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Northern Lights Mystery Tour
When we booked our mini break to Reykjavik this was part of the deal. One of my main hopes for our trip was the chance to see the Northern Lights and so it was important that we had a good chance of seeing them. The tour company we booked with promised that if you didnít see them on your first tour they would keep taking you out until you did see them and that could be two years later! Knowing this we booked our first Northern lights trip on our second night there as this gave us two more chances to see them if the first one was a failure. OUR FIRST ATTEMPT We were collected from our hotel in a mini bus and taken to the tour companyís main office to check in and then join a larger coach for the tour. They donít always go to the same spot to try and see the lights as they have a special website which checks on where they are most likely to be seen from and that is where they head.
The first night we went out the guide was really hard to understand and talked non stop which was not great. She told us a long involved story which I hadnít a clue what it was about until our guide the next day re told the story and then I finally twigged as to what she had been saying.
The drive in the coach was about 45 minutes to an hour so we got a lot of chat from the guide and after a while I tuned out. We arrived at the spot for viewing and everyone piled out.
We climbed a hill and stood in the cold for ages before going down to the cafe and enjoyed a hot chocolate to warm ourselves up. Finally the guide announced we were leaving and the coaches flashed their lights. The Northern Lights had decided not to bother that night so we were taken back to the tour office and then onto smaller buses to be dropped at out hotel . By the time we were in bed it was nearer 1am and the tour left at about 8pm so it was a long cold and disappointing night.
TIPS ON WHAT TO TAKE AND WEAR AND DO I naively thought we would get somewhere and stay on the bus until the lights showed then get out and take the photos and after a certain length of time we would return.
No ,that isnít what happened. We all got out and were taken up a hill in the pitch black. TAKE A TORCH which we didnít on the first trip. It was so difficult climbing up a rocky hill in the dark and just as tricky climbing down unless you followed a more sensible person who brought their torch.
Because I thought we would be on the coach most of the time I had not worn my thermal undies. I had gloves, scarves, thick coat and warm socks with boots and a hat but it was freezing standing out in the negative temperatures with a freezing cold wind racing across the hilltop.
If you have ski jacket and trousers then those would be ideal but failing that wear layers as the coach is really warm but then you get out and have to stand in really very cold conditions so you need to layer up.
Once you arrive at the spot donít feel that you have to rush off the coach because often you have to wait for quite some time before anything happens. Take your time and put your layers on. You will need a bit of room so wait till most people have got off then you can layer yourself up without pressure.
By all means go and join the others on the hill or where ever but donít feel you will miss anything if you sit on the coach a bit to warm up or even go into the cafe if there is one there because if the lights begin to show the guides will come and shout for you. They want you to see them as that is what they are doing the trip for.
THE SECOND TRY The tour company called to say that because it was over cast the tour was cancelled on our second try.
THIRD TIME LUCKY We decided to eat down near the tour company office at our favourite Cafe Paris and then walk to the tour office and check in ourselves rather than be collected at the hotel. We told them that earlier in the day.
This way we got straight onto the large coach. Our guide this time was a man and he was very much less talkative to the point of almost not bothering but that didnít really bother me.
This time we went in a different direction and to the point where the two tectonic plates meet. We had been there on the Golden Circle tour and so had a good idea of where we were. This time I was far more prepared and had lots of layers and my long johns under my jeans and a thermal vest and two scarves, hat gloves etc plus we brought out torches so we could see where we were walking. We also waited until everyone else had got off the bus then layered up and got out for a while. If we felt cold we got back on the bus.
We hung around the area for an hour or so then the guides came back. Coach lights flashed and everyone came back to the coach. WE thought that once again we were not going to see the Northern Lights. The guide explained that we were going down to the cafe so people could have a drink and be in the warm for a while and wait there to see if the Lights were going to show.
We decided to walk over to where he suggested and give the cafe a miss as there were four coaches and neither of us wanted to stand in a queue. We stood out in the freezing cold for about twenty minutes before we decided to see if the toilets were free in the cafe. We were just enjoying the warmth in there when a guide rushed in and shouted the lights are showing!! Everyone piled out and rushed to the dark area beyond the cafe and cabins.
The lights were a faint greenish cloud in the sky which gradually moved across. It sort of looked like a faint green cloud with rain coming down also green. Strangely the photos came out much greener than it looked in real life. The other colours were not so noticeable to the naked eye but again showed up more in the photos.
There was no flash of green swirling into reds and oranges like I remember seeing when Joanna Lumley lay watching them in the Arctic Circle. Whether that was because we were seeing them through a camera on TV or whether they are sometimes more colourful I donít know.
I was thrilled to see the Lights having wanted to for so long but I do have to admit to being slightly underwhelmed as I had expected something similar to Joanna Lumleyís experience with swirling colours going across the sky.
However I have now seen the Aurora Borealis and although I would be happy to see them again I wouldnít say it is top of my wish list now as there are so many other places to see and experiences to experience. IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT? Oh yes it is. I am so impressed with Grays tours who offer the repeat trips. Apparently they have had one person come back two years later and do the trip after failing their first visit. I think that is a pretty amazing offer to keep taking you until you do see them. There are not many tour companies that promise something like that.
Although they were not as bright and spectacular as I thought they were going to be they were still impressive and something that I had not seen before so another experience ticked off in my life now.
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