Seeing the Northern Lights For the First Time

This time last week I was in my Reykjavik hotel room putting on as many thermal layers as my body would allow in preparation for our midnight adventure; northern light hunting. I was a little naive before I touched down in Iceland, I assumed they would be visible most nights in an Icelandic winter.Nope. When we arrived we spoke to numerous people who had been there for over a week and there had be no sighting of these mysterious lights due to cloud.

We arrived on monday with tickets for that evening to be taken out on a coach to the middle of nowhere to witness the lights. It was cancelled and we re-scheduled for tuesday. Needless to say it was cancelled again and again. We were slowly running out of hope until we woke up on thursday, our last full day, and the sun was shining through the clouds.

We were picked up at 9pm and drove an hour South-West from Reykjavik to the edge of the ocean (although it was so dark we had no idea). The city lights were dull in the distance allowing for whats known as black spot to provide the perfect backdrop for the northern lights..



A dodgy photo of me looking the wrong to prove I was actually there


Iceland was one of the most photogenic countries I’ve ever visited. I shot hours of footage while travelling and have put it into a short video:

I shot 4 rolls of film which I’m very excited to be picking up today, I’ll be posting the photos on the blog and to my instagram @madisonbeachphotos

Iceland Travel Diary: Day 04 & 05

Day 04&05

The last couple of days have been so brilliantly busy I have lost track of the time and what day it is. The sun rising at 10am is something I’m not used too and lulls you into a false sense of security, waking up when its dark makes me think I have hours left to sleep, often not the case. 

Day 04

Day four starts at 12.30am in the middle of nowhere, freezing cold with a huge smile on my face. I was witnessing the northern lights for the first time and yes, it was incredible. 


After the coach being cancelled for the last couple of nights due to cloudy weather we were running out of time (and hope) to see them, as even when it’s a clear night there’s no guarantee of seeing them.  But we were very lucky, after receiving no cancellation message during the day our coach arrived at 9pm to pick us up. 


We drove an hour South West of Reykjavik to find a ‘black spot’ where the city lights aren’t visible. When we arrived a small crowd had already assembled looking with anticipation to the north. Before we knew it a white light appeared across the sky,seeing the magnificent colours through the camera lens. Then, after half an hour the light got brighter and brighter and began to curve. Then within a split second it started to ‘dance’ across the sky. It was a great moment and while watching the lights you even forgot how cold it was! We were extremely lucky as both Venus and Mars were visible amongst Orion’s Belt (a load of stars to you and me). 


We got to see the lights for two hours before boarding the coach and falling asleep in the early hours of the morning. 

We awoke relatively late in the morning to make up for the late night and to fully refresh as we were heading to the famous Blue Lagoon. Although expensive, it’s considered a must-do when in Iceland. A thermal geo spa heated from the ground. 

The spa is located 50 minutes away from Reykjavik and you have the option to be picked up from your hotel. The Lagoon is set in a surreal landscape amongst mountains and bright turquoise pools of water. 


To avoid over-crowding you are given an entry time but then allowed to stay as long as you like. It was busy with a diverse range of people; college trips, families & couples but just enough people to create an atmosphere and not be packed. We took advantage of the pool-side bar and complimentary face masks. After an hour of relaxing in the hot water it started to rain, this was a welcome sight as ironically, I was beginning to overheat in Iceland. 


After a few hours at the Blue Lagoon we headed back to Reykjavik on a coach, the driver asked everyone where they would like to be dropped and then created a customised route, very handy! We decided to be dropped off in town to consume more pizza at our favourite restaurant before heading back to let reality sink in and pack to go home. 


Day 05

To avoid something going wrong and missing our flight we booked a coach to pick us up at 12 to take us to the airport. Waiting outside the hotel a minibus from the company arrived. After speaking to the driver we realised it was a Reykjavik sightseeing tour but with two spaces available the driver said she would drop us off!  The drive was absolutely hilarious, the middle-aged Chinese born, Icelandic tour guide/Mini-bus driver spoke in what seemed like slow motion. And aside from just pointing out the sights she took advantage of the onboard mic system to vent her distaste for Justin Bieber and tell us about the Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert she’s going to. But for all her madness she was very friendly and we got to the airport on time. 

I am very sad to be leaving Iceland as it has a great (and often rare) mix of friendly, helpful locals and a landscape saturated in natural wonders I have never witnessed before. This will definitely not be my last visit to Iceland. I have a very busy week lined up including flat-hunting in London and most importantly, developing four films,2 colour and 2 black & white, which will be up on this blog along with my Instagram @madisonbeachphotos. I am also considering doing a blog post dedicated to the photos I took of the northern lights as I have way too many to post here.  Hope you have a great weekend and feel free to comment/recommend where I should go next!