Trip Tips: Iceland's Lights require patience, warm clothes

Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:27am EST
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By David Holmes

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - It is nearly midnight in late November and an anorak-clad crowd several hundred strong is stamping its feet in a field of tussocky grass in the north of Iceland, scanning the horizon and hoping for a break in the cloud.

    A chance of seeing the Northern Lights has drawn busloads of increasingly cold onlookers to this remote spot, but the heavenly illuminations are so far living up to their elusive reputation, even when the clouds briefly part to reveal a starry display.

    Our guide, though, is getting increasingly animated, gesturing northwards and insisting that almost imperceptibly faint glows are manifestations of our quarry.

    The visitors seem unconvinced. "Are you sure that's not the moon reflecting off a cloud?" asks one. "I want some of what she's on," whispers another.

    Suddenly, however, the sky clears and it's unmistakable - a glow, dancing left to right, then a streak, quickly fading to be replaced by more activity, glowing brighter then being replaced by more celestial splodges and lines.

    As a spectacle this display of the Aurora Borealis is less dramatic than photographs would suggest is common, and less colorful. But it's still intriguing, all the more so because of its ephemeral quality. Certainly the crowd's mood has changed.

"That's really cool", says an American voice nearby.

    Our evening had started several hours before, the tour company having decided that two days of cloudy conditions had cleared enough to be worth a try to view the Lights.   Continued...

People relax in one of the Blue Lagoon hot springs near the town of Grindavik in this February 14, 2013 file photo.REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/Files