When I was planning for my trip in Iceland I focus on finding accommodation outside the city and has low light or no light pollution so we don’t have to drive far to see the elusive northern light. I thought we just have to go outside at night from time to time and look up the sky while praying hard for a clear sky
Most of the people who come to Iceland will follow the plan itinerary and then if luck is by their side, they get to see the light. Either using specific northern light tour or self drive or lucky enough to have the light present themselves at their accommodation. I was hoping for the last one hence why I always chose accommodation that is somewhat remote.
However during my stay if I looked at the forecast to see which area has a clear sky for the night, only my first night actually has a clear sky. That was when we were staying at Skalinn guesthouse but we were overslept and only woke up at 3am. I think if we had stayed awake around 11-12pm we probably would see it. But I doubted that we would be able to stay outside for a long period of time as it was so cold. When we woke at 3 am and went outside it was -16 degree celcius 😱
This is my thought of what I think is important to know when chasing northern light:
1. Northern light will only show herself in the area where the sky is clear without cloud. If you are going to hunt for one, check the forecast for cloud in https://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ Then go to the white area where it says clear sky
2. Go to dark place with no light pollution and wait patiently 😉
3. KP is not everything if you are at the right place. That night when we saw Aurora was only at KP 3, but we were in the right location and the lady stayed for 3 hours with the first sighting at 11pm.
4. If you stay in Reykjavik area and KP is low and you are desperate already (like our situation), hire a private guide or join the small northern light tour. Don’t go with the big bus if the KP is low because big bus is often time bound. Find a passionate guide who would try everything to find aurora for you and even better who is willing to take your picture with the lady.
5. If you would like a picture with lady aurora, you need to stand still for 10-20 seconds in excruciating cold weather so dress properly. Wear the warmest clothes you have and dress in layers. When we went hunting I wore 4 layers on top: merino wool thermal, merino wool sweater, fleece jacket and my columbia winter jacket which can hold minus degrew celcius. 3 layer pants: merino wool thermal underpants, uniqlo ultrawarm pants and thick heat tech uniqlo pants. I also put on 2 thick wool socks, scarf to cover my face, wool beanie, thick gloves and hot hands.
6. I have read that the best month to see northern light is September and October. December and January is actually not the best months because the weather is often bad and northern light appearance need a good weather. March is the last season so KP is usually low.
This is our first sighting at the first location. We couldn’t see anything but our guide said to wait and said that he could see it already
Then we move to the second location where this time all of us could see it and started taking pictures. And not right after that the sky actually burst into green colours and we can see the corona and the dancing aurora
Our third location
Finally here’s the Group picture with our guide (Willy). He can be contacted thru his FB account @willyiceland
Good luck hunting northern light ☺️