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How to Hunt Northern Lights in Iceland

The ethereal dance of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a breathtaking natural phenomenon that attracts adventurers and photographers from around the world. Iceland, with its pristine landscapes and remote locations, offers one of the best vantage points for witnessing this celestial spectacle. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deeper into how to hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland, covering the best periods, optimal locations, essential equipment, and invaluable tips for a successful experience.

Understanding the Northern Lights in Iceland

Before embarking on your Northern Lights expedition, it's essential to comprehend the science behind this awe-inspiring phenomenon. The Northern Lights are a result of charged particles from the sun colliding with gases in the Earth's atmosphere. The collision generates colorful lights that dance across the night sky, creating an otherworldly spectacle.

Best Periods for Northern Lights Watching in Iceland

The Northern Lights in Iceland are most visible during the winter months, primarily from September to April. However, the peak visibility period occurs between late September and late March when Iceland experiences longer nights. These extended hours of darkness significantly increase your chances of witnessing the Northern Lights in all their glory.

Northern lights Iceland

A breathtaking spectacle unfolds as vibrant ribbons of emerald and violet dance across the Arctic sky, creating an otherworldly display of the Northern Lights. The celestial lights seem to whisper secrets of the cosmos as they paint the starry canvas with their ethereal glow, leaving spectators in awe of nature's brilliance.

Optimal Locations for Northern Lights Viewing

While the Northern Lights can be visible throughout Iceland, some regions offer better opportunities due to their lower light pollution and clearer skies. Here are some of the most popular Northern Lights viewing locations in Iceland :

  • Reykjavik : As Iceland's capital and largest city, Reykjavik is a convenient starting point for your Northern Lights adventure. However, city lights can diminish visibility, so consider venturing just outside the city for a better experience.

  • Thingvellir National Park : Located approximately 40 kilometers from Reykjavik, Thingvellir National Park provides a stunning natural backdrop for your aurora watching. Its tranquil lakes and rugged terrain make it an excellent spot for capturing the Northern Lights.

  • Vatnajokull National Park : Situated in southeast Iceland, Vatnajokull National Park offers dark skies and a breathtaking icy landscape, enhancing your Northern Lights experience.

  • Akureyri : As Iceland's second-largest city, Akureyri, located in the north, is renowned for its frequent and vibrant Northern Lights displays.

  • Fagrafell Hostel, Bárðardalur Valley : For an unparalleled Northern Lights encounter, consider staying at Fagrafell Hostel. Nestled in the remote Bárðardalur Valley, this hostel boasts minimal light pollution, an expansive field of view, and perfect conditions for observing the Northern Lights.

Essential Equipment for Northern Lights Hunting

To capture the Northern Lights at their best, you'll need the following equipment :
  • Camera with Manual Settings : A DSLR camera with manual settings is ideal for capturing the intricate details and colors of the Northern Lights.

  • Sturdy Tripod : A stable tripod is essential for long-exposure shots, as even the slightest camera shake can blur your photographs.

  • Wide-Angle Lens : A wide-angle lens allows you to capture more of the night sky, increasing your chances of framing the Northern Lights beautifully.

  • Remote Shutter Release : A remote shutter release prevents camera shake when you take long-exposure shots, ensuring your images are crisp and clear.

  • Warm Clothing : Dressing in layers is crucial, as you'll be spending extended periods outdoors in cold temperatures. Thermal undergarments, insulated jackets, and warm gloves are highly recommended.
  • Red Light : A red flashlight is useful for reading maps, checking camera settings, and navigating in the dark without disrupting your night vision.

How to hunt for the Northern Lights using a smartphone or iPhone :

While dedicated cameras and equipment are preferred for capturing the Northern Lights' intricate details, you can still enjoy this celestial spectacle using your smartphone or iPhone.
First, ensure your device is fully charged or bring a portable charger to avoid running out of battery during the display. Next, download a Northern Lights photography app or use your phone's default camera app with manual settings.

Set your ISO to the highest level possible (usually around 800-1600) to capture more light.
Adjust your focus to infinity and decrease exposure time to 15-20 seconds to prevent star trails.

Finally, use a tripod or a stable surface to avoid camera shake during the long exposure. Be patient, as the lights can appear suddenly and unpredictably. With a little luck and the right settings, you can capture the magic of the Northern Lights with your smartphone.

Best hotels in iceland for northern lights

Under the vast, star-studded canopy of the Icelandic night, the Northern Lights burst forth in a symphony of colors above the best northern lights hotel. The vibrant green and purple hues ripple and twist, like celestial silk ribbons unfurling against a backdrop of darkness. These magical lights create a sense of wonder and tranquility, inviting all who witness them to be part of this celestial dance.

The Advantages of choosing the best hotel in iceland for Northern Lights Viewing

Fagrafell Hostel offers a unique advantage for Northern Lights enthusiasts, making it the perfect accommodation choice for this extraordinary experience :

  • Minimal Light Pollution : Unlike urban areas, Fagrafell Hostel boasts minimal light pollution. This means you'll have an uninterrupted view of the Northern Lights without the interference of city lights.

  • Expansive Field of View : The hostel is situated in a vast, open valley, providing an unobstructed field of view for spotting the lights. When the landscape is blanketed in snow, you may even witness the Northern Lights reflecting off the pristine, snowy ground, creating a magical and surreal sight.

  • Remote Location : Fagrafell Hostel is far removed from the hustle and bustle of major cities, offering tranquility and solitude. This isolation enhances the darkness of the night sky, further improving your chances of witnessing the Aurora Borealis in all its splendor.

  • Affordable Accommodation : The hostel offers comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations, making it an excellent choice for travelers seeking an authentic Icelandic experience without breaking the bank.

In conclusion, the Northern Lights in Iceland are a captivating spectacle that should be on every traveler's bucket list. To maximize your chances of witnessing this natural wonder, plan your trip during the optimal months, choose a suitable location with minimal light pollution, and equip yourself with the right photography gear.

For the best Northern Lights experience, consider staying at the best hotel in Iceland for northern lights, where you can immerse yourself in the magic of the Arctic night sky. Book your stay today and embark on an unforgettable journey to see the Northern Lights in all their glory.