Exploring Iceland: Fire, Ice & Dancing Northern Lights Night Sky

Why did I fly so far away from Sydney, Australia to Reykjavík, Iceland for a holiday … because I try to take the road less travelled and G Adventures Iceland Explorer sounded like an excellent way to see this remote country via a small group tour.

My first two flights were on Singapore Airlines (Sydney -> Singapore -> Copenhagen) from where I caught IcelandAir to their capital city Reykjavík.

Quite handily the IcelandAir inflight shopping cart included SIM’s for Síminn, Iceland’s largest mobile network, so I bought one to put in my Australian mobile phone so I could post photos and chat with friends and family at home during the trip. Cost was about $AUS40 for the prepaid SIM + 5GB data topup.

It was a struggle deciding how much camera gear and lenses to take with me to Iceland, I followed some wise advice which turned out to be correct 🙂

The G Adventures tour was great but I should note that Iceland is very expensive when paying in Australian dollars. My overall total cost was about $AUS9000 for flights, tour, meals, travel insurance, incidental expenditure etc.

I arrived in Iceland a day before the tour started so I could try and get over the jet lag.

My hotel the Radisson Park Inn wasn’t close to Reykjavik city centre but I slept well and the included breakfast had plenty of vegetarian options.

Also handily there was a nice cafe nearby voted the best Vegetarian cafe in Iceland, called Kruska located at Suðurlandsbraut 12. By the way my recommended healthy snack while travelling in Iceland is Skyr, a local super thick, high-protein version of yoghurt.

Skyr - Reykjavik, Iceland

I caught a taxi the next morning to see the Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church and go up to the top for a view of Reykjavik from above.

There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only such a thing as not having the right gear. Make sure you take proper wet weather gear (serious raincoat, waterproof shoes, rain pants) to Iceland as it can rain a lot. Also of course depending on the season you visit during be prepared for really cold temperatures.

If you want a great souvenir I highly recommend going to the the Handknitting Association Of Iceland Reykjavik shop where I got an excellent icelandic wool beanie for appx AUS$24 that kept my head warm during the trip and I wear it at home during Winter. You can buy Icelandic wool clothes and accessories from Icewear’s website.

There were so many highlights of my trip to Iceland, I shall summarise them below grouped by similar experiences. To see all the photos mouse over the slideshow of my photo gallery below and use sideways arrows or click to see them full screen.

Flickr Photo Slideshow of my Iceland Trip 2014 Iceland

If you like geology and tectonic plates then you’ll enjoy the walk in Thingvellir National Park, visit to Geysir Hot Springs, geothermal steam vents scattered around the Hveragerdi area and Hveraröndor Hverir.

Geothermal steam vent in Iceland field

Hveraröndor Hverir geothermal hot springs North IcelandGeysir geothermal eruption area Iceland

I’ve seen lots of waterfalls but Seljalandsfoss was special because you could walk behind it and hear the thundering water sound. Seljalandsfoss waterfall, South Iceland    

We saw many more waterfalls during the trip but Godafoss was a highlight as a huge rainbow appeared across the sky.

Panorama Double Rainbow at Dettifoss waterfall Vatnajökull National Park Northeast Iceland

Panorama Rainbow at Dettifoss waterfall Vatnajökull National Park Northeast Iceland

After we reached our hotel at Nupar some of our tour group decided to walk across a grassy plain and up a rocky area on top of a plateau, the view was worth it. View from above Nupar, South Iceland

A visit to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without visiting a Glacier so we were glad that the sun come out for our ice walk on Falljokull Glacier, part of Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier. We were equipped with crampons and ice axes before walking up the glacier where we found lots of glacier mice. Falljokull "Falling Glacier" - outlet from Vatnajokull icecap

Unusual moss balls "Glacier Mice" on Falljokull "Falling Glacier" - outlet from Vatnajokull icecap

Falljokull "Falling Glacier" - outlet from Vatnajokull icecap

Another amazing ice experience followed with a boat ride on Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Panorama Jökulsálón Glacier Lagoon, South Iceland

Jökulsálón Glacier Lagoon, South Iceland

I thought the North Iceland lakeside village of Myvatn would just be a stopover but it was far better, starting with an amazing view from my window when we arrived late afternoon at Sel Hótel Mývatn.

View from my window Sel Hótel Mývatn, North Iceland

First our group had a great Iceland geothermal soak at Myvatn Nature Baths / Jarðböðin við Mývatn, much better than the more famous Blue Lagoon.

I had asked the hotel night staff to wake me up if the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) appeared at night and they did not disappoint. I saw them dance across the night sky, spending 3 hours on a windy hill @ 6C temperature learning how to take photos of them with my little tripod.

Neerav Bhatt - Green Northern Lights Aurora Borealis - viewed from Mývatn, North Iceland

After all that excitement the next day we headed further north to the town of Husavik, the whale capital of Iceland, where we embarked on a whale-watching excursion. Humpback Whale Diving - Skjálfandi Bay, Husavik, North Iceland

The last whole day of our tour ended in the town of Akureyri, Capital of the North where I was once again lucky enough to see the Northern Lights at night.

Northern Lights Aurora Borealis - viewed from Akureyri, North IcelandOn the last day we made an early departure to return to Reykjavik.

2 Replies to “Exploring Iceland: Fire, Ice & Dancing Northern Lights Night Sky”

  1. Iceland is a photographer’s dream location, but I’ve always heard that it is on the expensive side. Do you have any tips to cut costs?

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