“The only way that you can see the aurora borealis (northern lights) this early in the season is to have a freak temperature drop and the skies open up for you. And well, you have seen Reykjavik, so I’m not sure that is going to happen for you. But you can always hope!” Signy from SAD cars stated over some delicious beers the night before our Ring Road road trip.
“Well then. Here is to hoping!” I grinned.
The next day we were packed up and ready to head out. Kex Hostel had made us promise to take some of their lost and found blankets and sleeping bags after we told them our plans of sleeping in the car without any goods. We had fleece blankets! Apparently they were concerned we were going to be popsicles by the end of it. I wasn’t convinced it was going to get that cold but whatever.
We drove our car into the oblivion of southern Iceland with no big plan, no place to stay, a car full of groceries, and a day full of opportunities ahead.
At Skaftafell you can find the waterfall Svartifoss along with the Skaftafellsjökull glacier. To be honest I didn’t know that it was possible to be glaciered out until that point. We had officially seen 3 glaciers in 2 1/2 weeks and well… they get kinda meh after a while. We grabbed a couple of beers, sat down and just took in how grand this glacier was. This was part of the big Vatnajökull ice cap that covered a massive portion of Iceland. Even with how huge this thing already was, it still went way WAY back (covering 8% of the country!).
We meandered our way to Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon and decided that this is where we were going to call it a night. This was considered public lands so you can sleep pretty much anywhere you would like. The sun was setting and I couldn’t have imagined a better place to spend the night. Looking out the window of our car we could see the glaciers moving, ever so slowly in the twilight.
…and then I noticed I was shivering uncontrollably. I had forgotten how much colder places are out in the country. With multiple layers on and two blankets I settled in to the front seat of the car for the long, cold night ahead. As I started dozing I opened my eyes one last time and-
I screamed – which in hindsight, probably freaked out Shaun and M as they were also falling asleep. I just kept shouting, “HOLY [expletive]! HOLY [expletive]! HOLY [expletive]!” as I tried to jump out of the blankets and fumble the door open.
The Northern Lights had blessed us with her appearance and I was shaking with joy.
I jumped out of the car.
“HOLY [expletive]! HOLY [expletive]! HOLY [expletive]! Shaun! Get the tripod!”
And the shakes continued… It was only then that I realized I was standing out in near freezing weather with only long johns on and knee high wool socks. I’m sure I looked glam.
I set up my camera and as I tried to get the settings correct, my hands just couldn’t keep still. This was on the top of my bucket list and this rare occurrence was now displaying for US.
…and so there we were, at twilight in the glacial lagoon, with the Northern Lights performing just for us.
I couldn’t have asked for something more perfect.
….and here is a picture of the glacial lagoon during the day and the cute little seal that decided to poke its head out and say hello the next morning.
ICELAND. IS. MAGICAL!