Iceland: The Land of the Northern Lights

by Emma Hackwood
Silhouette of man on a mountain

Have you always wanted to visit Iceland? Our Travel Consultant Kirk Pearson shares his experience travelling with On the Go Tours on their Land of the Nothern Lights tour, and why he recommends experiencing it for yourself.

Iceland has been a big bucket list item for me. The allure of the adventure and visiting a small Island up near the arctic circle so isolated (they have some of the purest genetics of any population on the planet) simply fascinated me.

When I was presented with the amazing opportunity to experience a trip with On The Go Tours, I jumped at the chance. This would be my first tour experience and what better place to do it than Iceland.

I was a bit apprehensive about going in Winter, but upon further investigation I discovered the normal temperatures are around 5 degrees Celsius in December because of the warm air being pulled north by the Gulf Stream, (however this was not the case during our trip).

A couple days before we arrived there was a large storm with hurricane winds that blew through leaving a clear cold air mass in its wake keeping the temperatures around -10 for the week we were there. I prepared for this with warm clothes but if you are expecting 5 degrees and don’t bring warm enough clothes you could find yourself becoming a Popsicle (note to self, bring layers!)

kirk pearson in Iceland

We started our adventure in Reykjavik arriving early in the morning, but you would have thought it was the middle of the night as the sun does not rise until 10:30am and only sticks around along the horizon until about 3:30pm. I’m not sure how people can live through such dark Winters, but as a tourist it was pretty novel for me and my fellow tour group.

Our first stay was in budget accommodations about a 25-minute walk to the center of town. There is the option to pay a bit more and upgrade your accommodations which I would recommend. The upgraded hotels are right in the center of town and are much more convenient and comfortable.

reykavik iceland

After exploring the quaint city of Reykjavik, we set off on our trek across the Western part of Iceland where we visited the Blue Lagoon for a rejuvenating swim and a nice reprieve from being so cold and then carried on to the small town of Selfoss.

Selfoss is where we spent two nights for our best chance at seeing the northern lights. Because we had luck on our side and no clouds, we saw the northern lights every night and again I would recommend the upgraded accommodations for the nicer hotel room and the hot tub that is on site.

northern lights in Iceland

We used Selfoss as a starting off point to see the black sand beaches in the south with some epic views of the North Atlantic Ocean.

black sand beach iceland

From here we carried on to a unique Museum that was more like a personal collection of old artifacts from the early settlers. I found this to be one of my favourite stops because I learned so much about how the early settlers lived and their greatest challenges. One of their challenges was that after the first settlers arrived, they had cut down all the trees leaving the next generation without a very important resource, wood. This made it impossible to build homes, ships and most important of all, there was no firewood to keep warm.

We headed a bit more into the interior where the world’s first ever Parliament was held. This same spot just happened to be where the continents of Europe and North America meet. You can actually walk between the two continents with towering cliffs on either side of you. There are a couple of excursions that I would recommend while doing this tour.

eurasion divide Iceland

There was a popular snorkelling/scuba diving trip a few people in my tour group did where you can actually touch the North American and European Continent at the same time.

My tips for anyone thinking of going to Iceland would be to bring layers in both the Winter and Summer months, bring snacks (as food in Iceland is expensive) and prepare to take a lot of breathtaking pictures.

I was so happy to be able to do this trip with On the Go Tours; they exceeded my expectations and made for a memorable time. I would highly recommend them for anyone who wants an easy, and well-organized adventure to unique places around the world.

To start planning your trip to Iceland, contact Kirk by getting in touch with him online or visit him at Flight Centre Kerrisdale.