In search of the Northern Lights

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For Christmas my wife bought us a three-night trip to Iceland. Whilst my fear of flying meant I secretly hoped it was a trip to the frozen food store, I knew it was to the country near the Arctic Circle.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I did know it would be full of adventure.

Suffice to say Mrs C didn’t let me down. We hired a private driver to take us to see the famous Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis.

People come from all the over the world to see this nocturnal light show, caused by charged proton and electron particles entering the atmosphere.

Oleg, our driver, gave us a 50/50 chance as we set off in his all-terrain vehicle, telling us our best opportunity would be near the mountains or the sea.

But after three hours of driving, where we saw virtually no other vehicles on the remote snow and icy roads, we admitted defeat.

The next day we embarked on the Golden Circle tour to see some of Iceland’s other natural wonders. When our driver Gilly arrived in a Mercedes minibus converted into a monster truck, I instantly knew we were in for a white knuckle ride!

Iceland is both volcanically and geologically active and, situated on both the North American and Eurasian Teutonic plates, the country was formed by volcanic activity contributing to its unique landscape and natural tourist attractions.

As the bus headed north from Reykjavik up towards the Thingvellir National Park the snow got thicker and the roads got icier, a pattern that would continue until our final destination, Langjokull, Iceland and Europe’s second largest glacier.

Thingvellir is both historically and geographically important, being the site of the first Viking parliament, and on the edge of the North American and Eurasian Teutonic plates.

Next stop was the geysers or geo-thermal hot water jets that spray 80-100 degree water and steam high into the air every five to 10 minutes.

The waterfall at Gullfoss is another of Iceland’s most popular attractions and this was our last stop before things got really scary. From here we’d be driving an hour off-road, snaking our way on a deep-snow-covered gravel track marked only by 6ft yellow poles.

At Langjokull we collected snowmobiles and set off with our guide across the spectacular glacier. The journey home was less tense, aided perhaps by a few shots of Jagermeister!