Chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Journalism Course LondonBy Natalie Tompkins

“Stop. I can see them,” shouted someone sitting on the left of the coach as the driver pulled over. The excitement was mounting as everyone rushed to put on extra gloves, hats and coats eager to rush out into the cold night air.

After sitting on a coach for hours with our noses pressed to the window I was reassured that late February was the best time to catch the Northern Lights and, thankfully, we were not disappointed.

As everyone was assembling tripods and adjusting their camera settings I gazed upwards. There was a faint greenish tinge in the sky above the horizon that was getting brighter. Standing surrounded by snow and ice capped mountains I knew I was about to see one of the most spectacular light shows nature can produce; the Aurora Borealis.

Who could have thought charged particles in a geomagnetic storm could be so beautiful? “Aurora is the name of the Roman Goddess of Dawn” explained the guide.

The dazzling light show developed in a few minutes and soon the curtain- like veil was drawn across the sky illuminating the landscape around us. My feet were firmly on the frozen ground but the feeling in my stomach suggested I had just been catapulted into space. A still silence spread around us while we all tried to hear the ‘sing’ of the aurora.

This was a once in a lifetime experience in a country that I will never forget.  Even if you are not lucky enough to see the Northern Lights you are guaranteed to see some breathtaking views.

Despite being there for just three days it’s amazing what you can squeeze in. Iceland is a geographers’ paradise with two plate boundaries running straight down the middle of the country. This means that the ever expanding land mass gives way to some of the most exceptional mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls and geysers in the world.

The city of Reykjavik is a marvel. It is where the arctic North meets the Western world which makes for one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in the whole of Europe. Despite the country’s population being smaller than Liverpool’s, there are pockets of culture, museums and an adequate night life of buzzing bars and restaurants. These are all set in front of a stunning backdrop of mountains and lakes underneath a frozen sky.