36 hours of Iceland
Last month, I visited Iceland once more. The Iceland Airwaves 15 festival was my main purpose but the days beforehand I was eager to witness the northern lights again. The year before I was out of luck so I was ready to do the utmost to see the lights again. Weather forecast looked quite decent when I headed east along the south coast with my main destination being the glacier lagoon. I arrived there late, it was cloudy and even started to rain slightly later in the night so I had to move on without having achieved anything. The morning after I returned there for a hike along the moraine hills towards the glacier in beautiful morning light which allowed me to take at least a few shots further along the lagoon where people usually don’t make it anymore.
Swirling currents moving the icebergs of Jökulsárlon.
First beams of surreal light break through the clouds.
When I checked the aurora forecast later during my breakfast coffee at the Jökulsárlon store, I was almost dropping my cup of coffee. The forecast showed 7/9 and weather forecast was not that bad either around Höfn for the upcoming night. My plan was to catch the light above Vestrahorn on Stokksnes peninsula. However, after a relaxed and beautiful drive from the lagoon to Höfn, it startet to pour down insanely. And though it stopped half an hour later, the clouds didn’t seem to open up again. I checked the weather once again and the northeast looked perfect – as it did the whole day. So I faced a decision: either staying here hoping for the weather to improve. Or to undertake another app. five hours drive to Lake Mývatn. As the aurora forecast was still fantastic, I thought about how annoyed I’d be if I would stay here and miss the light show going on in the northeast probably. So I started to drive…
When I arrived at Lake Mývatn, it was a moonless dark night and I couldn’t see anything. Though I know the area, it is hard to find a proper spot for a photo if it’s that dark. Moreover, there was nothing going on in the sky – and the aurora forecast told me that the level 7 outburst would be postponed to next night. Fail. I looked for a place to find some sleep and when I woke up later during the night, I delightfully saw some lights dancing around in the sky! Not the most powerful and moving ones, but really beautiful. It was icy and the moon had risen and I was able to catch some of the lights at a small lake close to Mývatn.
My first lights since 2013!
When they disappeared, I catched up on some sleep to be awake for sunrise on time. And that was a good idea as the sunrise at the shores of Lake Mývatn was one of the most beautiful one I’ve seen so far in Iceland. Thanks to the icy temperatures during the last days, some places were covered with absolutely picturesque ice floes and the rising sun dipped the clouds in gorgeous colors of red and yellow.
What a tremendous sunrise at Lake Mývatn!
At a river outflow of Lake Mývatn.
The next decision ahead was were to wait for the second chance to catch the lights the upcoming night. As I had to bring back the rental car the next day at noon, I wanted to avoid an insane drive all the way from Mývatn to Reykjavík though I would have loved to stay in this area which is undoubtly one of the most fascinating ones in Iceland. After some research I decided to give it a try around Sauðárkrókur which is only about three hours north of the capital city. Close by, I discovered a remarkable beach which very much reminded me of the famous one around Vestrahorn. Black dunes, yellow grass, snowy mountains. The perfect Iceland setting. The sunset was mesmerizing and when there was still twilight at the horizon, the fireworks started just above my head. Northern lights of absolutely spectacular intensity and shape! It was totally worth it driving all around the island within three days.
Sunset at a lonely beach near Sauðárkrókur.
Let the show begin!
The sky is almost bursting of light.
All those photographs were taken within about 36 hours. That’s Iceland!!