usual. Any questions were answered promptly and all correspondence was detailed and reliable. We will certainly be planning our next holiday through Holidays Beckon.

- Laree Porter, QLD
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