Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reykjavik, Iceland: Northern Lights & Glaciers - February 2015

It's after midnight, pitch black and well below freezing in our jeep. I can't feel my toes. After feasting on a pile of garlic and pepper lobsters and hunting for the Northern Lights for hours, we are now stuck in deep wet snow seemingly in the middle of nowhere Iceland.

We've been searching for the Northern Lights, a.k.a. Aurora Borealis, which is a natural light display in the sky most commonly seen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. I've been told that the "auroras are caused by charged particles, mainly electrons and protons, entering the atmosphere from above causing ionisation and excitation of atmospheric constituents, and consequent optical emissions" or something like that. However it happens, the Northern Lights are a must-see dancing light show with brilliant greens, purples and pinks.

Before long, back in the jeep, there's hope for my little toes. Our guide drops our tire pressure from 30 to 3 psi, and we manage to roll out of the ditch. We keep up the hunt a little while longer before returning to our hotel cold, tired and without having caught the slightest glimpse of the elusive lights.

The next day we saw Iceland in an entirely different light ... daylight. We were picked up by our guide with only a few hours sleep but eager to explore. We hopped into a jeep with tires fit for a monster truck rally and headed to the great mid-ocean divide: the area where the North American and European tectonic plates collide. After taking in the sights and walking the treacherously icy path from one continent to the other, we loaded back into the jeep to warm up and check out the next stops on the Golden Circle circuit. We admired the blow of erupting geysers and inhaled the heavy sulfuric wafts, went off-roading onto the Langjökull Glacier into hurricane-force winds, and witnessed the crashing waterfalls that hid in the gorges aside the snow-covered hills.
That night we climbed back into the jeep to resume our search for the Northern Lights. Fortunately, this time, we got lucky.


1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Seeing the Northern Lights is still on my bucket list. But I may be running out of time :)