Hunting the Northern Lights
My mom recently sent me an article from The West Australian, a newspaper from home, that stated seeing the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis was in the top three things that Australians wanted to experience in their lifetime. It hadn’t always been numero uno on my bucket list, but it had been my number one priority ever since I ticked off Antarctica.
I travelled to Lapland in Northern Finland in January and although the Lights were said to be at their best in at least a decade, I missed out on seeing them due to unfavourable weather conditions. It just wasn’t meant to be. Because of this, I knew I had to brave the northern winter once again for a chance to witness this mystical phenomenon.
After arriving into Reykjavik with Steph, we had dinner and were just chilling out in the hostel when, for some strange reason I checked the ‘activity’ page on Instagram. I never do that, but the latest news was Patricio, whom I stayed with in Santiago, liking a photo by an Icelandic account. I clicked on the photo and as I read the caption, adrenaline pumped through my veins.
The caption said there were good conditions to see the Lights and that the account owner was going to Grótta Lighthouse to ‘hunt’ for them. After being told that the last bus out to the lighthouse would leave in 20 minutes, panic set in as Steph and I were rushing around like headless chooks (slang for chickens) trying to pack our bags with camera equipment, warm clothes and to make the bus.
We made the bus and within an hour, we stood in silence as we watched the Lights, with what appeared to the naked eye as greens and purples across the darkened night. It was pretty satisfying, but not quite as bright or as magical as I had hoped. I had seen them, but I wanted more. I wanted brighter lights and darker skies.
It might sound greedy, but I had come a long way and wanted that amazing photo and the amazing experience. For those playing at home, you need strong aurora activity in combination with clear, cloudless skies, and to be in an area without light pollution (away from cities), for the best chance to see them.
Five days later at 4am, Steph woke me to check the conditions and they were perfect, much to my chagrin. I was comfy and warm in bed and hunting the lights in minus temperatures weren’t my preferred way of spending the next few hours. But I got up.
We drove out of the town of Stykkishólmur, where we were staying and pulled over onto a gravel track covered in complete darkness. With our layers on, we stepped out of the car and above us the sky was dancing. Literally dancing. It was simply magical. Watching the bright lights in all of their glory, seemingly floating only metres above us. They were bright and the motion they danced in was mesmerizing. It was breathtaking and I was finally satisfied because my one goal in Iceland had been fulfilled.
Missing out on seeing the Lights in Finland made me appreciate them so much more. I guess good things do come to those who wait. Now, what to tick off the bucket list next…