It was probably about -8 to -10 C. We were standing in the middle of a lava field in the dark. In the distance on the horizon a small green glimmer appeared and got brighter and brighter. “OH MY GOD!”, I screamed at Dre whilst slapping his arms with excitement and pointing into the distance. I couldn’t believe this was happening, that this was real. We were witnessing the Northern Lights, or otherwise more affectionately known as the Aurora Borealis. I will never forget that night, it was the beginning of the most beautiful journey of my life.
I’d been bunking out in Reykjavik for a few days already at the hip Loft Hostel and all the backpackers were giving me serious FOMO telling me about their trips. So I ignored all loyalty to my and Dre’s friendship and decided spontaneously that I wanted to join a ‘Mystery Northern Lights Tour’ . Unfortunately the universe spoke loud and clear ‘No lights for you Missy, you didn’t wait for your friend’, and I was greeted with only clouds and snow. Luckily, I was in Iceland where customer service is on point (they allow you to keep returning for free until you were happy you saw the lights) so I planned to have another crack the next night. Once Dre arrived he was super keen to join me despite being completely jet lagged.
The forecast wasn’t looking particularly promising that night. As our tour bus pulled out of Reykjavik we couldn’t see one star due to the cloud cover and Dre was already asleep. After an hour drive we pulled up next to a small glass cafe along side what seemed like too many other tour groups. I woke Dre up and the two of us put on our head torches and went to stake a spot in the darkness away from the light pollution and other tourists.
We could barely make out the mountains in the distance constantly asking each other “Which way is North?” and “Is that a mountain or clouds?”. After waiting patiently for a long while in the cold we noticed a faint glow on the horizon.
No it couldn’t be, could it?
“Is that… is that it?”, we murmured at each other as we pointed towards a light green shimmer in the distance. Like an upside down waterfall it came, faintly at first like a whisper into the night. Then, as the clouds drifted clearing the sky more and more it was obvious – this was it. This was the Aurora Borealis! This was the Northern Lights!
We were so incredibly lucky that night that the clouds cleared, and the solar flares (the source of the lights) were so active that they literally lit up the sky with green! They streaked across and above our heads and shimmered and danced. Danced as if a gentle wind was nudging them from side to side. Then they’d split into two or more beautiful streaks, they’d turned difference tinges of white and green, bright strikingly vibrant colour which then dispersion into the distant night sky.
You could hear the screams of delight across the lava field as the bus loads of tourists pointed towards the greatest show on earth, all of us sharing in this extraordinary moment.
We set up my camera and tripod and it took us a good hour or so before we got the hang of it. All the while, continuously yelling at each other “LOOK! OH MY GOD, I CAN’T EVEN DEAL, ARE YOU SEEING THIS?!”
Soon it was in all directions, the lights were coming from the North but then they were overhead and to our left and to our right. At one point I distinctively remember Dre saying to me “LOOK UP! JUST LOOK UP!” and as I turned my gaze upward I opened my mouth is a gasp. One stream of light had lifted directly over and above our heads across the sky, no camera could capture this moment, no peripheral vision could wholly see this. It was all above us and around us and it was nearly all too much to take in.
We took photo after photo after photo. It was just after midnight when I realised I could not longer feel my toes. Eventually the night had to end, and we sadly walked away from the shimmering green sky that had so enchanted us.
Exhausted, we fell asleep on the bus back to Reykjavik. We didn’t realise at the time, but we’d continue to be blown away by this extraordinary country in the week to follow. Every moment of our trips would surprise us, every moment of our trip would change us. Everyone moment of our trip would make us fall more and more in love with Iceland.